The term commercial mailboxes can cover a wide variety of mailbox types, but when most think of commercial mailboxes, they think of those centralized units outside of many communities and businesses. Centralized mailboxes contain two or more locked customer units inside a single cabinet, and often also contain parcel lockers for the safe storage and pickup of packages.
These mailbox types are common in front of apartment complexes, in multifamily communities, and in larger business complexes. Commercial mailboxes not only have customer compartments and lockers, but also often contain means for outgoing mail, such as mail slots and sometimes package drops.
Commercial mailboxes are a great way to provide customers with a means to skip a post office trip in m many cases. Accommodations for outgoing mail will vary based on the commercial mailbox setup, and it doesn’t matter whether the mail station is freestanding, recessed into a wall, or simply mounted onto a vertical surface. What you can ship with these mailboxes will depend on what you are able to fit, and on USPS rules.
USPS Regular Mail (Domestic)
Mail slots are designed to ship out regular-sized, USPS mail. This includes mail that fits into regular envelopes and can fit into a 12” wide, 15” deep outgoing mail compartment. When sending outgoing mail, customers simply need to drop it off at the mail slot. Mail slots on commercial mailboxes will generally have a “hood” over the opening to protect the contents from weather and rain.
Before customers can use outgoing mail slots, they should be sure that each piece of mail doesn’t weigh over 13 ounces. Such pieces will require a post office trip if there is no other means to drop off the piece, such as a package drop or onsite scales and postage. Mail over a half inch thick also will likely not fit in an outgoing mail slot. It may be helpful to place notices around your mailboxes to avoid any confusion if customers complain about returned mail or have other issues.
Some Domestic Packages
While outgoing mail slots aren’t designed to deal with packages, the good news is that some small packages can be sent out by using package drops, which are available at some centralized mailboxes. Package drops are recognizable by their large doors, which pull out to allow the dropping of a small package into a locked compartment. Such outgoing mail units should be clearly labeled.
Package drops will be more common in business complexes as these commercial properties are more likely to have postage scales and a means to pay for postage onsite. Postage will need to be paid before leaving a package in such a box.
If the package drop is part of a commercial mailbox station serviced by the USPS, then the USPS will likely pick up from the box directly. Other mailboxes are for private use, meaning that an employee of a property will take the contents to the post office.
Please note that only packages that fit into the drop slot will be accepted, and only with the correct postage. You cannot ship hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, explosives, air bags, and ammunition vis the USPS at all, and therefore cannot use package drops for any of these items.
If you need a specific type of shipping, such as overnight or two-day, it is best to go to the post office to purchase the correct shipping, unless the property has the means to provide it, such as an Express Mail Station.
If you have a drop slot that employees or customers use, it will help to place notices around the mailbox area about what can and cannot be shipped using the slot, and what to expect with its use.
When to Go to the Post Office
International packages will almost certainly require a trip to the post office, as you will need to fill out or present a printed Customs form for all International shipments. You should also visit the post office for International mail that is regular-sized, as the postage will be different for this mail than it will be to send it domestically.
Domestic items that weigh more than 13 ounces will also require a post office trip if you’ve affixed postage stamps to the package. A postal employee will need to weigh the package and ensure the postage is correct.
If you are in doubt about the size and weight of your mail, or need a special type of shipping, going to your local post office is the best bet.
Questions About Shipping? At National Mailboxes, we strive to provide convenience in the form of centralized and commercial mailboxes. If you have questions about which type of outgoing mail slot or drop is the best for your property and setup, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.