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What is a USPS Approved Mailbox? A Guide to USPS Standards

What’s the worst thing you can possibly imagine? Certainly, it’s having your mailbox wiped out by some reckless driver in the middle of the night. 

The real nightmare is now you’re forced to remember that the only person who sends you mail is yourself. 

Not all mailboxes are created equal. That may seem like an odd statement, but it’s true. When you buy or install a new mailbox, it must be a USPS approved mailbox. 

This may be news to you, as you’ve never had to replace a mailbox before. If you’re in the market for a new mailbox, you need to make sure it meets USPS standards. 

Discover what this means and why it matters. 

Who’s the Postmaster General? 

You may have seen this on your mailbox. “Approved by the Postmaster General”. What does that even mean? 

Only 36 mailbox manufacturers produce mailboxes with this designation. That’s quite an honor. But who is the Postmaster General? 

The Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General in 1775. It wasn’t until 1789 when George Washington appointed the first Postmaster General of the new United States. 

The president appointed each Postmaster General until the US Post Office Department became the US Postal Service in 1971.

Today, the Postal Service Board of Governors appoints the Postmaster General. They, along with the Postmaster General and Deputy Postmaster General, make up the whole of the Postal Service Board of Governors. 

Prior to this change, the Postmaster General was a member of the President’s cabinet. Now, this is no longer the case. They are no longer in the presidential line of succession. 

The Postmaster General is the chief executive officer of the USPS. They are responsible for overseeing mail delivery and all other Postmasters. 

The Postmaster General is the government official in charge of determining postage rates. They also act as a liaison between the public and government regarding issues pertaining to postal services. 

USPS Approved Mailbox Standards  

Whether you plan on installing a new mailbox at your office, apartment building, or private residence, it needs to meet USPS standards. These regulations are meant to prevent errors and delays in mail delivery. 

There are regulations on size, mail slot dimensions, location, and identification information. 

Requirements for Curbside Residential Mailboxes 

Curbside residential mailboxes must be on the righthand side of the road and facing toward the road.

The mailbox must display the box or house number. These numbers should be at least one inch tall and placed on the front or flag side. 

They should be 6″-8″ away from the curb with the door or slot 41″-45″ from the ground. Posts should be made of wood no larger than 4″x4″. They can also be made of steel or aluminum no larger than 2″ in diameter. 

The post should easily bend or fall away in the event of a car collision. 

Requirements for Wall-Mounted Residential Boxes 

If you plan to install a wall-mounted mailbox for your home, you should check with your local postmaster. They will be able to tell you about specific installation instructions. 

The mail carrier should have safe and unobstructed access to the mailbox. 

Requirements for Cluster Mailboxes

Cluster mailboxes are great for centralized mail delivery in neighborhoods or apartment buildings. 

Most will already be pre-approved by the Postmaster General. A private party may install one at an apartment complex, business, or development. The USPS may also install one at your residence. 

If a private party separate from the residents owns the cluster box unit, the residents must get the key from the building owner, manager, or previous resident. 

If the USPS owns the unit, the Postal Service will provide three keys free of charge. If you lose the keys, the USPS will replace the lock and key at your expense. 

When you move, you must return the keys to the respective post office. They will handle the changes accordingly.

Likely, your name will be on the inside of the mailbox. However, the carrier must deliver the mail as the address appears on the envelope or package. 

It’s illegal to inhibit someone from receiving their mail. If you receive mail for someone who no longer lives at your residence, make a quick note on the unopened envelope. Leave the unopened mail in the mailbox. 

Requirements for Locking Mailboxes 

Locking mailboxes are great for preventing mail theft. They must still meet USPS standards. 

Mail slots should be at least 1.75″x10″. The flap should not obstruct the mail carriers ability to quickly deliver your mail. 

The box needs to be big enough to accommodate your daily mail. The mail carrier shouldn’t have to fold US Priority Envelopes to fit it into the slot. 

You cannot place a lock on a contemporary or traditional design mailbox. The mail carrier will not and cannot accept keys for these mailboxes. 

Why Are These Regulations Important? 

The Postmaster General and local Postmasters put these regulations in place. They are in place to make mail delivery more efficient. 

These regulations protect the safety of mail carriers. They also protect your right to receive your mail. 

Different regions may have different requirements and regulations. If you have any questions about these specific regulations, you should contact your local Postmaster

In the end, each mailbox must be easily accessible to the mail carrier. It must also be able to hold the total volume of your daily mail. 

Receive All Your Mail Efficiently 

Before you go out and replace your mailbox, think about these rules and regulations. Your mailbox must meet the USPS standards. 

The Postmaster General must approve all mailbox designs. If you have any questions about whether or not your mailbox meets the standards, call your local Postmaster. 

They will be able to answer specific questions about local rules and regulations. 

National Mailboxes offers a range of commercial and residential USPS approved mailbox designs. Check out our products to find the right mailbox for your needs.