Can I Put a Package in My Mailbox for Pickup?

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March 25, 2024

Did you know the United States Postal Service has over 164.9 million “delivery points” in the country? Delivery points are places where you can drop off or pick up mailpieces in the United States. These points continue to grow. In 2022, 1.8 million new delivery points were added. 

Delivery points include mailboxes, Post Office Boxes (P.O. Boxes), and blue USPS collection boxes

However, with all these delivery points available, can you put a package in a mailbox for pickup? Isn’t a mailbox only for mail or letters? 

This article explains how mailboxes work and what kind of parcels you can place in them for pickup. It also informs you about the parcel requirements when shipping via USPS. 

Furthermore, this write-up tackles tips on how to correctly prepare packages for shipping and advice on how to protect your parcels from problems like mail theft. 

If you’re using services like P.O. Boxes or have mailboxes in your home or businesses, you can visit FindPostOffice.org to get the contact information of over 31,330 post offices in every state in America. 

Use our website for information on the nearest USPS retail facility to coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs in your area. 

Can You Put a Prepaid USPS Package in a Mailbox?

You can put a USPS package in a mailbox if it fits inside and you have already paid for its postage. Mailboxes are not only for letters or lightweight mailpieces. 

However, aside from packages that don’t fit inside the mailbox, you can’t also place mailpieces intended for other courier companies. You can’t place a FedEx (Federal Express) or UPS (United Parcel Service) package in your mailbox. 

Can You Put a Package in Someone’s Mailbox?

You can’t place anything inside another person’s mailbox without their permission. It’s considered a crime to access your neighbor’s mailbox, which can result in fines and legal consequences. 

If you see your neighbor’s package on the lawn, instead of placing it inside their mailbox, bring it to their door and inform your neighbor.

USPS Package Pickups and Drop-Offs

The U.S. Postal Service can make package pickups at your home by putting your package inside your mailbox and requesting it at your local post office. You can also have USPS drop off your packages in your mailbox, especially if they fit inside this receptacle. 

How to Drop a Package in a USPS Mailbox

USPS mailboxes are containers residents typically place on the street side of a home. Mailboxes can’t be tampered with by anyone as it can be considered a crime. 

So, if you want to drop a package in a USPS mailbox, follow this step-by-step list:

  • Ensure you carefully pack your item
  • Measure your package if it’s equal to or less than 10oz
  • Ensure that the package has the right shipping labels and addresses

Can You Drop International Mail in the USPS Mailbox?

You can always drop international mail in your USPS mailbox if you have the correct postage. Remember that international mail is subject to customs duties imposed by the country it’s being shipped to. 

So, remember those requirements to avoid customs delays, which may lead to your mail getting rejected due to requirement issues.

How Long Does It Take to Deliver Mail Dropped in a USPS Mailbox?

The answer may vary according to the collection time of the local post office. However, in most cases, post workers collect mail from mailboxes once there is a mail delivery.

It means that you get your mailbox emptied if the mail carrier delivers a package to you. However, if you don’t have any incoming mail, but you have mail that needs to be picked up, then request it from your local post office. You can log into your account via the USPS website and request a letter carrier pickup. 

How Do You Pay for USPS Pickup?

USPS provides free package pickup and Pick-up on Demand services for a fee. 

For package pick-up, USPS collects your mailpieces from your home or office address for free at a time that’s convenient for you. You can request a pick-up by going to USPS.com/pickup. 

However, if you want to schedule pickups, you can choose Pickup on Demand services. The standard fee is $26.50 per package. You can pay this fee via credit card, Apple Pay, or Click-to-Pay.

Does USPS Charge by Weight or Size?

USPS takes into consideration the weight and size of a parcel to determine the postage price. Generally, the heavier the package is, the more expensive it is to ship. 

Likewise, the package’s size also determines the postage price of a parcel. Typically, a larger parcel will be more expensive to ship. Additionally, parcels or envelopes with shapes different from the standard rectangular dimensions can incur additional fees.

So, USPS does care about dimensions and weight, as it can determine the amount you have to pay. 

Is It Illegal to Put a Note in Someone’s Mailbox?

As mentioned above, you can’t freely access another person’s mailbox. So, it’s prohibited to put a note into someone’s mailbox as it may lead to criminal charges. 

Only the mailbox owner and the USPS postal worker have the authority to place or take out anything in a mailbox. 

So, if you need to communicate with your neighbor indirectly, better send your message through the post office. Moreover, it would be better to talk to your neighbors in person and tell them your message directly.  

Is USPS Allowed to Leave Packages at Your Door?

USPS doesn’t automatically leave packages at your front door when no one is present to receive them. If you have a mailbox, USPS will drop off your package there. 

However, USPS carriers can drop packages at your front door if you request it via your USPS.com account. Using the Delivery Instructions service, you can request the postal worker to leave your packages at a specific location, like your front or back door, porch area, or garage. 

To access Delivery Instructions, enter your package’s USPS tracking number under the “Quick Tools” section of the USPS website. Afterward, click on “Delivery Instructions” and follow the prompts. 

Can You Leave a First Class Package in Your Mailbox for Pickup?

If the First-Class package weighs less than 10oz and is less than 1/2in thick, then you can use postage stamps and put it in your mailbox for carrier pickup. 

Suppose you don’t have a residential mailbox. In that case, you can drop off your package in a USPS blue collection box, provided that the dimensions and size of the parcel are within the requirements of First-Class Mail. 

If the package is heavier than 10oz, you must drop it at your local post office. For packages that are heavier than 70lbs and longer than 130in, pickups aren’t possible. You need to bring them to the local post office for acceptance. 

Can You Leave Outgoing Mail in a Mailbox?

You can leave outgoing mail in a mailbox because that’s the purpose of these boxes in the first place. Outgoing mail is any parcel you send via the Postal Service. 

If your package meets the weight and size requirements, you can place it inside your mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up. You can also drop your outgoing mail in USPS blue mailboxes, which are also regularly checked and collected by postal workers. 

Can You Put a Stitch Fix Return in a Mailbox?

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that caters to the clothing needs of customers online. 

If you need to return something to Stitch Fix, you can place it in a mailbox. You need to place the item in a sealed bag, add the return label, and hand it over to the Postal Service by placing it in your mailbox or personally dropping it off at the nearest post office. 

If you need contact information on the nearest USPS retail facility or post office, you can visit FindPostOffice.org. 

When your outfit from Stitch Fix arrives, the service offers three days for you to try everything and see if the new clothes fit your taste or preference. You can ask for extensions if you can’t decide after three days. 

Remember that once you choose to check out, you won’t get the extension window anymore. If you need another extension, call customer service, and they can get an extension of up to 30 days.

What Happens if You Leave Mail in Your Mailbox?

Once you place your outgoing mail in a mailbox, it’ll remain there until the local post office picks it up. However, there are cases where pickups may not happen that often, resulting in full mailboxes. 

It’s best to contact your local post office to know if any problems keep your packages from getting picked up. There are a few reasons why your mailbox isn’t collected regularly. 

  1. The mailbox is not easily accessible, or the postal worker has no direct access to your box
  2. Dogs may be present in your residence, making it hard for the postal worker to access your mailbox
  3. The package is included in the hazardous materials that USPS restricts
  4. The delivery was hampered due to inclement weather or disasters

Do You Have to Put the Flag Up on Your Mailbox?

Some may advise placing your mailbox flag up when you’ve placed something in it. The raised flag informs the post office worker that there’s a parcel inside the mailbox that needs collecting. 

However, other people will also be alerted that your mailbox is not empty and, sadly, can lead to mail theft. 

If you can contact your local post office or become friendly with the letter or mail carrier, you can tell them you have mail in your box. By doing so, when they’re in your area, they can pick it up when they arrive and not miss it. 

What Happens if Your Mailbox Doesn’t Have a Flag?

Mailboxes without flags are considered limited service mailboxes as they’re typically for incoming mail only. Mailboxes with flags serve incoming and outgoing mail. 

Technically, the mailbox flag is called a “carrier signal flag,” intended to inform the postal worker to stop and collect outgoing mail from a mailbox with a raised flag. 

The postal worker won’t stop at your mailbox if there’s no flag if you don’t have any incoming mail. If you want to add a flag to your mailbox, you can do so, but it must meet the requirements and regulations imposed by the Postal Service. 

Here’s a short list of requirements imposed by USPS regarding mailboxes with flags:

  1. The carrier flag must be at the right side of the mailbox when facing the front. 
  2. The carrier flag must be made of sturdy material enough for the purpose. 
  3. The carrier flag must be easy to raise or lower. Mailboxes with self-lowering flags are allowed if the postal carriers don’t need to do anything with the flag to lower it. 
  4. The carrier flag can be in any color except white, green, yellow, brown, or blue. USPS suggests the color to be “fluorescent orange.”

Can You Give a Return Package to the Mailman?

Yes, you can directly return a package to a “mailman” or any mail carrier. You must only ensure you’ve affixed all the labels on your mailpiece. 

Additionally, you can place your mail in a collection box or any location designated by USPS for receiving outgoing mail. 

What Size Package Can You Put in a USPS Mailbox?

The physical dimensions of a residential mailbox are enough to explain that there’s a limit to what you can place in it. USPS provides a simple guideline that you can remember on the types of mailpieces you can put inside your mailbox. 

What Is the Largest Size Box You Can Send Through USPS?

The maximum mailpiece size you can send through USPS is a package with a combined length and girth of 108in. 

The post office accepts packages with a combined length and girth of 130in, but they’ll be charged with oversized prices and shipped via USPS Retail Ground. The maximum package weight for USPS deliveries is 70lbs. 

What Happens if a Package Is Too Big for a Mailbox?

If the package is big for a mailbox, you can bring your package to the nearest post office and drop it off there for acceptance. Remember that USPS mailboxes can only handle mailpieces not exceeding 10oz and 0.5in thickness. 

Can You Have a Large Package Sent to a P.O. (Post Office) Box?

You can send large packages to your P.O. Box so long as it’s still under the size limit imposed by USPS on packages it ships. Most P.O. Boxes have five sizes ranging from 3in x 5.5in to 12in x 22.5in. 

Can Small Packages Be Dropped in a Mailbox?

Yes, you can place packages in your mailbox if your mailpiece fits inside the mailbox, doesn’t weigh over 10oz, and has a thickness not exceeding 0.5in. 

Sending Packages

USPS has a definite step-by-step guide on how to send packages via its shipping network. Customers should remember these guidelines to reduce delays in shipping schedules. 

How to Measure a Package

USPS informs its customers that the maximum weight for Priority Mail packages is 70lbs. You can measure this weight using a shipping scale or have it weighed at a local post office. 

You can calculate the package’s dimensions by multiplying all sizes (length, height, and width). The total dimension size must not exceed 108in. 

How to Ship a Package

You can ship your package by packaging it properly, purchasing the preferred shipping option, like Priority Mail Express or First-Class Mail, and creating an accurate shipping label

You must also pay the postage price for your package and then request USPS to pick it up or drop it off in your mailbox or at the post office.  

You can start your dive into the USPS shipping guidelines by following topics and tackling each in detail. 

Step 1: Pick Your Box

When shipping bulky items that can’t fit into regular-sized envelopes, you may use a box as packaging. You should pick a box with enough room to include cushioning material to safeguard its contents. 

Preparing Your Box

You can choose corrugated fiberboard boxes or sturdy paperboard. These materials are considered best for items that weigh up to 10lbs. You may use your custom boxes, but you should remove all non-USPS labels or markings. You can remove them entirely or cover them with a heavy black marker. 

You can find USPS boxes that you can use at your local post office or order online via The Postal Store or through affiliates on Amazon, eBay, and Stamps.com. 

Step 2: Pack Your Box

When you pack your box, ensure the item inside doesn’t wobble during handling. You can add cushioning like bubble wrap, foam sheets, air pillows, void fill, or crumpled wrapping paper. 

Aside from this, you should know whether the item you’re shipping is among the restricted and prohibited items, according to USPS. 

Restricted and Prohibited Items

USPS provides a list of items that can be shipped but with restrictions. These items include:

  • USPS restricts Lithium batteries like those installed in small gadgets, laptops, or cellphones. USPS allows shipping new batteries but restricts shipping used ones via ground transport. 
  • USPS allows perishable items like plants or food only if adequately packaged, preventing spoiling or leaking. 
  • USPS allows shipping of other items that need special packaging requirements, like perfumes that contain alcohol. 

On the other hand, there are items that USPS prohibits. These items include the following:

  • Fireworks, explosives, or ammunition
  • Liquid mercury or items that contain this substance
  • Alcoholic beverages

Step 3: Address Your Package

Writing your package’s address is one of the crucial steps in preparing your parcels for shipping. Wrong or incorrect addresses can result in delayed shipment and, worse, lost mailpieces. So, to address your package, follow these simple tips. 

Address Format

When you write your address, ensure it’s parallel to the long side of the box. Also, ensure that the return address fits on the same side. 

If you’re going to write the address yourself, use permanent markers and write in printed letters, avoiding mistakes. 

Remember to include the following information when writing the sender’s address. Double-check the information for mistakes:

  • Full name or company name
  • Apartment number of suite number
  • Street address
  • City, state, and Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP+4 code 

For writing the delivery or recipient’s address, ensure to include the following information:

  • Recipient’s full name or company name
  • Apartment number or suite number
  • Street address
  • City, state, and ZIP+4 code

Step 4: Choose a Mail Service

Once you’ve completed writing the address in the correct format and style, you can choose the mail service to ship your item. USPS has numerous mail service options catering to the specific needs and requirements of different packages. 

Shipping Labels

You can use the USPS Click-N-Ship service to create shipping labels for your packages. Aside from shipping labels, you can use Click-N-Ship to pay postage for services like:

  • USPS Ground Advantage 
  • Priority Mail
  • Priority Mail Express

Shipping Insurance

Mailing services like Ground Advantage, Priority Mail, and Priority Mail Express have free insurance coverage of up to $100. 

You can pay for insurance while creating your shipping label via Click-N-Ship. Other additional services that you can add to your package are Signature Confirmation and Return Receipt for proof of delivery. 

Step 5: Calculate and Apply Postage

Before shipping your package, you should pay the corresponding postage for your parcel. Postage is the price you must pay to send a parcel through USPS’ shipping network. You can pay postage at your local post office, use stamps, or pay through buying postage online via the Click-N-Ship service. 

You can also avoid doing the necessary calculations to determine the postage amount by using a Flat Rate box. This type of box has a fixed rate, which you can pay without thinking about the dimensions and weight of your parcel.

As long as the weight doesn’t exceed the recommended weight limit and fits nicely inside the Flat-Rate box, you’re all set with just one payment. 

Postage Calculator

You can use the available postage calculator on the USPS website when you need to know the package postage cost. Calculators can be crucial when determining whether Flat-Rate packaging is cheaper than paying postage based on weight, dimensions, and destination.

Step 6: Ship Your Package

Once you’ve completed securing the packaging, adding the shipping information and labels, and paying the corresponding postage, you can ship your package. You can bring your package to the post office or pick it up by a courier at home.

You can put your mail inside a mailbox and wait for the mail carrier to arrive to collect the package. 

Schedule a Package Pickup

You can also request the mail carrier to collect the packages you’ve placed in your mailbox at a specific time. You can do this through the Pickup on Demand service. This service allows packages to be picked up anytime for a corresponding fee. 

Free Pickup Saves a Trip to the Post Office

You can save on pickup costs by taking advantage of the free pickup service USPS provides. When you ship regularly, especially if you’re running an eCommerce business, you can send your package free whenever the postal worker goes to your area to pick up outgoing mail. 

You can be friendly with the courier to know when they’ll come to your neighborhood to collect outgoing mail. You can give the packages directly to the carrier once they are around. 

A Warning About Thieves

A mailbox is a great way to send and receive mail at your business site or home. However, it’s crucial to remember that mail theft is a common problem in the United States.

If you’re not careful, thieves can pry open your mailbox whenever they see that the flag is raised. It’s best to make necessary adjustments to ensure the security of your mailbox in your neighborhood. 

You can install surveillance cameras or have your mailbox well-lit at night. However, if someone does steal your stuff from a mailbox, it’s best to contact your local police department and file a report. 

Breaking into a mailbox is a crime, and people can get into deep trouble for messing around with things they don’t have the right to. 

You can also call your local post office for help if there are theft cases in your area. You can visit FindPostOffice.org and get the latest contact number of the USPS retail office near you. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can I place multiple packages in a mailbox?

You can place multiple packages in a mailbox if they fit securely. The number of items depends on the mailbox’s size. Some customers report that their mailboxes can fit more than one mailpiece. 

  1. Can I put a priority mail envelope in a USPS mailbox?

Yes, you can as long as it fits and weighs under 10lbs. Priority Mail is delivered six days a week, so you can be sure that your local courier will pick your package up one time. 

  1. Can you drop off packages in the USPS mailbox when the office is closed?

Yes, you can drop your package in your mailbox, your post office’s P.O. Box, and the blue USPS collection boxes even when your local post office is closed. You must only ensure that the addresses in your packages are accurate. 

  1. Will the Mailman pick up packages from my mailbox?

Yes, of course. A postal worker will pick up packages from your mailbox if there’s outgoing mail. However, you should raise the flag to inform the courier that you have outgoing mail in your mailbox. 

  1. Can I give a package to the mailman?

Yes, you can. Whenever the mail carrier is available in your area, you can give them your packages directly, especially if they’re not heavy and numerous. 

References

  1. Postal Facts
    https://facts.usps.com/delivery-points/
  2. Package Pickup & Pickup on Demand®
    https://usps.my.site.com/faq/s/article/What-is-Package-Pickup
  3. Carrier Pickup – Free Pickup Saves a Trip to the Post Office
    https://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/2009/holiday/carrierpickup.htm
  4. Price List
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm?_gl=1jy0uvh_gcl_auNjc4NTU5MTUyLjE2OTYwNTI2MTY._gaMTAzNjI5NTM3OS4xNjk2MDUyNjE2_ga_3NXP3C8S9V*MTY5ODYwNTgyOC4xNzkuMS4xNjk4NjA4MzU3LjAuMC4w
  5. Up and Down the Block: USPS Customizes Delivery
    https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2016/pb22436/html/info_004.htm
  6. How to Send a Package: Domestic
    https://www.usps.com/ship/packages.htm

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