What are the Standard USPS Requirements for Residential & Commercial Mailboxes?

By Nathan Belcik
The United States postal service strictly regulates mailboxes for conformity and safety.

Absolutely White Row of Mailboxes in Modern Neighborhood image by Andy Dean from Fotolia.com

Each year, over 200 billion pieces of mail are delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Such a large volume of mail requires strict specifications of mailboxes and receptacles, which help improve mail delivery rates and ensure the safety of postal workers. In order to receive mail, a USPS approved mail receptacle must be installed and maintained by the postal customer.

Curbside Mailboxes

According to USPS regulations, curbside mailboxes must be approved by the Postal Service. Pre-approved mailboxes are found in most home supply stores or on the Internet. The mailbox must be installed at a height of 41 to 45 inches from the road on the right-hand side of the postal workers direction of travel. It must also have a distance of 6 to 8 inches from the road. The mailbox must also include address information, such as street name and house number. No additional attachments are allowed on the mailbox, with the exception of a newspaper delivery box attached to the pole.

Door Delivery

When you have been approved to receive your residential mail via door delivery, you must provide a mail receptacle as a door slot or a wall-mounted box. Wall-mounted mailboxes pre-approved by USPS should be installed on the side of the house. A door slot must be 1.5 inches wide and 7 inches long or larger. Install the door slot either vertically or horizontally so the bottom of the slot is at least 30 inches from the floor. All door slots must have a flap.

Locked Mailboxes

The USPS regulations allow the use of a locked mailbox to avoid loss of mail or identity theft. Letter carriers may not unlock any mailbox nor accept any keys, so any locked mailbox must have a mail slot large enough to accept the customer’s normal quantity of mail. If you move, you must relinquish any mailbox keys to the new tenant.

Business Mailboxes

Businesses may install a door slot or curbside mailbox for mail retrieval; however, if a business is open and accessible during mail delivery, no mail receptacle is required. If the business has a curbside mailbox or mail slot, it must follow the guidelines in place for residential mail receptacles.

Changing Your Mailbox

According to USPS regulations, you are required to maintain your mailbox or replace a damaged one. Any self-made mailbox must be approved before installation. If you wish to change the location of your mail receptacle, you must receive approval from your local postmaster. Failure to follow these rules will draw a warning from your postmaster and possible interruptions in mail service.

About the Author

Nathan Belcik began writing professionally in 2006, with his work focusing on educational and research materials He is a contributing writer for eHow and Answerbag. Belcik holds a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and a minor in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.