Laws on Mail Delivery on Behalf of Others

By Brandi Brown
Federal laws and post office policies guide mail delivery.

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Though we live in a largely electronic age, mail fraud still exists and is a major crime. Interfering with mail service is a felony, but United States Postal Service policy does permit mail delivery on behalf of others in certain situations. Knowing these policies and what is required for alternate mail delivery is necessary to avoid violating any laws related to mail delivery.

Incapacitated Persons

People serving as guardians for people who are incapacitated are eligible to receive mail on behalf of those people. Incapacitated people are those people who are mentally incompetent as well as people who are acutely or chronically ill. Anyone who has legal authority over another person can have that person's mail diverted by presenting a court order of guardianship.

Minors

People who are under 18 have no control over the delivery of their mail. While mail can be addressed to small children, the parents or guardians have legal authority over the mail. They can open and read the mail and do not have to deliver it to the minor.

Court Orders

There are some situations in which people cannot agree on who should get mail. These situations can arise during divorces or contentious business situations. Mail delivery laws allow for people in these disputes to designate a third party, who will receive all mail for either party. If such a person cannot be found, the parties will need a court order to determine who will get the mail.

In-Person Pick-Up

When someone has her or his mail held, the postmaster will keep the mail for up to 30 days. The person can pick up the mail in person but must provide picture identification. Postmasters do not permit mail delivery on behalf of others in this instance. The person whose mail is being held must be the person who picks up the mail. This same law applies to "general delivery," or mail addressed to a person in care of the postmaster of a certain post office. The person to whom the mail is addressed must appear and show identification to pick up the mail.

About the Author

Brandi Brown is a freelance writer with over five years of Web-based experience. She has a bachelor's degree in history from Mercer University and is a graduate student in women's and gender studies at the University of Louisville. Her works appears in various online journals and offline newspapers.

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