Written by bsrep, llc.

mailbox 05All mailboxes and anything else designed to hold mail belongs to the United States Federal Government. So whether your home came with one already installed or you need to purchase new, the regulations that govern mailboxes falls on you as the home owner. From purchasing a new mailbox or building your own, to the height of the post and distance away from the road, you will find those regulations here along with a few other hints and tricks.

Size & Shape – When purchasing a new mailbox it is recommended to purchase one with the Postmaster General’s seal of approval. If you plan to build your own design, you should have a local postmaster look at your plans. Overall, your mailbox needs to be the same size, strength, and quality standards of commercial bought mailboxes. A minimum of 19 inches deep by 6½ inches wide by 8½ inches high; and a maximum of 23½ inches by 11½ inches by 13½ inches,”

Location – Your local postmaster must approve the location of your mailbox. You must have their approval before installing otherwise they have the right to stop all deliveries to your address. But you can get a general idea of where it needs to be by taking a gander at where your neighbors have theirs.mailbox 01

Placement – If you live in the city and are attaching the box to your house, just make sure it can be accessed easily from your sidewalk, steps, or porch. Because city carriers often shoulder heavy bags, put your mailbox about 4’ from the ground. That way, your carrier won’t have to stretch or bend to reach it. And remember to keep the path to your mailbox clear in inclement weather. Put all roadside mailboxes where a carrier can reach inside without leaving the truck. That means positioning it about 41” to 45” off the ground and back about 6” to 8” from the curb. This more or less lines the mailbox with the window of the mail carriers truck. If you’re mounting a roadside mailbox on a post near the street, the support should be secure and safe. The best supports are designed to bend or fall away if a car hits them.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends… A wooden mailbox support no bigger than 4” x 4” or a 2” diameter standard steel or aluminum pipe. Bury your post no more than 24” deep, so it can give way in an mailbox 02accident. Don’t use potentially dangerous supports, such as... Heavy metal pipes, concrete posts, or farm equipment, such as milk cans filled with concrete. In areas with lots of snow, we suggest a semi-arch or extended arm-type support. Snowplows will be able to sweep under without knocking it down.

mailbox 03Door Slots
Some homes and apartments have a slot in the door for receiving mail. It should meet the following standards:
The opening must be at least 1 1/2” x 7”. Horizontal slots must have a flap hinged at the top. Vertical slots should be hinged on the opposite side from the door’s hinges. If you have an inside hood for more privacy, the hooded portion shouldn’t be below the bottom of the outside plate on a horizontal slot. On a vertical slot, the hood shouldn’t extend beyond the side of the outside plate on same side as the door’s hinges. The hood should not project more than 2 1/16” beyond the inside of the door. The bottom of the slot must be at least 30” above floor.

Keep in mind that a mail slot leading into your home, creates a bit of a security risk. A prankster can find any number of items to push through the hole in your door and into your home. They also waste energy as in, they release heat from your home.

mailbox 04Messing with a mailbox or the mail within is regarded as a federal offense.

Regarding other people’s mail:
• Accidentally opening another’s mail is forgivable; however it’s a felony if you did it out of curiosity, spite, or greed.
• Parents can open their kids’ mail if they are under 18.
• It is a Federal Offense and up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine to destroy, hide, keep or open another person’s mail without permission if caught. This is true even if the person lives in the same home.
• If an envelope is addressed to two people then either of those two people has the right to open that mail.
• This includes all manner of deliveries.

The following is a list of federal offenses regarding mailboxes:

It is against the law for anyone who is not a letter carrier to insert mail in another person’s residential mailbox. However, newspapers and magazines which are sent on Sundays and national holidays can be placed in the residential mailbox if the homeowner removes them before the next mail delivery. The mailbox may not be used for anything other than pieces of mail with USPS postage attached. Meaning package delivery companies other than the USPS are not allowed to place a package in your mailbox.

A mailbox cannot be tampered with or destroyed in way, shape, fashion or form.

Obstructions – There must be nothing that obstructs the delivery of mail. This includes parked cars, trash cans, tall bushes and especially snow.

Consider This

Tired of vandals using your roadside mailbox for batting practice, take a normal sized mailbox, place it inside a larger sized mailbox and filled the gap between the two with concrete. This will make it much harder to destroy and vandals will usually move on before wasting their time.