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How Big Should Your Mailbox Be? USPS Mailbox Regulations and More

We are all familiar with the blue mailbox collection boxes. Did you know those mailboxes were not always blue?  Before 1971 there was no standard color, so they could be green, red, white, or any other color.

Today the United States Postal Service has more than 141,900 blue collection boxes in use. If they were placed side-by-side they would stretch 58 miles. With postal workers delivering mail to more than 150 million households and businesses daily and about 1 million new addresses added every year, USPS mailbox regulations must be followed.

The regulations for mailbox sizes and installation requirements vary depending on the type of mailbox being used. Check out the regulations here before you purchase and install your mailbox.

USPS Mailbox Regulations

The size of your mailbox will depend on local regulations. It will also depend on whether it is a residence or business.

The most important factor to look for when shopping for a mailbox is making sure it meets USPS standards. One way to make sure your mailbox selection meets requirements is to look for the PMG (Postmaster-General) seal of approval.

The second item of importance is the type of mailbox required by the USPS for your area. You may desire a wall-mounted mailbox, but the postal service requires a curbside mount. Check with your local post office for the requirements of your area.

Door Slot Mailboxes

A door slot mailbox is not a box, but rather a slot installed into a door. This is a good type of mail receptacle for offices or businesses. This is one of the least regulated mail delivery systems.

The opening of the slot must be at least 1-1/2” x 7” and the bottom of the slot at least 30” above the floor. If the slot is mounted horizontally on the door it must have a flap that is hinged at the top. If the slot is mounted vertically it must be hinged on the side opposite the door’s hinges.

If you are concerned about someone peering inside your home or business through the slot you can install a mail slot hood inside the door. The hood size can not extend more than 2-1/6” away from the door on the inside.

Wall Mounted Mailbox

This mailbox is mounted on the outside of a house or business. Wall-mounted mailboxes are not required to have a PMG seal of approval. If you are replacing a curbside mailbox with a wall-mounted, you must obtain permission from the local postmaster.

Many wall-mounted mailboxes are small and hold nothing larger than a standard #10 envelope. You should purchase a mailbox in a size that will hold your normal mail, including large 9 x 12 envelopes, postcards, and catalogs.

The mailbox needs to be mounted near the main entrance to the home or business. Make sure it can be clearly seen from the road.

This type of mailbox may only be used for items containing postage. If you have newspaper delivery it will need to have its own receptacle separate from the mailbox.

Curbside Mailboxes

The common name for this is a rural mailbox. It stands near the road and is frequently used for residential homes or businesses. This mailbox must meet the USPS regulations, so look for the PMG seal of approval.

You need to purchase a mailbox large enough to hold packages. If you receive a large amount of mail a large rural or package mailbox, also called a T3 mailbox, is a good choice.

The maximum T3 mailbox size is 13.63” x 7.75” tall on the sides, 12” tall in the center and 16.5” deep. This will allow the postal carrier to place packages, letters, cards, magazines, and catalog inside the box.

The rural mailbox has specific installation requirements for both the support pole and the location. Your pole needs to be stable but still bend or fall if it is hit by a car.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends a pole that is either 4” x 4” wood or a 2” diameter steel or aluminum pipe. Mailbox supports made of heavy metal or concrete are not allowed.

The pole is to be buried no more than 24” deep and must be set back 6” to 8” from the curb. If there is no curb and you are unsure of proper placement check with your local post office.

The mailbox must be positioned 41” to 45” high from the road surface to the bottom of the mailbox or the mailbox opening. The mailbox must face forward so that the opening faces the street. It should be easy for the carrier to access the box from inside their vehicle.

The address number must be a minimum of 1” tall and easily read. Reflective stickers help increase the address visibility at night or in bad weather conditions.

Cluster Mailboxes

This is a type of mailbox frequently used commercially for apartment buildings, mobile home parks, office buildings, condominium complexes, and some subdivisions. They may be mounted on a wall or stand on a pedestal.

The USPS must approve apartment mail receptacles. If an apartment building is being renovated any obsolete mailboxes must be upgraded. If the location of the mailboxes will be moved, the USPS must give their approval.

The USPS has a National Delivery Planning Standards Guide for Builders and Developers downloadable in a pdf format from their website. Builders and developers are responsible for making sure the proper type of mail receptacle is installed.

Additional Tidbits of Information

If you are operating a business or office that has someone available to accept mail during regular mail delivery times, you are not required to have a mailbox. The carrier will enter the building and hand-deliver the mail to the receptionist.

It is recommended you give your mailbox an annual checkup. You should tighten any loose hinges, replace missing or faded address numbers, make sure the door operates easily, and replace or tighten any rusty or loose parts. This is also a great time to make sure the path to your mailbox is easily accessible.

Elderly and/or disabled persons who are located in an area that requires roadside mailboxes can apply for front door delivery.

Mail carriers are not allowed to accept keys. If you purchase a locking mailbox make sure it can be easily accessed without the key for the delivery of your mail.

Purchase a New Mailbox Now

Whether you are shopping for a commercial or residential mailbox you will want to make sure it meets all USPS mailbox regulations. National Mailboxes has a full product line of mailboxes to meet all your residential and commercial needs.

You can request a quote online or contact them by phone at 800-676-5161. Don’t hesitate, contact them today!