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How to Follow the Postal Service’s Cluster Mailbox Rules

Are you installing a new centralized, or cluster, mailbox in a development, or planning one?

Centralized mailboxes are an excellent and convenient way for commercial properties and communities to handle incoming and outgoing USPS mail. They can be mounted to walls, stand alone, or recess into vertical surfaces. They consist of metal cabinets that hold multiple customer units and parcel lockers. Cluster mailboxes stand on pedestals or alone as freestanding units, while commercial delivery centers consist of mailboxes installed on or inside of another structure.

You may be wondering what rules and regulations you need to follow to install such a setup, so that you can be sure the USPS will deliver to your mailboxes. Before you install, keep these things in mind to avoid expensive mistakes and delivery interruptions.

Contact Your Post Office. The USPS is there to help you choose the right location on your property to install your centralized mailboxes. Every area has a USPS Growth Manager who is there to help developers choose the right mailbox location, and to ensure that the area follows the ADA to allow access for all.

When developing a new property, you are required to consult the USPS as part of the process, and before you begin building. The USPS will come in during the planning phase, and will go over your plans for mail delivery. Here, you’ll make corrections as needed.

To reach your local Growth Manager, contact your post office and speak to the Postmaster, or ask for someone who can help developers. This employee will help you navigate the rules as you choose a location for your mailbox. If you plan to build a kiosk or other structure for your mail system, this employee can also help you meet ADA regulations and ensure the USPS can find and access the location easily.

Consult USPS Publications. The USPS publishes a list of approved centralized mailboxes each year, and also details the requirements for installation. Be sure to check these resources before you start building, and before you submit your final plans.

Follow the ADA. Before installation, ensure that your plans follow the Americans With Disabilities Act. This act not only mandates wheelchair ramps and handrails in certain areas but adds requirements for centralized mailboxes.

For example, you’ll need three feet of clearance in front of each unit to allow wheelchair access, and your mailboxes will need to be fifteen inches off the finished floor or ground surface. You’ll also need to ensure that at least one customer compartment is no higher than forty-eight inches from the ground or floor surface. All compartments need to be between twenty-eight and sixty-seven inches off the ground. (This is why parcel lockers are located at the bottom of centralized mailboxes.)

The master, or arrow lock, for USPS access will need to be between three and four feet off the ground for easy access.

These requirements are designed to meet sections 308 and 309 of the ADA so that reach ranges and the operation of locks are accessible to all.

The good news is that centralized mailboxes that are USPS-approved are manufactured to meet these requirements easily. If you install your unit to meet one of these requirements, you will typically meet all of them.

Choose USPS-Approved Mailboxes. If you’ve looked at commercial mailboxes on the National Mailboxes website, you may have noticed that some are labeled USPS-Approved or For Private Delivery. This is because the USPS only approves mailboxes that meet stringent security requirements. These mailboxes are the 4C line of centralized units. The USPS will not deliver to mailboxes that are only for private delivery. These mailboxes are used internally by organizations such as college campuses and military bases.

The USPS has likely recommended a certain mailbox type for your development. Whether you have freestanding or mounted mailboxes, there will be a USPS-approved model that will work for your development.

Install According to Manufacturer Instructions. If you are installing recessed or wall-mounted mailboxes, simply follow instructions and the approved plan you have. Cluster or freestanding mailboxes will require a concrete slab with certain dimensions such as width and thickness, depending on the exact model.

After Installation, Contact the USPS Again. To fully cooperate with USPS regulations, a postal employee will need to install the master lock on your new mailboxes. Then, you will need to distribute keys to each customer to complete the installation. There should be three keys per compartment, as they will come with your mailbox purchase.

Which Mailbox Should You Choose? At National Mailboxes, we can help you choose the right mailbox for your development and to ensure USPS delivery for many years to come. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.