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How to Make Sure Your Commercial Mailbox is USPS Approved

You’ve done the planning for your commercial or multi-family property. You’ve chosen your palette, layout, and design. Then you spent lots of money to build or renovate your property, including your mailboxes, which are the centralized type designed to serve anywhere from a few to dozens of customers at once. You’ve invested in these mailboxes to prevent mail theft, as the compartments lock and are sturdy. You also find the centralized mailbox type convenient, as a single cabinet holds multiple compartments and probably parcel lockers.

USPS ApprovedBut now, the post office won’t deliver because your mailboxes aren’t approved! You’re dealing with angry tenants who aren’t receiving mail and packages from the USPS, and this means time-consuming trips to the post office.

No one who manages a property wants such a scenario. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your commercial mailboxes will meet USPS guidelines before you choose, plan, and install them.

Avoid this list of mistakes when choosing and installing your mailboxes.

Mistake #1: Not Checking with the Postmaster. When planning a new property or renovation in which mailboxes will be involved, not running your design past the postmaster is a big mistake.

This is because the USPS will only deliver to mailboxes that are easy to access and find, and these mailboxes must be available at all times and never behind locked doors. These mailboxes must also be safe to access, and your delivery person shouldn’t have to traverse stairs or walk far to carry mail to the boxes. Checking with the postmaster will help determine if your chosen location for mailboxes is acceptable and will help you correct any issues before you build or renovate.

Mistake #2: Ordering the Wrong Mailboxes. Did you know that not all centralized mailboxes are approved for USPS delivery? Or that the wrong series can mean disapproval of your mailboxes?

Follow these important points when choosing your centralized mailboxes:

  • You will need mailboxes that are USPS-approved if you desire USPS delivery to them.
  • “USPS Approved” means that the mailbox meets the USPS’s construction requirements. Since 2006, the USPS has followed the “STD-4C” guidelines for mailboxes, which makes them more durable and less prone to vandalism than their older counterparts.
  • National Mailboxes will list a centralized mailbox as “USPS Approved” if it meets these requirements. Those mailboxes that are not approved are listed as “Private Delivery.”
  • Note that since 2006, all new centralized mailboxes receiving USPS delivery must be of the 4C series, unless you are replacing older 4B units with the same type and that area is not undergoing any major renovations.
  • Avoid purchasing 4B mailboxes unless you are replacing other 4B mailboxes of the exact same type and doing no major renovations. They are only USPS-approved for replacement and will say so on the National Mailboxes website.
  • If you are replacing 4B mailboxes, you’ll need to keep them in the same location as the old mailboxes.

Mistake #3: Not Providing Enough Parcel Lockers. Package delivery is more important than ever. That’s why the new, 4C mailboxes usually have parcel lockers. These lockers allow safe delivery of packages, and customers receive a key to access the locker.

Parcel lockers aren’t always required, but you’ll need them if:

  • Your mailboxes serve more than ten customers, and you’re not doing a new installation for an apartment complex. In this case, you’ll need at least one parcel locker per ten customer compartments.
  • You’re doing a new centralized mailbox installation for apartments. In this case, you’ll need one locker per five compartments.

Mistake #4: Failing to Comply with the ADA. Federal law requires commercial properties to follow the ADA when installing mailboxes. Doing so will allow wheelchair access and provide ample accessibility to everyone who needs to check mail.

Some important things to do when installing your mailboxes are:

  • Allow three feet of free space in front of each mailbox. This allows wheelchair access in front of each unit.
  • Use ramps instead of stairs if your mailboxes are any distance above ground level.
  • If mailboxes are behind closed doors (such as in an apartment lobby) be sure to provide ramps and enough space to easily open doors for wheelchair access.
  • Install your centralized mailboxes so that any parcel lockers are no closer to the ground than 15 inches. Thankfully, USPS-approved mailboxes are built to meet this requirement, so if you install the mailbox with the parcel locker’s bottom at this height, you should meet all height requirements.
  • Ensure at least one regular customer unit is 42 inches above the ground/floor or lower, for wheelchair access. Again, 4C mailboxes are built to meet this requirement.
  • No customer lock can be above 67 inches from the floor.

Mistake #5: Obstructions and Damage. Mailboxes must never be obstructed by vehicles, equipment, snow, ice, or other issues. Do not install them in a place where such a scenario can occur. Avoiding the first mistake and checking with the postmaster will help to avoid this issue.

Of course, some things out of the property manager’s control can happen, such as severe winter storms or car accidents.

  • Remember that the property owner or manager is responsible for quickly fixing such issues. Maintaining the area, salting, and clearing snow/trash/vehicles is very important. Towing vehicles that are blocking mailboxes can keep them clear and be sure to post “no parking” signs if necessary.
  • If the mailboxes are damaged, the property owner/manager is also responsible for repairs. Quickly replace broken locks, doors, or other parts of the mailbox, or the USPS may not deliver.

Questions? Concerns? We’re Here to Help. At National Mailboxes, we can help you choose the right mailbox for USPS delivery, and help you answer questions that you may have about installation and making sure they’re approved for USPS delivery. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out today.