Are Mailboxes Still Required? (Basic Rules)

Whether you are residing in a standalone house or an apartment building, it is common for residential places to have a mailbox. Are you required to have one?

Generally, if you want incoming mail to be delivered to your address, you must have a mailbox. Any incoming mail sent to you will be on hold at your local post office if you do not have one.

Here is Why Mailboxes are Required for Receiving Incoming Mail:

The US Postal Service has the policy to deliver all mail to mailboxes to ensure that the mail is delivered safely. The USPS mail carriers are not allowed to leave your mail at the door or on your porch for your own security, so if you do not have a mailbox, you will not receive any incoming mail.

Is Mail Delivered Without A Mailbox?

Many people without mailboxes can receive packages delivered through UPS or FedEx. However, the US Postal Service has different policies on mail deliveries.

Mail is not delivered without a mailbox.

Generally, only people with mailboxes are serviced by the USPS. This means that if you do not have a mailbox, you will not be able to receive mail that is coursed through the USPS.

You must have some form of container or receptacle for mail. If you live in a standalone house, you should ideally have a curbside mailbox following USPS regulations.

You can buy a ready-made USPS-approved mailbox at a hardware store and have it installed following the USPS policies. You can also have a custom mailbox built for you. But before building and installing one, you must have it approved by your local postmaster general.

Mailboxes can be made from approved materials: plastic, wood, or metal. You cannot make it from concrete, stone, or brick.

With permission from your local post office, it can also be a slot in the door or a mailbox that is attached beside your front door. This is allowed in areas where USPS mail carriers go on foot when making their deliveries.

As long the mailbox is safe to use, follows the USPS rules and regulations, is easily accessible for the USPS mail carriers, and protects your mail, then you should be all set.

If you live in an apartment building, you would not have to worry about getting a mailbox as these residential places already have mailboxes for tenants. These mailboxes are called community mailboxes or cluster mailboxes, and they are usually placed in the lobby near the entrance or just outside the apartment building.

If you have incoming mail and you do not have a mailbox at your new house, it will be on hold at the local post office for 10 days. You can install a mailbox and request redelivery or go to your local post office to claim it.

If unclaimed, first- and second-class mail will be returned to the sender, while third-class mail, including parcels, will be recycled.

This only applies to new addresses with no mailboxes. After 10 days and you still have not installed a mailbox, your mail will no longer be delivered, and you can no longer get it at the post office.

Are Mailboxes Required By Law?

Legally, you do not need a mailbox. Mailboxes are not required by law.

So if you move into a house with no mailbox, you are not legally mandated to buy and install one. If you already have a mailbox and want to stop receiving mail, you can remove your mailbox.

If you remove your mailbox, any mail that would be delivered to you after removal would be marked as “NMR,” which stands for “No Mail Receptacle,” and it would automatically be returned to the sender.

If you expect to receive important parcels via mail through the USPS and do not have a mailbox, they will be returned to the sender.

If you do decide to remove your mailbox, it is best to put a sign that you no longer have a mailbox, and the US Postal Service will handle the rest.

So if you really have no use for your mailbox, you are legally allowed to remove it at your own discretion, but the USPS will not be held liable for any mail or parcel returned to the sender.

When Can you Opt-Out of a Mailbox?

You can opt-out of a mailbox when you really have no use for it.

There are a few instances where you do not have a use for a mailbox.

You Have a PO Box

If you have a Post Office box, then you can opt-out of having a mailbox since all your incoming mail will be delivered in your PO box. 

Having a PO box instead of a residential mailbox has some benefits.

You Are Receiving Mail at Work

If you prefer to receive mail in your workplace or your business address, you can opt-out of having a mailbox.

When removing your mailbox, you must go to your local post office to change your delivery address from your home address to your office one. You can also make this change online.

You Want to Stop Receiving Mail

If you want to stop receiving mail at your residential address, you can opt-out of having a mailbox.

You will stop receiving mail, or you can explore other options to get them, such as using a friend’s business address or renting a UPS version of a PO box.

Do People Prefer PO Boxes?

Post Office Boxes, or PO Boxes, are mail receptacles you can rent at your local post office.

This is another way to receive mail, so you do not have to use your residential address. Renting a PO Box can cost around $100 per year, but prices may vary depending on your local post office.

A lot of people prefer PO Boxes. Here are the reasons why:

  • With a PO box, you get a permanent business address.
  • A PO box can protect your privacy since you are not using your home address. This provides a lot of security for those who do not want their home addresses known for safety purposes.
  • Mail is safer and more secured in a PO Box because it is physically located inside the post office and constantly monitored. Mail and packages do not get stolen from PO Boxes as it is always locked and can only be accessed using a key or a combination lock.
  • Mail and packages sent through the USPS are delivered faster because the local post office hosts PO Boxes.
  • If you often travel, having an overflowing PO Box is safer than an overflowing mailbox. Full mailboxes give burglars an indication that no one is at home, which can cause them to target your house for burglary. After all, overflowing mailboxes are something that burglars look out for.
  • For some people, it is safer because they can limit access to their home address to those from whom they like to receive mail.

Do Houses in the Countryside Have Mailboxes?

Depending on the location, some houses in the countryside or rural areas have mailboxes while some do not. The rules and regulations vary per location.

In some countryside locations, houses have mailboxes. Even in these areas, individual mailboxes must still follow the same regulations, whether placed along a main rural highway or town.

However, rural mail delivery can mean that there will be some additional policies regarding the installation and placement of the mailbox. Ultimately, the local post office in the area will specify the accepted measurements for the distance of the mailbox from the curb and its height from the ground while leaving some options for the homeowner.

The post office assigns a box to each house in countryside locations where houses do not have mailboxes. These boxes work just like PO Boxes address-wise. These boxes are all grouped like cluster mailboxes, and they are usually located on the main road,

To summarize, you are legally not required to have a mailbox. However, if you opt-out of having one, you must find an alternative way to receive mail. Otherwise, your mail will be returned, and the US Postal Service will not be held liable for any valuable or important mail sent back.


Getting Packages Without A Mailbox

Reasons For Renting A PO Box

Rural Mailbox Regulations