Getting locked out of our houses is pretty common, and it happens even to the best of us.
The same goes with being locked out of your mailbox because you lost the key.
Losing the key to your mailbox can be a hassle, especially if you are expecting important incoming mail. Getting a replacement key can take days.
More often than not, getting a locksmith to open your mailbox may be the fastest solution.
Here Is How Locksmiths Can Help If You Lose Your Key:
Locksmiths can open any lock, and that includes mailboxes. If you lose the key to your mailbox, you can call a professional locksmith to unlock your mailbox for you. Additionally, they can help make a new key for you if your mailbox is not owned and maintained by the USPS.
Can Locksmiths Open Mailboxes Legally?
If you lose the key to your mailbox and need to access it right away, getting a locksmith to open it is the fastest solution.
Professional locksmiths can open mailboxes legally. They are even recommended on the USPS website.
Some locksmiths are available 24/7, but their services tend to be expensive. You would also have to pay for the expenses for labor and hardware.
After prying your mailbox open, locksmiths can also create a new key for your mailbox, whether USPS owns the box. However, it will be more expensive.
Locksmith fees vary depending on your location and the homeowner’s association regulations that apply to your neighborhood.
Getting a replacement key for your USPS mailbox is free if you request it from USPS, but it can take days. Getting a replacement key from a locksmith is quicker, but it costs a hefty price.
Can USPS Mailmen Open Locked Mailboxes?
USPS mailmen cannot open locked mailboxes. This is because they are not allowed to carry keys to residential mailboxes.
There are no universal keys for USPS mailboxes, and mailmen do not have spare keys.
USPS-approved locked mailboxes work the same way as unlocked curbside mailboxes. The mailman delivers your mail by depositing it through a slot designed for incoming mail.
This mail slot does not have a lock, and it is big enough for mail and small parcels to fit. However, it is not big enough for prying hands to reach inside it and be able to steal your mail.
Once the mail is delivered through the mail slot, it is secured and protected from potential mail thieves.
With a locked mailbox, the homeowner retrieves their mail using their key. The locked door may be on the front or rear side of the mailbox.
USPS-approved mailboxes have a separate compartment for outgoing mail. Outgoing mail is usually handled by placing it in the said compartment.
The door to this compartment is not locked as the outgoing mail must be accessible to the mail carrier so they can collect it. It would be best if you raised the flag to signal the mail carrier that there is outgoing mail.
However, the raised flag can also call the attention of thieves. Some outgoing mail can include bill payments and account information.
This is why it is recommended to deposit your outgoing mail in a USPS drop box.
Can You Rekey A Mailbox?
Rekeying is the process of getting a new key so that it will start to work with the lock. It is different from the process of getting a duplicate.
To rekey locks, professional locksmiths should have access to the current key that works with the lock, the lock itself, and the new key that you want the lock to rekey to. It is not a difficult process for professional locksmiths.
This process may work for different locks. However, most mailboxes cannot be rekeyed.
If you lose the key to your mailbox, you can request a duplicate from USPS if it is owned and maintained by USPS. Or you can ask a professional locksmith to duplicate the key for you.
You can also change the lock on the mailbox if you want.
However, rekeying mailboxes is not usually not possible. This is because most mailboxes have locks secured by a retention pin.
This retention pin cannot easily be removed.
How Do You Unlock A Mailbox If You Lose the Key?
If you lose the key to your mailbox and need to access it right away, you can do a few things to solve this, depending on the mailbox type.
Community mailboxes are those mailboxes that you normally see in an apartment building.
If you live in an apartment complex or a condominium and lose the key to your mailbox, you can easily call the owner or the building manager.
They usually have spares and can easily open them for you.
If you live in a house with a curbside mailbox, there are a couple of options.
You can open the mailbox yourself if you have the tools to do it. Or you can have it unlocked by a professional locksmith.
The latter is the fastest and safest option, but it is also expensive.
Can You Open Your Mailbox Yourself?
Since hiring a professional locksmith to open your mailbox can be expensive, DIY is also an option. If you have the right tools, you can open your mailbox yourself.
All you need is a lock picking kit. A lock picking kit is a tool designed just for picking locks.
This kit normally contains levers and pics in different sizes, so you are sure to find one that works for your lock. You can buy one online or at a hardware store.
If you do not have a lock picking kit, you can make do with bobby pins or paper clips. You can make a lever and pick using the bobby pins or paper clips.
Just make sure to use sturdy ones so they won’t bend, especially when you apply pressure on them.
If you use bobby pins or paper clips, you also need needle-nose pliers. But if you have a lock picking kit, pliers are not necessary.
Here are the steps to unlock your mailbox:
Insert The Short End of The Lever Into the Keyhole:
Be firm when holding it while keeping a part of the lever outside the lock.
Turn the long end like a key while adding pressure. Make sure to add pressure slowly, so you do not damage the lever.
Insert The Pick Inside The Lock:
A lock has 5 pinks, and when all of them are the same height, it will unlock.
Using the pick inside the lock, push the pins using its bent end. Please start with the first pin, as it is the easiest to reach.
Do this process until all pins are successfully lifted to the same height.
Using the lever, turn the barrel of the lock both ways to move it. This will open the lock.
Then you can remove the pick and the lever from the door.
Who Else Can You Call To Open Your Mailbox?
If you are having trouble getting to your mailbox because you lost your key, calling a professional locksmith is your best bet to get your mailbox opened.
If you live in an apartment complex or condominium, you can call the owner or building manager to help you open your mailbox.
If you have a friend who is handy and has the right tools, you can also seek help from them to open your mailbox.
What Else Can You Do If You Lose Your Key?
Losing your mailbox key can be such a hassle. If this happens to you, do not panic.
While there may be certain costs to it, it is a simple problem with a simple solution.
What to do if you lose your mailbox key depends on the kind of mailbox that you have.
If you lost the key to your community mailbox, inform the building manager as soon as possible.
Each building has its own rules, but it is common knowledge that you need to inform the building manager if you lose your key.
The next step is to find the website of the USPS post office that manages your mailbox and fill out the form to request a replacement key. Then you need to pay the fee, which is usually $20 or more.
The USPS post office will send you an email to tell you when your new key is ready for pick-up at your post office. You will need to present a valid ID when you claim it.
Once you get back home, try the new key right away to see if it works. You can request a new replacement key free of charge if it does not work.
USPS Post Office Boxes
If you have a USPS post office box, you are given two keys, so you should have a spare if you lose the main one.
If you lose both of them, the process is the same as with community mailboxes. You have to request a new key from USPS.
Just go to the USPS website and fill out the USPS Form 1903 so you can request a new copy of your mailbox key.
The fee for key replacement depends on your location and the type of box you own, but it is usually around $10.
For residential boxes, your local post office would not be able to help as they do not carry spare keys for this type of mailbox.
The best you can do is to get a locksmith to open your mailbox and create a new copy of your mailbox key.
However, this option can be very expensive. It would be cheaper to use an entirely new mailbox.