Do All Mailboxes Get Picked Up? (Explained)

Having a mailbox is convenient because you do not have to go to the post office if you have mail to send out. The USPS mail carrier can pick it up and deliver it to its destination.

But not all mailboxes get picked up. Sometimes mailboxes can get skipped by the USPS mail carrier in your area for several reasons.

This can be inconvenient, especially if you have important mail to send out, like payment for bills that have a strict deadline.

Here is Why Not All Mailboxes Get Picked up:

One of the main reasons your mail is not getting picked up is that you do not have a full-service mailbox. Only mail from the full-service mailbox is picked up. Another common reason is that you may not be using a USPS-approved mailbox.

What Mailboxes Are Approved By The USPS?

There are certain specifications for standard mailboxes. The USPS approves only mailboxes that meet the STD-4C requirements.

Here are the specifications needed for a mailbox to be approved by the USPS:

  • The mailbox should have a minimum size of 12” width x 15” depth x 3” height
  • The minimum number of parcel lockers should be based on a 1:10 ratio of parcel locker to customer compartment.
  • The entire receptacle should have improved security.
  • The compartment should have a standard lock design.
  • The mailbox should meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are additional specifications depending on the type of mailbox that you have.

Residential Post Mailboxes:

Approved residential post mailboxes placed on a curbside should adhere to certain distance restrictions.

The mailbox should be 41” to 45” above ground level. This is for easy delivery. The post must be 6” to 8” from the curb.

This is so that the mailbox would not be a hazard for pedestrians or drivers. Also, the post should not be deeper than 24” into the ground.

The post can be made of wood or metal, while the mailbox can be made of plastic, wood, ferrous metal, or non-ferrous metal. If the box is made of wood, the door handle and flag should be plastic.

The mailbox can be traditional, contemporary, or locking. Traditional and contemporary mailboxes can be three different sizes, depending on your preference and needs.

The size can be 22.8” x 11” x 15”. Locking mailboxes have more allowed size dimensions because they have security features.

If you decide to have a cust0m-made mailbox, check with your local postmaster general first and have the plans approved before installing it.

Wall Mounted Residential Mailboxes

For a wall-mounted residential mailbox, a requirement is that it should be easy for the mail carrier to reach. The mailbox should be accessible and visible from the sidewalk.

Before installing a wall-mounted mailbox, you need to have it approved by your local postmaster general. They can help you determine the right dimensions so that it meets the requirements.

You also need to consider the size. Wall-mounted residential mailboxes tend to be smaller than curbside mailboxes.

This means that the number of mail you can receive will be limited.

This also means you have to check for mail very often, so you do not risk having a full mailbox.

Cluster Mailboxes

Cluster mailboxes are the mailboxes that you see in multi-family residential dwellings.

These pertain to apartment complexes or condominiums.

Cluster mailboxes should also meet STD-4C specifications. These specifications include the minimum compartment size, parcel locker ratio, standardized design for tenants, ADA compliance, etc.

If you own an apartment complex, you can get in touch with the US Mail Supply to help you find the recommended mailboxes for your building.

Which Mailboxes Are Avoided By The USPS?

The USPS avoids some mailboxes.

The USPS avoids these mailboxes for a reason, and we will get to that in detail.

Limited Service Mailboxes:

The USPS avoids limited service mailboxes.

This is because these mailboxes are made only for receiving mail. These mailboxes are meant not to be able to store outgoing mail.

It is easy to spot a limited-service mailbox. These mailboxes do not have a carrier signal flag, unlike full-service ones.

So if your house has a limited-service mailbox, you would have to go to the USPS collection box or your local post office so you can send out your mail.

If you have a full-service mailbox and the carrier signal flag is broken, make sure to fix it. The flag is made to inform the mail carrier that outgoing mail is ready for pick-up.

As long as they do not see a raised flag on your mailbox, they will not stop to check it.

Unapproved USPS Mailboxes:

Mailboxes that are unapproved by the USPS are also generally avoided.

If the USPS did not approve your mailbox, they reserve the right to refuse to provide you services.

Mailboxes do not get approved when the design and specifications do not meet the standards.

It could be that the mailbox is too small and does not meet the minimum size requirements. It could be that the mailbox is made of materials that are not allowed, such as concrete, brick, or stone.

It could be that the mailbox is too close to the curbside.

This is why your mailbox design must get approved by your local postmaster general to get the full set of services provided by the USPS.

Too Full Mailboxes:

The USPS avoids mailboxes that are too full.

When a mailbox is deemed too full by the USPS mail carrier, they will put a note on the box indicating that it is too full and that they will no longer deliver all incoming mail until you empty your mailbox.

If your mailbox has that note stuck to it, other mail carriers will avoid it, so you have no choice but to retrieve the mail to make way for any new incoming mail.

Can Your Mail Pick-Up/Drop-Off Get Skipped?

It may be inconvenient, but your mail pick-up or drop-off can get skipped.

Β This happens for several reasons:

The Mailbox is Blocked

Homeowners are required to ensure that their mailbox is easily accessible. This includes removing anything that can get in the way of the mail carrier.

A vehicle blocking the mailbox can also prevent the delivery or collection of mail. According to the policy of USPS, mail carriers should get out of their vehicle to deliver or collect mail if the mailbox is temporarily blocked by a vehicle.

However, if this is a common occurrence where the homeowner can move the vehicle a bit to provide access, the postmaster is legally allowed to withdraw services.

Your mailbox may also be blocked by snow. In this case, it is your responsibility to remove the snow that can get in the way of the carrier.

Another temporary fix is for you to meet the carrier at your box.

There Is A Dog On The Premises

Unrestrained dogs can affect mail delivery and collection.

If the mail carrier deems that the dog could be a potential threat to their safety, they may temporarily stop any mail pick-up and drop-off.

If you have a dog, make sure it is indoors or restrained during delivery hours.

There Are Travel Obstructions in Your Area

Your mail drop-off can get skipped if your mailbox is full.

The mail carrier will then leave a note and return the overflow mail to the post office.

You will then be given 10 days to pick it up or request redelivery.

There Are Travel Obstructions in Your Area

If certain road conditions in your area can disrupt mail delivery and collection, then these services may be withdrawn.

If there are travel obstructions in your area, notify whoever is responsible for road maintenance to fix this issue.

There Are Hazardous Weather Conditions

Your mail drop-off and pick-up may be skipped if there is a natural disaster or if your area is experiencing hazardous weather conditions.

For the safety of the mail carriers, the USPS will temporarily halt any mail services until it is deemed safe again.

USPS Service Alerts normally provide all their customers with service disruptions due to inclement weather or natural disasters.

How Can You Fix Getting Missed by the Mailman?

If you are anticipating mail and the mailman missed your mailbox, it could be that the mail has not arrived at your local post office yet.

Or that it did not make it to the cut-off for delivery.

If you have outgoing mail and the mailman missed your mailbox, you can schedule a pick-up. Once you do, make sure that the outgoing mail is in the proper receptacle.

If it does not fit the box, you can place it on the porch or anywhere that is visible to the mail carrier.

And to ensure that your mailbox never gets skipped, you need to do the following:

  • Make sure you have a full-service mailbox that is USPS-approved, with the carrier signal flag properly working.
  • Ensure that the mailbox is fully accessible with no obstructions or safety hazards for the mail carrier.
  • Prevent your mailbox from getting too full by regularly checking it and retrieving your mail.
  • Restrain any dogs on your property by keeping them indoors or by tying them up while mail delivery is ongoing in your area.


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