Can Mail Carriers Refuse To Deliver Mail? (Basic Rules)

Mail carriers have a tough job. They must navigate streets and roadways, delivering mail from house to house, all day long.

If there are dogs in the yard or an especially bad snowstorm, the mail carrier might be unable to deliver your mail on time.

Below is more information about what happens when a USPS worker reaches the end of their rope and refuses to deliver your mail:

Here’s Why Mail Carriers Can Refuse to Deliver Mail:

When a mail carrier refuses to pick up mail, it’s usually because the carrier has decided that the address is too dangerous or difficult to reach. The carrier may leave a note at the house explaining why. Carriers can also refuse to deliver mail on holidays, during strikes, and for medical reasons.

Can Mail Carriers Refuse to Pick up Mail?

Yes, mail carriers can refuse to pick up mail. Mail carriers can refuse to pick up mail for any number of reasons.

When a mail carrier refuses to pick up mail, it’s usually because the carrier has decided that the address is too dangerous or difficult to reach. In this case, the carrier may leave a note at the house explaining why they won’t be delivering any more mail.

Call your local post office if the carrier doesn’t leave a note, and you want your mail picked up.

Also, if you have an apartment building with a broken front door, it would be dangerous for a mail carrier to enter the building without assistance from someone in your building who can guide him through the entryway.

Without a safe entryway, the mail carrier would have no choice but to refuse delivery on that day and attempt another day when another carrier could safely deliver mail into your building.

This is not just about protecting his safety. He also needs to ensure that he doesn’t put others at risk by forcing them onto an unsecured walkway to deliver their letters.

How Bad Would Weather Have to be to Deter Mail Delivery?

The Postal Service requires mail carriers to deliver mail in all weather conditions.

You’ll have to wait until the next day if the weather is bad enough. Mail carriers use their judgment when deciding whether a delivery route is too dangerous, especially during stormy or icy conditions.

Mail carriers can’t keep you from receiving your mail if it has been properly addressed, even if they won’t make deliveries because of unsafe weather conditions.

However, you can contact your local post office for more information about what qualifies as hazardous weather, how much time will pass before receiving your mail again, and whether there’s anything you can do about it.

Can Mail Carriers Refuse to Deliver Mail?

Mail carriers have a lot of power to decide whether or not they can deliver mail.

The basic rules are as follows:

  • If the weather is too bad, mail carriers aren’t required to deliver your letters. This includes snowstorms, heavy rain, and anything else preventing them from safely reaching your mailbox.
  • If a mail carrier feels unsafe while delivering the mail, they do not have to do so. They may refuse the delivery because of an animal attack (such as if a dog bites them), fear of domestic violence, or other serious threats.
  • Lastly, if a mail carrier feels that delivering certain packages will harm the environment in some way—for example, by using plastic bags instead of reusable containers—they may not deliver those items.

Can Mail Carriers Go on Strike?

Mail carriers can’t go on strike.

The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 states that any mail service disruption, including strikes by postal workers, is illegal. In addition, the law states that all postal workers must “perform their duties faithfully and honestly.”

If they refuse, they can be subject to fines or even imprisonment.

The Act also prohibits any interference with mail delivery by anyone other than authorized postal employees. This includes tampering with mailboxes or entering private property without permission from an owner or resident.

In addition to these core rules, there are specific regulations regarding how mail should be delivered.

 For example:

  • Mail carriers must deliver all mail within three days of it arriving at a post office, unless there is an emergency, such as extreme weather conditions.
  • Suppose you receive more than one piece of mail addressed to someone else in your mailbox. In that case, you should notify your local post office immediately so that they can investigate why this happened and take appropriate action if necessary.
  • Mail carriers cannot refuse to deliver mail because they don’t like a person’s politics, race, or other personal attributes. The postal service is a non-partisan institution that serves all citizens equally.

If there were ever an instance where postal workers could go on strike, which hasn’t happened in decades, it would have to be over labor disputes such as pay or benefits packages for employees at post offices across the country.

On What Occasions Would Mail Carriers Refuse to Work?

Mail carriers are considered the most important part of the postal system.

Without them, there would be no mail. Although mail carriers are essential, their work can sometimes be dangerous. There have been many instances in which mail carriers have refused to work.

Mail carriers can refuse to work if they feel unsafe. There are many examples of how this might happen.

For instance, a mail carrier could refuse to enter an area they think might be dangerous because of drug-related activity because they fear being robbed or assaulted. Also, it may be because people in the area have been known to commit violent crimes.

Mail carriers can also refuse service if they do not have enough equipment and clothing to perform their duties as mail carriers properly. For example, some postal workers may be required by their employer—the U.S Postal Service—to wear certain clothes, such as specific types of pants or jackets.

If those clothes are unavailable during cold weather like winter, those workers will most likely not work until temperatures rise or this issue is fixed.

Final Thoughts

Mail carriers cover a lot of ground daily and regularly encounter all kinds of weather.

Most of the time, delivery can proceed normally. However, there are exceptions, and they have some discretion about handling certain situations.


The Postal Service and Its Obligation – USPS Office of Inspector General 

The Great Postal Strike of 1970 | AFL-CIO