What Does USPS Do When A Mailbox Is Full? (Explained)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an agency that is part of the United States federal government. It is responsible for providing postal services in the US.

The USPS provides many services that make sending and receiving mail very convenient for Americans. It has a set of policies and protocols that apply in different situations. 

The USPS also has policies when a mailbox is full.

Here is What the USPS Does When a Mailbox is Full:

When a mailbox is full, the USPS mail carrier will first try to deliver the mail personally if the homeowner is home. Otherwise, the mail carrier will leave a note on the mailbox, and the mail will be taken back to the post office for the homeowner to claim.

When Is A Mailbox Considered “Too Full?”

A mailbox is considered “too full” when it no longer has space for incoming mail.

There is no exact number of mail that can fit in a mailbox as the size of mailboxes may vary. Also, mail may vary since mailboxes can generally fit letter mails and small parcels.

It is up to the mail carrier to decide if the mailbox is too full. Normally, they deem it too full if they can no longer fit any new mail in the mailbox.

Can USPS Refuse To Deliver Mail To A Full Box?

If a mailbox is full, the USPS can refuse to deliver mail. They are legally allowed to do so.

If the USPS mail carrier opens your mailbox and discovers that it is full or nearly overflowing with letters and parcels, they can choose to stop delivering mail.

This is because you are giving them the impression that you are not using your mailbox. They can also assume that you are away for a long period.

With your mailbox full and unable to fit more mail, the USPS mail carrier would have nowhere safe to place your incoming mail. They cannot just leave it on your porch as it can attract mail thieves.

Mail thieves steal parcels and even letters so they can get some personal information that can put your privacy and safety at risk.

This is why you must constantly check and retrieve mail from your mailbox. You do not want to pry hands to steal your mail and obtain personal information like banking information and account numbers.

It is okay if you miss a day or two but always check your mail as much as possible.

Why Would A Mailbox Get Too Full?

There are a few common reasons that a mailbox would get too full:

The Homeowner is on Vacation

This is the most common reason that a mailbox gets too full. The homeowner is on vacation, so their mail got collected and piled up over time in the mailbox.

To avoid this, one thing you can do when going on a vacation is to ask a friend, family member, or trusted neighbor to check your mailbox. This is so they can retrieve incoming mail and keep it for you.

This way, you prevent the risk of your mailbox getting too full.

Another thing you can do is sign up for the Hold Mail service that the USPS is offering. The USPS offers a service where you can ask them to hold your mail for 30 days when you are on vacation.

This means that they will not deliver your mail in those 30 days, and you can claim it from them when you get back.

If you are going on a longer than 30 days vacation, you can request a service that forwards your mail to a different address. This is a good option if you need someone to receive important mail on your behalf, such as bills, so they can also handle it for you.

Any of the solutions above can prevent your mailbox from getting full.

Plus, you do not want a full mailbox to attract potential burglars. Full mailboxes are one of the things that burglars look out for.

If your mailbox is full because you are on vacation, it makes your house an easy target for burglary.

The Mail Inside Is Too Big

If you have several parcels or bulky mail delivered and stored in your mailbox, then it would make your mailbox too full.

Mailboxes can also fit small parcels. However, if you have several parcels delivered and forget to check your mailbox for a day or two, your mailbox will be too full.

The mail carrier would not be able to fit any more incoming mail because your mailbox is jam-packed with parcels.

So if you are expecting to receive bigger and bulkier mail, make sure to retrieve them from your mailbox as soon as possible to prevent it from getting too full.

The Homeowner is Ignoring Their Mailbox

This is another common reason that a mailbox is full. The homeowner is simply not checking their mailbox, either on purpose or because they just forgot about it.

Make a calendar reminder if you tend to forget to check your mail. It is okay to miss a day or two, but you have to check your mailbox regularly.

If your mailbox gets too full because you neglect it, USPS will stop delivering your mail. They will also attach a notice to your mailbox that they have stopped delivery and that any incoming mail will be on hold at the post office.

Then you either have to request redelivery or pick it up yourself at the post office. Both can be an inconvenience.

Plus, you do not want to miss out on any important mail like government forms or bills.

Will The USPS Keep Your Mail If They Don’t Deliver it?

If your mailbox is full and the USPS carrier does not deliver your mail, they bring it back to the post office and keep it.

Undelivered mail will be on hold at your local post office for 10 days. Then you can have it redelivered by filling out a form.

You can also go to the post office to pick it up. Just bring a valid ID when you claim your mail.

If you have not taken any action to get the mail within 10 days, either by redelivery or by picking it up, the mail will be returned to the sender.

If the mail has no return address, the post office will cover it. If the mail has no value, it will be destroyed.

If deemed valuable, it will be taken to the Mail Recovery Center located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Mail Recovery Center is also the post office lost and found. They can hold the mail for up to 90 days so that the recipient or sender can still claim it.

If it is still unclaimed after 90 days, it will be auctioned.

How Can You Access Undelivered Mail?

Either redelivery or pickup can access undelivered mail.

When the USPS stops delivering your mail because they found that your mailbox was full, they will leave a notice on your mailbox.

The most convenient way to access your mail is by requesting redelivery.

To request redelivery, you need to fill up a form online. Then your undelivered mail will be redelivered to your address on the next delivery date.

Make sure you have enough space in your mailbox by then.

Another option is for you to pick up the undelivered mail at your local post office. If it is not a hassle for you to go to the post office or if you do not want to wait for redelivery, this is a good option.

Just go to the post office to claim your mail. Remember to bring a valid ID so they can verify your identity before giving you your mail.

If you have undelivered mail that has already been on hold for more than 10 days, you would no longer be able to access it unless it is valuable. Because if it does not have any value, the post office may have already destroyed it.

If it was deemed valuable, meaning it is worth $25 and up, they might have taken it to the Mail Recovery Center. As long as 90 days have not passed, you can still claim it there.

Mail is meant to be secure, and this means that you should get it from your mailbox every day if possible. If you are going on a vacation, remember to sign up for the USPS Hold Mail service or ask someone to retrieve your mail.

That way, your mail still stays secure even if you are away.


What if Accumulated Mail Exceeds Mailbox Size?

USPS No Mail Will Be Delivered

Good Question, “What If You Leave Your Mail In The Box?”

You Can’t Ignore Your Mailbox… Or Can You?