Mailbox Installation: Height, Distance, and Other Requirements for Installing a Mailbox

In our last article, we talked about how you, a new homeowner, should expect the mail to come and how to deal with receiving mail and interacting with the mail carrier. Basically, when it’s time for the mail to come, either be ready to receive it from your local mail carrier or make sure your mail carrier knows how to handle your daily mail.

In plenty of cases, though, homeowners may not be present to receive the mail, which is why mailboxes are an extremely handy feature on the property for both the homeowner and the mail carrier. In residential properties like multi-story apartments and condominiums, mailboxes are automatically provided at the ground floor so that the carrier won’t have to climb every floor to provide everyone with their daily mail. But in traditional houses and similar new residential properties, it may be necessary for the homeowner to buy a new one or replace their old mailbox.

When it comes to installing your mailbox, however, the United States Postal Services (USPS) has a lot of requirements and standards. From the ideal mailbox height to the where it is in your home, your mailbox must adhere to the USPS standards if you want your local mail carrier to use it. If your mailbox doesn’t adhere to the rules and regulations, it will be difficult to ensure the safety of your mail and packages, which may lead to the carrier refusing to leave your mail in it.

Curbside Mailboxes

If you’re buying a new home that doesn’t have a mailbox yet or you find that the old mailbox is badly in need of a replacement, you can find mailboxes for sale online, in hardware stores, or in niche stores that specialize in USPS-compliant mailboxes. The price can go as low as $15 for your ordinary-sized mailbox, but if you want something bigger, more durable, or provides better security features, prices can reach up to a hundred dollars.

Photo from Better Box Mailboxes

Most mailbox manufacturers are aware of the USPS’s standards and ensure that their products meet at least the internal and external requirements. You’ll know it meets the standards if it has the Postmaster General’s seal of approval. If you have the skills for it, you may also design and make your own customised mailbox as long as it fits with these standards. Before building it, though, you need to show your local postmaster the blueprints of your design for approval.

Where to Install Your Curbside Mailboxes

Your mailbox must be on the right-hand side of the road and facing outwards. Plenty of mail carriers drive a vehicle, and putting your mailbox outwards makes it easy for them to access it without having to leave their vehicle. Your mailbox must also be labelled with a visible house number with at least one inch in height for easier identification.
For measurements, your mailbox must be 6 to 8 inches away from the curb. Your mailbox’s ideal height should be around 41 to 45 inches from the ground, measured from the road surface to the bottom of your mailbox. This is to ensure that the average mail carrier can reach the mailbox from their vehicle.

When burying your mailbox post, you need quality wood no larger than 4×4 inches or steel and aluminum pipes with a 2-inch diameter. At least two feet or 24 inches of these posts must be buried underground to ensure the mailbox’s stability. Avoid unnecessarily heavy or unstable posts as these can break easily or cause harm to your mail or the mail carrier.

Wall-Mounted Mailboxes

Another form of mailbox is the wall-mounted mailbox located near the front door, garage, or any wall surface rather than by the curbside. In such case, the mail carrier will have to get out of their vehicle and walk to your mailbox.If you’re interested in replacing your curbside mailbox with a wall-mounted one (and vice versa), you’ll need prior approval from your local postmaster first.

Photo from ArchiExpo

Unlike curbside mailboxes, wall-mounted mailboxes come in various sizes and styles. These do not require the Postmaster General’s approval, so you can choose whatever looks best mounted on your wall and provides enough space for your mail volume. For your mail carrier’s convenience and yours when collecting the mail, it’s best to put your mailbox near the front door.
Also, unlike curbside mailboxes, your mail carrier cannot put newspapers and other items that do not have postage in this mailbox.

Door Slots

In some cases, some homes do not have a mailbox but have a slot on their front door for the mail. In case your house has both, your mail carrier may leave your mail in your mailbox as it saves them the time of having to walk up to your door and leave the mail, though if you prefer having it left on your door slot, you can always request this as well. However, door slots also come with certain standards.
Door slots must be at least 30 to 45 inches off the ground and have a vertical or horizontal opening of at least 1.5 by 7 inches. The door slot must be covered by a hinged flap to make it easier for your mail carrier to drop off your mail while, at the same time, protecting you and your household from intruders and unwanted prying eyes. Some mail slots come with hoods, which cover the opening flap and prevents people from reaching into your mail slot or peeking in.
Like mailbox manufacturers, most door manufacturers that produce doors with mail slots adhere to the USPS’s standards. You can also create your own DIY mail slot on your front door, but it has to adhere to the USPS’s standards.

What Happens If My Mailboxes Don’t Fit USPS Standards?

The standards exist for the mail carrier’s convenience (so they can do their job efficiently) and also for your own. If your mailbox doesn’t adhere to the USPS’s standards, the safety of your mail may be compromised or it won’t be able to fit inside. While your mail carrier can’t refuse to give your mail, they may have to personally hand you the mail every day, which can be quite inconvenient when going about your daily morning routine.

Mailbox Maintenance

After buying a new mailbox or replacing your mail receptacle with any one of the four mentioned, you need to check your mailbox at least once a year to check for any damage that could compromise your mail. Identifying loose hinges, rusted parts, or worn-out numbers can help avoid any problems that may arise from worn out mailboxes.

By following the rules and regulations on installing your home’s mailbox, delivering the mail can be much easier on your local mail carrier (which can help you develop a better working relationship) and more convenient and safer for you. When in doubt, call your local USPS office to learn more about how to be install your mailbox or find someone who understands the standards and is willing to help install it for you.

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