USPS Drop Box | What Is It & How To Use It
You have probably seen those blue USPS collection boxes scattered throughout your town before. But, have you ever wondered what those boxes are for or how they can be used? They can help save you a trip to the post office and make your life a lot easier when you need to send something through the mail. There are some rules about the types of items that can be placed into these boxes, though. If you want to know how to use these drop off boxes provided by the postal service, then keep reading! We will tell you how they work as well as the kinds of things that you can put into them.
What Is A USPS Drop Box?
A USPS drop box is a blue mailbox provided by the United States postal service that serves as a drop off point for mail and packages meeting certain guidelines. You will generally find these boxes located in larger cities like Denver, San Antonio, or Columbus. For example, in New York, you might find one of these USPS mailboxes every couple of blocks. In more rural areas, you are not likely to find these mailboxes because they will not get as much use.
These drop boxes provide an easy way for USPS customers to drop their letters in the mail without visiting the post office. Most people try to avoid going to the post office unless absolutely necessary. The lines are often long, and the location might not be convenient. These boxes allow for an easy way to drop a letter in the mail, and the boxes are usually located in busy and convenient areas.
What Can Be Placed Into USPS Collection Boxes?
The U.S. Postal Service will accept many types of items in these blue mailboxes, but you cannot simply cram anything that you want into the boxes. Basically, any first-class letter can be placed into the boxes. Remember that first-class letters can only weigh up to 3.5 oz. If you have a smaller package, then it can probably be placed into the box. However, the package must weigh less than 13 ounces if you are using postage stamps to send the package. If your package weighs more than 13 ounces, then it must have a pre-printed shipping label attached to it. You cannot place a package over 13 ounces into one of these boxes if you are using stamps for postage. Similarly, these drop boxes are only large enough to hold boxes that are about 3 inches tall. Most eCommerce packages will need to be dropped at the post office.
These mail collection boxes are used mostly for domestic shipments. When it comes to international shipping, some additional rules apply. While you can place mail items for international shipping into these boxes, the customs declarations must have been submitted online. If the declarations were not submitted online, the item cannot be placed into the collection box. Likewise, if your package requires a customs declaration, it cannot be placed into the box if it uses postage stamps. Always remember to follow the rules about USPS shipping restrictions. Never placed prohibited items into a collection box.
USPS Drop Box Pickup Schedule
The outgoing mail pickup schedule varies slightly from one box to the next. However, all boxes are picked up at least once per day on Monday through Friday. Typically, the pickup time will be in the late afternoon. It is generally between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM local time. The mail carrier must scan the barcode on the inside of the box at pickup to verify that the box has been emptied. Some boxes that have a very high volume of mail might even be emptied twice per day on weekdays.
Many boxes also have Saturday pickup times as well. Since mail is delivered on Saturday, this is considered a normal workday for the postal service. Mail delivery does not happen on Sunday, and likewise, the collection boxes are not emptied on Sunday. If you miss the last pickup time on Friday or Saturday, then your mail piece will sit in the box until it is picked up on Monday.
Other Places To Drop Mail
Now that you know the blue boxes are mail drop locations, perhaps you are wondering if there are other places where you can mail a letter. The answer is yes! There are a few other places where you can drop mail, and here they are.
— Post Office
The U.S. post office is probably the most common place to drop your mail. Not only can you drop outgoing mail here, but you can also purchase postage, speak to the postmaster, or handle any other necessary business about your mail. If your mail item does not qualify to be dropped in a collection box, then most people choose to visit the post office to mail the item. You can drop off your items at the counter with a postal worker or drop them in the outgoing mail chute that is generally located near the P.O. boxes.
If you have a mailbox at your home where mail is delivered, then you can drop outgoing mail there as well. Place your letter in your mailbox and raise the little red flag. The red flag signals the mail carrier that mail inside the box needs to be collected. Your mail carrier will pick up the mail along their regular route and return it to the post office for processing. This is often an incredibly convenient option for people who have mailboxes at their homes.
— USPS Distribution Center
Similar to a post office, you can drop mail at some USPS distribution centers. Not all distribution centers allow the public to drop off mail, though. So, if you have a distribution center nearby, you should check with the USPS to see whether you can drop mail items there.
— Third-Party Mail Handler
Third-party mail centers like the UPS Store or some FedEx stores can also take your regular USPS mail items. These retail stores will also generally allow you to purchase stamps and other types of postage there as well. Many of these locations even offer virtual addresses and mail forwarding services, although there are some types of mail services that will still need to be performed at your local post office. Even though they are USPS approved for some tasks, these stores are not official USPS stores, so they are not authorized to perform certain activities.
The Bottom Line
The blue USPS drop boxes that you see around town can be used to drop outgoing letters and small packages. However, if you drop a package in the box, make sure that you use a pre-printed postage label. You can print labels from Stamps.com, USPS.com, and other postage suppliers. These boxes are generally collected at least once per day, and they can be very convenient by saving you a trip to the post office.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put a box in a USPS drop box?
Yes, but there are a few rules concerning the boxes that can be placed there. First, the box should be small enough to fit into the drop box. Next, if it weighs more than 13 ounces, then you will need to use a pre-printed postage label. You cannot use stamps to send a package weighing more than 13 ounces in one of the blue collection boxes.
Is there a limit on how many times you can use the USPS drop box?
No, you can use these boxes as many times as you wish. They are there for your convenience, and some people use them quite often. You can also place as many letters into the box as you wish. As long as the letters will fit into the box, then you are free to drop them in so that the post office can pick them up and process them.
What are the hours of operation for a USPS drop box?
A USPS drop box is technically open 24 hours per day. You can drop letters or small packages into the box at any time. However, pickup generally occurs in the afternoon of each weekday. Some boxes also have pickup times on Saturday as well. Mail is not picked up from the boxes on Sunday.