USPS has more locations available for shipping services than any other shipping titan in the US, with around 143,000 USPS mailboxes or collection boxes available 24/7.
But can you drop packages off in those USPS mailboxes, and are there limits on what you can drop off there? I’ve researched the matter, and here’s everything I discovered!
Can I Drop a Package in a USPS Mailbox?
Packages can be dropped off in a USPS mailbox, but only if they meet certain requirements. To drop a package off in a USPS mailbox, it must fit in the mail chute, cannot be a restricted material, not weigh over 14 ounces, and must contain the correct postage, return address, and shipping labels.
If you want to save yourself time and energy by dropping off a package in a USPS collection box, be sure to keep reading so you know all of the dos and don’ts!
Where Can I Find a USPS Mailbox?
USPS has a total of around 143,000 active collection boxes in use around the country, so it’s highly likely there’s one near you!
Therefore, to find an active USPS collection box to drop your packages and mail at, simply visit this page of the USPS website.
Once you’ve reached the site, fill in your zip code or the zip code you’re looking for a collection box in, and then use the scroll-down menu to select “Collection Boxes.”
Next, the website should populate all of the available collection boxes within the distance you’ve selected.
As a general rule of thumb, USPS typically places collection boxes in areas with higher foot traffic and population density for consumer convenience.
What Steps Do You Need To Follow To Drop a Package Off at a USPS Mailbox?
Dropping off a package in a collection box is pretty similar to dropping off a package at the post office, except no one is there to do things for you.
So, the first thing to do is make sure whatever you’re shipping is packaged carefully and securely and that it weighs 14 ounces or less.
Once you complete both of those steps, be sure to affix the correct label to your package and return address information and the proper postage.
If these steps aren’t followed or executed correctly, your package will be returned to you by the courier once the collection box is emptied, so be sure to follow these directions closely to avoid wasting time!
What Can You Not Drop Off in a USPS Mailbox?
While being able to drop off packages at USPS collection boxes broadens your options as a consumer, there are certain limitations on what you can drop off at collection boxes.
For example, the most notable and common of these limitations is international mail.
While you can certainly drop off some international mail at USPS collection boxes, you must ensure all customs information is correct and submitted online before dropping off the package.
That said, any international mail that requires a customs declaration that bears postage stamps cannot ship from a USPS collection box.
Also, another limitation on shipments made from collection boxes has to do with the weight of your package.
For example, all packages shipped from a collection box must weigh 14 ounces or less, which means they must weigh less than a pound.
However, there are exceptions to this, such as returning items from companies like Stitch Fix.
But, if you’re trying to ship a package for the first time, the best practice is only to use a collection box if your parcel weighs less than one pound.
Moreover, it’s wise to check the sign on the collection box you plan to use, as some allow for parcels and some don’t.
With that, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs on your local collection box!
Additionally, you cannot drop packages off in USPS collection boxes that are restricted, hazardous, or perishable items.
How Often Do USPS Mailboxes Get Emptied?
Active USPS collection boxes typically get emptied every day by the courier assigned to that route.
That said, the USPS worker on the route scans the barcode inside the collection box to confirm that they’ve picked up the box’s contents no later than 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
However, collection boxes can get emptied at any point on a courier’s route.
So, even if you drop your package at the collection box before 5 p.m., it’s possible the courier has already picked up that box and won’t be back until the following day.
Because of this, if your package is time-sensitive or you’re relying heavily on tracking, it might not be a great choice to use a collection box to ship your package.
To know more about USPS, you can also read our posts on whether or not you can pick up a package from USPS, USPS priority mail vs. first-class, and USPS mail.