Watching how hard they work, especially in inclement weather or seasons of extreme duress (looking at you, winter holidays), makes many people want to gift their mail carriers.
But what is the USPS gift policy for mail carriers? What can they accept? Well, look no further for answers! I’ve researched the matter, and here’s what I found out!
What Is the USPS Gift Policy?
The United States Postal Service allows people to give gifts to their mail carriers and other employees, but they’re limited in what and how much they can legally accept. That said, the law prevents employees from taking cash, cash equivalents (gift cards), and alcohol but can receive gifts worth $20 or less per customer and per occasion.
If you have more questions about what gifts you can give your mail carrier, such as if they’re allowed to take tips, keep on reading!
How Much Can a USPS Employee Accept as a Gift?
As federally adjacent employees (the Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch), USPS workers follow a strict ethical code of conduct.
So, part of that involves accepting gifts.
Further, while no cash gift or cash equivalent (such as gift cards, which can be easily exchanged for cash) can be gifted to mail carriers, gifts up to $20 in value are permissible.
Also, no carrier can accept more than $50 in gifts from a single customer in an entire year.
Are USPS Drivers Allowed To Take Tips?
No, USPS mail carriers and drivers are not allowed to accept cash tips.
That said, this is because the Postal Service forbids its employees from accepting cash (or cash equivalent) gifts of any kind.
Thus, gift cards are also off the table because a carrier can trade them in for cash.
Instead of tips, you can show your appreciation in other creative ways.
For example, some residents put out snack baskets for their delivery people, with chips, pretzels, and sweets, as well as a small cooler with sodas and water bottles.
Why Can’t You Tip Your USPS Mail Carrier?
From my research, the ban on gifts of money – including tips – is a trickle-down rule that starts at the top of the executive branch.
Because the potential exists that some less ethical people holding the highest office might be swayed or blackmailed after receiving a gift, the practice is outright banned.
That said, this rule holds for all executive branch employees, which is what the Postal Service falls under.
While it might seem silly that you can’t tip your mail carrier $20 for excellent service, allowing it could potentially open the door to tempting criminal behavior.
What Are Some Unique Gifts For Postal Workers?
Not being able to leave cash or a gift card maxes out the creativity for many of us, but there are still tons of gift ideas that are allowable!
For example, here is a list of unique gifts you can leave your mail carrier:
- Disposable hand warmers: Especially useful during the cold winter months.
- Homemade baked goods: Who could say no to a plate of chocolate chip cookies?
- Flowers (worth less than $20, naturally)
- Handmade thank-you cards from your children
- Packets of powdered flavor add-ins: A nice flavor boost to add to water bottles.
- A box of local chocolates: Best during the colder months, so they don’t melt.
- Extra-strength hand lotion or balm: If they’re using a lot of hand sanitizer, that can dry out skin pretty fast.
- Lip balm: In cold-weather areas, the elements can wreak havoc on lips.
As you can see, there are still plenty of thoughtful gestures beyond cash or gift cards.
If you have known your mail carrier for a long time and you know more about them personally, then you have even more options, like treats for a pet or a book.
Additionally, while very festive and likely much appreciated, alcohol is not an acceptable gift.
How Do You Gift Your USPS Mail Carrier?
You have a few options for physically giving the gift to your postal carrier.
First, you can just hand it to them when they are at your residence.
Second, you can leave it close to the mailbox, like a porch, on a bench, or on a small table. With that, make sure you address the gift so the mail carrier knows they’re the intended recipient.
Or, if it fits inside the mailbox, you can put it in there for them to grab. Again, make sure to address the gift properly!