As we hurtle through the 21st century, more and more processes are becoming automated. Stores of all types have added self-serve check-out lanes.
That includes some of USPS’s Post Offices. If you haven’t been inside one recently, you might have missed the fact that it’s added self-service kiosks! What is the USPS self-service kiosk? I’m breaking down the details below!
What Is The USPS Self-Service Kiosk In 2023?
The United States Postal Service introduced self-service kiosks in 2004 to allow customers to perform routine Post Office services quickly and conveniently as of 2023. The ATM-like machines sell postage, weigh parcels, and quite a few other simple actions and many are accessible 24/7, 365 days of the year.
If you have more questions about USPS self-service kiosks, how and why you should use them, what form of payment you’ll need, and so much more, keep reading!
What Can You Do At The USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
The USPS self-service kiosk is a lot like its website, USPS.com, combined with the full-service desk that most people use.
That said, many of the services are exactly the same. Further, at the USPS self-service kiosk you can:
- See what shipping options are available for your mailpiece
- Weigh parcels and other mailpieces
- Purchase postage for a variety of different USPS shipping services
- Add on particular services, like Insurance, Signatures, Delivery Confirmation, etc.
- Lookup ZIP codes
- Renew your PO box
- Check out without using cash
- Have a receipt printed with any applicable tracking numbers
As you can see from the above list, the self-service kiosks are a terrific alternative for most of the things people come into the Post Office to do.
So, unless you have to speak to an associate or the Postmaster, you can bypass the counter line altogether.
Even better, several kiosks are located in the Post Office lobbies, outside the area where the counter gets gated off during non-retail hours.
Therefore, most kiosks are accessible at any time of the day, any day of the week, even Sundays and holidays!
Before you go, though, the best way to ascertain where your nearest kiosk is and what its hours are is to check online with the USPS.com locator tool.
Then, you can even set a filter so that the search results will only show you locations with self-service kiosks.
How Do You Use The USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
The USPS self-service kiosks are a little intimidating at first, but they have been designed to walk you through any transaction you might require.
With that, you’ll initiate the transaction by picking a service on the touch screen, which include:
- Mail a letter or package
- Buy stamps
- Printing a shipping label
- And much more!
If you need to weigh a parcel, the scale is the flat surface to the left of the screen.
On the other hand, if you have purchased postage, it will be dispensed in sticker form, so you can just slap it on your mailpiece.
Additionally, you must pay with a card, debit, or credit, as the machines don’t accept cash.
Further, to visualize how easy it is to use the self-service kiosk at your local Post Office, check out this funny video from USPS TV.
After you have affixed your postage, however, you aren’t done.
Next, you’ll take the mailpieces to the drop-off slots and slide them in. If you have a parcel too big to fit, you can just drop it off at the counter, and an employee will know what to do.
Why Should You Use The USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
There are several reasons why everyone should at least try the USPS self-service kiosks.
First, they’re incredibly convenient. No printer for at-home postage? Only have time to buy postage on a Sunday or holiday or at 2 a.m.?
Because many kiosks are available 24/7, year-round, you have access to many of the same services at the counter, but at literally any time of day, any day of the week.
Next, self-service kiosks are terrific if you’re in a hurry. Unfortunately, several people have been in some long lines at the Post Office, especially in the time leading up to the winter holidays.
Therefore, you can skip those lines and get in and out faster by using the self-service kiosks.
Finally, if avoiding human interaction is something you’d value (you just got done at the gym, you’re not feeling well, etc.), the kiosks remove face-to-face transactions.
When Are The USPS Self-Service Kiosks Open?
Many USPS self-service kiosks are open and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on Sundays and holidays.
Like Post Office boxes, the kiosks tend to be located in the lobby area of the Post Office, not near the counter, which usually gets gated off during non-retail hours.
Before you head out, check the USPS.com location tool to ensure that the location you’re heading to does have 24-hour lobby hours.
Does Your Post Office Have A USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
The best way to find out if your Post Office has a self-service kiosk is to search with the USPS.com location tool.
Also, the site returns results based on distance from you, so it’s best to use your ZIP code rather than just a city name.
How Do You Buy Stamps From USPS Self Service Kiosk?
When you sidle on up to the self-service kiosk, “Buy Stamps” actually gets a button of its own.
After pressing that button, the screen will navigate to a new menu with stamp options, like Express Mail, a Forever stamps booklet, or individual stamps.
At every applicable step where price might be a factor in your purchase, the kiosk will show you the cost of each option, so you aren’t surprised at the end.
Then, after you have finished picking which type of stamps you want, you will be prompted to make your payment.
At this point, you do this by using a debit or credit card. Unfortunately, no cash or mobile payments are available at the USPS kiosks at this time.
After your payment goes through, your postage will be dispensed, and you’ll have the option to make another purchase.
Finally, the kiosk will dispense your receipt, and you’re good to go about your day!
Further, you can watch this entertaining YouTube video on the process. While it’s from 2010, the experience hasn’t changed a whole lot since then!
Can You Ship Packages From The USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
The USPS self-service kiosks do indeed allow you to purchase the postage necessary to ship packages.
If you bring along packing tape, you can even get flat-rate boxes (and envelopes) for free at the Post Office, pack them up, then pay for the flat-rate postage at the kiosk.
If you have brought your own, not-flat-rate parcel, the kiosks have built-in scales so that you can weigh them and see how much it would cost to ship with the different USPS services.
For example, the kiosk will show you how much it would cost to send your parcel Priority Express and how quickly it would reach its destination.
Also, it would show you the rates for Priority Mail and the estimated delivery date. If your parcel qualifies for First-Class Package Service, you’ll see those rates, too.
Whatever you choose, the kiosks print your labels, which you can then affix on the parcels.
Then, you’ll drop them either in the collection bin or give them to someone at the counter.
Can You Scan In Packages At USPS Self Service Kiosk?
Yes, USPS self-service kiosks do allow you to scan prepaid labels.
Sellers on eCommerce sites like eBay or Amazon prefer to drop packages off and perhaps wait a day or two for USPS to acknowledge the parcels are in Postal Service hands.
Then, the confirmation that the parcel is in the USPS system thus happens more quickly and will show up faster on USPS tracking.
That said, you can do this at the kiosk by choosing either “Scan Prepaid Label Now” or “Other Services” and then “Scan Prepaid Label” (depending on how old your PO’s machine is).
At this point, there’s a scanner, signified by the bright red led it emits, just under the keyboard and card reader, where you can hold up your barcode and scan the parcel into the system.
Then, the screen will reflect some basic information about the parcel, like the tracking number and the destination city/state/ZIP.
As the last step, you’ll hit “Finish” and receive a receipt before you drop off the parcel in the appropriate bin as usual.
For an excellent visual of this process, check out the informative video here!
USPS self-service kiosks are a step in the right direction for both customers and the agency itself.
Thanks to the many services offered at kiosks, like printing labels, buying stamps, and scanning prepaid packages, customers can get in and out without waiting in line for the counter.
Also, the kiosks thin out the lines for Postal employees at the counter to provide more personalized services to those who need them.