Receiving larger parcels can be worrisome when you live in a shared residential community, like an apartment, condo complex, or mobile home park.
Luckily, USPS can make deliveries to parcel lockers, ensuring that items that can’t fit in a regular mailbox can be kept safe. But, what exactly is a USPS parcel locker? I’ve done the research, so you don’t have to!
What Is A USPS Parcel Locker In 2023?
A USPS parcel locker is part of a community mailbox area, where mail carriers can securely leave larger deliveries that don’t fit into the smaller mailboxes as of 2023. That said, parcel lockers may be private or USPS-owned, with USPS providing locks and keys for its own.
To learn how parcel lockers work, how you retrieve your package from a parcel locker, if parcel lockers are safe, and so much more, keep reading!
How Do USPS Parcel Lockers Work?
If you live in an apartment, condo, private community, or mobile home park, then you may have experienced a mail carrier dropping off large packages in a communal mail area.
Basically, when you have something delivered to your shared community mail center that’s too big to fit in a mailbox, it just sits, unsecured, out in the open.
Therefore, USPS parcel lockers seek to avoid this issue by providing a safe, secure place for mail carriers to leave packages that won’t fit in apartment-size mailboxes.
Also, the Postal Service is starting to require new and remodeled multi-residential buildings to include parcel lockers with their cluster boxes!
So, not only do parcel lockers offer peace of mind to the resident, but they also help reduce post-delivery headaches for the Postal Service like stolen package claims, for example.
Moreover, there are two general types of parcel lockers to which USPS will deliver:
USPS-Owned Parcel Lockers
USPS can install their own parcel lockers to join the mailbox unit in your building/community.\
For these, the Postal Service provides each resident a lock and three keys, and an individual parcel locker.
Per the USPS website, residents are welcome to make additional key copies if needed.
Additionally, some parcel lockers may operate slightly differently, where a parcel locker key is left in the resident’s mailbox for them to retrieve their package.
In this instance, USPS doesn’t individually assign parcel lockers.
Privately-Owned Parcel Lockers
Also, there are privately-owned parcel locker systems where your property management or owner holds all the power.
In this instance, the property owner must provide the locks and keys, and they may have a system for notifying residents about parcels and retrieving them.
How Do You Get A Package From A USPS Parcel Locker?
How you retrieve a package from a parcel locker largely depends on the cluster box system your building or community has in place.
For example, where there are individual parcel lockers for each resident, and everyone has a key, you can check your parcel locker as often as you like.
Chances are, you were tracking that package anyway, so as soon as the USPS Tracking status says “Delivered” or “Delivered To A Parcel Locker,” you can go check it.
Then, you simply use the key in the lock and open it up.
However, if your building or community doesn’t assign individual parcel lockers, they may instead leave a key in your letter mailbox.
With that, there will be some identifying number or letter (or a combination thereof), which you take to the corresponding parcel locker.
Next, use the key in the lock, grab your package and leave the key in the parcel locker for management or the Postal carrier to grab.
(This latter method is similar to how PO box parcel lockers work in the Post Office.)
Additionally, privately-owned parcel lockers may have differing methods for retrieving packages. For example, you might have to get the key from someone at a desk or office.
How Do You Open A USPS Parcel Locker?
To open a USPS parcel locker, you will need a key, which USPS provides for its parcel locker unit.
Although the locks are generally built into the locker units, you can rest assured, as each time a resident moves out, the locks are changed, and the keys are updated.
Moreover, the Postal Service allows you to make copies of the key, at your own expense, with no limit on the number of copies.
What Does It Mean When USPS Says Delivered To A Parcel Locker?
If you live in a building or community with parcel lockers, and your USPS tracking says “Delivered To A Parcel Locker,” then you know exactly where to look for your package.
That said, mail carriers may opt to deliver packages in parcel lockers for various reasons: the size of the package, security reasons, or accessibility reasons.
With parcel lockers, you know your package is safe and secure until you retrieve it.
Is A USPS Parcel Locker At The Post Office?
Yes, there are USPS parcel lockers at the Post Office as part of the PO Box system, but those are only for PO box holders.
Rather, parcel lockers for non-PO box holders are located at apartments/condos and other communities, forming part of a cluster box unit.
That said, “cluster box” is a general term used to signify the set of mailboxes common in shared residential spaces.
If you’re new to an apartment or other residential community, and you’re not sure where to find your parcel box, try looking right where the cluster of mailboxes are located.
Are USPS Parcel Lockers Safe?
Yes, parcel lockers are much safer than simply leaving your package in an unsecured area.
Therefore, the safety and security of parcel lockers offer an immediate deterrent to opportunistic package pirates.
Can parcel lockers’ locks be picked? Yes, but it takes some effort and would draw no small attention, especially in busy cluster box areas.
What Happens If You Lose Your USPS Parcel Locker Key?
If you lose your USPS parcel locker key (for an individual parcel locker), you will have to go to your delivering Post Office.
Keep in mind; you won’t be able to access your parcel locker until the matter gets cleared up.
To get another key, simply go to the Post Office and explain what happened, your name, address, and parcel locker number.
Next, USPS will most likely send someone to change the lock and issue new keys.
However, USPS will not, for safety and security reasons, simply issue you new keys to the old lock.
If you want to know more, you can also see our posts on USPS delivery instructions, if USPS packages are insured, and what happens when a USPS package is stolen.
USPS parcel lockers are secure and convenient, not only for mail recipients but also for the Postal Service.
These larger-size mailboxes, commonly found in apartment/condo buildings and shared residential communities, are likely to continue growing in popularity.