Wondering why you haven’t been getting your mail? You might be able to solve this problem by simply checking whether your mailbox is blocked by anything. You’ll be surprised to learn just how many rules and regulations the United States Postal Service (USPS) has in place for mailboxes!
You need to leave 30 feet of clearance around your mailbox at all times. It’s important to go 15 feet before and 15 feet after the mailbox, or the mail carrier will skip your house. Make sure you also keep trash cans, bikes, and any other obstacles out of the way.
Along with ensuring nothing of yours is blocking your mailbox, be mindful of your neighbors’ things as well. It won’t make a difference to the delivery person if it’s your stuff or theirs. Keeping the mailbox clear is the key to uninterrupted mail deliveries.
What Happens if Your Mailbox Is Blocked?
According to USPS regulations, a mail carrier can skip your house if the mailbox is impeded or blocked. This can be any type of blockages, such as a trash can or a car parked in front of the mailbox. A carrier can also refuse delivery if your mailbox is too low or high, which makes it difficult to reach the box from the carrier’s car.
The USPS has several rules regarding the installation of mailboxes, including:
- Curbside mailboxes should face the road and must be placed 6 to 8 inches away from the curb.
- The bottom of the mailbox should not be higher than 45 inches or lower than 41 inches from the ground.
- The house number should be displayed clearly and legibly, with each digit measuring one inch tall.
- Wooden mailbox posts should not measure more than 4×4 inches.
- Aluminum or steel posts should measure less than 2 inches in diameter.
If mail carriers had to step out of the car to deliver the mail to each box, they would never be able to complete their route in time. This is why they’re permitted to skip mailboxes that don’t have the required clearance.
If your mailbox remains blocked, the USPS can refuse to provide service. If this happens, you’ll have to pick up your mail from the post office yourself.
How Much Clearance Is Needed Around a Mailbox?
The USPS requires 30 feet of clearance around your mailbox. In simpler words, you’ll need to leave 15 feet before and 15 feet after the box. If there are multiple mailboxes, leave 15 feet before the first mailbox and 15 feet after the last one.
This clearance gives mail carriers more than enough space to reach the mailbox, deliver the mail, and quickly re-enter traffic. It also allows them to check for any safety issues, such as pedestrians or kids that may be in the way.
It’s important to remember that each locality or city has its own set of rules regulating mailboxes. So, while your post office might not have a problem with you parking your car 20 feet away from your mailbox, your city ordinances might not allow it. Make sure you follow all the rules for your specific region!
There’s a Neighbor Blocking Your Mailbox – What Can You Do?
It’s your responsibility to ensure your mailbox has the proper clearance. However, fulfilling this responsibility can be frustrating if your neighbor keeps blocking your mailbox, even after you ask them nicely not to do so.
You can check if your town has laws regulating situations like these, and then contact your township for assistance. If required, they can ticket or tow the offender, or provide you with ‘No Parking’ signs to use.
You can also have your curb painted red, have it designated as a no-parking zone, or get your own signs, such as these Easy-to-Mount No Parking Signs (on Amazon). If your neighbor still refuses to budge, try talking to your carrier. If they know the blockage isn’t your fault, they may be more accommodating.
If all else fails, you can always rent a post office box. They’re easy to use and don’t cost too much. This way, you can skip the whole confrontation with your neighbor and get uninterrupted mail daily. While this method doesn’t exactly solve the root issue, it may be the preferred choice for some.