Contents Index
D000 Basic Information
D040 Delivery of Mail

D041 Customer Mail Receptacles


D041 describes the standards for letterboxes or other receptacles for the deposit or receipt of mail. It also contains the standards for curbside mailboxes.

1.0 Basic Standards

1.1Authorized Depository

Except as excluded by 1.2, every letterbox or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any city delivery route, rural delivery route, highway contract route, or other mail route is designated an authorized depository for mail within the meaning of 18 USC 1702, 1705, 1708, and 1725.


Door slots and nonlockable bins or troughs used with apartment house mailboxes are not letterboxes within the meaning of 18 USC 1725 and are not private mail receptacles for the standards for mailable matter not bearing postage found in or on private mail receptacles. The post or other support is not part of the receptacle.

1.3Use for Mail

Except under 2.11, the receptacles described in 1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 2.10 or 2.11, no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail.

1.4Clear Approach

Customers must keep the approach to their mailboxes clear of obstructions to allow safe access for delivery. If USPS employees are impeded in reaching a mail receptacle, the postmaster may withdraw delivery service.

2.0 Curbside Mailboxes

2.1Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturers of all mailboxes designed and made to be erected at the edge of a roadway or curbside of a street and to be served by a carrier from a vehicle on any city route, rural route, or highway contract route must obtain approval of their products under USPS Standard 7, Mailboxes, City and Rural Curbside. To receive these construction standards and drawings or other information about the manufacture of curbside mailboxes, write to USPS Engineering (see G043 for address).


The local postmaster may approve a curbside mailbox constructed by a customer who, for aesthetic or other reasons, does not want to use an approved manufactured box. The custom-built box must generally meet the same standards as approved manufactured boxes for flag, size, strength, and quality of construction.

2.3Address Identification

Every curbside mailbox must bear the following address information:

a. A box number, if used, inscribed in contrasting color in neat letters and numerals at least 1 inch high on the side of the box visible to the carrier’s regular approach, or on the door if boxes are grouped.

b. A house number if street names and house numbers have been assigned by local authorities, and the postmaster authorizes their use as a postal address. If the box is on a different street from the customer’s residence, the street name and house number must be inscribed on the box.

2.4Owners Name

The mailbox may bear the owner’s name.


Any advertising on a mailbox or its support is prohibited.

2.6Mailbox Post

The post or other support for a curbside mailbox must be neat and of adequate strength and size. The post may not represent effigies or caricatures that tend to disparage or ridicule any person. The box may be attached to a fixed or movable arm.


Subject to state laws and regulations, a curbside mailbox must be placed to allow safe and convenient delivery by carriers without leaving their vehicles. The box must be on the right-hand side of the road in the direction of travel of the carriers on any new rural route or highway contract route, in all cases where traffic conditions are dangerous for the carriers to drive to the left to reach the box, or where their doing so would violate traffic laws and regulations.

2.8More Than One Family

If more than one family wishes to share a mail receptacle, the following standards apply:

a. Route and Box Number Addressing. On rural and highway contract routes authorized to use a route and box numbering system (e.g., RR 1 BOX 155), up to five families may share a single mail receptacle and use a common route and box designation. A written notice of agreement, signed by the heads of the families or individuals who want to join in the use of such box, must be filed with the postmaster at the delivery office.

b. Conversion to Street Name and Number Addressing. When street name and numbering systems are adopted, those addresses reflect distinct customer locations and sequences. Rural and highway contract route customers who are assigned different primary addresses (e.g., 123 APPLE WAY vs. 136 APPLE WAY) should erect individual mail receptacles in locations recommended by their postmasters and begin using their new addresses. Customers having different primary addresses who wish to continue sharing a common receptacle must use the address of the receptacle’s owner and the “care of” address format:




Customers having a common primary address (e.g., 800 MAIN ST) but different secondary addresses (e.g., APT 101, APT 102, etc.) may continue to share a common receptacle if single-point delivery is authorized for the primary address. Secondary addresses should still be included in all correspondence.

2.9Locked Box

A mailbox with a lock must have a slot that is large enough to accommodate the customer’s normal daily mail volume. The USPS neither opens a locked box nor accepts a key for this purpose.

2.10Delivery of Unstamped Newspapers

Generally, curbside mailboxes are to be used for mail only. However, publishers of newspapers regularly mailed as Periodicals may, on Sundays and national holidays only, place copies of the Sunday or holiday issues in the rural route and highway contract route boxes of subscribers if those copies are removed from the boxes before the next scheduled day of mail delivery.

2.11Newspaper Receptacle

A receptacle for newspaper delivery by private carriers may be attached to the post of a curbside mailbox used by the USPS if the receptacle:

a. Does not touch the mailbox or use any part of the mailbox for support.

b. Does not interfere with the delivery of mail, obstruct the view of the mailbox flag, or present a hazard to carrier or vehicle.

c. Does not extend beyond the front of the mailbox when the box door is closed.

d. Does not display advertising, except the publication title.

DMM Issue 58 (8-10-03)