Sending and Receiving Mail

Here are some useful mailing hints for senders and recipients.

Sending Mail

You can send mail by:

  • Dropping it into a blue collection box.
  • Leaving it in your home mailbox.
  • Scheduling a pickup.
  • Taking it to a Post Office.

If your item weighs more than 10 ounces, and you have affixed postage stamps, you must take it to an employee at the retail counter of a Post Office.

Scheduling a Pickup

Whether it's Package Pickup or time-specific Pickup On Demand, USPS pickup options make shipping your packages quick and convenient.

Package Pickup is the easy, convenient way to send qualifying packages. Just submit your request online at and have your items ready before your carrier arrives. It’s that simple!

Pickup On Demand allows you to schedule time-specific pickups within a 2-hour time frame. A letter carrier will make a special trip to your home or business for a fee to pick up qualifying packages that have postage affixed. There is no additional charge for picking up multiple pieces of mail. Visit or call 1-800-222-1811 for additional information including qualifying packages or to schedule a pickup.

Holding Mail

If you plan to be out of town on business or vacation, you may want to temporarily stop delivery of your mail. To have the Postal Service hold your mail up to 30 days, visit, call 1·800·ASK·USPS, or fill out a “Hold Mail” form at the Post Office. When you return, you can either pick up your mail from the Post Office or have it delivered to your home.

Changing an Address and Mail Forwarding

Before you move, get a copy of the Mover’s Guide from your Post Office and return the completed form to your letter carrier or your Post Office. You can also save a trip to the Post Office by visiting to change your address online for a small fee. Fast and easy—takes less than five minutes.

Notify your Post Office at least one month before you move to ensure uninterrupted mail service. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and First-Class Mail will be forwarded at no charge for one year. Magazines and newspapers will be forwarded for 60 days.

Premium Forwarding Service®

Going away for a while? Have all your mail sent to you at your temporary location.

Premium Forwarding Service is a domestic service that forwards ALL of your mail from your permanent address to a temporary address.

Your mail will be forwarded to you on a weekly basis for a minimum of two weeks up to one year. You do not miss important mail while you are away—all your mail reaches you. One flat fee for each weekly Priority Mail shipment plus an application fee.

If you are a snowbird, college student, executive, individual with an extended family care situation, or away on extended vacation, all are possible candidates for Premium Forwarding Service.

Never again miss a mail delivery when you’re away from home. It is easy to enroll in Premium Forwarding Service. Visit or your local Post Office to enroll.

Printing Postage

There is no need to go to the Post Office. You can print postage online at

Signing for Mail

Some pieces of mail require a signature from the recipient at the time of delivery. This includes items sent with Priority Mail Express (if requested), Certified Mail, Collect on Delivery, Insured Mail (over $500), Registered Mail, Return Receipt, Signature Confirmation, and Adult Signature.

Recipient Responsibilities

When you sign for a piece of mail, you acknowledge delivery. The Postal Service’s liability ends when you sign for the mail. You may ask the letter carrier for the sender’s name and address before you accept the mail. You may not open the mail, but you may look at it as long as the letter carrier is holding it before you choose to sign for it.

Delivery If Recipient Is Not Home

If no one is home when the letter carrier attempts delivery, the letter carrier will leave a notice and return the item to the Post Office. Check the notice for specific instructions or call 1·800·ASK·USPS to have the mail redelivered. If the sender has not asked for Restricted Delivery or Adult Signature (21 years of age or older), the carrier may deliver the mail to anyone who receives mail at that address.

Confirming Delivery

Visit or call 1·800·222·1811 to get delivery information on Priority Mail Express and mail with confirmation services. You will need the item number from your mailing receipt or label.

Restricting Delivery

Restricted Delivery service ensures that only a specified person (or the person’s authorized agent) will receive a piece of mail. Restricted Delivery is available only if you also purchase Certified Mail, Insured Mail (for more than $500 coverage), Registered Mail, COD Hold For Pickup, Signature Confirmation, or Adult Signature.

Filing a Claim

You can file a claim for compensation for loss or damage of Insured Mail, Registered Mail, and Priority Mail Express. A claim can be filed online or the form can be downloaded from and mailed along with evidence of value. Visit or contact your local Post Office for additional information on how to file a claim.

Perishable Items

Some items require special packaging or special permission to be mailed. Call 1·800·ASK·USPS or visit your Post Office to find out how to mail these items:

  • Live animals
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Plants

Keep the Mail Safe: Hazardous and Restricted Materials
Some things cannot be mailed or can be mailed only in small quantities for safety and legal reasons. Some items have restrictions on how they can be mailed, including:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Firearms
  • Flammable materials
  • Liquids and powders
  • Lithium Batteries
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Perfume
  • Poisons
  • Tobacco and tobacco products

Some items, however, are not permitted in the mail, including:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Ammunition
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Fireworks and other explosives

Call 1·800·ASK·USPS or visit your Post Office if you have questions about the item you want to mail.