How Do Postal Workers Get Into Apartments?

The United States Postal Services (USPS) picks up, processes, and delivers millions of packages, letters, and documents a day. According to data, no single operation in the world connects so many households and businesses as the postal office.

How Do Postal Workers Get Into Apartments?

USPS has thousands of employees across the nation, working hard to get each mail piece where it needs to be. But, have you ever wondered how do postal workers get into apartment buildings? It is simpler than what you imagine! Given that the postal service is a government service, drivers often have a ‘master key’ that allows them to enter buildings and mailboxes in offices, schools, and residences.

Nonetheless, specific rules and restrictions apply. Plus, buildings and households must comply with the USPS’ delivery methods and procedures.

Ways in Which Postal Workers Access Buildings

There are many ways in which a mail carrier can do his/her job and access a residential, commercial, or office building. Thus, if you believe that your mailman stands guards outside each building waiting for someone to give him or her access, you are wrong.

Below three of the most common ways in which a postal worker gains access to a building:

They have a master key

As we explained before, the USPS is an independent government agency. Thus, given that is it a government service, carriers usually have a ‘master key’ to access the lobby or floor where the individual mailboxes are located.

They have the access code/PIN

Across the country, many buildings have changed their security systems from analog to digital. Hence, most postal officers do not have access to a ‘master key’ as they used to. In turn, the mail carrier may request the building’s manager to supply the code or pin required to access mailrooms or individual mailboxes (in the case of gated communities.)

In the case of packages that require a signature, the postal officer would usually leave them at the lobby with a concierge or a designated area.

They announce their arrival

Some buildings, especially apartment buildings, often oblige that mail carriers announce themselves with the management’s office or a superintendent. In these cases, the building’s supervisor gives him/her the key or escorts the postal worker to the mailroom.

Although it is not as common, some residences prefer this type of procedure to ensure the resident’s privacy and security.

They deliver to a central office in charge of redistributing the mail

Offices building, college dormitories, and retirement homes are a few examples of buildings where the USPS delivers letters and packages to a central office. As a result, that specific department redistributes the mail and is responsible for the delivery of packages and letters on every floor.

Instances Where Postal Workers are Unable to Deliver Mail

How Do Postal Workers Get Into Apartments?

Although extremely rare, there are cases where mail carriers fail to deliver packages or letters due to restricted access. In other words, some buildings fail to comply with the USPS procedures and policies, and as a result, residents must pick-up up their mail from their closest postal office.

A few years ago, in 2017, the situation in New York City escalated to the point where approximately 2,600 buildings (in the Bronx and Manhattan) were unable to receive packages because postal officers did not have access. As a result, the customers had to wait in long lines to claim their mail.

Even though the crisis is over, and many building nation-wide updated their accessibility procedures, there are still hundreds of buildings that the USPS has stopped delivering mail to.

Receiving Mail When Traveling

Many people wonder if the USPS can deliver mail to a hotel — the short answer is no. The USPS does not deliver mail to hotels, hostels, or motels. The agency only delivers mail (including packages) to registered/official addresses. Thus, if you wish to receive mail at a hotel, the process would require a lot on your part.

Nonetheless, there are other much more accessible ways in which you can get your mail delivered when traveling. As of now, the USPS offers a service known as ‘General Delivery’ specially designed for tourists, people who travel often, or individuals with no permanent address.

‘General Delivery’ allows you to send your mail to any post office in the United States, and then pick up from there. In other words, the office you choose acts as a ‘temporary delivery address.’ The only thing you would need to do is look up the post office for the city you are traveling to (or of the office that is closest to where you are staying) and contact a postmaster.

Note that General Delivery services have some limitations. For example, each mail piece is held for a maximum of 30 days (unless the sender requests a shorter period.) Plus, postmasters may restrict the use of ‘General Delivery’ if a person does not present a suitable I.D. or has a mail volume that cannot be reasonably accommodated. If this is the case, you may request a postal office box (commonly abbreviated as P.O. box)

Apartment Mailboxes’ Rules & Regulations

How Do Postal Workers Get Into Apartments?

As you might have gathered, the USPS has strict rules and regulations when it comes to apartment buildings. Therefore, the agency has outlined the size, shape, and placement of residential and commercial mailboxes for postal workers to be able to do their jobs.

Moreover, these regulations are often referred to as ‘4C standards’ because the most common type of mailbox found in residential communities is the 4C mailbox. Below, some of the most relevant norms:

  • If the mailbox has a broken or inoperable lock, the postal carrier cannot deliver any mail to that mailbox to secure the resident’s privacy.
  • A standard or ‘regular’ tenant mailbox should not be smaller than 3 inches high by 12 inches wide by 15 inches deep.
  • Landlords or management must label each mailbox with an apartment number and/or tenant name. If a mailbox is not identified correctly or if the name/number is unreadable, the postal carrier cannot deliver any mail to that mailbox.
  • The building must supply one locked parcel box per every ten mailboxes for larger items (i.e., packages, catalogs)
  • Mailboxes need to be installed by an expert, as they must comply with specific measurements. For instance, the bottom row of mailboxes must be no lower than 28″ from the floor, and the top row cannot exceed 67″ in height. Why? Simple. By doing so, the USPS makes sure that the average adult (including the mail carrier) can reach the mailbox.

It may seem unnecessary, but if you keep in mind that the USPS delivers an average of 98.7 million mail pieces to apartment mailboxes every day, it is only reasonable that they are standards in place to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery service.

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Wrapping it up!

How Do Postal Workers Get Into Apartments?

There are many different options when it comes to getting mail delivered to an apartment building, including a unit-specific mailbox, parcel locker, front door delivery, or secure leasing/management office. Thus, mainly how your mail gets sorted and delivers will depend on the type of community you leave in. But, there are a few takeaways from this article:

  • Buildings must provide the postal officer with a ‘master key,’ PIN, or access code to ensure proper delivery.
  • You can receive mail when traveling through ‘General Delivery’ services.
  • Apartment building mailboxes must comply with stringent regulations.
  • Postal workers can refuse to deliver mail if the USPS policies and regulations are not met.

Related Questions    

Do postal workers call when delivering a package?

Know that while other privately owned delivery companies such as United Postal Services (UPS) or Federal Express (FedEx) may contact you via phone when delivering a package, the USPS does not call customers about package deliveries or any other sort of delivery.

Therefore, if you receive a call from USPS asking to verify personal information to deliver a package, you are being scammed. In recent years, the USPS has alerted its customers and explaining that scammers are using a technique known as ‘Caller ID Spoofing’ to make these calls appear to originate from a USPS phone number.

So, if you receive a call from someone impersonating a USPS agent, please report the number and never give out personal information.

How many employees does the USPS have?

The USPS, or as we commonly know it, the U.S. Mail employs 497,000 people (as of 2019) across the country. It is the second-largest employer in the U.S. and acts as an independent agency of the government.

Furthermore, the USPS employs more than just mail carriers. There are many other positions available from mechanics and mail handlers to marketers, engineers, and accountants.

However, not everyone can apply to a job at USPS. There are specific employment requirements, including:

  • You must be 18 years old or at least 16 years old (with a high school diploma)
  • You must be a United States citizen, permanent resident, or citizen other U.S. territory (e.g., Puerto Rico)
  • You must be able to pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and medical assessment

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.