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Tue June 7 2022 20:06:06

Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

By: Ina Steiner

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USPS collection mailboxes are iconic, but they aren't what they once were. They're being modified and even removed, mostly over security concerns, it appears.

We delved into the issue after receiving a letter from an online seller who said collection boxes were a significant timesaver for him. "My eBay business is almost exclusively items shipping in small padded envelopes weighing 3-4 oz, but, not fitting the 1/2" requirement."

But, he warned, "For those who may be unaware, you can no longer ship packages by dropping them into the blue USPS boxes."

That's not exactly what it says on the USPS website on a page, "What Can and Cannot be Deposited in a Collection Box?"

Among the restrictions: mail weighing over 10 oz. or more than 1/2-inch in thickness must have metered postage or PC Postage in order to be placed in postal blue collection boxes. That means as long as you don't use postage stamps, you can use the blue boxes to mail packages.

We reached out to the Postal Service for confirmation.  

"Yes, USPS does allow people to place packages in blue collection boxes as long as they conform to requirements spelled out on the USPS FAQs page," according to USPS spokesperson Kimberly Frum.*

Since some USPS blue boxes have slots only big enough to fit a letter, not a package, how does the USPS determine which boxes will not accept packages, we asked Frum.

"In order to safeguard the world's largest mail system, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service works closely with the United States Postal Service to increase mail security measures via blue collection mailboxes," she said. "The Postal Inspection Service makes recommendations, and the Postal Service makes the final decisions on where to deploy these mailboxes."

After hearing back from the USPS, we came across this 2015 post from SaveThePostOffice.com which stated, "Fifteen years ago, there were almost 400,000 collection boxes in the country. Now there are fewer than 160,000 of them, and the number goes down every year."

By 2021, that number had fallen to 147,000, according to Linns Stamp News.

As Save the Post Office wrote 7 years ago, "Finding a good old-fashioned mailbox where you can drop off a letter is becoming almost as difficult as finding a pay phone."

Update 6/8/2022: Prof. Steve Hutkins of Save the Post Office kindly sent us the latest figures: at the start of fiscal year 2022 (which fell on October 1, 2021), there were 140,062 collection boxes.

Update 6/10/2022: We sought further clarification based on reader feedback. Ms. Frum said in a follow-up response:

"Yes, packages more than ½ inch thick, with label postage (e.g. metered, click n ship, SSK postage) CAN be deposited in blue collection boxes.

"Customers should NEVER try to force their packages into a collection box. Rather they should take the packages to their local Post Office for mailing."



Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 7 22:50:01 2022

Packages can be put in the blue collection boxes. You should expect that they will be sorted with the regular letter mail and likely won't get scanned until they are sorted at the local or destination sort facility though.

Further there are some letter only blue boxes in the post office they might get mad at you but they just just reject your package after the fact. Before ebay scan requirement I used to drop my packages into the bin. There was one for parcels and one for letters. I always used bubble mailers and the parcel bin was so enormous that someone could just reach in and grab anything out of it. Since that was insecure I always placed my packages in the letter bin. Every day there was a bigger hand written note taped to the slot that said letters only. I always ignored it and my packages always got delivered. I should have left a reply note that said to fix the parcel bin but I didn't think of that til now.

As for the blue mail boxes. They were likely just removed by DeJoy to make you drive to the post office rather then carriers emptying remote bins. No other reason to remove those blue boxes that were already existing.

Prepaid postage is always allowed in the parcel bin assuming it doesn't contain a restricted item like a battery or an animal. The restrictions for size and weight is for stamped mail.  

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 8 01:40:51 2022

“…someone could just reach in and grab anything..”

And risk being witnessed and recorded committing a federal felony offense.   But any such ‘security concerns’ only need be told to the station supervisor as opposed to some snarky note they’d personally likely never see.  As for trying to outsmart the sort, all ‘ignoring’ accomplished is to add time to the already overstressed collection schedule to root through the letter bin so to remove any packages placed there contrary to instructions.

“ No other reason to remove those blue boxes that were already existing.”

Most folks also are unaware that collection box piece count samples are made quarterly for every box in the country.  It might also come as a surprise that most of those ‘removed’ were done because they regularly held less than a dozen pieces a day.  The boxes themselves have to be purchased (a grand each plus install cost) and maintained.  Cost vs ‘convenience’.  Always a challenge to balance.  Not to defend DeJoy, but removing or relocating/consolidating boxes has been going on long before he showed up.  (Re OP reference to the 2015 post).  Also, there has been a notable increase in collection box break-in which has contributed to need assessment decisions.

Each box also has a sticker near the slot/lid that describes what’s allowed inside.  Those exceeding allowance (if they fit) might indeed be rejected, or at best delayed and if not electronically labeled may be treated as “Anonymous Mail”.  It’s a matter of safety.  Moreover, those folks that try to jam theirs into a narrow slit are likely to clog it, and that does nobody any good then, adding unnecessary cost to the collection process and frustrating any other folks behind you.  So thanks for that.  

Meanwhile, carriers will pick up from a residence during normal delivery, preferably via a ‘pickup request’ made online, at which point it/they will get an acceptance scan so that isn’t delayed or overlooked.  Letters too of course.    

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 8 10:14:43 2022

I haven't seen one of the blue USPS boxes in years. It seems like they were every mile along all the major streets, but not anymore. Considering how nuts people seem to be these days, I'm sure trash or other debris was being put in the boxes as a "joke." Better to have the people drop their mail at a post office where things are secure.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jun 8 14:39:29 2022

Ya, some stupid lady kept jamming things into the mailbox.....I even admonished her, and took a Swing at her 'cause I knew she was ruining it for the rest of us.....
never saw her again.....and she DID ruin it for the rest of us..

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Amberlin This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 8 16:40:41 2022

What a crazy story. There are all over my city of just shy of a million people.
I use them every single day.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: MichaelP This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 02:50:39 2022

I'm lucky to have a blue collection box within 500 feet of my front door.

I put as many of my packages in there as I can as I know the post office continually monitors the mail volume from each box. It's very convenient for me and I want to keep it there.

Yes, you could have your mail carrier pick up at you address, but then the mail carrier has to actually do it and has an extra burden placed on them. I have had many pickups missed over the years.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: 3TimesALady This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 04:48:43 2022

We had a blue box in our suburban neighborhood until a snow plow took it out a few years ago.  At the time, my mail carrier said to not expect it to be replaced because the USPS had stopped doing that...when it's gone, it's gone.  He was right.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: plcombs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 05:25:53 2022

In our city, the USPS has replaced ALL of the old blue boxes with a type that can accept ONLY standard envelopes through a small slot. Use Click N Ship..

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Dragonfyree This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 06:21:54 2022

I must be lucky, my mail man told me years ago that I could drop any package into a mail box.  He does the pickups there.  There is one at a grocery store about 6 blocks away that I pass at least twice every day with the large opening.

They are always scanned at the mailbox.  

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 06:53:18 2022

"Since some USPS blue boxes have slots only big enough to fit a letter, not a package,"
^^  The PO went through my area and retooled the boxes so that we can ONLY put  letters into the slot.  I have ONE box nearby where I can put a small 1"thick package into it.  I've written the PO many times that they should have boxes like Fedex & UPS, but of course it fell on deaf ears.  I have to take my packages into the PO and lucky for me, it's nearby.  And lucky for me, I don't have many sales  these days so the trips are few.  However, on AMZ I get discounted UPS postage that competes against USPO, and I'm mailing more thru UPS.  They have drop boxes and stores around my area.  The USPO is losing BIG time.  People want convenience.  PLUS -- many USPO have shortened hours.  I'm just very lucky that I live in the city (CHI) and there are choices and Options for mailing packages.  And we have a mail slot downstairs in our building.  I'm very lucky.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 06:54:10 2022

OH BTW, that "security" reason is B.S.  We don't have the anthrax and bomb scares like we did years ago.  If somebody wants to plant a bomb, they can use a garbage can.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 09:32:24 2022

“ OH BTW, that "security" reason is B.S.”

One might wonder how many (more) folks it would take to be injured, maimed or killed before such restrictions might be considered ‘reasonable”.  Then again, maybe they’re actually ‘working’ as a deterrent.  Or…Perhaps ‘society’ has become more ‘civilized’ than it was “years ago”?

Regardless, the potential ‘hazards’ are not limited to explosives, or materials being sent with a nefarious motive.  Caustic chemicals, alcoholic liquids, aerosol canisters, fuel, matches, fireworks, lithium batteries, perishables subject to bacterial or infestation, even liquid soap and perfume that might leak and contaminate other mail are things that not only are restricted, but certainly don’t belong in a collection box.  That’s why every customer is asked to confirm their package does not contain such at the point of sale when it’s mailed; even via third party apps.

Is all that 100% ‘foolproof’?  Of course not.  No deterrent is, or ever will be, for anything.  Does that mean they are “BS” too?  Rest assured those who actually have to ‘handle’ such items don’t think so, despite the lack of any recent ‘headlines’.  Even the one’s the public may never hear about.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: NYSteve This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 12:06:50 2022

I live in a small town, and the boxes in front of the PO were fished out (a fishing line and some contraption to grab letters) more than one occassion. I should add
the PO is next to the police station, too!

where there's a will there's a way, so the size of the slot didnt matter in that case
(turns out they were pros travelling the state)

i lost a check i was mailing to my bank, they completely white washed all my writing except my sign. and deposited it somewhere.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 9 16:23:34 2022

“.. a fishing line and some contraption to grab letters…”

The newest boxes since early 2020 have a set of ‘one way teeth’ deep inside that are engineered to prevent that.  Could be a decade before they’re all deployed though, so there’s that.  However, they also significantly contribute to those thin flimsy packages getting stuck and clogging the slot, so there’s that too.

Of course, if thieves can chain up and haul off an atm machine, it’s undeniable that enough will can eventually overcome an obstacle.  Same principle as what we know to be anything between ‘one-upmanship’ and an ‘arms race’.  Or improvements in safecracking as the safes get more complex.  

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: RightbrainWoman This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 10 10:55:31 2022

My condo complex has two blue mailboxes in which I could deposit a small priority box or smaller. About 2 years ago, the PO installed a little bolt in both that prevents the slot  cover from opening beyond a 1'' area so the small boxes don't fit.

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

by: Stone Cutter This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 10 10:57:26 2022

As the population grows, people become crazy as competition for everything grows.  I never put anything in a Blue Box. I agree with @iheartjacksparrow....Anything can be put into these boxes. I have no problem walking into a Post Office.  

Perminate Link for Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?   Can You Put Packages in USPS Blue Collection Boxes?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jun 13 15:45:39 2022

I use them almost daily.  No problems.  

I used to place some packages in them in the evenings, but one morning after I had done that I noticed that the blue box had been turned completely over by some vandal.   Thankfully my packages had not been fished out and they all arrived at their destinations.  I know only places packages in them early in the morning.

Since this is convenient I feel pretty sure that at some point they will stop allowing it because it seems that nothing good lasts forever.  I often find someone's trash on the top of them and I expect that these same jerks likely place garbage in them from time-to-time.



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