What You Can't Legally Put In Your WA State Mailbox Might Surprise You

As I was passing our mailbox this morning, I noticed our neighbors had set put some goodies for our mail carrier here in Kennewick.


It May Seem Common Sense But Messing With Your Mailbox Could Mean Jail

It got me thinking, we've done articles about what you can't put into the giant blue receptacles that we see at the post office but what about the mailboxes in front of our houses?

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Mailboxes have been a staple in homes around the world since the 19th century. The United States Postal Service first introduced them in 1915. Today, millions of households receive mail every day.

A large mailbox with the flag down along a gravel road.
Robert Clay Reed

However, as time has gone on, regulations and laws have been put in place to preserve and secure the mail.

In Washington State, there are certain items that cannot be placed in mailboxes.

I once heard the story about a mail carrier delivering a child mailed from Lewiston Idaho to Grangeville Idaho back in the day. You couldn't get away with that today so what is allowed and what isn't allowed these days in your mailbox:

Firstly, it is important to note that only authorized individuals can place items in mailboxes. These authorized individuals include mail carriers, postal service employees, and homeowners themselves to retrieve mail.


In addition to this, there are certain items that cannot be placed in mailboxes by anyone.

The first item is anything that is not mail. This means that anything that is not a mailpiece, such as a flyer or advertisement, cannot be placed in a mailbox.

Secondly, items that are dangerous or harmful cannot be placed in mailboxes. This rule is in place to prevent incidents that may occur from placing dangerous or harmful items in a mailbox. This includes hazardous and explosive materials, chemicals, and dangerous devices. If discovered, the police may be contacted and federal charges pressed.


Thirdly, items that exceed the weight limit of 10 ounces cannot be placed in mailboxes. If items are heavier than this weight limit, they require a proper postage stamp and must be taken to the post office for delivery.

mail truck

Lastly, items that are too large to fit in the mailbox must also be taken to the post office for delivery. If items are larger than the dimensions set by the postal service, they must be transported separately and cannot be placed in mailboxes. This includes items such as boxes that cannot fit through the mailbox slot.

residential-mailboxes.net had this to say what legally can go in your mailbox:

no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items of matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Domestic Mail Manual In other words, the mailbox may not be used for anything other than for pieces of mail with postage attached.

As a final note, it is always best to double-check with the local post office on specific mail regulations to avoid any issues.

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