The problem of not receiving mail through USPS can be due to several different reasons. First thing that needs to be realized is if this is a temporary issue at your current address that started over the past few days or if you recently moved to a new address and haven't received mail in several days since after your move.
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UPDATE YOUR ADDRESS CHANGE WITH THE LOCAL POST OFFICE
If you moved into a new address recently, then you may need to notify USPS of the change of address by filling out a CHANGE OF ADDRESS form at your local Post Office. You can submit a filled out form at your old post office or the one close to where you recently moved. Forms require providing names of all the members of the household who receive mail, old address, new address as well as the move date. If it is for a business or you had a home based business at the old address, then you may need to provide the name of the business(es) along with the names of the key people who used to receive mail at the previous address.
HAVE YOUR NAME ON THE MAILBOX
Postal service may not deliver mail if the name of the recipient is not displayed on the mailbox. Sometimes they would deliver mail when the last name of the recipient or simply an apartment number is listed on the mailbox, however, that usually depends on your mailman. Also, note that things may change if your regular mailman is off-duty and someone replacing him/her is delivering mail on your route. The new mailman may have never met you or know if someone by your name lives at your address. Either way, it is always best to clearly print the names of the recipients on the mailbox to ensure delivery of mail.
MAKE SURE YOUR MAILBOX IS NOT FULL OF JUNK MAIL
It is important to remove mail from your mailbox on a regular basis, usually every day. If you have been receiving mail on a regular basis but you noticed that lately you haven't been receiving important pieces of mail that you were expecting, then you may need to check if your mailbox is full. If you receive a lot junk mail and the mail sits in a mailbox to the point that no more will fit is a sign that an address is vacant and the carrier can stop delivery or hold the mail in the post office until the box is emptied. Additionally, if the mailbox is full, the mailman may not be able to stuff any more mail in for you. In my experience, usually, the mailman tries to put as much as he can and as tightly as possible before they will stop further delivery to your mailbox.
PROVIDE CORRECT ADDRESS TO YOUR MAIL SENDERS
Receiving mail requires that the senders clearly write or print correct mailing address on the mail piece. The names you provide to your mail senders must be the same as listed on your mailbox. You need to find out the correct zipcode plus the last four of the zipcode from your local post office. Also, be sure to find out and provide correctly if the street name ends in St (for street), Ave (for avenue), Pl (for place), Cr (for circle), etc. It may not be necessary to write the name of the city and the zipcode on the mailbox, but it may be a good idea to write the street number, direction (East, West, North, South) and the street name, along with an apartment or unit number on the mailbox.
MAKE SURE YOUR MAILBOX IS UP TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR LOCAL POST OFFICE
Another thing to look into when you are having mail delivery issues, is to investigate if your mailbox is up to the requirements laid out by your local post office. Most of the times when people are living in suburban areas or rural neighborhoods where the density of population is low, the mailboxes are close to the front edge of the property. These are per the requirements of the local post office so that the mail delivery can be done in a drive through fashion. Similarly, post office also has rules when they are delivering to multi-tenant apartment complexes. The rules require that the building owners provide a set of connected mailboxes for all the tenants, all of them at one place. If there is a key to open the mailbox, then a copy of the same must be provided to the local post office. The post office, generally, provides better delivery service to multi-tenant office buildings. They will usually take the mail to the front office of each individual tenant in an office building, provided they have general access to those offices during their posted hours of operation.
YOU LIVE IN A VERY SPARSELY POPULATED RURAL AREA AND DO NOT RECEIVE MAIL
If you live in far flung countryside or in certain rural settings, post office may not deliver mail to your address because there are not enough houses on their delivery route. Post office may also have difficulty delivering to areas that have a difficult terrain or are covered in heavy snow for a large part of the year. People living in Alaska, for example, may be very familiar with this problem. Under these circumstances, it may be best to obtain a PO Box from your local post office.
YOU ARE A TENANT IN A LARGE MULTI-TENANTED BUILDING THAT HAS ONE COMMON STREET ADDRESS
Post office, sometimes, does not deliver mail to individual tenants of a large multi-tenanted warehouse building, especially in small towns, that have one common street address. Sometimes, when they do deliver, they may deliver mail at the front desk of the business that directly falls on their delivery route. Mail dropped off this way may also contain mail pieces for other tenants in the building. However, that does not guarantee that each and every piece of mail destined to you will be dropped off for you at a different office in the same building. Your chances of receiving all or even a small portion of your mail is also largely up to the front office of the tenant who originally received the mail from USPS. Sometimes, they may not even know if a person with your name or a company with your company name exists inside the same building. But, on other occasions even when they know you are there, your mail may still get tossed out because it may be inconvenient for them to bring the mail to you or simply too much of a hassle to receive the mail on your behalf. To overcome this issue, you may have to request the building owner of your warehouse facility install a mailbox for each tenant. The mailbox must be:
- In accordance with the USPS guidelines.
- At a place convenient to the local post office (which usually means on the USPS route for that address and having easy access with the key provided to the local post office).
- The building owner may need to virtually divide each leased out space with a separate Unit or Suite number, apprise and get the Suite numbers approved by the local post office.
- Make sure that each tenant has a separate lockable mailbox and all of the mailboxes are situated at one common place, like at the entrance hallway of the building.
- Mark each separate mail box with the suite number, that was assigned and approved by the post office.
SECURE YOUR MAILBOX
Post office considers its job done after they have dropped off mail in your mailbox. It is the same for all mail pieces, whether they are delivering letters or parcels. For parcels with a scannable code (also known as ‘Delivery Confirmation’), the mailman would scan the parcel at the point of delivery and drop the parcel in your mailbox. Their scanners are equipped with geo-positioning and the post office can usually tell the exact time and geo-positioning coordinates of where the mailman was standing when they last scanned your parcel. You can request your local post office for this data in case your parcel comes out missing, just to see if the last scan was made correctly or not. Sometimes if the parcel is too big to fit inside the mailbox, the mailman would scan and leave the parcel by your doorstep. The only exceptions are registered letters, certified mail and mail pieces requiring signature of the recipient before delivery. As you can easily see that for majority of your mail that does not require any kind of signatures for delivery, the security of those mail pieces is usually your responsibility after the mail delivery has been made. The easiest ways to secure those mail pieces and your mailbox in general can be done by:
- Emptying your mailbox on time. Know what time your mailman usually delivers your mail. Make sure to check the mailbox within 30 minutes of usual mail delivery time.
- Provide a lockable mailbox. This may not be a real possibility for many people in suburban and rural neighborhoods, but would definitely help in densely populated cities. If you live in an apartment building, you can request your landlord to provide a lockable mailbox for your complex. However, even with a lockable mailbox the only mail pieces that you will be able to secure would be the ones that would fit inside your mailbox.
- Install a security camera that focuses on your mailbox. It will additionally help if you post a sign in your yard stating that you monitor all parts of your house, including the mailbox, on security camera.
TALK TO YOUR LOCAL POST OFFICE AND FIND OUT THE ISSUES
If after investigating on all of the above issues, you are still not able to figure out the reason why the mail is not being delivered to your mailbox or may be why a portion of your mail does not reach your mailbox, then it may be time to talk to the good folks at your local post office. If the front desk clerk is unable to resolve your mail delivery issues, ask to speak with the Postmaster. They will be able start an investigation to delve into the reasons for no mail delivery. Sometimes, they will even send out someone to physically inspect your mailbox and point out specific reasons causing the issues you may be facing.
GET A PO BOX FROM POST OFFICE
Sometimes it is just easier to get a PO Box from your local post office. If the mail delivery issues are persistent, or you live in a neighborhood where security of your mail may be an issue and it may not be sufficient or feasible to install a security camera, its best to get a PO Box. Make sure to put down your name, and the names of all recipients, including a company name if you are going to receive company mail, on the form provided by the post office at the time of obtaining a PO Box. After obtaining the PO Box, all you have to do is notify everyone of the change of address, fill out a ‘change of address’ form at the post office and provide the PO Box address to everyone sending mail to you in future. It is not necessary to obtain the PO Box from your local post office that is directly serving your address, you can obtain one from any post office that is convenient to you. For example, getting a PO Box close to workplace may be more convenient as it may be a short walk or drive at lunchtime. You will only be able to collect your mail from the post office where your PO Box is located. It may be worth noting that PO Box can only receive one form of mail for you – that is postal mail. That includes all letters and parcels that are shipped out with USPS postage, traveling within the USPS network. However, you will not be able to receive parcels that are shipped out to you using UPS (United Parcel Service) or Fedex shipping labels. Only a very small percentage of parcels that use a UPS Surepost label or Fedex Smartpost label can be delivered to a PO Box. However, that is usually a very small fraction, less than 5% of total number of UPS and Fedex shipments, and you may never be sure if the sender of your parcel has access to, or would like to use these specialized services offered by UPS and Fedex.
GET A MAILBOX FROM A UPS STORE
This option is usually more expensive than obtaining a PO Box from the post office. Depending upon the size of the mailbox, the option of going with a mailbox at UPS Store may turn out to be twice as expensive as obtaining a PO Box from the post office. This option may also be slightly less convenient. While there may be one UPS Store serving an area, there may be 2 or 3 post offices serving the same area. So, it may take slightly longer to get to a UPS Store compared to a drive out to a post office. Having said that, the main advantage of using a UPS Store is that they will receive all kinds of mail, parcels and packages for you from all of the different carriers. So, you can receive mail and parcels from Postal Service and packages from private couriers like UPS, Fedex and DHL at the mailbox of UPS Store. They offer similar kind of arrangement of mailboxes and a keyed access that is usually available 24x7. Smaller mail pieces, usually from post office, will fit in their mailbox and they will hold larger pieces for you in their mail holding area. For larger mail pieces or parcels, they will usually notify you via email or text message that they have received and are holding a mail piece on your behalf. You may have to collect these packages during their regular business hours.
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