Monday, January 4, 2010

Mail in the USA

Since I've been doing a lot of Postcrossing, and not everyone that reads this blog is from the US... I thought I'd go ahead share a little about the United States Postal Service.

These are the trucks that deliver our mail.


In the US we drive on the right side of the road, sitting on the left side of the car - The mail trucks however are different. In a mail truck, the driver side is on the right side of the car. This is so the driver can easily lean out of the car and put the mail in your mail box. (I'm not sure this is true for EVERY mail truck, but most I think)

Now, not all neighborhoods have mail boxes at the street. In these neighborhoods residents either have a box on the wall near their door, or a slit in their door for mail. The mailman usually walks house to house with a big carrying bag to deliver the mail in these areas.


In the neighborhood where I grew up, everyone did have a mailbox at the end of their drive way. However, in some neighborhood there is one main mail box for the street where you have to go and get your mail from a locked box. Each house gets their own slot.

As far as sending mail goes, usually you can find these blue mailboxes around town. They are sort of a "drop off" point for mail. We can put outgoing mail in our personal mailboxes as well... but sometimes the blue boxes have an earlier pick up time, and they are a little more secure than a mailbox anyone can open on the side of the street.


It's somewhat complicated when you start to think about all the different ways to get/deliver the mail here! Simple though, if you've grown up with it. Oh and by the way, the mail here comes Monday-Saturday, but not on federal holidays.

If your from the US and have something to add, please do so in the comments! If you not from the US, is your postal system similar or totally different?


  1. Oh what a great idea for a blog entry!!! I might just have to steal your idea!

    Here is NZ some things are similar and some totally different. I think it will take a whole blog post to explain.


  2. It's very interesting information Erika! I feel, that soon, I don't will use wikipedia!!! :)
    In my country postal system is little seems like on your, but are many destinct!!! Soon, I think I will write about here in my blog!!! Thank you for so cute postal information!!! Sometimes I think that I want to be Postman! Relly! :)

  3. Look forward to hearing about it Annie!

  4. That description sounds good to me! Something to add might be that in many cases, whether you get mail brought to a box next to your door, a box in your yard next to the street, or to a communal box at the end of your street is related to how old your neighborhood is. Where I live, at least (SE Arizona), only the oldest neighborhoods get door delivery; the "middle-aged" neighborhoods get street delivery; and the brand new neighborhoods are usually stuck with the communal boxes.

    Here's a question I've always had: is the USPS obligated to deliver mail to within a certain distance of your home, no matter where you live? For example, I have known people who lived in rural areas (way out in the middle of nowhere) who have said that they were required to get a post office box because the USPS would not deliver to their home. On the other hand, I know that there are some people in rural areas who do get their mail delivered.

    Personally, I once lived in an apartment about half a block away from a post office. We did not have a mailbox and the landlord told us that we had to pay for a post office box. I thought this was odd but I noticed that none of the homes around my apartment had mail boxes either, so I assume that they also had to pay for PO boxes. I've tried to look up info on what the exact regulations are about this but haven't had much luck finding anything. I think it would be something interesting to know. :)

  5. I've always been fascinated by the US mailboxes with the little flags on.

    In the UK we have 'letterboxes' which are actually just a hole in our doors with a flap over them, so our Posties have to walk up to every front door and post them through. Mind you, most of our front gardens are way shorter than yours!

  6. Great post and great comments!! I'd love to read how the rest of the world differs.

  7. Most people around me have mail boxes by the road, even the people that live right next to the Post Office. It's a pretty rural area. To send out my Postcrossing & international mail, I go to my closest post office, because the postal workers are the nicest. Our mailmen drive their own vehicles with "US Postal Service" or "US Mail" placards and the yellow blinking light.

    I remember in Carraroe, Co. Galway, Ireland, my host family had a mail slot in the door. I think most of the host houses had the mail slot in the door.

  8. Where I live, we have the communal box for our condo complex of 24 units, but the mailman parks his truck here while he legs it house to house to the residences up the street after he's deposited the communal box mail. He even chocks his truck up on blocks while he goes out and makes his rounds.

    So if anyone's ever wondered where the mail truck is parked when the mailman is delivering house to house...

  9. It's amazing how I took it for granted how we receive our mail in the US; it never really entered my mind that things would be all that different other places! Very interesting.

  10. An interesting choice for a blog entry... but cool when you might have others from different countries reading. Good stuff all around. I'd like to see how it works in other places.

  11. Erika, I liked your idea so much it got me moving on an idea I have had for a long time... photographing the many mailbox designs seen on a daily basis, so I created a blog to post the photos of mailboxes I see on my daily commute and shopping errands.
    Wanted to share it with you: