The Complete Guide to Centralized Mail Delivery
October 31, 2022
When you think of a mailbox, a standard curbside residential mailbox probably comes to mind. But centralized mail delivery is becoming more and more common in residential communities, and for good reason. The U.S. Postal Service now specifies centralized mail delivery for almost all new construction because it is such an efficient and cost-effective form of mail delivery.
If you are unsure about what type of mail delivery to use for your community, look no further. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about centralized mail delivery—what it is, what the benefits of using it are, USPS regulations, ADA compliance, and how centralized mailboxes will accommodate your residents’ packages.
What is Centralized Mail Delivery?
Let’s start with the definition: What is centralized mail delivery? It is when a USPS mail carrier delivers mail and parcels to one centrally located installation rather than to individual residents or tenants. Centralized mail delivery equipment can be any form of “clustered” mailbox, which include free-standing pedestal-mounted Cluster Box Units (CBUs) or other cluster mailboxes mounted in a kiosk, wall, or shelter. Centralized mail delivery is usually required by the USPS in new construction and major renovations since it is such an efficient method of mail service.
You may not think centralized mail delivery is right for your community—perhaps you’re worried the walk to the mailbox would be too long or that your residents would prefer to each have their own individual mailbox. But there are many benefits to using centralized mail delivery that you and the other members of your community will enjoy, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
The Benefits of Using a Centralized Mail Delivery System
It makes sense that centralized mail delivery is the form of delivery preferred by the USPS since there are a ton of benefits for you, the residents of your community, and your mail carriers. Here are just a few of them:
Centralized mailboxes are more visible and less isolated, making theft less likely.
It is far easier for mail carriers to deliver to one centralized location rather than several individual mailboxes. So you get your mail faster, and mail carriers don’t have to waste time driving from house to house.
Better for the Environment
If the mail carrier doesn’t have to drive from house to house, they will save not just time, but fuel. This is both cost-effective and results in greener environments.
Centralized mailboxes offer people more compartment space, which helps to avoid any damage to small packages or mail. Tenants and residents can enjoy not having to make trips to the post office to retrieve packages that won’t fit in their curbside mailboxes. Parcel lockers offer even more security and space for your packages, which we’ll discuss in the “Accommodating Packages” section.
Centralized mailboxes are very attractive—far more so than individual curbside mailboxes. Centralized mailboxes reduce clutter and will give your neighborhood a sleeker, more organized look. Salsbury Industries’ Regency Decorative Cluster Box Units are a particularly elegant option for your community.
Strengthen Community Relationships
When a resident goes to get their mail from their curbside mailbox, it is unlikely that they will run into any of their neighbors on the way. Conversely, if residents are all picking up their mail from the same location, there is a good chance they will encounter other residents and say hello, which may be the start of a friendship. Centralized mailboxes give residents a chance to get to know one another and strengthen their sense of community in a way that curbside mailboxes do not.
These are just some of the benefits of centralized mail delivery. Once you switch to centralized mail delivery, you’ll wonder why your community didn’t do it sooner.
Before installing your centralized mailbox, it’s important to make sure that it meets USPS regulations. The USPS-4C Standard includes a minimum size requirement for mailboxes of 12” W x 15” D x 3” H. Effective July 2020, there is a parcel locker requirement based on a 1:5 parcel locker to resident compartment ratio. These regulations standardize and improve resident compartment lock design and strengthen security requirements for the units. They also add testing requirements to verify acceptability for either indoor or outdoor use.
There are requirements for USPS-approved commercial mailboxes from the July 2020 edition of the U.S. Postal Service’s National Delivery Planning Standards: A Guide for Builders and Developers as well. One is that all new or remodeled apartment houses must install USPS-approved 4C centralized mailbox equipment. 4B horizontal mailboxes and 4B vertical mailboxes can only be used for retrofit applications. Again, there must be one parcel locker for every five mailbox compartments.
For more information, visit our United States Postal Service Mailbox Regulations and Specifications page. All Salsbury centralized mailboxes meet or exceed USPS regulations.
Another specification of the USPS-4C Standard is that all 4C mailboxes must meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. In order to be ADA compliant, there are several regulations involving distance from the finished floor. At least one customer compartment needs to be positioned less than 48” from it. The interior bottom shelf of no parcel locker compartment can be positioned less than 15” from it. No resident lock can be located more than 67” above it. The interior bottom shelf of no customer compartment can be positioned less than 28” from it. You also need to place the USPS Arrow lock between 36” and 48” above it.
Once again, there needs to be at least one parcel locker for every five patron mailboxes in installations that include five or more patron compartments. There isn’t a requirement for parcel lockers in installations of less than five patron mailboxes, but it’s a good idea to have one or more parcel lockers.
For more information, visit our ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Commercial Mailboxes page. Salsbury Industries’ 3300 Series Cluster Box Units and 3300R Series Regency Decorative cluster mailboxes are ADA compliant, as are our 3700, 3800, and 3900 Series 4C mailboxes.
Now, let’s discuss parcel lockers and what a fantastic addition they will make to your community!
One of the best things about centralized mailboxes is how safe and secure your residents’ packages will be. A parcel locker is a lockable unit that mail carriers can use to deliver larger items that won’t fit in a standard mailbox. As stated previously, under USPS regulations, you’ll need to install one parcel locker for every five resident compartments. And you will be so glad you did. With parcel lockers, you won’t hear any more complaints from tenants or residents about packages being stolen or having to travel across town to the post office to pick up larger parcels.
To make sure a resident receives their package, all the mail carrier needs to do is to place a key to their parcel locker in the resident's compartment. Then, the resident will unlock the parcel locker to retrieve their package. The parcel locker key locks in place so that only a USPS mail carrier will be able to remove it with a master key. This smooth process ensures that a resident’s package is in a spacious locker where it won’t be damaged, nor will the package cause any damage to the resident’s mail by being jammed into too small a compartment.
Like with the mail, mail carriers are able to deliver packages to one centralized location rather than individual houses. You can rest easy knowing that parcel lockers are better for the environment since they reduce the use of gas and lower carbon emissions.
Hopefully, after reading this blog, you can see how advantageous centralized mail delivery would be to your community. It results in faster delivery, higher security and curb appeal, a greener neighborhood, and gives your residents bigger compartments to enjoy and a chance to get to know their neighbors.
Click here to select the perfect centralized mailbox for your community and look forward to all the benefits you, your residents, and your mail carriers will enjoy.