Is It Illegal to Put Something in A Mailbox (3 Fines + Punishments)

Quick Summary:

Yes, it is a federal crime to interfere with the U.S. mail system, and this includes placing items in a mailbox that are not properly addressed or if you are not a postal worker. This is known as tampering with mail and is punishable by fines and possibly even imprisonment. It’s important to remember that not just any item can be placed in a mailbox either. While stamps and prepaid envelopes are acceptable, larger packages must be taken to the post office or given directly to a postal worker.

Now, let’s explore some other common questions people have about this question.

What Is The US Mailbox Restriction Law?

Before we go more in-depth around the legality of putting a package or letter in someone’s mailbox, we need to talk about the US Mailbox Restriction Law.

The US Mailbox Restriction Law, also known as the Mailbox Rule, was created in 1934 and is part of the US Postal Service regulations.

The reason congress adopted the law was that the post office was losing a substantial bit of revenue each year from individuals and companies putting letters into USPS mailboxes and now having paid for postage.

So they set out to protect the privacy of individuals by prohibiting anyone other than the Postal Service from placing items in a mailbox. This means that individuals cannot put items in someone else’s mailbox without the permission of the mailbox owner. This law applies to all types of mailboxes, including residential, commercial, and post office boxes. Violating this law can result in a fine or even imprisonment.

Can I put something in my own mailbox?

Yes, you’re legally allowed to place items in your own mailbox.

I would note if you’re putting multiple large items in your mailbox and you’re not planning on having them shipped out this could create a scenario in which your mailbox could be too full for the USPS to put your mail in.

Is It Illegal to Put Something in A Public Mailbox?

The post offices usually have a blue mailbox outside of their physical stores for citizens and companies to be able to deposit mail. These are also sometimes within neighborhoods as well.

You should be fine to place your mail in a public mailbox as long as it’s properly addressed, has the required postage stamps, and meets the size and weight requirements. Make sure not to block the opening with your item, as that could interfere with other people’s mail being delivered.

How Do I Report Someone Putting Something in My Mailbox?

Before I started Lawpedic I used to deliver for Amazon and often times we were requested to put the ordered package in someone’s mailbox. Of course, we did not do it as it’s illegal but during that time I noticed that people would always complain about having packages that weren’t supposed to be in there.

But what if someone is putting packages in your mailbox or messing with your mail? Well, if you believe that someone is tampering with your mailbox, you can report it to the USPS Office of Inspector General by calling 1-800-275-8777 or submitting online at

Can You Put Stickers on Your Mailbox?

No, given your mailbox is technically the postal services’ property you’re not allowed to affix anything to them. But I will say I have seen a considerable amount of decals like numbers and names fixed to mailboxes and nothing was ever done about it.

So if you’re wanting to add your name or an updated way of showing your house address, just reach out to your local post office and make sure it’s okay to do.

What is the Penalty for Putting Something in Mailbox?

Penalties for tampering with mail can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. It’s always best to follow postal regulations to avoid any potential consequences.

In 1981 a case named the United States Postal Service v. Greenburgh Civic Associations, it was found that GCA was putting mail in mailboxes without proper addresses and postage, leading to a fine of $500 and an injunction preventing them from future tampering.

Though it should be mentioned that they were putting it in there as a way to avoid paying the government for postage stamps.

Is It Illegal to Put Flyers in Mailboxes?

If you’re starting to hand out flyers for your new business or for whoever you’re voting for, you should be careful about where you place your flyer.

According to USPS regulations, it’s not allowed to put flyers or advertisements in someone’s mailbox without their consent. It’s also illegal to affix flyers to a mailbox, as it could potentially block the delivery of mail.

The best way to distribute flyers is by hand delivering them or placing them on doorknobs or in a public area where they are easily accessible. Always consider postal regulations and obtain consent before distributing flyers to avoid any potential legal issues.

Can You Go to Jail for Putting Something in Someone’s Mailbox?

It would be incredibly rare to go to jail for putting mail that isn’t labeled in someone’s mailbox.

Most times you’ll just receive a fine. Still, in severe cases, such as intentionally causing damage to a mailbox or interfering with mail delivery, it’s possible to go to jail for putting something in someone’s mailbox. It’s always best to follow postal regulations and obtain consent before placing any items in a mailbox to avoid potential legal consequences.


It’s not illegal to put your own mail or properly addressed items in a mailbox as long as they meet size and weight requirements and have the correct postage stamps attached to them.

However, tampering with mail or placing unauthorized items in someone’s mailbox can have legal consequences. Always consider postal regulations and obtain consent before placing anything in a mailbox to avoid potential legal repercussions. Whether you are starting your own business and distributing flyers, or simply posting election-related content on mailboxes, it is important to be mindful of postal regulations and obtain consent before placing any items in someone’s mailbox.