There is nothing more frustrating than locking yourself out of something, be it your house, car, or mailbox.
If you have lost your mailbox key, replacing it is something you want to do sooner rather than later. You don't want important documents to accumulate in a locked, inaccessible mailbox.
Lucky for you, we have put together everything you need to know about how to get a new mailbox key.
I Lost My Mailbox Key, How Can I Open My Mailbox?
Having a locking mailbox comes with many benefits, such as preventing identity theft. However, it comes with the risk of losing your mailbox key.
Losing this key can be incredibly frustrating, especially if there are important documents in your mailbox. You don't want bills to pile up simply because you can't access them. Your mailbox might contain important prescriptions or even your tax refund.
No matter how desperate you are to access the contents of your mailbox, you mustn't try and open the box without a key. We don't want you taking a sledgehammer to the mailbox door.
Damaging a mailbox is prohibited on a federal level, and could result in up to 3 years in prison or a fine of up to $250,000.
So, if you need to open your mailbox, your only option is to get a replacement mailbox key or replace your mailbox lock.
Determine The Owner Of The Mailbox
The first step when it comes to getting a new mailbox key is determining the owner of the mailbox. This will determine which route you will have to take to get a new mailbox key. There are three possible options.
The first is if the mailbox is a standalone residential mailbox that is on your premises (usually on a post at the end of your garden or attached to a wall near your door). If this is the case, then you are likely the owner of the mailbox.
The second option is if your mailbox is part of a cluster of mailboxes, and has the words 'United States Postal Service' or a blue eagle somewhere on the cluster. If this is the case, the United States Postal Service (USPS) owns the post office box. Community mailboxes are almost always owned by the USPS.
The third option is if you live in a homeowners association or apartment complex. If this is the case, you will have to contact their management office. They will likely be the owner of the postbox or will be able to tell you who the owner is.
How To Replace A Stolen, Missing, Or Lost Mailbox Key
If You Are The Owner Of The Mailbox, Go To A Locksmith
If you are the owner of the mailbox, getting a new mailbox key is relatively simple. All you have to do is contact a locksmith to help you. The locksmith can either replace the lock or re-key the lock.
Replacing the lock involves putting a new lock on the mailbox. Re-keying involves changing the existing lock to accommodate new keys.
Replacing the lock is generally easier and cheaper. We recommend that you contact a few locksmiths to compare quotes.
If The Postal Service Is The Owner Of The Mailbox, Go To The Local Post Office
If the postal service is the owner, then the USPS instructs you to contact your local post office.
From here, the process depends on the local post office. They will tell you what you need to do next. Often, the process includes paying a small fee for your replacement key.
Bear in mind that your local post office is not allowed to have duplicate keys on the premises, so this will not be as simple as explaining the situation and picking up a new USPS mailbox key straight away.
Furthermore, the post office can only give out 3 keys for each mailbox lock. If these have already been issued they will have to replace your lock.
If A Homeowners Association/Apartment Complex Is The Owner Of The Mailbox, Contact Them
If your mailbox is owned by a homeowner's association or apartment complex, they are responsible for giving you a new key.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do other than reach out to them, alert them to the fact that you have lost your key, and wait for them to give you a new one. There might be internal procedures you will have to follow.
While this can be frustrating at times, they are obligated to give you a new key if you need one. Don't be afraid to follow up if they are taking too long to help you out.
Getting Duplicate Mailbox Keys
Having spare mailbox keys can make your life a lot easier in the event of one of those pairs getting lost, stolen, or misplaced. Therefore, we recommend having at least one duplicate set of mailbox keys kept in a safe place.
The route you will take to get a duplicate set of mailbox keys again depends on who is the owner of the mailbox.
If you are the owner of your mailbox, then you can have as many duplicate keys as you want. Simply take your existing post office keys to a locksmith, and have new keys cut as you would with most other keys.
If a homeowner's association or apartment complex is the owner of your mailbox, you should be able to make duplicate keys. Just make sure to check what their policy on the matter is first.
When the USPS is the owner of your mailbox, things get a bit complicated. This is because you cannot duplicate post office box keys yourself, they have to be issued by your post office. As with replacing a lost key, contact your local post office and they will assist you in getting a duplicate key.
Having a locking mailbox is a great way to keep your mail safe. However, sometimes you can keep it too safe - and lock yourself out!
Now that you know what steps you need to take to replace your mailbox key, it should be a lot easier to cross it off your to-do list!