How to open a mailbox without a key

Losing keys is something most of us experience at least once, and we know how frustrating it can be. Luckily, mailboxes seldom come with high-security locks and can be opened fairly easily. 

Before you force your way into your mailbox, note that if the mailbox is owned and maintained by the United States Postal Service then breaking into it is a federal offense. Enquire at your local post office - they should be able to replace the lock and issue you with a new mailbox key for a fee. You may not break into it even if it is on your property.

If you own the box, you can break into it and change the lock at your own expense. There are several methods you can use to retrieve your mail. This article lists a few top tips for opening your mailbox without a key. 

How To Open A Mailbox Without Your Key


Prying your mailbox door open is the fastest way to open your mailbox when you have lost your key. 

You may even be able to open a cheaper lock with your neighbor's key, manicure scissors, or a small thin knife.


Prying requires little skill, and you only need a flathead screwdriver and claw hammer to get the job done. 

This is not a suitable method to use on thin metal, though. Prying will distort the thin metal and leave the mailbox unusable. And if you have a cluster mailbox or an apartment mailbox, you stand the chance of damaging surrounding mail boxes. 

Avoid scuffing the metal by placing a cloth between the door and your tools. 


  1. Insert your screwdriver into the small gap between the door and the box on the side of the key hole.
  2. Pry the door open as far as possible without force.
  3. Push the claw of your hammer into the opening and remove the screwdriver.
  4. Using the hammer as a lever at the same height as the lock, apply quick force and the door opens.
  5. If the lock does not pop, you need more leverage. In that case, try a short crowbar.


Drilling through a locked mailbox is a simple procedure. A screwdriver, a long extension cord, and an electric drill with a new drill bit are all you need for this hack. Choose a drill bit that is slightly larger than the keyway. 

Before drilling, remove the keyway dust cover to help the power drill bit fit better. Use a punch to make a dimple in the lock to stop the drill bit from sliding away when you begin drilling. 

Drill straight through the lock. You should feel the lock pin as you drill through it. Once through to the other side of the lock, there will be nothing holding the tailpiece in place, and you will be able to open the door without a key and replace the lock. 

How To Break Into A Mailbox Without Breaking It


Many mailbox locks are not rekeyable, so your locksmith may drill out the lock and replace it with a new lock. However, if you have an expensive mailbox that comes with a good lock, a locksmith service may be able to make a new key and get your mailbox lock open.

locksmith with new mailbox key

Picking The Lock

The easiest way to pick a lock is with a lock picking kit that contains lock picks and levers - tools designed specifically for the purpose. You can find kits at your local hardware store or order one online. If you cannot get hold of a lock picking kit, you can make simple tools from a couple of hair pins or paper clips to create a lever and a lock pick.

Bobby Pins

Take the first pin and bend it at a right angle, about half an inch from the top. If the bobby pin is too stiff, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend it. This is your lever or tension wrench. Bend the other pin upwards until it is as straight as possible. Remove the rubber caps. This second hairpin is your lock pick.

Paper clips

If you are using paper clips, open one paperclip so it is almost straight. Bend the other clip in half, pinching it as close as possible. Then bend the rounded end of the paper clip at a right angle to create your lever. The second paper clip is your lock pick. Slightly bend one side up.


  1. Insert the bent part of the lever into the bottom of the lock while holding the longer end between your fingers. 
  2. With the level inside the lock, turn it slightly in the direction you would unlock your mailbox with a key. Applying pressure on the barrel of the lock is essential to pick it. 
  3. Now insert the bent end of your pick into the lock just above your lever. 
  4. There are five pins inside the barrel that need to be raised before the lock barrel will turn. 
  5. Start close to the opening, where you will feel the first pin.
  6. You will feel the pin move upwards. 
  7. When you have pushed the first pin-up move your lockpick further in and on to the next pin. 
  8. Once you have raised all the pins when you apply pressure, the lever should make the barrel of the lock turn.
  9. If you have difficulty lifting any of the pins, it means they may have seized. Loosen a seized pin by wiggling the lockpick in different directions. The seized pin will have to be forced up. 

If you purchased the mail box and the postal service does not maintain it, you can force your mailbox lock. Remember that if your mailbox has bent curves, the delivery men might not be able to insert your mail. So, you want to repair or replace them immediately to continue receiving your mail.

Open Lock Mechanism


Before you break into a mailbox remember mailboxes are protected by federal law. Post office employees and letter carriers do not carry keys for residential mailboxes and cannot replace your lost key.

If you own and maintain your own mailbox, you can break into it yourself. However, if you damage it, the mail services may not be able to deliver your mail. In that case, you want to repair or replace your mailbox right away. 

It’s a good idea to keep duplicate keys for your mailbox to save you the headache and expense of replacing keys, locks, or even your whole mailbox!

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