At the end of 2010, new USPS regulations for commercial mailbox applications went into effect to help prevent identity theft from mailboxes.
While the name implies the rules affect commercial enterprises, the new regulations apply to residential deliveries installed in a commercial setting.
This would include multiple boxes within a single structure such as those providing delivery services to four or more residences.
Multi-family housing units are considered commercial enterprises and there are specific security requirements for their use.
The new regulations currently are optional guidelines but are mandatory for new construction or if the older multi-delivery mailboxes are being upgraded during remodeling or construction.
New regulations stipulate the type of materials that can be used in commercial mailboxes and the durability requirements, as well as steps needed to make them waterproof and weather resistant.
Depending on the number of individual mailboxes within the mailbox unit, a separate access panel is required for easy access by the mail carrier to deliver mail to multiple recipients without having to access each mailbox individually.
Regulations specify the strength of the mailboxes as well as how they are to be mounted, especially if they are pole mounted, and what security steps need to be taken to prevent access by unauthorized persons.
How they are attached to poles or walls is included in the security mandates to prevent them from being removed in their entirety.
The types of locks required on individual locking mailboxes is also defined to prevent theft and each box must be secured by a unique lock configuration to prevent one key from allowing access to multiple mailboxes.
There are a number of steps included in the new regulations to reduce the possibility of mail theft that often leads to identity theft.
Without the proper security steps in place, the U.S. mail service can cease delivery to the mailbox, requiring recipients to have to go to the post office to retrieve their mail.