Mailboxes are an essential part of our lives, but we never know how important they are until we don’t have access to them.
Anyone who’s been there will tell you that looking for a lost mailbox key is like searching for a needle in a haystack!
Soon, all your mail will pile up, and you won’t be able to get any of your packages.
With a lost mailbox key, what to do next may be a little tricky. If you’re not sure how to handle the issue of a missing key, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s take a look at what to do if you lose your mailbox key!
Lost Mailbox Key: What to Do
It can be a little nerve-racking to find out you’ve lost your mailbox key. You might not even be sure if you dropped the key or just misplaced it.
You could spend all week looking for it in all the nooks and crannies. Alternatively, instead of wasting time on a fruitless hunt, there are a few courses of action you can take.
However, you’ll need to step in with an emergency intervention, at least till you figure out how to open the box.
Here’s what you can do:
Put Your Incoming Mail on Hold
Just because you can’t access your mailbox doesn’t mean you stop receiving mail. You have to remember that mailmen don’t always open mailboxes, and they’ll have no idea that your mail is piling up.
If the box is intact, your mailman will still deliver your letters like clockwork. So, you may be receiving mail without even knowing.
This can become an issue if it takes too long for you to replace your lock.
One way to get around the issue is to contact your post office and ask to hold your mail until you deal with the issue.
Forward Your Incoming Mail
If you have important mail coming in, it may be a good idea to forward it to a different mailbox. If you go for that solution, the post office will deliver your mail to a different location, either an office address or a P.O. box.
Still, this option isn’t available for all mail. You can only forward certain types, like priority packages and letters.
Forwarding your mail may not be ideal, but it can work in a pinch. If you want to find out more about forwarding mail, you can visit the USPS mail management page.
Just be careful that you might have to pay a shipping fee for the mail delivery. After that, the next step is figuring out how to open the box.
How to Open Mailbox Without Key
You only use your mailbox key when you’re going out to fetch the mail. That’s why it’s relatively easy to lose track of it for a long period.
With time-sensitive mail, you may not have the luxury of waiting for the post office to intervene. If that’s the case, there are a couple of ways you can open a mailbox without a key.
However, before you take this route, you have to remember that mailboxes are the property of the USPS. Yes, even if you bought the box and it’s in your home, the USPS owns it.
Thus, tampering with the mailbox is a federal offense, and it’s better to wait it out if you can.
If you absolutely need to get access to the content immediately, double-check your state laws before trying the following solutions:
1 – Replace the Mailbox
If you know that your mailbox is empty, it may be easier to just replace the whole thing. After all, mailboxes aren’t particularly expensive, and it’ll make handling the issue much simpler.
However, this may not always be an option.
If you have a cluster or a built-in mailbox, you can’t pry them out of the wall. If that’s the case, you’ll have to find another way into the box.
2 – Hire a Professional Locksmith
Instead of waiting around for your superintendent to call a locksmith, you can do it yourself. Just keep in mind that many locksmiths refuse to work on mailboxes to avoid getting in trouble.
So, it may be tricky for you to find a locksmith willing to do the job.
Moreover, calling a private professional locksmith will be more expensive. Depending on the locksmith, replacing a mailbox lock can get pretty pricey.
3 – Drill Into the Lock
If you don’t want to pay for a locksmith and happen to have a drill, you’re in luck. If you’re good with tools, you can do it yourself.
Most locksmiths will drill out the mid-section of a lock to remove it, and it’s quite a straightforward process.
Aim your drill in the center of the lock and drill all the way in. Then, you can go ahead and replace the lock with a new one.
If you don’t have a drill, you can use other tools. For example, you can use a hammer and a screwdriver to break the bolt.
Just be careful not to damage the mailbox while you do this.
Do Mailmen Have Keys to Every Mailbox?
It’s not uncommon to wonder if your mailman has a copy of your mailbox key. Fortunately, the answer is no.
Your mailman will only have access to collection boxes and parcel lockers. This is actually in your favor since it helps protect your privacy!
Who Is Responsible for Your Mailbox?
So, if the mailman doesn’t get a copy of the key, who’s actually responsible for it?
When you move into a new place, usually, the previous tenant will give you a key and a rundown of the mailbox service. Part of this rundown should cover who oversees your mailbox.
So, you should already know who is in charge of your mailbox. This is also true if you had to install the mailbox yourself.
However, if you’re not sure, the easiest way to find out is to contact your local Post Office. You can ask any of the customer service agents for this information.
Odds are, you’ll find that there are three different parties responsible for the mail.
1 – Personal Responsibility
It might not be what you were expecting to hear, but the first party responsible for the mailbox is you.
Although this gives you some privileges, it doesn’t mean that you completely own the key, though. It’s still USPS property, and duplicating it might get you in trouble.
2 – Local Post Office
Another party to refer to when it comes to issues with your mailbox is your local Post Office.
That’s why it’s a good idea to find the post office closest to you when you want to report a missing key and issue a replacement.
The customer service agents there will most likely hand you a USPS form 1093 to fill out after verifying your identity.
It can take some time for the request to be processed. Expect to wait 3-5 days, depending on what day you filled out the form.
There might also be additional fees for this service. While this may be a nuisance, it’s usually not expensive at all.
3 – Residential Management
If you live in an apartment complex with cluster mailboxes, your building manager might come into the loop, too.
Generally, mailboxes come with two keys. So, chances are your building manager has a copy.
The good news here is that you can ask them to help you and open the box. They might need to see an identity verification if they don’t know you very well.
Going for this option can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Even if your building manager doesn’t have an extra key, they can still help you with requesting a duplicate from the USPS postal offices.
Plus, calling your building manager can save you a couple of bucks. Since you have to pay a regular maintenance fee, it’ll only set you back a few dollars for the replacement lock service.
The major drawback of calling your building manager is it might take some time. We all know how frustrating it can be to get in touch with your superintendent and set an appointment.
Even though changing out the lock of a mailbox seems pretty straightforward, it may take a while to get it done.
Losing your mailbox key can be an incredibly frustrating experience. You can’t get to your piling mail, and you’re left worrying about replacing the key.
When dealing with a lost mailbox key, what to do next may be a little tricky.
The most straightforward answer is to head to your local post office and ask for your incoming mail to be put on hold or redirected to a different address.
These are only temporary fixes, though. You’ll still need to request a replacement key from your building manager or the USPS.
While it’s not an impossible issue to fix, you’ll probably want to keep a better track of your key in the future and save yourself the hassle!
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.