USPS Mailbox Full? Here’s What Happens & What To Do

People are asking a lot lately: What does the USPS do when your mailbox is full? Do they hold your mail? Do they return it to the sender? Or do they leave them out until you collect them? 

The USPS understands that customers might be unable to collect their mail for several reasons. In most cases, the customer may be on a business trip or might be ill and in the hospital.

In whatever situation you find unable to access your mailbox, you need not worry. This article highlights what happens when your mailbox is full and what you can do about it.


Naturally, the USPS frowns against leaving your mailbox unattended. It disrupts the delivery process and leaves mail exposed to theft or damage. However, certain cases may warrant a customer’s inability to access his or her mailbox.

The most common cases are business trips, vacations with family, and medical reasons. Well, the good thing is that the USPS understands and tries as much as possible to serve customers regardless.

What does the post office do if your mailbox is full?

According to the USPS, if a mailbox is deemed full by any workers, it will be cleared out. The USPS worker will leave a “we redeliver for you” form (the PS Form 3849) for the property owner or inside the mailbox.

Afterward, all the mail in the box will be returned to the local post office for pickup. All mail will be held at the local post office for 10 days; if the customer does not pick it up, it will be returned to the sender.

How will you be able to get the mail?

You can get the mail in one of two ways;

1. Reschedule a delivery

You can use PS Form 3849 to schedule a redelivery. This can be done online, which is more convenient. After submitting this request, you must ensure you can receive the mail this time. This is because the USPS worker will not leave the mail in the mailbox this time.

2. Pick it up yourself

The second option is to pick up the mail at the local post office. The exact post office will be stated on the “we redeliver to you” form left by the USPS worker.

Simply head down to the local post office with a government-issued photo ID. You will need the ID for verification before the mail is handed to you.

What if you are not available?

If you are still unavailable, the USPS hold mail service will come in handy for you. This service allows customers to have all their mail held for 30 days.

You can do this by contacting 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777). Or for a quicker service, contact the local post office that handles your mail.

You can also submit the hold mail request online. I will outline the steps below;

  • Log into your USPS account (if you do not have one, you can quickly sign up and verify your identity)
  • On the “quick tools” bar, you should see the hold mail button; click on it
  • Key in your address to verify that the USPS hold mail service is available for your address
  • Once confirmed, key in the dates and submitted your request


How long can USPS hold mail if the hold mail service is used?

30 days.

Can USPS burn overflowing mail?

No, they can’t.


Basically, when your mailbox is full, USPS will stop delivering your mail and leave a notice for you. This notice informs you that they will be redelivering your mail once you instruct them to, and it is also available for pickup.

The USPS hold mail service is the best option if you will not be available for another 10 days. You can use this service to have the USPS hold your mail for another 30 days.

I believe you found this article helpful. You should also see this article on what to do when USPS says delivered, but there is no package.

Thanks for reading.