When you've lost the key that locks the mailbox outside your home, apartment or a post office box -- or if you need to give a new key to a rental tenant -- you can get a replacement made without too much hassle. According to the U.S. Postal Service, replace the lost key rather to try to pry the mailbox open, as carriers won't deliver mail to unlocked or unsecured boxes.
Keys for Renters
If you rent an apartment, townhouse, condominium or home in a complex with a centralized mailbox system and lost your key, ask the on-site manager or superintendent for a replacement. You can either put the request in writing or ask in person, depending on the community's policies.
Put your request as soon as possible as it may take a few days to have a replacement mailbox key made, and you won't be able to access your mail until you have it. If the U.S. Postal Service owns the mailbox, be prepared to pay for a replacement key. According to U.S. Postal Service, the key deposit is $1 and key replacements or duplications are $4.40 each, at the time of publication.
Post Office Box Keys
When your mail is delivered to a mailbox at your local post office, you'll be given two keys at the start of your service. After losing both of the initial keys, you can request a replacement by submitting an United States Postal Service form 1094 and by paying the refundable key deposit as well as a key fee.
If you still have your keys, but they're worn or damaged, you can bring them to the post office and have them replaced for free.
Single Family Residence Mailbox Keys
You can replace the key on your private residence mailbox by contacting the manufacturer and giving them your mailbox item number. Be prepared to provide proof of purchase to show that you own the mailbox. The manufacturer will then send you a replacement key in the mail -- for a fee of $7 and up -- which can take several days.
As another option, you can call a locksmith to open your box and issue you a new key, which is typically more costly. Service call fees can start at $15, depending on where you live; you'll also have to pay for the labor and hardware costs. It may be more cost-effective to buy a new mailbox, so do your research first.
Josh Arnold has been a residential and commercial carpenter for 15 years and likes to share his knowledge and experience through writing. He is a certified journeyman carpenter and took college-accredited courses through the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters training center. As a Los Angeles-based union carpenter, Arnold builds everything from highrises to bridges, parking structures and homes.