What Are the Laws for Residential Mailboxes?

There are many laws for mailboxes established by the U.S. Federal government, such as the law dictating that mailboxes are federal property, explains Mail Boss. A mailbox is the official location for mail to be delivered to someone, and they are therefore protected under federal law.

When mail is placed in a person's mailbox, the mail is still in the possession of the federal government, until the mail is retrieved by the recipient, states Mail Boss. U.S. citizens are considered to be leasing a mailbox from the government even if the person purchased the mailbox and installed it on his own property.

Because the mailbox officially belongs to the government, it falls under the U.S. law governing the tampering with, disabling or otherwise vandalizing of a mailbox. This is an illegal act under Title 18, Section 1705 of the United States Code, explains the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Those in violation of this code can be sentenced up to three years in prison for each instance and fined up to $250,000.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service states that those who wish to report violence or theft against a mailbox can do so directly with the U.S. Postal Service at 877-876-2455, as of 2015, or online at USPS.gov. A mailbox should be kept in good condition in a safe location in order to reduce the risk of vandalism.