Post box fees – To pay, or not to pay |

Post box fees – To pay, or not to pay

Sarah Gonser

While the issue of South Shore home mail delivery continues to spark debate among citizens, a quick sidewalk survey very likely would reveal many residents confused about whether or not they should be paying for their post office boxes.

U.S. Postal Service media spokesperson Vic Fenimore suggests a simple rule of thumb.

“When your area gets home delivery, you do not get a free box. But if you are not provided with home delivery, you have the opportunity to get a free box,” Fenimore said. “One way or the other, U.S. Postal Service has to provide one type of free service – whether it’s a box or delivery.”

Most residents in the Lake Tahoe Basin do not receive home delivery. At South Shore, exceptions include the city of South Lake Tahoe, Meyers, the Tahoe Paradise area and one contract route in Glenbrook (most of Glenbrook, however, does not receive home delivery). That means, anyone living outside those specific areas is not entitled to home delivery, and therefore has the right to a free postal box at their local post office.

“This is a fairly new policy. In the early 90s, there was a minimal fee charged to everybody, ” said Sue Rae Irelan, the environmental consultant and project manager for the future Lake Tahoe Basin Postal Service Master Plan. “The Postal Service changed their policy after they decided everyone should be entitled to one free type of service.”

It is also important to note that residents living in non-delivery areas are occasionally billed for their boxes despite not having access to home delivery. In such cases, showing the postmaster proof of residency -such as a utility bill- should eliminate the fee. This billing process usually happens on an annual basis and helps the Postal Service ensure that non-residents are not receiving resident benefits.

“If you feel that you’re being charged and shouldn’t be, talk to you postmaster,” Fenimore said. “There could be some extraneous circumstances – although that’s not the norm.”

Past box fees mistakenly paid to the Postal Service can also very likely be refunded, provided proof of residency during that time period can supplied.


As the U.S. Postal Service develops its master plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin, 16,000 randomly selected residents will be surveyed about many issues – including home delivery service. For more information, call Sue Rae Irelan at (530) 525-1646. To speak to the Lake Tahoe branch of the U.S. Postal Service, call (800) ASK-USPS and ask for Alice Ynchausti at ZIP code 96150.

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