Discussion Forums - USPS Postal Regulations USPS Postal Regulations

Topic: Does anyone know where

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Does anyone know where
Date Posted: 2/19/2012 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/28/2008
Posts: 3,529
Back To Top

I can find out what boxes are ok to use when mailing books and what boxes are not? And also if the box has to be wrapped . I have been sending a ton of books to a friend in a large pamper diapers box.  I have not been wrapping the box in paper and I was told at one of the post offices that what ever it says on the box has to be in the box.


Was wondering if the post office had a list of what was ok and what was not

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
Back To Top

The source of your information is incorrect.  To the best of my knowledge, the only boxes that cannot be recycled for mailing USPS are those that originally contained items banned from mail service...such as liquor, fireworks, lighter fluid, etc.  There's a large poster on the wall inside my local PO branch of items banned from sending via USPS.  Those boxes they do not want you to use at all, but will often accept them wrapped in brown paper.  And of course, USPS boxes marked a different rate than your outgoing package; ie cannot re-use Priority Mail boxes to send Media Mail. 

Many PBS members report using cereal boxes and such for their book shipments.  I tend to keep an extra small box or 2 around for mailing multiples, I watch the grocery store when staff is stocking shelves...I've successfully mailed books using small coffee boxes, snack cartons, etc. (in fact used one just a few days ago and the box is still enroute).  My favorites are recycled Amazon boxes, they are a great size and a sturdy weight.   My PO is excellent and very well trained, the only box they have refused was a liquor box.

Deface existing barcodes.  I asked about barcodes on recycled boxes, and my PO said the only ones I really need to cross-off (deface) are those meant to be read by USPS equipment.  Other barcodes should not be read/confuse their in-house barcode readers.

If your local PO gives you any additional problems, consider filing an online complaint at USPS.com b/c it sounds as if management needs to schedule a re-training session. 


Date Posted: 2/19/2012 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 10/28/2008
Posts: 3,529
Back To Top



Thank you, the first time I took a pamper box in she told me I had to wrap it in paper. I took it home and did so.  But now I will fight to the end LOL.

Date Posted: 2/19/2012 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
Back To Top

OK Bertie, I found another useful USPS link titled Can You Ship It?  It even addresses liquor boxes, and the way it's worded would lead me to believe that other types of boxes can be recycled and used as shipping cartons.  Anything on the 'Restricted' or 'HAZMAT' tab, I would not recycle boxes for mailing USPS...otherwise, you should be good to go.   

ETA - You could also ask them to show you the DMM regulation.  Some of these postal employes attempt to enfoce rules that just do not exist.

Last Edited on: 2/19/12 3:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2012 11:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top
When I need to use a product box to ship I turn it inside out (not priority boxes, but some non-food merchandise). I've done that with a box that a cell phone came in and even some lightbulbs once. I just open out the flaps carefully and release the side seam, invert, reglue and refold. It's a little work, but worth it since you end up with a blank box.
Date Posted: 2/28/2012 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 1,262
Back To Top

I use every kind of box imaginable that can hold multiple books.  My favorites are snack/cereal boxes.  You don't have to cover the picture on the outside, but for added protection and from what I've been told by members that have received my packages on a rainy day - extra waterproofing - I cover the box in old wall paper or contact paper that I've picked up for a dollar at Goodwill and thrift stores.  I use the wall paper to wrap single books instead of brown paper or the PBS label as well since I think it's thicker and can take more abuse from the sorting machines at the post office. 

One box that I had never used, but really wanted to because it is so strong and would work well for mailing multiple HCs,  yet isn't very big or heavy, is my boxed wine box.  I finally asked at my post office and they said that if I cover the box with the wall paper wrapping like I usually do, it is ok.  I asked if it would be a problem if the box was opened during an inspection of media mail and found to be a liquor box and they said it would be fine. 

Now, I haven't had a reason to use one since I asked, but I think I will give it a try the next time I need a box that size.

Date Posted: 2/28/2012 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
Back To Top

Hi Bertie,

Many good answers here already.  Postal employees have to assume that the box contains what it says it does, this doesn't mean it has to contain that.  The employee who told you that is way of base.

One thing I would suggest you don't do is wrap it in paper unless you have it very securely taped because paper can get caught in machinery or tear the edge of a container it will be placed in or sometimes another article in the mail.  If you do wrap the box in paper make sure that sucker is taped down good..

Date Posted: 2/29/2012 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,370
Back To Top

I have never had a package wrapped in brown mailing paper rip open unless it was thrown around or run over.   The military mails all their urine samples for drug testing and sent to regional labs in small cardboard boxes wrapped in brown paper---if you do it properly and tape the corners, there are no issues.

Date Posted: 2/29/2012 6:50 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
Back To Top

I saw someone mail a clear plastic box at Christmas with the lid taped on it!  Like one of those storage boxes. LOL

Date Posted: 3/10/2012 7:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/11/2007
Posts: 5,291
Back To Top

Ann Marie C. ~ I use wall paper to wrap single books

Please don't use wallpaper to directly wrap a book unless you are 100% sure it is not prepasted... even the slightest bit of dampness could cause the glue in prepasted wallpaper to activate & stick to the book.

Last Edited on: 3/10/12 7:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/30/2012 5:47 AM ET
Member Since: 2/11/2011
Posts: 3,097
Back To Top

I have never thought to use old cereal boxes. Hehe!

Date Posted: 6/25/2012 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
Back To Top

Liquor boxes are also OK if you use a black marker and mark out anything that says beer/vodka/brewery etc.  I just sent 37 books to Operation Paperback (that send books to deployed service members) in a beer box, and it was OK so long as I defaced the forbidden words.

Date Posted: 6/25/2012 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
Back To Top

I used to use brown paper to mail books, but not all is created equal.  I have definately received books wrapped in very brittle brown paper, torn and ripped without evidence of Media Maul abuse.  I've also received brown paper wrappers that traveled cross country and look like brand new.

Winston, liquor boxes are one of those things that different POs will handle differently.  Some branches will accept them if they are defaced (black marker), while others require they be covered entirely.  Not sure how the overseas military staff handles the situation.  DS is currently stationed in Afghanastan, and liquor is one of the few things absolutely banned.  I personally wouldn't take the chance of the potential problem, or getting the boy in trouble.  But then again, what's the worst that could happen...confiscate the books?

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 11/20/2005
Posts: 2,338
Back To Top

Smaller laundry detergent boxes work well for holding 3 or 4 paperbacks.

Date Posted: 12/15/2012 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2008
Posts: 3,365
Back To Top

I have had books shipped to me in some of the strangest boxes:) Cereal, diapers, etc. You name it, I have probably gotten it. And I ship stuff in other boxes. Only thing they ask me is to mark out the barcodes. 

Date Posted: 12/16/2012 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
Back To Top

The problem with laundry detergent boxes (and other sorts) is that there may be lingering smells or even bits of what they held.  If you're going to use them, make sure to take steps to avoid the books ending up smelly.