What is a parcel locker?

With the popularity of commercial mailboxes and cluster box units (CBU), parcel lockers too have become quite popular and can be easily spotted at local stations. 

Thus it raises a very crucial question, what is a parcel locker? 

A parcel locker is nothing but a secured, lockable storage unit where a mail carrier leaves mails or packages for residents to collect later.

Though some parcel lockers come pre-installed with cluster mailboxes, others must be installed separately for easy access. 

Regardless of its size and layout, the primary idea of a parcel locker is to facilitate the USPS mail carriers to distribute the packages without the need for home delivery. 

Mostly the parcel lockers meant for residential use are approved by USPS and fall under the umbrella of cluster mailboxes. However, a few other types of parcel lockers available may or may not be approved by USPS. 

What is a parcel locker


Electronic Parcel Lockers:

As the popularity of online shopping increases, both USPS and other private shipping facilities have turned to automated or electronic parcel lockers for smooth delivery. 

An electric parcel locker offers a reliable contactless and easy-to-use delivery option for residents living in apartments, retail store customers, industrial facilities, and more. 

Property agents also have the option to customize the appearance of the parcel locker after clarifying the type of parcel locker in use. 

Generally, an electronic parcel locker is well suited for indoor and outdoor use and is available in multiple sizes, styles with additional features like temperature control and scanning. 

Basic guidelines for parcel lockers and cluster boxes by USPS:

Letter carriers are directed to deliver the mail as told if they are unfamiliar with the recipient’s name. It must be noted that the number of the box does not correlate to the recipient’s mail address.

Cluster boxes often have parcel lockers installed within them. Parcel lockers are mostly used for items too big to fit in the individual box inside the Cluster box. A key, usually left inside the mailbox, can be used to access the parcel box. The key tag indicates what the parcel locker contains. Once the key is inserted in the correct parcel locker, the receiver can withdraw the item. The key remains within the locker once inserted. 

Parcel locker operations:

Both conventional and e-parcel lockers work similarly. 


A USPS employee unlocks the parcel locker compartment using the master code or key the property manager gives. They then place the parcel in the unit locker. Finally, the mail carrier selects the package recipient. 


If an electronic parcel service is used, the recipient gets an automated notification via email, text, or the app. This notice has a secret code that is used to open the locker and take the package. 

For a conventional parcel locker, the USPS delivery agent will leave a numbered key in the receiver’s assigned mailbox. The number matches the locker with the parcel, which allows the receiver to locate it. 


The recipient opens the parcel locker after accessing the key or using the code received. If the parcel locker is electronic, it can be accessed through a pin received on the phone. The locker is accessed either by entering the pin or scanning the barcode on the phone. 

Benefits of parcel lockers:

Besides making delivery easy for USPS and other delivery agencies, parcel lockers have several advantages for homeowners, employees, shoppers, and entrepreneurs. 


Even though apartment complex residents and housing facilities may enjoy regular patrolling, mail theft is becoming a recurring issue even in the safest places. 

Fortunately, parcel lockers nearly eliminate the risk of mail theft. The compartment of the locker automatically locks after delivery. Only the recipient has the unique code or access card to unlock it. Even the neighbors cannot pick up the parcel accidentally. 


Parcel lockers are a practical option for USPS workers, recipients, and property owners/managers. Thanks to the centralized delivery options, postal workers can send the packages in just one stop. On the flip side, the service is flexible enough for recipients to access all day long. 


Since most parcel lockers are placed in busy, well-lit areas, it offers a lot of safety to the recipients. Plus, many parcel locker areas have video surveillance features too. This footage can be monitored by property managers, customer service professionals, and even security personnel to ensure the safety of the recipients.


According to the USPS, parcel lockers and CBUs cut down on the delivery cost, making it necessary for apartment complexes and businesses to install this facility on their premises. Fortunately, parcel lockers are offered free of charge by major shipping companies for their clients to use. The only thing to consider is that there is a time limit for which your package can be stored. If that time limit is exceeded, the package will be simply returned to the sender. This time limit varies from one company to another. USPS Gopost offers a 15 days window. 

How to Select The Ideal Parcel Locker?

Choosing the ideal parcel locker for your community business or apartment can be challenging. The sheer options (conventional or electronic lockers, self-service, or full-service locker) are often overwhelming. 

To make things easy, consider the four following fundamentals:

Reliable companies:

To change your complicated and chaotic delivery system into a far convenient option, it’s essential to select a reputable parcel locker service. 

However, it’s vital to remember that not all companies are equal. They vary on customer care, security measures, and delivery options. 

Ideally, opt for reputable companies like Amazon or USPS. 


This is a crucial factor to consider while choosing the service. Find out if you can access the package at any time of the day or night, or do you have to stick to a schedule. Do not forget to ensure that only you can access the mailbox. 


To save your package from the package pirates, you have to ensure that your mailbox is sturdy. However, as mail theft cases rise, most parcel locks these days self closes their compartment. Once the door is shut, only the recipient and mail carrier can access the unit. 

Parcel lockers are indeed convenient for both the mail delivery agents and the recipients and feature an added safety net against package theft. However, if your complex still does not have this facility, you can use an existing one closer to you. Most of the parcel lockers are located in open areas to allow easy access to the delivery agents. Enhance your mailing experience with a parcel locker today! 

Avatar of Robert Johnson

Shipping guy at USPS, previously at Fedex.

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