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Can You Copy a Mailbox Key? Is It Legal?

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

can you copy a mailbox key

Like any other key, your mailbox key is susceptible to being misplaced or lost due to its size and the number of times you use it. Without the key, you can’t access your mailbox and retrieve important letters and parcels.

That is why it’s always a good idea to have a spare key. However, having your mailbox key duplicated might not be that easy.

If you’re wondering, “Can you copy a mailbox key?” read further on this article and find out if it’s legal or not.

Can a Mailbox Key Be Copied?


1. The Reasons for Copying a Mailbox Key

There are many cases where you want to have your mailbox key copied.

  • Give a copy to your roommate
  • Keep a spare one for a rainy day
  • Simply replace the old rusty one you’re using

2. The Possibility of Copying a Mailbox Key

Whether you’re allowed to duplicate an apartment mailbox key copied depends on the ownership of the mailbox.

  • If you own the unit, you can copy the mailbox key as many times as you desire.
  • However, in case it belongs to a postal office, you’re encouraged not to.

3. Legal Implications of Copying a Mailbox Key

To get a mailbox key duplicated, go to a reputable locksmith. They will make the copies, for a little fee, of course.

However, if you do not own the mailbox, it is illegal to have your, say, USPS mailbox key duplicated. Even if you take it to a locksmith, they would most likely refuse since they would also be held liable for copying it.

Naturally, if you want a duplicate mailbox key, you can ask the postal office for another key. They will ask you to fill out a replacement form, which costs you around $10.

If you are wondering, “Where can I make a copy of my mailbox key?” and if you live in an apartment or condominium, you have to ask the building owner if they have a spare mailbox key.

If you are going to have a mailbox key that you do not own copied by a locksmith, you will be punished under U.S. Code 1704.

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Legal Considerations


The law that governs the illegal duplication of keys is U.S. Code 1704, which says that it is illegal for unauthorized individuals to duplicate a key. This applies to both the person who wants it to be duplicated and the locksmith who will copy the key.

Anyone who doesn’t follow this law will be fined, imprisoned for up to ten years, or be fined and imprisoned at the same time.

That is why if you do not own your mailbox lock and key, it is wise to get another copy of your lock from the postal office to avoid punishment.

How to Copy a Mailbox Key


Most locksmiths have machines that can copy any key. Here’s how the process works.

  1. Put the key that you want to be copied on the left jaw of the duplicating machine. Tighten the jaw by turning the knob.
  2. Raise the shoulder gauge to hold the original key in place. Insert a blank key with a similar profile to the machine.
  3. Secure both keys onto their holders.
  4. Turn on the machine and put on safety goggles.
  5. Move both keys forward using the handles and grind the original key against the metal. This will enable the blank key to get cut like the original one.
  6. Get your new spare key from the jaw and let it grind onto the built-in brush of the duplicating machine. You now have a duplicate mailbox key from your original one.

Security Risk of Copying Mailbox Keys


If you decide to make a copy of a mailbox key, some of the spare keys for your lock might fall into the hands of the wrong person. An incident like this might make your mailbox vulnerable to being robbed.

To secure your mailbox:

  1. Keep tabs on the people who have keys to your mailbox.
  2. Do not have it duplicated by sketchy locksmiths.
  3. Ask a trusted locksmith who isn’t likely to make a copy and keep it to themselves.

Alternatives to Copying a Mailbox Key

If you want to have your mailbox opened and you don’t want to go through the process of having it duplicated, you might want to try these alternatives.

1. Brute Force

Pry your mailbox by inserting a claw hammer or a screwdriver on the opposite of the hinged side of your mailbox apply force until the lock breaks and the mailbox opens.

  • Easy to execute
  • Doesn’t need complicated tools
  • Enable you to replace the lock
  • Needs a lot of force to execute
  • Might damage the mailbox in the process
  • Damages the tailpiece

2. Picking Locks

You can pick the mailbox lock if you have basic lock-picking skills. Since most mailboxes use a pin-tumbler locking mechanism, you can set the pins inside the lock.

  • Will not damage the mailbox
  • Lets you change the lock after
  • Improves your picking skills
  • Will take time, depending on your skill
  • Requires basic picking skills
  • Requires basic picking tools

3. Drill

If you don’t mind damaging your mailbox lock, you can always drill it. You can cleanly get your letters and parcels inside with a drill and a drill bit.

  • Easy to execute
  • Will not damage the mailbox
  • The lock will be easy to replace
  • Needs a drill and a sturdy drill bit
  • Might damage the surrounding area of the lock
  • Might damage the contents inside the mailbox

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to copy a mailbox key?

If you are going to get a copy of your mailbox key from the post office, it would only cost around $10. However, if you are going to have a locksmith duplicate your key, the locksmith would charge you $30 – $150 for the replacement cost.

How do I know if my mailbox lock needs replacement?

If you’re moving into a new house, you might want your mailbox lock replaced. The previous owner might still have a spare copy and can access your mailbox easily. Additionally, if your key is in good condition and the lock doesn’t budge when you insert the key, you might also want to get it replaced.


From useless fliers and coupons to important personal and business letters, things inside your mailboxes might become easier to access with the correct key. You might miss out on good things because of a single misplaced key.

You can always be careful when handling easily misplaced or lost keys. That is why knowing “Can you copy a mailbox key” will help you in the duplication process.

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