USPS Coronavirus FAQ

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Hold Mail

How long will Caller Service mail be held?

Mail from the delivery route that cannot be delivered due to a business closure is returned to the delivery unit, and under new guidelines it will be held for 30 days. Customers can proactively request a temporary hold for their mail up to 30 days. Caller Box customers should contact their local office to discuss how they will be handling the pickup of this volume. Any high volume customer will be contacted to discuss pickup options as well.

How is USPS holding mail for closed businesses?

USPS is committed to identifying solutions to assist those businesses impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In an effort to best serve our business customers, we are temporarily modifying how we handle mail that must be returned to the delivery office due to a full box, or the business not being open to receive delivery for an extended period.

Current postal policy is to return the mail to the delivery office, indicate the date the mail is first returned to be held, and hold for 10 days. In order to accommodate businesses during this challenging time, we will now extend the hold period to 30 days before returning the items to the sender.

Once the business reopens, delivery should immediately resume unless other arrangements have been made. If the business fails to make alternative delivery arrangements or does not submit a request to hold or forward its mail after 30 days, the process of returning mail to the sender will resume.

Management may make efforts to contact business owners for whom we are holding mail to discuss the alternative options.

If businesses make contact after the 30-day hold period and Moved, Left No Address (MLNA) orders have been processed, the USPS will extend assistance as necessary to cancel and immediately resume delivery.

These instructions shall remain in place until further notice. (Industry Alert – 3/19/20).

International

Can the Postal Service ensure both military and non-military voting ballots are delivered from foreign countries?

The Postal Service is working with the Federal Election Commission, Military Postal administrators, and local election officials to ensure all military and non-military voting ballots are transmitted to the voters overseas and returned back timely to the individual voting jurisdictions. This is a continuous process for the Postal Service to ensure all mailed votes are counted.

Is there a quarantine for international mail coming to the US and if so, how long?

The Postal Service is not embargoing mail coming into the United States. We have been notified by numerous international Posts that they are not allowing mail to enter or exit their countries. We have these alerts posted on our International page of the USPS Service Alerts website at https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/international/welcome.htm.


Military

What happens to the packages that are shipped to a domestic, international, or APO/FPO/DPO address that is destined to an area that has now been closed due to COVID-19? Will the packages be held or returned to sender?

We have been notified by numerous international Posts that they are not allowing mail to enter or exit their countries. If mail to a certain country is being returned, we will post an alert on our International page of the USPS Service Alerts website at https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/international/welcome.htm.

What are the latest updates for mailings to APO/DPO/FPOs? Are some not accepting mail?

Any changes to APO/DPO/FPOs can be found in the latest version of the Postal Bulletin found at https://about.usps.com/resources/postal-bulletin.htm.


Facilities

During COVID-19 is it possible to complete PO Box customer verification through email?

The Postal Service does not plan to provide this verification at this time.

What is the Postal Service’s procedure for picking up mail from a Postal Service pickup box at an office that has closed due to COVID-19 prior to collection?

Postal Service employees will follow CDC guidelines while collecting mail and packages. The Surgeon General, CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO) have consistently provided the advice that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.

Specifically, according to the WHO, “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.” And according to the CDC, “in general, because of poor survivability of these Coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”

How do I find out if my Post Officeor another postal facility is closed or has reduced hours?

Postal operations is constantly changing based on employee availability. The most up-to-date status of a Post Office can be found through the PO Locator and Service Alerts.


Claims

How will claims be handled during this period? Will there be a single point of contact?

Customers who are required to bring damaged articles to their local post offices to have their claims approved will now have 90 days instead of 30 days. There are no changes to where or how to submit your claims.


Passports


Funding

What is the USPS Statement on Congressional Stimulus Package?

Read the full statement here.

News reports indicate that if mail volume declines significantly due to the Coronavirus, that USPS may have to cease operations. Please address how the USPS plans to maintain operations.

Read the full USPS Statement on the Congressional Stimulus Package here.


Essential Government Services

Are the Postal Service and its mailing and shipping partners essential government services?

Yes.

The following provides information regarding the functions being performed by the mailing and printing industry in support of the essential government services being provided by the United States Postal Service to the American people.

The Postal Service’s provision of postal services throughout the United States is not affected by State and local government actions that are restricting commercial and personal activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Postal Service is an entity of the Federal Government, and the provision of postal services to the American people is designated as an essential function under federal law during times of emergency. The postal system is used to deliver, among other things, important governmental information and benefits, mail that is essential to the functioning of our economy, elections materials, and packages containing vital necessities, including medicines and other goods, and is a part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Postal and shipping workers, including those in the private sector, are also considered essential critical infrastructure workers under recent guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security. White House and CDC guidance has also stated that such industries have a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules.

The functioning of the postal system depends critically on the mailing and printing industry. Members of the mailing and printing industry work with the public and private sector to create, print, and enter essential mail into the postal system.

Will a signed version of the Essential Government Services letter be forthcoming?

The USPS has received many requests for a “signed” document expressing that the USPS and its suppliers are essential government services. The USPS legal team currently is evaluating the request to have a signed letter by a USPS official verifying that information. Mailers, MSPS and other suppliers currently are advised to use the Industry Alert issued on March 23, 2020 as official documentation.


Mailing & Shipping

Will the Post Office be open for mailing Certified letters or is this currently on hold?

The Postal Service continues to deliver Certified letters and has modified Signature Services procedures.

Has the virus negatively impacted service standards to date?

At this time, the USPS continues to process mail to align with its service standards.

Can I ship hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes?

To ship hand sanitizers including wipes, you must use USPS Retail Ground, Parcel Select, or Parcel Select Lightweight. These services are only available through your local Post Office™ branch.

Most hand sanitizers, including wipes, contain alcohol and are flammable in nature and are therefore handled and shipped as hazardous matter (HAZMAT) in the US Mail™. As flammable materials, these products are limited to surface transportation-only in domestic mail. It is prohibited to send these materials by International Mail including APO/FPO/DPO (military) destinations.

If you are unsure whether or not the product that you are shipping is flammable, please check with the manufacturer of the product before mailing.

Additional Resources
Publication 52-Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail Packaging Instructions 3A


Safety

Is the Postal Service acquiring any personal protective equipment (PPE) for Postal employees?

The Postal Service is following CDC guidance for ensuring the safety of its employees and its customers. We are actively working through our Supply Chain Management team to acquire the necessary PPE as required in CDC guidance and see that it is distributed to the field properly. We are also working to acquire the necessary disinfecting solutions for use by our maintenance personnel, cleaning contractors, and by our employees as they deem necessary.

If business mailers have consumers that are concerned about any virus concerns in their mailbox, what is the USPS suggestion for consumers when handling physical mail delivered to their business/home location? What can businesses share with their consumers also?

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance continues to indicate there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail. According to WHO, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low. This guidance remains true for mail transport equipment.

Is there anything the USPS is doing for employees to mitigate consumer interaction or supporting retail clerks to minimize risk with customers?

We have communicated safe workplace practices with our retail clerks. We are communicating with our customers in a manner that is consistent with guidance provided by the CDC, and have encouraged social distancing practices.

How is the USPS keeping mail and its employees safe?

The United States Postal Service has a dedicated COVID-19 Command Response leadership team that is focusing on employee, operational, business, and customer continuity during this unprecedented epidemic. We continue to follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments. The CDC has information available on its website at https://www.coronavirus.gov that provides the latest information about COVID-19.

Importantly, the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html), the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses), as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.

Specifically, according to the World Health Organization, “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.” And according to the CDC, “in general, because of poor survivability of these Coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”

What is the Post Office doing to maintain the CDC social distancing in the retail lobbies?

Check out the video below also.

The safety and well-being of our customers and employees is our highest priority.

In order to maintain a safe, appropriate distance, social distancing signs will be placed on inner and outer lobby doors. Customers will be asked to limit the Post Office lobby to no more than 10 people at a time, and keep a minimum of 6 feet between yourself and others.

Many Post Offices will have floor tape (6 feet apart) in the queue line and at the retail counter to guide with this distancing.

All employees have been instructed on following CDC guidelines for prevention. Including:

Video - USPS: Help Us Serve You: Post Offices

Social distancing is now part of every trip to the Post Office
.

How safe is the mail and mail transport equipment?

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance continues to indicate there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail. According to WHO, the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low. This guidance remains true for mail transport equipment.


Delivery

Does language exist requiring the prioritization of delivering medical supplies? This would be in line with the announcement yesterday at White House briefing about FEMA Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force. Is this a USPS directive of some kind?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Public Law 116-136, March 27, 2020, Sec. 6001(c) provided the following language:

(c) PRIORITIZATION OF DELIVERY FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, during the COVID-19 emergency, the Postal Service—

(1) shall prioritize delivery of postal products for medical purposes; and

(2) may establish temporary delivery points, in such form and manner as the Postal Service determines necessary, to protect employees of the Postal Service and individuals receiving deliveries from the Postal Service.

The Postal Service is still evaluating the impact of this language. However, we continue to move mail and packages according to the service standards for those products.

How quickly can mail be rerouted if I submit a Change of Address?

Depending on how the Change of Address is filed (via online, dropped in a collection box, or given to a retail associate/carrier), mail can start being forwarded in three to seven days.

If a business has specific instructions on how to deliver mail to a business due to COVID-19 (i.e. having to request access via phone to enter through a now closed gate), will the Postal Service still deliver?

Customers should contact their local Post Office to discuss special delivery instructions.

Due to COVID-19, my facility has taken additional measures to protect the health and welfare of our employees and residents, including requiring individuals entering the facility to comply with screening requests. How is the USPS handling delivery of mail and handling these restrictions?

While we understand customers’ desire to screen individuals entering their facilities, we cannot require our letter carriers to comply with such requests. Our carriers have privacy protections under Federal laws – such as the Privacy Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) – that may be violated if we require a carrier to be subjected to precautionary screenings by customers.

Although we cannot direct a carrier to submit to precautionary screenings, the Postal Service wants to do its best to ensure our business customers and their residents receive their mail. Please contact your local Post Office to discuss alternative options in lieu of requiring screening. Local management will work with you to ensure that the Postal Service can maintain continuity of delivery operations for your facility.

Please refer to our latest Industry Alert titled COVID-19: Policy for Customers Requiring Visitor Medical Screenings for Letter Carriers that can be found on the USPS Industry Outreach website at the url: https://postalpro.usps.com/industryoutreach/alert_and_notices.

Will the USPS issue a national policy for Schools, colleges, and businesses that will be closed for an extended period of time? If so, how will this be handled?

The Postal Service has agreed to extend its normal 10-day hold to 30 days for closed businesses. Customers have the option to proactively request temporary holds of up to 30 days. Students should contact their college and university to clarify their processes because these schools independently manage their mail operations. Businesses also have the option to use Premium Forwarding Service Commercial™ to forward their mail to an alternate address.

How will the Premium Forward Service be supported by USPS if the end site location is impacted by a closure?

Each post office has contingency plans to offload mail to an alternate local to provide continued services to customers.

Will there be any modifications to Certified Mail or mail requiring signature deliveries with customers? If so, how will this be supported?

One significant measure being implemented is a temporary modification to mail handling procedures for mail that requires customer signatures. We recognize the close proximity and additional handling that occurs when employees must ask customers for a signature and government issued identification when required. To reduce health risks, we are temporarily modifying customer signature capture procedures. Effective immediately and until further notice, our employees will follow the temporary process below for signature service items. This process applies to all letter carriers:

Can businesses provide a temporary alternate delivery address?

Customers may contact their local postmaster or station manager for temporary alternate delivery options. The Postal Service has extended is hold policy to 30 days for closed business.

How is USPS delivering mail under shelter-in-place declarations?

The Postal Service is classified as an essential government service operation, which allows us to continue operations.

How are items requiring a signature handled with social distancing regulations in place?

To reduce health risks, we are temporarily modifying customer signature capture procedures.