Here’s What You’re Legally Allowed to Gift Your Mail Carrier

The dos and don’ts of gifting to your mail carrier are very specific.

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Mail carriers work tirelessly to deliver our correspondence and packages day in and day out—especially around the holidays. And it can be rough out there for these postal employees if their route happens to be in an area that experiences a lot of inclement weather or any number of other obstacles. If your mail carrier has been serving your neighborhood for a long time, you may even know them on a personal level. Whatever the situation, it’s not uncommon to feel inclined to gift them something for their efforts. These are postal carrier secrets your mailman wishes you knew.

The rules, however, for offering a gift of thanks to a United States Postal Service (USPS) worker are rather specific and you may have to get creative to show them your appreciation. Find out why.

The big no-nos

Particularly during the holidays or around Thank a Mail Carrier Day (February 4), people are compelled to spread joy and gift those who help them all year long. For this reason, USPS spells out the limits within which postal employees may accept an offering. It falls under the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch.

“Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas,” it states on the USPS website. “However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.” Find out what it’s really like to be a mail carrier.

Gift with purpose

Now that we know what is against the law for mail carriers to accept, it’s time to consider what makes for a good gift. If you rarely ever see them or have never held much of a conversation with this person, it may seem impossible to pinpoint a present that they will enjoy. Start by looking at the bigger picture of what their job entails, and think about items that might make their day-to-day a little easier.

For example, mail carriers are on the go all day to complete their route. Consider gifting an insulated travel coffee mug that will keep their beverage hot or cold for extended periods of time. If you live in an area prone to cold weather, maybe it’s a pair of gloves that can withstand those freezing temperatures. Check out these surprising facts about the U.S. Postal Service.

Compliments count

If providing a physical gift feels awkward, consider writing a letter directed to USPS’s Office of Inspector General sharing some kind words about your mail carrier. In a world where we so often file complaints more than we share positive feedback, this is a very thoughtful gesture. Maybe you comment on an incident where they went out of their way to keep a package safe for you, or you just appreciate their cheery disposition. Encouraging words may not cost any money, but they can go a long way in terms of making someone feel appreciated, and even help them get recognized by their supervisors for their hard work. Here’s how to give a truly sincere compliment.


  • USPS: “Employee Tipping and Gift-Receiving Policy”