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Waiting in line at the Post Office is not what most people enjoy doing on a lunch hour or on the way home after work. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has more than 2,500 Automated Postal Center (APC) kiosks available, many of which provide customers with access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Save time by learning to use these automated systems that perform most tasks that USPS representatives can complete.

Find a Nearby Kiosk

While many local USPS locations already have at least one APC kiosk, don't assume every location does. Go to the USPS website to search for a nearby kiosk location. Use the sidebar menu and choose the option "Find USPS Locations" to search based on city or zip code. This site has the most updated kiosk information. Note the address, prepare items to mail and go when you have time. Kiosks are in the open area or box lobby of post offices to accommodate those running errands in non-traditional business hours. Keep in mind that some post office box lobby hours offer less than 24/7 access.

Determine Postal Need

Kiosks are able to handle a wide range of postal activities. Basic services include weighing items to confirm and buy postage, renewing a P.O. box, or accepting letters and small packages in the secured mail receptacle. Kiosks allow individual postage purchase for one item or a book of stamps to stock up.

Aside from buying postage, the kiosk allows senders to choose the preferred shipping method and gives an estimated date of delivery. Options include Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, USPS Retail Ground or First-Class Mail. Kiosks provide delivery confirmation options including return receipts, certified mail options and desired insurance. Representative assistance is only required when sending odd-sized parcels or mailing questionable items that are potentially prohibited.

Conduct the Transaction

Follow the online prompts to conduct the APC kiosk transaction. Confirm the type of parcel being sent: standard letter, Priority or Express envelopes, or packages. Note the dimensions of packages as requested and place the package on the scale. Enter the destination Zip Code.

Once you have the basic information in the system, select the type of delivery. If sending a package with additional options such as Certified Mail, obtain and complete the proper forms from the kiosk or location's lobby. Select the method of delivery and follow the prompts on how to affix forms to the envelope, such as the Certified Mail form.

Confirm there are no hazardous or prohibited items being mailed when prompted. The screen reviews items not allowed through the USPS. Pay for the transaction with a debit, credit or EBT card. Print your receipt and necessary postage. Don't forget to affix printed postage to the letter or package. The APC system asks if there are any additional transactions. Receipts have tracking numbers for any items requiring proof of delivery. Place the parcel in the respective letter or package drop box in the post office.