Standing in line at the post office can be time consuming, especially at peak hours. Self-serve kiosks, called "automated postal centers," are set up at some locations. They allow you to bypass full-service counters and speed up the process of putting letters, flats and packages in the mail.
Location of Post Office Kiosks
There are nearly 3,000 self-service post office kiosks operated nationwide by the United States Postal Service. Most are placed in lobby areas and are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To find a self-service kiosk near you, go to the "Quick Tools" link on the USPS website. Choose "Location Types" from the menu and then select "Self-Service Kiosks." You will be prompted to enter your city and state or ZIP Code.
Services Available at Self-Service Kiosks
Though not as extensive as counter service, there are still many tasks you can complete at a kiosk. USPS self-service kiosk Certified Mail is one of them. You can also make use of several other services:
- Weigh letters, flats and parcels up to 70 pounds
- Compare shipping options by price and delivery times
- Purchase variable-rate postage for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail and USPS Retail Ground Services
- Purchase Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, Insurance and Return Receipt After Mailing services
- Print Priority Mail Express forms
- Perform ZIP Code lookup
- Purchase stamps
- Renew your PO Box
- Pay for postal services with a credit, debit or EBT card
- Print a receipt with a USPS tracking number
The kiosks have instructions to guide you in their use. If you want to see how a kiosk works before you visit one, there are several helpful videos that have been posted on YouTube that will walk you through the steps.
What If There Is No Kiosk Near You?
If there is no self-service kiosk convenient to you, access services online from anywhere you have an internet connection. Go to the USPS website and click on the "Quick Tools" link for options to track a package, buy stamps, calculate a price, schedule a pickup or look up a ZIP Code. You can also order free envelopes and boxes for Priority Mail and Priority Express shipping.
Using Click-N-Ship and USPS Business
Open a free account on the USPS website to take advantage of numerous services. With Click-N-Ship, you can print shipping labels, rent or renew a PO Box, print custom forms and file domestic claims. You can even set up your account in a preferred language other than English.
Another online option under "Quick Tools" is the "Business" link. You will find links to printing and mailing services, calculators for bulk mailing prices and other tools that can be useful to a business of almost any size.
A Warning About Postmarks
If you need a mailing to be postmarked on a specific date, such as when mailing taxes on April 15, it is best to forgo the self-service kiosk and use counter service at a USPS location where you can witness the postmark being stamped. USPS only postmarks certain types of mail and may not postmark it the same day that you drop it in the box.
Without a postmark, recipients typically consider the delivery date as the date a mail piece is physically in their hands. If you are making a payment, you could incur a late fee.
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.