Refuse Your Mail

How to Refuse Mail

Refusing and sending back unwanted mail delivered to you by the USPS is a very simple process:

  1. Write “Refused” on the mailpiece. I’d suggest doing this near the postage area, although that can be hard to find on some pieces of junk mail. I tend to use a black marker for it to make sure it shows up, but I’ve used a normal pen and it works just as well. Or if you do this a lot, you can even have a rubber stamp made up (they’re not very expensive) and use that.

  2. (Optionally) Make a few dark marks through the barcode and address. This isn’t always needed, but it can help make sure that the automated sorting equipment doesn’t just redirect the mailpiece right back to your mailbox without anybody looking at it. You don’t need to obliterate the address or barcode, you just need to do enough that it won't be read automatically.

    [Diagram of an envelope marked "Refused" with a couple lines through barcode and address]

  3. Give it back to the US Postal Service. Essentially, put it wherever you put the rest of your outgoing mail. I just put it back in my mailbox and raise the flag. If you prefer, you can stick it in a regular blue collection box, or even go into a Post Office and hand it to a clerk there. The mail just needs to get injected back into the mailstream somehow.

Caveats to be aware of

While refusing mail is very easy, there are some details that you need to be sure to be aware of.

Postal Service regulations

This page is just a summary of my understanding of the rules one needs to follow. If you’d like to read the instructions directly from the United States Postal Service, refer to these pages: