Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
If you've ever been anywhere near a mailbox, you've probably noticed the little flag hanging out on the side of the mailbox. It's often red, but does it have to be? Well, if you're wondering about the answer to this question, you've come to the right place. We've researched whether the flag on a mailbox has to be red, and we have an answer for you.
The flag on a mailbox does not have to be red. However, there are several specific colors it can be. It's important to follow the rules set by the USPS for mailbox flags.
Now you know that the mailbox flag doesn't have to be red, keep reading as we elaborate on this further. We'll discuss what colors your flag can and cannot be. We'll also answer some other questions you might have about your mailbox and its flag and whether it is required to have one!
Mailboxes And Their Flags
If you're a new homeowner, renter, or just haven't really paid much attention to mailboxes, you might not know that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has lots of rules and regulations in place when it comes to your mailbox. Things like your mailbox's location, height, style, and flag are all regulated.
If you haven't installed your mailbox yet, check out this guide we've put together here: How Deep Should A Mailbox Post Be? [A Complete Guide].
It's unlikely that you haven't noticed the red flag on most mailboxes even if you've never used one yourself. After all, the main purpose for them is to draw attention to the mailbox, and they do their job well. But why are they usually red? Can they not be any other colors?
Mailbox flags do not have to be red, but they are often red because the USPS requires them to be a contrasting color to the mailbox and cannot be blue, brown, white, yellow, or green.
The mailbox flag cannot be the colors listed above because they might blend in with the surroundings. Imagine having a green flag that blends in with the grass, trees, or bushes in the background. If the flag cannot be seen, the mail carrier may not realize there is outgoing mail.
This does leave very few options when it comes to acceptable flag colors which is why they are most often red or orange. Red is easy to spot and is unlikely to blend in with any of its surroundings.
When Not To Choose A Red Flag
There are times when you shouldn't have a red flag. If you have a mailbox that is red or a similar color to red, you'll have to choose a different color flag in order for it to be seen because the flag will not contrast enough with the mailbox. For example, a red flag with a pink or orange mailbox will not work. In this instance, a black or grey flag might work better for your mailbox instead.
What does a red flag on a mailbox mean?
The red flag on a mailbox is to indicate that there is outgoing mail that needs to be collected by the mail carrier. Once the outgoing mail is placed in the mailbox, the flag is raised to signal the mail carrier. After the mail carrier has collected the mail, they will lower the flag to signal that it has been collected.
Why do mailboxes have red flags?
As mentioned above, mailboxes have red flags in order to signal there is outgoing mail to be collected. The reason they are usually red is so that they can be easily seen by the mail carriers. Red is often associated with signs and signals, so it makes it a great color option to grab attention easily. Flags can be other colors, but cannot be blue, white, green, brown, or yellow.
Do all mailboxes have flags?
Though they are a common sight on most mailboxes, not all mailboxes have flags. Flags are not required by the USPS and it is up to the mailbox owner whether they want their mailbox to allow for outgoing mail. If the owner doesn't have a need for outgoing mail, they might choose to not have a flag on their mailbox.
What happens if my mailbox doesn't have a flag?
As we mentioned above, not all mailboxes have flags. If your mailbox doesn't have a flag, don't fret, it doesn't mean there is no way for the mail carrier to pick up your outgoing mail.
You Can Install A Flag
The easiest thing to do is to add a flag to your mailbox. Fortunately, finding a mail flag isn't difficult. You can purchase a mailbox carrier flag at most hardware stores. Additionally, if you don't want to hunt for one in-store, mailbox flags are also available for purchase online. They are relatively affordable and simple to install.
You Can Position Outgoing Mail
You might need a way for your mail to get picked up before you have a chance to install a flag. Maybe you don't want to install one at all. Fortunately, you still have some options.
You can try to place the mail in a way that the carrier can see that it needs to be collected. However, there is always a chance your mail carrier might think the mail in your mailbox was delivered from a previous day. It's important to try and place the mail in a position so that they can see there is no postmark.
You Can Use a Magnetic Note
You can also choose to place a sticky note on the mailbox. This will notify your carrier that you have mail to be picked up. There are also some cute magnets that can be attached to magnetic mailboxes to notify your mail carrier that you have mail needing to be collected. Either way, it's likely that your mail carrier has come across a flagless mailbox before and can help you out.
Things To Consider If You Don't Have A Flag
Mail carriers are required to stop at mailboxes that have the flag up whether they have incoming mail or not. However, if you don't have a flag and no incoming mail, your carrier might not stop at your mailbox. Keep this in mind when deciding the best way to signal your mail carrier to collect your outgoing mail.
Otherwise, if you want to be extra sure your mail will be sent, drop it off at your local post office or post office box.
Do you put the mailbox flag up?
Putting the mailbox flag up signals to the mail carrier that you have outgoing mail you need to be collected. You can also have the mailbox flag pointing out. Whether the flag is up or out, as long as the flag is in a position that differs from its usual spot, your mail carrier will understand that you have mail to send.
The most common and easiest mailbox flag color to buy is red. However, hopefully, our article has helped inform you that it doesn't have to be. You can choose a different color flag for your mailbox as long as you follow the rules set by USPS. Remember, no blue, brown, green, white, or yellow flags allowed!
Mailbox flags aren't the only kind of flags you might have questions about. If you're thinking about adding an American flag to your porch check out this post on the topic: Which Side Of Porch To Hang American Flag?