USPS Self Service Kiosk | What Is It & How Does It Work?
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Most people dread heading down to their local post office because they know the lines are going to be long. You might have to wait for hours to mail a package or buy stamps in some cases. If you arrive past closing time, you are also out of luck. However, there might be a solution to both of those problems. USPS has recently added many self-service kiosks in post offices across the country. So, just what is a kiosk, and what can you do with one? We’ll give you all the details, plus provide you with information about how to use them and how much they cost.
What Is A USPS Self-Service Kiosk?
A self-service kiosk is a machine at the post office that allows you to mail packages and perform other tasks without talking to a postal worker. Think of it as a self-checkout at the grocery store or an ATM at the bank. You can perform the task yourself without needing to wait in line to talk to a worker at the counter. The other great thing about these kiosks is that you can generally access them after the regular mail counter has closed. Most kiosks are open 24/7, so you can mail your package at any time of the day.
Although the postal service has added many self-service capabilities on USPS.com in recent years, these kiosks offer people a way to get similar help in person. When you walk into your local post office and see a long line, then you might consider heading over to the self-service kiosk. They are fairly easy to use, and they will help you with most things that you are likely to visit the post office for.
What Services Are Available At The USPS Kiosk?
So, just what all can you do at the USPS kiosk? There are a variety of different services that it can help you with, and here are the most common.
— Ship Packages
Shipping packages is one of the most common services available at the kiosk. You can use the kiosk to complete the entire shipping process, from weighing the package to printing the shipping label and postage. The kiosk will walk you through the entire process. It will allow you to select the type of service that you wish to use — like regular first-class mail service or USPS Priority Mail Express. Since you will see the prices immediately, you can easily select the cheapest way to mail a package. You can also print your Priority Mail Express forms from the kiosk. You will then need to enter the dimensions of the package along with the shipping address and ZIP code. The kiosk will give you a USPS tracking number just as if you worked with a postal worker at the counter. If you are not ready to mail the package yet, you can even use the kiosk to weigh your package. This will let you know how much it’s going to cost you to mail once you are ready to send it.
— Mail Letters
In addition to packages, you can also send regular letters using the USPS kiosk. If you are afraid that your letter might need an additional-ounce stamp, then you can use the kiosk to weigh your letter. It will tell you exactly how many stamps you need. You will be presented with the available shipping options, and then your postage will be printed based on the option that you selected. It is just like mailing a letter at the full-service counter, but you get to skip the lines!
— Buy Stamps
Why stand in line to purchase stamps when you can purchase them at the self-service kiosk. That is usually the quickest way to get stamps at the post office. The automated postal center (APC) allows you to buy the number of stamps that you need. However, if you are looking for a certain type of stamp, like a holiday stamp, then you might have to visit the postal counter. These kiosks often only have basic stamps available, but if you are wondering where to buy stamps, the kiosk can be a great option. In addition to stamps, you can also use a kiosk for other USPS retail purchases. You can scan the barcode of most USPS supplies in the lobby, like cards or boxes, and pay for the item at the kiosk like a self-checkout.
— Renew A PO Box
When it comes time to renew your PO Box, you can do that at the self-service kiosk in the post office lobby. You can select the length of your renewal term and pay the fee right at the kiosk. You cannot, however, sign up for a new PO Box using the kiosk. A postal worker will need to verify your ID to get a new box, so the kiosk is not capable of performing that task. However, renewals are quite easy using the kiosk, and it can save you a lot of time instead of standing in line at the counter.
— Look Up A Zip Code
Maybe you already have your letter or package ready to mail, but you need to find the correct ZIP code for the address. You can easily find ZIP codes using the self-service kiosk. ZIP code lookup only requires a few clicks on the touchscreen. You will need to enter the address along with the city and state. The kiosk will then show you the full ZIP code associated with that address. This can prevent you from placing the wrong ZIP code on your package and potentially having delivery delays caused by an incorrect address.
How To Use The Kiosk At The Post Office
Using the kiosk might seem overwhelming at first, but it is not difficult. The U.S. Postal Service has made the kiosk very intuitive, and it walks you through the process of completing your tasks very well. First, you need to select the service that you wish to use. You will be displayed a menu of various tasks that you can perform, such as ship a package or renew a PO Box. The kiosk is equipped with a touchscreen, so simply tap the item that you wish to select.
Next, just follow the steps on the screen to complete your task. Here are a few tips, though. If possible, use flat-rate shipping when you need to send a package. This will make using the kiosk much easier. This allows you to select the Click-N-Ship option. Otherwise, you will need to measure and weigh your package to print the correct postage. Click-N-Ship saves you a lot of time when using the kiosk.
Also, don’t forget that you can add additional services when shipping your item. If you need delivery confirmation, return receipt service or signature confirmation, then the self-service machine will allow you to add those items to your order. You should know, however, that you cannot send certified mail using the self-service kiosk. Once you have selected all the services you need, then you can pay for your postage with a credit card, debit card, or EBT card. The kiosks do not accept cash.
Go ahead and attach your label to your package or envelope. Then you will just need to drop your item into the mail slot or holding bin at the kiosk. The postal workers will pick up the packages there and process them for shipping. If your package needs special handling, be sure to mark it appropriately. Most of the time, it is still a good idea to visit the counter if your package requires special handling.
Cost Of Using The USPS Self-Service Kiosk
Here is another great thing about using the USPS self-service kiosk. There is no extra charge for using it! The cost to use the machine is the same cost you would pay for the postage if you visited the full-service counter. Stamps and postage are the same prices at the kiosk with no markup.
The biggest drawback is the fact that the machines do not accept cash. This can be frustrating when making a very small purchase, like buying a single stamp. Some people do not like to use their credit cards for small purchases, but that is not a big deal for most people.
Using The USPS Kiosk After-Hours
USPS kiosks allow you to print postage and ship packages when the full-service counter is closed. Most USPS locations are only open during normal business hours, and they have very limited hours on Saturdays. These kiosks will allow you to print postage and ship your packages when the post office is closed. Since the machines are generally located in the lobby with the PO boxes, you can access them 24/7 in most cases. You might be wondering, “Is USPS open on Sunday?” The answer is usually no, but you can still use the kiosk.
However, you should know that even though you print postage, your package will not be shipped until the post office reopens. If you mail something after hours, then it will be picked up at the next available pickup time. For example, if you ship something at the kiosk on Sunday morning, then it will really get sent at the first pickup time on Monday.
The Bottom Line
USPS self-service kiosks allow you to save time and skip the line at the post office. You can perform many different services at the kiosk, including shipping a package, buying stamps, or renewing a PO Box. The kiosks are easy to use, and you can pay for your services using a credit or debit card. There are no extra charges associated with using the kiosk, so you should definitely consider using one the next time you visit your local post office.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you drop off packages at USPS self service kiosks?
Yes, the post office self-service kiosk will generally have an area at which you can drop off your package. When you purchase postage at the kiosk, you will attach the label to your package and place the package into the USPS dropoff area. If you do not see a dropbox for your package, then visit the mail counter to leave your package with a postal worker.
What are the benefits of using a self service kiosk?
There are many benefits of using a self-service kiosk. First, it is usually quicker than visiting the counter — especially when the post office is busy. Another great benefit is the fact that you can use the kiosk after hours. Plus, there is no extra charge, and your delivery times will not be affected. Shipping an item from the kiosk costs the same and will be delivered just as quickly as if you visit the full-service counter.
What is the difference between a USPS self service kiosk and USPS.com?
USPS.com allows you to perform many self-service activities, but you need access to your own printer to print labels. You also need access to a computer and the Internet for this functionality. However, a self-service kiosk allows you to perform many activities right in the post office’s lobby. It is similar to visiting an ATM at a bank, and it will walk you through the steps necessary to complete the service you need.