Is It Illegal to Put Flyers in Mailboxes, Cars, and Doors?

Is It Illegal to Put Flyers on Cars, Doors, & Mailboxes

So, you have an event coming up, you’re excited about it, and you want to let everyone know as efficiently as possible.  Flyers are a great way to accomplish that! But, how do you get the flyers to the public?  Is it illegal to put flyers on cars, doors, and mailboxes?

If you did not stamp the flyer and send them through USPS, it is illegal to put flyers in mailboxes. Additionally, leaving flyers on cars and doors is typically frowned upon unless you have express permission.

Thankfully, there are plenty of legal ways to hand out flyers.  We’ve got all the details you need to get your next invite out quickly and legally, so you can get back to the planning!

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Flyers are a great way to advertise your company with little upfront costs and with the right knowledge, you can find places that allow flyers to be advertised legally.

Here are some of our favorite products to make your next flyer a hit:

1. Glossy Paper – This paper provides a professional finish, without the print shop price!

2. Door Hang Bags – These clear bags will ensure your flyers do not get damaged by wind or rain, plus they make tape unnecessary! 

3. Security Envelopes – Ensure your flyer gets where it belongs, with these great self-seal envelopes! 

How to Distribute Flyers Legally

While it’s tempting to spend half an hour sticking up flyers everywhere you can think of, that’s not the best strategy to get your flyers seen. So instead, try these ideas to get your flyers in the right hands legally.

What Are the Laws on Flyer Distribution?

One of the most important laws on flyer distribution is that you cannot simply stick flyers in mailboxes.  It’s a federal offense to put any flyer in a mailbox that has not been stamped and sent via the US Postal Service. 

Additionally, most communities have a law or ordinance about door-to-door sales, and leaving flyers on every door in a neighborhood may break that law.

So be sure to check your local, state, and HOA ordinances before trying this tactic!

How Can I Legally Pass Out Flyers?

If you want to pass out flyers in your neighborhood legally, check out buildings that are open to the public for community access bulletin boards.  These are typically open to the public, and you can post without issues.

You can also ask local businesses for permission to post your flyer on their windows or bulletin boards, if applicable. Again, make sure you ask permission in these places because otherwise, your flyer will probably be removed. 

How Do You Send Flyers to a Neighborhood?

There are plenty of direct mailing lists you can use to target your neighborhood with your flyers.  If you are looking for something a little cheaper, consider using social media instead.  Most towns and counties now have their own social media groups.

Using social media is often easier than paper mailers because people can ask questions immediately.  

Additionally, most people will just throw out a flyer they get in the mail, but if they see on social media their friends are interested in a product or event, odds are they’ll be interested too.

Can I Hand Out Flyers in the Street?

If you hand out flyers in the street, be sure you’re not obstructing the walkway or the entrance to any buildings.  Also, ask if you can give the passerby a flyer, but do not harass them to take one if they’re not interested.

Make sure that you’re not in a no-soliciting zone.  If you’re not comfortable handing out flyers yourself, consider other places you can hang your flyers.  

These may include:

  • Utility poles
  • Community centers
  • Public restrooms
  • Public or community bulletin boards (check your gym and the local library!)
  • Coffee shops, restaurants, and bars (be sure to get permission from the owner!)
  • Colleges, Daycares, and visitors’ offices

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Legally Put Your Neighbor’s Mail in Their Mailbox

Is Advertising the Same as Soliciting?

Typically advertising is considered an activity that informs the public, whereas soliciting is offering or attempting to purchase goods and/or services.  While these are very similar, they are not precisely the same. 

The California State Bar has several stipulations on what is considered an advertisement vs. solicitation. 

In this case, the significant difference is that advertisements are typically on paper, whereas solicitation is delivered in person or via telephone.

What Constitutes Soliciting?

Soliciting is the act of requisition, encouraging, or demanding someone engages in an activity with the intent to gain funds.  Typically, you may think of someone asking for charitable donations or something similar. 

Soliciting is typically illegal.  For example, you cannot stand outside a grocery store and try to talk to anyone who walks out into buying your product or supporting your business.  

Not only is it illegal, but it also won’t help people think of your business in a positive light. 

Flyers in Mailboxes

If you’re trying to get your flyers into as many hands as possible, it’s very tempting to consider just stuffing mailboxes in your neighborhood. However, this isn’t a good idea due to federal law. So instead, consider these ideas!

Can You Put Flyers on Mailboxes?

If you have not paid for and sent your flyers via the United States Postal Service, you cannot put flyers on or in mailboxes.  This is a federal crime and can get you in serious hot water.  

Instead of mailboxes, try putting your flyers on local utility poles or community bulletin boards.  This way, your flyers will still be seen by most of the neighborhood, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally breaking any city ordinances. 

What Happens if You Put Flyers in Mailboxes?

Putting non-postage flyers into mailboxes is considered a federal crime. In addition, each flyer is considered its own crime, so putting hundreds of flyers out in one sweep can cause hefty fines.

You even open yourself up to a federal investigation.  Because the United States Postal Service is a federal program, any charges incurred under their umbrella are automatically considered a federal offense.  

Can I Put Something in a Mailbox?

You should not be putting anything in a mailbox.  If the mail carrier finds anything other than processed mail in a box, they have every right to remove it.  Additionally, you open yourself up to federal charges for mailbox tampering.

While this may sound extreme, it’s better not to attempt to skirt federal law. So keep your flyers out of others’ mailboxes unless you paid postage and mailed the flyers correctly. 

You might also enjoy our post on If Amazon Can Deliver to Mailboxes

What Can Be Put In Mailboxes?

The only thing you should be putting in a mailbox is stamped mail ready to go to the post office. Additionally, the only person who should be placing mail in other people’s mailboxes is a United States Postal Worker. 

Putting anything in a mailbox that isn’t a stamped letter ready to go to the post office can be considered a federal offense.  In fact, the United States Postal Service has a whole section on their website for exactly this question! 

What Is Mailbox Tampering?

Mailbox tampering is defined as the act of destroying, damaging, or otherwise interfering with someone’s mail.  This includes such actions as removing mail from someone’s mailbox or throwing away mail that is intended for someone besides yourself. 

If you’re concerned you may be a victim of mailbox tampering, consider getting yourself a Curbside Security Locking MailboxThese locked mailboxes are approved by the postmaster general and will keep your mail safe and secure!

What’s the Punishment for Mailbox Tampering?

If you are found guilty of mailbox tampering, you may be fined for each count of tampering.  This means if you put 100 flyers in 100 mailboxes, you can be charged with 100 counts of mailbox tampering. 

Each count of mailbox tampering or vandalism can cost you up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to three years for each act!  If you’re unsure if you can put something in a mailbox, be smart, and don’t do it. 

Flyers in Someone’s Door

Now that we’ve gone over why you shouldn’t put flyers into mailboxes, what are some other options?  Next, we will discuss the best ways to put flyers on someone’s door. 

Can You Put Flyers on Front Doors?

While you cannot legally put flyers in mailboxes, you can put them through door mail slots.  If you’re going through an HOA neighborhood, be sure you have permission to put flyers up on doors before proceeding.

If you’re going to put flyers on doors, make sure you have hanging posters. Do not use tape.  If your flyers do damage, you will be held responsible. Also, ensure that the homes have no no-soliciting signs before leaving flyers.  

Can I Post Flyers Through People’s Doors?

Technically, if they have a front door mail slot, you can put a flyer in it.  However, in most cases, this isn’t effective.  Consider putting your flyers on community center bulletin boards and utility poles instead. 

Be sure to check your city ordinances before you go around posting flyers.  Some cities may have rules for or prohibiting soliciting and advertisements.  If you’re not sure, it’s best to stick to advertising in common areas with accessible billboards. 

You might also enjoy our post on If UPS Can Deliver to a Mailbox

Is Putting Flyers on Doors Soliciting?

In most places, putting flyers on doors is considered soliciting. So before going door to door, ensure the neighborhood doesn’t have a no soliciting policy.  After all, you don’t want to accidentally end up in hot water for trying to hand out your flyers!

For example, in Surprise, Arizona, there is a solicitation ordinance. This ordinance states that any person wanting to solicit in the town must have a business license. 

It also limits where the company can leave its flyers.  In this case, the only place they can legally leave flyers is at the front door of a residence. 

Can You Put Advertisements on Doors?

Canvassing, or putting your advertisements on doors without actually speaking or trying to sell a product to the owners, is not technically considered soliciting.  It is legal in most places, but you should always check your local ordinances before doing so. 

A better option is to do direct or targeted advertising in the neighborhood.  You can mail out the flyers for pennies, and people are more likely to respond.  

Think of how you would feel about a company if the first time you heard about them was because they stuck a flyer on your door. Would you want to support them?  

How Do You Pass a Flyer Door-To-Door?

If you truly feel the best way to get your information out is to use a door-to-door flyer, consider getting door hangers.  You can leave hangers on the front door without ever engaging with the homeowner.

Leaving the hanger on a door also skirts any solicitation ordinances.  Always ensure that the homes do not have a no-solicitation sign! 

Ignoring these can lead to you or your business being fined for solicitation, something no one wants on their record!

Flyers on Cars

We’ve all come out of a store to find a flyer on our car.  But is that the best option to get your information out there?  In this section, we’ll be discussing the legality of putting flyers on cars and other good options to do instead!

Is It Illegal to Put Flyers on Cars?

If you have permission from the property owner, you can legally put flyers on cars. However, in most cases, the only way the owner will give permission is if you’re representing a charity or non-profit. 

In Catlettsburg, Kentucky, an ordinance has been put in place that prohibits any flyer distribution to cars without written permission from the land’s owner. 

Failure to follow this ordinance can result in fines of ‘no more than $500.’  Remember, that’s per offense! 

Is It Illegal to Put Flyers on a Vehicle Windshield?

If you did not get written permission from the owner of the lot the car is parked in, it is illegal to put flyers on vehicle windshields.  If the vehicle is parked on private land, you can also get in trouble for trespassing.

Most cities and towns have solicitation laws or ordinances.  For the sake of you and your business, if you’re not sure if you can put a flyer on a windshield, don’t do it. 

The fines and may incur will cost more than any business you gain from the flyers.

How Can You Legally Put a Flyer on Someone’s Car?

The only way you can legally put a flyer on someone’s car is if you have written permission from the owner of the lot the car is parked in.  If the vehicle is on public property, be sure to check local and state ordinances before setting up flyers. 

Additionally, consider local littering laws before canvassing a parking lot with flyers.  If it’s a windy day and all your flyers blow away, not only are you not going to get any business from the flyers, you could find yourself in trouble for littering! 

What’s the Punishment for Illegally Putting a Flyer on Someone’s Car?

If you are caught illegally putting flyers on someone’s car, you can face fines between $50-300, depending on where you live.  Remember, that number is per flyer, not a total.  That can add up quickly if you paper an entire parking lot!

If you don’t have written permission to canvas a parking lot with your flyers, don’t do it!  Instead, consider an email blast or direct mailers to the neighborhoods you’re targeting instead. 

This won’t cost much more than the flyers and won’t get you into legal trouble!

You might also enjoy our post on If DHL Can Deliver to a Mailbox

Related Questions

How Do I Report Someone Putting Something in My Mailbox?

If someone who is not your mail person is putting things besides mail in your mailbox, you can contact the United States Postal Service to report mailbox tampering. You can also contact USPS by calling 877-876-2455 if you think you are missing mail.

Another option is to go to your local post office and report incidents to the Postmaster General.  They will file the necessary reports. The reported person may be cited for mailbox tampering and face significant fines.

Is It Illegal to Put Business Cards on Cars?

Putting business cards on cars is essentially the same as putting flyers on cars.  It is not legal to do either unless you have written permission from the lot owner. If the vehicle is on private property, you have no right to put a business card on said car. 

If you are unsure if the car is on public or private property and you do not have permission to put your business card on vehicles, do not do it.  You can be fined for trespassing, soliciting, and littering, just to name a few broken laws.  

Final Thoughts

If you’re trying to drum up some new business in a neighborhood, it’s very tempting to put flyers on cars, doors, and mailboxes, but this option isn’t the best. If you do not have permission to hang flyers, you can wind up in big trouble!

Instead, consider using direct mailers or hanging your flyers in public places.  We hope these tips come in handy next time you’re looking to get new customers!

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