USPS Certificate of Mailing: What It Is and When to Use It

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Most eCommerce shipping options allow you to track your packages. The US Postal Service is no exception. There are several different ways to verify that you sent something out with USPS. One is a USPS Certificate of Mailing.

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What is a Certificate of Mailing?

If you need proof of mailing for a letter or parcel, you can get a Certificate of Mailing from the USPS. A USPS Certificate of Mailing provides official proof that you mailed an item on a certain day. If there’s any dispute about the fact that you mailed the item or about the date you mailed it, you can produce your certificate to prove that you put it in the mail.

This certificate doesn’t confirm when the item was delivered, only when it was mailed. It also doesn’t provide any insurance on the contents of your package. You need to keep a copy of your USPS Certificate of Mailing. The Postal Service doesn’t keep records of these certificates, so your copy is your only proof of the time of mailing.

Where can you get a USPS Certificate of Mailing?

The only way to get a USPS Certificate of Mailing is to go in-person to a post office. You can purchase a certificate of mailing for packages sent within the US or internationally. You’ll need to complete Form 3817 and hand it to the clerk at the counter. For the Certificate of Mailing – Firm, fill out Form 3655. You can also use a Firm Mailing Book for Accountable Mail, which is Form 3877

You can get a Certificate of Mailing when you use any of these USPS services:

  • First-Class Mail®
  • First-Class Package Service-Commercial™ (except for parcels mailed at commercial plus prices)
  • Priority Mail® 
  • USPS Retail Ground®
  • Bound Printed Matter
  • Library Mail
  • Media Mail®

Cost to get a USPS Certificate of Mailing

The cost to the public to get a Certificate of Mailing is $1.50. 

USPS logo

What’s the difference between Certified Mail and a Certificate of Mailing?

USPS Certified Mail letters and packages come with a receipt that you sent the item and proof that it was delivered. You can require a signature with Certified Mail, so you have proof that your item was delivered. This service allows you to track your package. Unlike a Certificate of Mailing, however, Certified Mail doesn’t require a trip to the post office. If you have the Certified Mail form, you can fill it out, attach it to the outside of your envelope, and drop it in a mailbox. 

A Certificate of Mailing, on the other hand, provides proof that you sent the package on a certain date — nothing more.

Which USPS certified options your eCommerce business might need

Many eCommerce companies find USPS services cost-effective and efficient. USPS is price-competitive for shipping small packages. Your eCommerce fulfillment operations might use Priority Mail, ground delivery, media mail, or first-class package service. Also, when you ship high-value items through USPS, you may want to pay extra for insurance.

However, you’re unlikely to need a USPS Certificate of Mailing for your order fulfillment. People more commonly use this service for official documents. You might want a Certificate of Mailing if you have to send a time-sensitive legal or financial document.

What are the uses for a USPS Certificate of Mailing?

There are several situations when a USPS Certificate of Mailing can provide important proof of mailing.

  • Legal documents. Legal proceedings sometimes require parties to respond by a certain date. If you’re responding by USPS, you might want proof that you mailed documents on time.
  • Tax documents. The IRS tax filing deadline is a deadline for mailing, not receipt. A USPS Certificate of Mailing can prove that you sent your taxes on time. This becomes important if your forms are lost or received late by the IRS.
  • Any important or time-sensitive documents. Your certificate proves that you walked up to a USPS counter and put your item in the mail. It can protect you if your mail gets lost or the receiver has no record of receiving it.

How to choose the best USPS options for your eCommerce company

FedEx Ground, UPS Ground, USPS Priority Mail shipping line

There are many different ways to send eCommerce packages with USPS and other carriers. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate all these choices on your own. Your 3PL services company can help you choose the shipping options that are the best fit for your eCommerce business.

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