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The extra cost and hassle of certified mail aren’t worth it for most eCommerce packages. No signature required is a popular delivery option, because it lets people get letters and packages when no one is home to receive them. However, if you need proof that your package or letter was delivered to the recipient, you can’t do better than sending by USPS certified mail.

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What is USPS certified mail?

Certified mail is a service offered by the United States Postal Service. A certified item needs a delivery signature; it can’t be left in a mailbox or on a doorstep. Certified mail is only available on first class mail.

USPS lets you get a signature from the person who received the mail, such as a receptionist. Or you can specify that the addressee must sign for the package or letter. That way, you know the article was delivered to the right person.

You can check the delivery status of a piece of USPS certified mail online or by telephone. If you send a lot of certified mail, you can get delivery confirmations through a bulk file transfer.

An add-on service with USPS certified mail is a return receipt. You can have a receipt mailed to you or sent by email. This service is important for items such as legal paperwork where you might need to prove that it was delivered on a certain date. This service is different from a certificate of mailing.

Which carriers have certified delivery options?

USPS is the only place to get official certified mail service. However, both FedEx and UPS offer signature requirements and delivery confirmations that are similar.

You can specify signature requirements for FedEx envelopes and packages. You can retrieve proof of delivery, including a scan of the signature, on your tracking page.

UPS delivery confirmation services will mail you a delivery receipt. This is closer to certified mail. However, if you need delivery confirmation for legal reasons, your best option is still USPS. Some courts and government agencies will not accept anything but certified mail as proof of delivery.

How much does USPS certified mail cost?

USPS certified mail costs $3.55, in the addition to the postage needed to mail your item. If you want to add a return receipt, that is an additional $2.85 for a mail receipt or $1.70 for email.

How to send certified mail

USPS certified mail form 3800

You need to go to a post office in person to send USPS certified mail. At a post office or other mailing center, you can pick up copies of Form 3800 and attach them to your certified parcels yourself. You may also be able to print out certified mail labels online. However, if you need proof of mailing, you’ll need to present it at the counter. A postal worker will stamp your mailing receipt as verification of the date you mailed it.

USPS certified mail return receipt

What happens if the recipient doesn’t sign for a certified package?

The post person can’t leave certified mail without a signature. If no one is home to receive it, the postal worker will leave a note that a delivery attempt was made.

USPS only makes one delivery attempt. After that, the carrier returns the letter or package to the nearest post office. You can sign the receipt and have someone else pick up the item for you unless it was sent with restricted delivery. In that case, the person the certified mail was addressed to must go to the post office and show ID to pick it up. The post office will hold undelivered USPS certified mail for 15 days before returning it to the sender.

FedEx Ground, UPS Ground, USPS Priority Mail shipping line

If you need help deciding which USPS services are right for your eCommerce business, reach out to your 3PL services company. At Red Stag Fulfillment, part of our services is helping clients understand the best eCommerce shipping options for their order fulfillment.