September 1, 2014

Questions about Certified Mail

Below is a list of our most popular USPS Certified Mail questions:

•   How long will it take for USPS to deliver my certified letter?
•   How do you track delivery of a certified letter?
•   Can I send a certified letter to Canada or Mexico?
•   Can you send a Certified Mail letter to a P.O. Box?
•   How do I get proof of mailing or acceptance for Certified Mail?
•   How do I get Electronic Return Receipt or proof of delivery for my Certified Mail?
•   Can I have the Delivery Information sent to my email?
•   Who do I call if I have questions about USPS Certified Mail letter delivery?
•   What if I need to see the Signature from the person that signed for the letter?

•   How long will it take for USPS to deliver my certified letter?

Plan on First Class delivery standards 3 to 5 business days, unless you send with Priority Mail that is 2-3 day delivery.  USPS does not guarantee or specify an exact delivery time.  However USPS Certified Mail is First Class mail and considered Special Service mail that receives higher delivery service priority.

Remember someone must be available to sign for each USPS Certified letter. If you are mailing to a residential address and no one is home, a delivery slip is to be left in the mailbox by the letter carrier. This informs the resident a USPS Certified Mail letter is being held at the local Post Office for pick-up.  They can go to the Post Office to pick up the letter.  If no one picks up the letter after 7 days, USPS attempts a second delivery.  Again USPS will leave behind a delivery slip reminder in the mail box.  After the final notice reminder is left the letter is taken back to the Post Office and held for 5 to 7 additional days.  This entire time frame can take 17 to 21 days.  If no one claims the letter USPS will mark the letter ‘Unclaimed’ and the letter is returned to the sender.

•   How can I track delivery of a certified letter?

Daily letter In-route each letter can be tracked with the patented Electronic Tracking Confirmation (ETC) service that is provided inside each Certified Mail Envelope.  The electronic tracking process provides in-route tracking, plus the final proof of delivery recorded by the U.S. Postal Service.

•   Can I send a certified letter to Canada or Mexico?

No. USPS Certified Mail is a product of the United States Postal Service and is only delivered within the Unites States. Registered Mail is used by many mailers outside the US in place of Certified Mail.

•   Can you send a Certified Mail letter to a P.O. Box?

Yes. Certified Mail can be sent to a P.O. Box. This is how the delivery process works; the letter carrier will place a Certified Mail letter notification inside the P.O. Box that instructs the person to present the delivery slip to the window clerk.  After signing the delivery receipt, the letter is given to the recipient.
•   How do I get proof of mailing or acceptance for Certified Mail?

Proof of mailing is very important to many mailers sending USPS Certified Mail. Firm books or paper manifests are now being replaced with a USPS proof of acceptance electronic SCAN.  This one step process is printed on a SCAN sheet. The Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN) sheet was designed to better serve customer needs for providing proof of acceptance, letter tracking and overall mail stream visibility. Mailers that use USPS PC postage and Certified Mail Labels can link labels information onto one piece of paper. This form is known as PS Form 5630,  the Shipment Tracking Acceptance Report.

This is how it works:  The SCAN form can be scanned by the postal employee or letter carrier when a batch of Certified Mail letters is mailed.  The SCAN form, activates an acceptance date and time scan for each letter.  This process saves significant time and allows USPS to scan one single barcode for up to 100 pieces Certified Mail letters.  It is easier and more convenient than scanning each letter individually. Once the form is scanned, the acceptance sheet is given back to the mailer for his or her records.,

•   How do I get Electronic Return Receipt or proof of delivery for my Certified Mail?

Return Receipt provides the mailer with proof of each letters delivery.  Since 1955 those old fashioned green cards were the icon of Certified Mail however – they were difficult and expensive for many mailers including the Postal Service to process. Today USPS Certified Mail delivery confirmation and Return Receipt Signatures are available in electronic formats (PDF file).  The electronic PDF files are quickly replacing the old green cards because they are easy to administer, cost less to mail, easy to store and unlike green cards you can’t lose them. Delivery confirmation and Return Receipt Signatures are available in PDF format and can be easily emailed or shared. Large volume mailers can download and entire batch by FTP.

•   Who do I call if I have questions about USPS Certified Mail letter delivery?

The USPS Help Line is 800-275-8777.  You can visit the USPS web site www.usps.com.  Remember USPS does not provide ‘in-route’ letter tracking information only delivery information. With more than 400 million letters mailed annually, make sure you have your tracking number in and when you call.
•   What if I need to see the Signature from the person that signed for the letter?

Signatures that displayed who signed or accepted the Certified Mail letter are electronically collected and stored by USPS.  Many times compliance regulations do not require the mailer to provide proof of the actual Signature, only proof that a USPS Certified Mail letter was mailed and delivered.  Many people confuse Signature service with Restricted Delivery or Registered Mail and waste money buying services they don’t need.

The U.S. Postal Service does provide a copy of the actual signature image and if the mailer needs a copy of the Signature they can purchase it from USPS After the Mailing for up to two years.