Certified Mail Labels | A Guide to Certified Mail Delivery StatusIf you are tracking Certified Mail, you may see a range of statuses, such as "arrival at unit". We take a closer look at what these different statuses mean.

Did you know the U.S. Postal Service exists today in large part thanks to Benjamin Franklin? Franklin became the first U.S. Postmaster General in 1775. He created the bones of the system, but it's evolved in a lot of significant ways in the past 243 years. There are more ways than ever to track a package once you've sent it.

But what do all those statuses mean? Let's focus on USPS Certified Mail. If you send something that way, you should know that the recipient has to accept the parcel with a signature.

If a status says refused, you know the delivery attempt wasn't successful. But what about terms like "arrival at unit" and "forwarded for delivery?"

Read on to better understand what those Certified Mail tracking results mean.


This does not mean the package arrived safe and sound at its eventual destination. It sounds like it does at first glance, but the real meaning is more complicated than that.

It means you the parcel got accepted by your local USPS facility. The facility scanned it without any issues.

In short, "accepted" is a way of letting you know that your package didn't get lost in a dark corner five minutes after you dropped it off.

Undeliverable as Addressed

This certified mail status means there's a problem with the address on the delivery. You may have written "Oak Boulevard" when the real address is on Oak Street. It could be that your handwriting is too messy for anyone in the postal facility to read.

It could also be a problem on the other end of the delivery process. Perhaps the address shows up as valid in the system but workers can't find it on the actual route.

Either way, the post office has determined this piece of certified mail can't get delivered with its current address. If you try again, make sure to print an address label online. When you do that, there's no question about the intended destination.

Arrival at Unit

This is one of those status meanings that gets more confusing the more you look at it. It's nice that something has arrived at unit, but what, exactly, is the unit?

In essence, this means the Certified Mail package has arrived at a new postal facility. It could be the final facility, but that's not a guarantee.


If the intended recipient refuses your Certified Mail delivery, what do you do? They're saying they don't want what you're sending. There are a few possible reasons for the refusal.

Some states allow for service of process to happen via Certified Mail. The person may think that a Certified Mail delivery always means someone is suing them. They don't want to deal with that.

We mentioned how Certified Mail is different from regular mail. Without a signature, there's no proof the recipient got the package.

That signature is critical. It holds up in court a lot better than writing a letter that says, "I'm suing you" and affixing a first-class stamp to it.

If you send it to someone's mailbox, there's no legal proof they received it. If you send it to their door and ask them to sign it, that's another matter

If you are trying to serve them with court papers, you'll need to speak to your lawyer about other options.

What if you're trying to let them know that a long-lost relative died and left them a million dollars? In that case, you also need an attorney to advise you. There's too much money at stake to risk making this a DIY project.

Forwarded for Delivery

What does forwarded for delivery mean? It means the address you thought was right isn't. In turn, your USPS Certified Mail package will have to go to another location.

This happens more often than we realize. When you move, you have to change your address. Doing that means setting up forwarded mail service for a certain amount of time.

If you're away for a six-month work trip, you can set up temporary mail forwarding service. The minimum time period for temporary mail forwarding is two weeks. If you're going on a 10-day vacation, you'll need to get your house-sitter to check the mail for you.

Once you return home, you should start receiving mail at your permanent address again.

This can also happen if you wrote down a zip code that was close but not quite accurate. If you're one digit off, it's much more likely that your Certified Mail will be forwarded to the right address.

In other words, forwarded for delivery means that the package is still en route to its destination. It's going to take a bit longer, but the postal service still thinks it can get there.

Notice Left

The postal worker brought the parcel to the door and tried to deliver it, but no one was home. When that happens, the worker will leave a note saying that the person who lives there has a package. Once the resident sees the notice, they can go to their local post office and claim the package.

The USPS should attempt to deliver more than once, but they also have a lot of other pieces of mail to deliver. If the addressee never shows up at the post office to claim the Certified Mail, it will get returned to the sender.


When you send Certified Mail, you do so with a specific outcome in mind. You're hoping to log onto the tracking site or application and see the word "delivered." This means the postal worker got the addressee to sign for the package.

This is by the fair the simplest Certified Mail status, because it means the person who sent the parcel doesn't have to do anything else. If further action is necessary, it's almost certainly going to come from the person who received the delivery.

How to Make Certified Mail Easier

As of 2024, sending Certified Mail costs as little as $4.85. That's a solid deal for the service you're getting, but there are additional things you can do before mailing the package to make things simpler.

Understanding certified mail involves more than knowing what arrival at unit means. We're certified mail experts, so check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions for more on this category of mail.
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