Who Can Sign for Certified Mail?

More than 484 million pieces of mail get delivered daily by the U.S. Postal Service. The majority of that mail doesn't need any sort of signature. Anyone who can open the mailbox can access it.

But what if you want a more secure way to send something like a legal document? In that case, you'll want to use certified mail. 

Who can sign for certified mail? That depends on the type of USPS certified mail you use. Yes, there's more than one type. 

Keep reading for everything you need to know about who sends certified mail and who can sign for certified mail.

Who Can Sign for Certified Mail? 

Certified mail is an add-on service available for either first-class mail or priority mail. When you're at the post office, a clerk may ask, "Would you like this to go via certified mail?"

If your answer is yes, that means you're requiring a signature when the parcel reaches its destination.

If you're sending it to a house, you can often stop here. You may not need to get any more specific than basic certified mail. 

For instance, let's say you want to send an important document to a friend named Steve. Steve has two roommates named Fred and Sally. 

If you send by regular certified mail, it doesn't matter who answers the door when a mail delivery person knocks. The letter's addressed to Steve, but either Fred or Sally can also sign for it.

As long as someone gives the mail person their signature, then the piece of mail will get delivered.

The post office keeps a copy of that signature. If you want to view it yourself, you can request a return receipt. 

What if no one is at home when the certified mail package arrives? In that case, the USPS worker can leave a note saying they attempted delivery. 

What if the certified mail can't get delivered for some reason? When that happens, USPS will leave a note saying the resident should go to the post office and pick up a piece of mail that requires a signature.

As the sender, you can keep up with any of those developments through certified mail tracking. This type of tracking will also tell you if the mail gets returned because no one has claimed it. 

Restricted Delivery

Let's say you want to make sure only Steve gets the piece of mail. Maybe there's particularly sensitive information inside. Or maybe you don't trust his roommates.

In that case, you can send it via restricted delivery. That means only Steve can sign for it.

This type of method can take longer. If Steve is away on vacation, it may be a few days before he's at home and available to sign for the parcel.

But it's the best option if you want to make sure it ends up in his possession and no one else's.

There's also another type of restricted delivery. This is Adult Signature Restricted Delivery. According to a USPS FAQ, "this service requires the signature of the addressee only, who must be 21 years of age or older."

It's a good way to ensure certain items don't end up in the hands of someone who is underage. For instance, a winery might use this to ensure the person who gets the item is of legal drinking age. 

That means if you order a bottle of wine via the mail, you should get prepared to show your ID to the USPS worker at the door. It may feel weird, but it's required with this kind of certified mail delivery. 

Who Sends Certified Mail? 

If you're thinking that USPS certified mail gets used for more important things, you're correct.

Every address gets an average of 848 pieces of junk mail per year. Very little of that arrives through certified mail, as certified mail costs too much. Whoever is sending you junk mail is doing it because it's cheap and easy. 

So what does that leave? Some people believe that if they're getting certified mail, it must be bad news. For instance, it's common for court papers to get delivered this way.

Sometimes it's a notice to appear in court. It might even be a notice that you're getting sued. But those are far from the only options.

If you inherited money from a long-lost aunt, chances are you'll get notification of that via certified mail. You may not think that's a likely scenario, yet it does happen.

Speaking of money, let's say you're graduating college. A relative wants to send you a check, but they don't want it to sit in the mailbox all day. So they send it by certified mail and require a signature instead.

Government Matters and More

The city, county, or other government entity can also send you an official notification via certified mail. For example, let's say they're building a new highway that will go right through your neighborhood.

You may have already heard about those plans by reading your local newspaper. But not everyone does. Certified mail is a way to force residents to sit up and pay attention, at least to a point.

But does everyone who receives certified mail open it? No, especially if they think it means they're in trouble. But certified mail at least provides proof via signature that a thing got delivered to its intended address. 

Of course, it's possible for people to use certified mail for other reasons. If your mom really wants you to read the latest issue of People magazine for some reason, she could send it to you this way.

But most people don't do that because of the extra time and money associated with this form of delivery. 

Ready to Send Certified Mail?

Now you know more about who can sign for certified mail. But you may not know that sending this type of mail doesn't require getting in the car and driving to your local post office.

Our website allows you to print certified mail labels without leaving home. You can then drop it off in any mailbox.

It's that easy. But if you've got any additional questions, that's OK. Feel free to contact us for help.