In 2010, the rate of undeliverable mail hovered around 5 percent. Considering that USPS handles approximately 146 billion mail items every year, that’s a pretty significant figure.
If you need to post time-sensitive or essential documents and want to be sure they arrive at their destination, USPS Certified Mail might be the right service for you. Like registered mail, the certified mail option allows you to track when your package or letter arrives at its destination.
Below, we run through some common bungles and insider certified mail tips to ensure you’re successful when sending certified mail.
1. Get a Certified Mail Form 3800
If you’re looking to send a certified mail successfully, the very first thing you need to do is make sure you get the correct form.
What’s on the Certified Mail Form 3800?
The USPS certified mail form has a green and white sticker with a barcode. This is what allows you to track your parcel as it travels through the postal system.
A tear-off receipt is also attached to the form. You need to keep this as your proof sending mail. If the package gets lost or stolen, the receipt is the only way you can claim insurance.
Make sure you fill out every area on the form in full. If you’re unsure which boxes to check or places to sign, check with your local post office. You need to head there to pick up a copy of the form anyway!
If you send a lot of Certified Mail, head to the USPS website to buy a 10-pack of the forms.
2. Leave Room for the Postage
This is one of our tips for sending mail you’ll really want to listen to!
One mistake many people make when sending Certified Mail for the first time is the sticker’s placement. Whether you’re posting a package or a letter, you need to make sure you leave enough room for the postage.
Once you’ve filled out all the necessary details (don’t forget the name and address of the person receiving mail at the bottom and the date in the “Postmark Here” section), you can peel off the backing. Fold the top of the label over the envelope or package.
If you place the sticker too far to the right side, the post office can’t apply the correct postage. You risk your delivery not being made at all.
Err on the side of caution with this one: you can’t go wrong placing as far to the left as possible. (Officially, you can leave 3½” of space to the right, but we’re not sure you’ll have a ruler with you.)
3. Sending Certified Mail: Perfect for Important Documents
It’s the tracking of Certified Mail that makes it so convenient for essential deadline-oriented documents. Think tax filings, essential bills, and legal contracts. You get to see when your paper leaves your local post office and when it arrives at its destination. The peace of mind is well worth the extra money you pay for the service.
In some cases, a company, school, or government department might want to see proof of postage. With Certified Mail, all you need to do is send them a photo of the receipt you tore off the label before posting your package. That’s why this service is the preferred mail option for government and business.
4. Send Priority and First-Class Mail
The Certified Mail service is only offered by The United States Postal Service, and it’s a time-consuming system. Each parcel is tracked from the moment you hand it over the post office counter to the minute it’s passed over to the intended recipient.
Because of this, the USPS only allows people to send First-Class Mail or Priority Mail as Certified Mail. And, of course, you can only send Certified Mail within the United States.
The post office defines first-class mail as parcels and letters that weigh 13 ounces or less. They must be delivered within three days, and you pay an affordable minimum of $0.55. Priority mail can weigh up to 70 pounds and is defined as a package that needs to be shipped within between 1 and 3 business days.
5. You and You and You Can Send Certified Mail
Anyone who needs to track the sending of a document can use the Certified Mail service.
The types of letters most frequently sent by USPS Certified Mail include:
- Personal identity papers
- Bank statements
- Deadline-driven documents
- Tax returns
- Healthcare invoices
Companies also use the service since they regularly need to send legal and confidential documents back and forth. Their administration, accounting, and legal departments need receipts and proof of delivery for their archives.
In fact, Certified Mail is so integrated into the day-to-day business environment in America that almost half of all companies use the service more than twice a month.
6. Track and Even Redeliver Your Parcel
As long as you’re mailing within the United States and U.S. territories, the USPS Tracking service will know where your parcel is.
Each piece of certified mail has a unique tracking number. You can head online, enter that number into the USPS Tracking search field, and you’ll see the current delivery status of your package. The information includes delivery or attempted delivery details and the delivery location.
What do you do if your package wasn’t delivered?
First, check to see if there is an alert in the delivery information. This means that bad weather, natural disasters, or other unforeseen circumstances delayed the delivery. Also, check the standard delivery times for your mail class–it might still be on its way!
One of our favorite tips for receiving mail by Certified Mail service is that if your recipient isn’t around when the postman stops by, they can schedule redelivery online. The postal service will redeliver a parcel 24 hours a day and on any day of the week–even weekends!
If your Certified Mail package ends up lost, you can file a Missing Mail Search Request with USPS seven days after mailing.
Secure Delivery at Affordable Prices
The USPS Certified Mail service is affordable, protected, and reliable. Whether you’re sending certified mail on behalf of your business or you need safe personal postage, you can be sure it will arrive on time and on record. And best of all, you’re supporting one of America’s oldest and most important institutions.
If you found this article insightful, be sure to head back to our website to browse our other business and lifestyle stories.