Certified Mail ® is a service provided by the US Postal Service which provides a sender with a confirmation of receipt and electronic verification that a mail piece has either been delivered, or that an attempt was made to deliver.
The mail receipt is created alongside a unique identifier for the mailpiece and upon delivery the record of delivery and the signature of the recipient are kept by the postal service for (currently) 2 years. Here’s a copy of what the physical mail receipt looks like:
There are also some advanced services which can be added upon request at the time of purchase:
Certified mail is an additional service which is added, per item to postage and other fees charged for either First-Class mail or Priority mail services. You can read through a detailed list of all of the types of mail services here [need to create link]
So how much is certified mail exactly? The answer is it depends, first - the addon prices for certified mail are listed below:
Here are some example total costs of sending a letter at the post office:
First-Class mail (with Certified Mail Add-on):
Priority Mail 2-Day™ Flat Rate Envelope (with Certified Mail Add-on):
Priority Mail Express ™ Flat Rate Envelope (with Certified Mail Add-on):
See all the variations of prices here at the USPS site. As you can see, certified mail cost can vary depending on the speed and additional notification you need and USPS certified mail rates can be rather complicated depending on the weight, shape and speed of deliver. The USPS provides a good calculator here.
There are some additional choices for premium web services if you have the electronic versions of the documents or even data and you want to send a certified letter online:
Return receipts can be requested at the time of mailing for $2.80 in physical form or $1.60 electronically. Here’s a useful link to available add-on services offered by the USPS.
Legal notices - When there is a court or other legal mandate to deliver a piece of mail, certified mail serves as a way to ensure a specific individual receives a notification or service. It’s important to remember that certified mail must be delivered to a specific address or individual, so it is possible that if there is a limitation associated with receipt it may be more effective to use certified mail vs a limitation associated with delivery, where using simple tracking would confirm that a piece of mail has arrived in a specified mailbox
Tax communication - From both the perspective of the IRS as well as a taxpayer, certified mail serves a purpose to ensure that a piece of mail was either received by the requested individual (IRS) or sent before the required date (individual). In the current age where taxes are electronically delivered, this would largely be restricted to audit or additional notifications which are out of the ordinary
Record Keeping - the USPS keeps the record of delivery for two years vs only four months for tracking numbers. While there may be no specific legal reason to send via certified mail, this proof could be useful in the case that there is a burden of proof related to the mailpiece being sent.
Confidential documents - Certified mail services ensures that sensitive documents like health care records, bank statements and records which have your personal identity data can be safely sent in physical format to a specific person or address.
You can buy a roll of 600 Certified Mail Labels directly from the USPS for free here! Obviously there is a catch, the rolls are free but they must be used with Intelligent Mail Package barcode shipping labels which have postage prepaid. Without boring you with the details, the IM pb is a somewhat complicated tool which you can read about here. The USPS also partners with lots of technology providers who are approved to make sending mail easier - you should be able to find that fairly easily when you find the exact product you’re looking for.
Fedex offers Domestic and International signature required mail services which include unique identifiers and specific delivery instructions. Retail rates and delivery dates for shipments vary widely depending on the size , shape and weight of the package as well as the required shipment time and signature details.
Send Overnight Mail allows you to upload and mail documents via an array of USPS and Fedex methods. The Certified mail delivery options include the USPS Certified Mail standard as well as the Certified Mail with Return Receipt. Keep in mind, the site is intended to help send physical mail via electronic means from your home or office, if you’ve already done the printing and preparation of documents and you need to simply attach postage and or labels this may not be the site for you. However if you have up to 1000’s of documents prepared, or even a template and associated data that you want to upload compile and print and send with ease, SendOvernightMail is a premium service which can help with that process from start to end.
Mailform allows you to create an account, upload addresses easily and then send bulk mail all online including USPS add-on services like return receipts, tracking and certified mail. Once the documents and data are uploaded, one can interactively select recipients and the particular print and mail services required to deliver certified mail from your home or office.