USPS & Certified Mail: 9 Common Questions (Answered)

Most people use USPS Certified Mail because it is one of the best ways to ensure that whatever you send will reach its intended destination.

How does it work, and is it worth the extra fee to certify your mail? Here is everything we learned:

Here’s How USPS Certified Mail Works:

When sending something through USPS as certified mail, you, as the sender, will be assigned a certification number. This number allows you to track the letter you are sending. You will also get an electronic notification informing you that your mail has been delivered.

1. Does USPS Require a Signature for Certified Mail?

When sending something through USPS via Certified Mail, it is done so that you can know that whatever you send is going where it should be and within the correct time frame.

To ensure that the mail has been delivered to the right person, the mail carrier will require the person receiving the mail to sign for it before it can be delivered.

However, this is a service you can customize depending on how the mail will be delivered.

For example, if you know the person receiving the mail will not be there at the delivery time, the sender can opt out of the required signature. This gives the sender many more options for securely mailing important documents. 

2. What USPS Letters are Typically Sent “Certified”?

The biggest perk to sending a letter via certified mail is that you can be absolutely sure that it gets delivered as well as gets delivered to the right person.

While you can send certified mail for any reason, the most common reasons usually have something to do with letters and documents that are considered to be “time sensitive.”

This means that a document that needs urgent attention, as well as receipt of delivery, will more than likely be sent as certified mail. What are these time-sensitive documents?

Papers that are related to tax documents will always be more than likely sent through certified mail.

This is because not only are tax papers full of private information. Most of the time, it requires a response from the recipient that is usually on a time clock.

This is the same reason why bank activity and investment documents will also be sent through certified mail.

Any document that involves your personal banking information, as well as any legal documents, will most likely be sent through certified mail.

Lastly, bills or outstanding payments that must be paid off by a certain time will be sent through certified mail. This way, the collector knows that you have received the bill so that there can be some accountability when debts need to be paid.

3. Does USPS Supply Tracking Numbers for Certified Mail?

You will receive delivery confirmation and a tracking number when you send a letter through USPS via certified mail. The tracking number that will be assigned to your specific delivery can be found printed at the bottom of your receipt of purchase.

However, USPS now allows you to select to have your receipt emailed to you instead of receiving a paper one. 

If you choose to have your proof of purchase emailed to you, this email will contain your tracking number. 

Along with the tracking number, you will also have access to a specifically made barcode that can be scanned at any USPS Post Office to check to see where your letter is right from that location.

Need more information? Here’s everything you need to know about USPS & Tracking Numbers.

4. Can Certified Mail with USPS be Tracked Online?

USPS-certified mail has a unique online tracking system that is very easy to use. This is how most people who use certified mail prefer to track their delivery.

All you need to do is head to the official USPS website and click on “Track Mail” from their main drop-down menu.

From there, you will simply input your personal tracking ID number that USPS has provided and click “Track.”

You will be able to see where your certified mail is as well as which processing centers it has been processed through. Once the mail is delivered, 

Along with scanning a barcode or searching up USPS tracking online, you can call the USPS number and track your certified mail that way.

If you’re concerned about tracking numbers, check out our article on USPS lost packages!

5. Does USPS Offer Insurance on Certified Mail?

While certified mail through USPS provides a great deal of reassurance that you are safely sending important documents, you cannot purchase any additional insurance for your delivery.

Insurance is a way to protect your investment when shipping items. Most times, USPS insurance will cover packages being delivered up to $100.

If the delivery is lost or damaged, USPS will cover up to that amount for damages only if you have purchased insurance.

So, why doesn’t USPS allow you to add insurance to certified mail? Mainly because while the documents being sent are important, they generally do not have a monetary value.

So, if a certified letter gets lost, there won’t be a cost to cover. However, USPS will re-send the document for you without any extra cost.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If you have chosen both priority and certified mail for your delivery, you can purchase the insurance through priority mail, and this will protect your certified delivery for up to $100.

6. Does USPS Deliver Certified Mail to PO Boxes?

Since USPS-certified mail requires a signature from the recipient, many people think they cannot send certified USPS mail directly to a PO Box. However, this is not the case.

USPS will deliver certified mail to a PO Box. There are many reasons for people to solely use a PO Box instead of a home address.

Whether it is for privacy or even if the person travels often and wants a safe place to keep their mail, a PO Box should get the same treatment as a home address.

How can someone sign for a certified document sent through USPS if it is being delivered to a PO Box?

When certified mail is delivered to a PO Box, the actual document will not be placed in the PO Box. Instead, it gets left at the front window.

When someone with a PO Box goes to open their specific box, there will be a slip of paper alerting them that they have received a certified document.

In order to get this mail, the receiver must sign the slip and return it to the person working the window at the PO Box center to get the certified mail.

7. What’s the Difference Between Certified Mail and Priority Mail?

The biggest difference between certified and priority mail is that certified mail is mainly reserved for important documents. In contrast, priority mail can be used for not only documents but packages as well.

Another thing to note is that priority mail is also part of “first class” mail, meaning the package or letter will be delivered much faster than with standard shipping.

This also means priority mail is a much faster way to send things than certified mail.

As mentioned, another big difference is that you can easily ensure things are sent through priority mail but cannot add insurance documents sent through certified mail.

One thing the two have in common is that you will be able to track both priority and certified mail with a tracking number.

However, you must request this if you choose to ship through priority since it is not an automatic addition like certified mail. 

For more information, check out: USPS & First-Class packages: 7 Common Questions (Answered)!

8. What’s the Difference Between Certified Mail and First-Class?

The main difference is that first-class mail will get there much faster than certified mail.

On average, first-class mail gets immediate delivery and usually arrives at its destination in 2-3 days, while certified mail can take up to 5 days to deliver.

It is also important to note that you will have to pay extra for first-class mail, which makes it the more expensive option.

Lastly, first-class mail allows you to pay for the extra insurance, making it the better option for people sending something with monetary value. 

Want to know about 6 Payments USPS Will Accept? (+ 9 They Won’t) Check out our article here!

9. Can Certified Mail with USPS be Sent Internationally?

Since USPS is a US-run government, many people believe this isn’t an accepted world-word service, and they would be right.

USPS does not allow customers to choose certified mail for international deliveries. However, other common services like first-class and priority shipping are still available for documents sent out of the country.

Also, international mail does offer insurance. However, adding insurance to an international delivery will be much more expensive than sending an insured document locally.


United States Postal Special Services 

USPS Priority Mail Vs. Certified Mail – Which Is Better?

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