If you’re sending sensitive documents or just want to make sure your recipient gets your letter, Certified Mail is a great option that USPS offers at every single Post Office. Sending Certified Mail allows you to track pieces of mail with the US Postal Service for a few bucks extra on top of the cost of your postage stamp…but in our experience, it’s worth it when you’d like to follow along with a letter on every step of its journey to your recipient.
Table of Contents
- What is USPS Certified Mail?
- Tracking a Certified Letter is the Same Process as Tracking a Package
- Can I Purchase Certified Mail Online?
- Frequently Asked Questions: USPS Certified Mail
What is USPS Certified Mail?
Certified Mail is a special service that USPS offers that assigns a tracking number to regular pieces of First-Class Mail. When you purchase certified mail postage, USPS gives you a tracking number printed on your receipt. You can then follow along with your letter’s tracking status by typing your full tracking number into the tracking portal on the USPS website.
Similar to all packages that they accept into their network, USPS provides real-time updates to pieces of Certified Mail, including when it’s initially scanned in, when it reaches different sorting centers, and when USPS finally delivers it to your recipient.
Read more about how to track mail with the US Postal Service.
Certified Mail is the Same as a Certified Letter
Right now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Is a Certified Letter different from Certified Mail?” Lucky for you, the answer is no. Certified Mail and Certified Letters refer to the exact same thing. In this case, the terms “letter” and “mail” are interchangeable; both refer to a piece of mail that has a unique USPS tracking number assigned to it.
Tracking a Certified Letter is the Same Process as Tracking a Package
Need to send a letter, but want the ability to track it? Certified Mail is the only mailing service the Postal Service offers that comes with a tracking number. As a general rule of thumb, you should always use certified mail for mailing sensitive documents such as tax payments, checks, and legal notices. You can also purchase certified mail if you simply want to keep an eye on your letters and make sure they arrive at their destinations.
When you purchase certified mail, USPS will assign you a unique tracking number on your receipt. The postal worker at the counter will often circle this for you, so it’s easy to spot. However, if they don’t, just look for the long string of numbers on your receipt. You can’t miss them! If all else fails, look for the numbers underneath the barcode on your green Certified Mail slip.
If you want to track your certified letter, simply type in your tracking number in the tracking search box on the USPS website. That link will take you directly there!
Can I Purchase Certified Mail Online?
Unfortunately, you typically cannot purchase certified mail service online, either through USPS.com or through online shipping software that sells discounted postage. The sole exception is by making an account with Stamps.com…which, in our opinion, is more headache than it’s worth. Outside of that, your best option to use this service is to go to your local Post Office and wait in line. Sorry we don’t have better news!
Certified mail costs $3.55, but that’s not the final amount you’ll pay. This fee is in addition to the cost of postage that you need to pay to send the letter in the first place. Remember, the cost of a forever stamp for First-Class Mail is currently $0.55. So, when you include certified mail on top of that, you’re looking at a minimum of $4.10 (3.55 + 0.55). Also, keep in mind that any letters weighing more than 1 ounce cost an additional $0.15 per ounce.
Frequently Asked Questions: USPS Certified Mail
Below are three of the most frequently asked questions we receive about Certified Mail.
How Much Does Certified Mail Cost?
As of the time of publishing this article, Certified Mail costs $3.35, in addition to the postage you’ll need to pay to send your letter. If you plan to send a 1-ounce letter, then you’ll need to pay 58 cents for your Forever stamp. With Certified Mail on top of that, this brings your total for this mail piece to $3.93.
Is Certified Mail Faster than Regular Mail?
Certified Mail is not any faster than regular First-Class Mail; delivery takes between 1-4 business days, depending on how far away your certified letter needs to travel. The only difference is that USPS assigns a tracking number to Certified letters, allowing the sender to track the letter the same way one can track packages on the USPS website. USPS provides real-time updates to the tracking information for every piece of Certified Mail, including each time it gets scanned into sorting and distribution centers, when it leaves the destination Post Office, and when it’s delivered to your recipient.
How Can I Send Certified Mail?
You can purchase Certified Mail at any Post Office; just look for the little square slips with a green section that says “Certified Mail Receipt” at the top. Once you’ve got that, fill out all the necessary recipient information, and then hand it to a postal worker behind the counter. You can also purchase Certified Mail on various shipping software services that sell postage for letters, and not just labels for packages. Stamps.com is an example of a shipping software provider that sells both mail postage and package postage, though the difference between mailing and shipping is something to be aware of before signing up.