How to Track Mail with the US Postal Service

Use Certified Mail service at the Post Office to send mail with a tracking number; don't use First Class Package service
paying for Certified Mail service at the Post Office is the only way to track mail with USPS
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Tax season is right around the corner, which means that citizens all across the country will soon start mailing documents to the Internal Revenue Service (or IRS, for short). As a result, people are are starting to ask us how they can get tracking numbers for regular mail with the US Postal Service. Here’s how you can do that…and a little about what not to do.

Certified Mail Service at the Post Office is the Only Way to Track Mail with USPS

Buckle up, because if you want to get a tracking number for your regular mail, you’ve got to make a trip to your local Post Office. Paying for Certified Mail service is the only way you can send regular mail with the Postal Service and still get a tracking number for it, and every Post Office location offers this service. When you send a letter or document Certified Mail, you can type in this tracking number on the USPS website, and you’ll be able to keep tabs on it like how you would normally track a package! The USPS website will provide all the necessary updates from the time the letter is scanned in, to when it’s out for delivery, all the way up to when it’s delivered.

Don’t Attempt to Buy First Class Package Postage for Flat Envelopes

Here’s a big no-no for all you experienced shippers out there. A lot of shippers choose to pay for First Class Package Service to send letters and documents in an envelope with a tracking number. The thought process is that instead of going to the Post Office, they would rather pay for the postage with online shipping software, get a tracking number, ship out the envelope, and see their documents delivered faster than regular mail.

While this might seem like a pretty solid idea, USPS won’t let it fly. Oftentimes, USPS will seize these envelopes and return them back to shippers—citing “insufficient postage,” believe it or not! In fact, we see this happen all the time. Instead, the Postal Service groups these envelopes that they call “flats” into their regular mail service.

The bottom line here is, USPS won’t let you use package services like First Class Package to ship flat envelopes. So, if you’re trying to get a tracking number for sensitive letters and documents, paying for Certified Mail service is the ticket.

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  1. Elaine Sue Dorris

    Track a letter for me to Elaine S. Dorris at 474 W. Clearview Dr., Unit 207; Carson City, Nv 89703. The tracking number is 9114-9022-0085-2469-7439-49

  2. Marcia Brousseau

    I tried to track an important first class letter with the tracking #and the message said that I had to download tracking but I couldn’t find a way to do that. Old age??

  3. Bradford

    I seen to not getting regular mail is there a way to keep track of mail I have make several call to the postal master concern weather my mail is delivery or not do thos track work an how can I get set up

  4. Tony

    How to check my mail

    • Jeffrey Maher

      I sent an envelope out from the Westbrook Ct post office. It hasn’t arrived to it’s destination and it’s been 2 weeks. How can I get a tracking number for the package?

  5. Tremayne Maltbia

    I’m trying to track my mail but I have a new address!

  6. Affifa

    If I drop my mail in the usps mail box …how can I find my tracking number?

  7. Jazz

    The last / times I used certified mail it didn’t work. They told me the postal workers forget to scan when it’s just a regular envelope. So what’s the point of a business asking me to send a certified letter and what’s the point of me paying for it?

    • Tony

      Check my mail

    • Jackie Benson

      Looks for my mail Po box 1025.. flomaton ala be notified.when it comes

  8. Kat Selgado

    I sell stickers via Etsy and I can send flat envelopes with tracking for stamp prices. On other platforms depending on how much they spend ill purchase a tracking label or USPS First Class Package and send it in a envelope and not one has been returned. How else would you mail stickers? Let me put a 3×1 inch sticker in a box. Talk to your post master at your local USPS they will help you get your packaging together if you want real “shipping school”

    • Marlene

      How do you pay stamp prices for tracking number? I was told it’s $3.50 for a tracking number.

  9. gary

    or, buy a flat rate envelope. about $10, but you can do it home, and you’ll get a tracking number.

  10. Tom

    I do not understand the thinking. I sell ephemera, just paper, for $5-$10, spending $3.50 just to get tracking will cause lost sales.


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