What is Registered Mail?

Learn about how you can protect your high-value letters and packages with registered mail from USPS
what is registered mail
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Registered Mail is a unique service that the US Postal Service provides to give high-value packages and letters the most protection possible. Here’s everything you need to know about the basics of this service.

USPS Offers Registered Mail to Provide Extra Security for High-Value Letters and Packages

When you choose to send a package via Registered Mail, USPS establishes a chain of custody that protects that letter or parcel every step of its journey. USPS pulls out all the stops for these sorts of mail pieces; during transit, letters and packages sent with this particular service are protected by safes, cages, sealed containers, locks, and keys. All of these safeguard measures work to prevent any given letter or parcel from getting lost, damaged, or stolen at any point during the journey to its final destination.

The Level of Protection Your Mail Piece Receives

On top of the additional protective measures, the biggest upside to this service is the higher level of shipping insurance that USPS will pay out in the event of a lost or damaged package. Unlike normal USPS Priority Mail service which covers your package up to just $100 with Commercial Pricing rates (or $50 at the Post Office, with Retail Rates), Registered Mail protects your packages for up to $50,000!

That said, shippers can also protect letters and packages for more than $50,000. USPS states that you can register items worth more than $50,000, and they will provide extra security for those items. However, compensation for loss or damage is still limited to $50,000, no matter the actual value the item(s) you registered. If this is of interest of you, you’ll need to contact your local Post Office and ask about it.

Higher Security Means (Potentially) Slower Delivery

The biggest drawback of using Registered Mail is the amount of time it can take for delivery. Generally speaking, USPS delivers registered letter and packages at the same speed of the particular USPS mail class you originally purchased. For instance, if you add Registered Mail to a Priority Mail package, USPS will deliver it between 1-3 business days.

However, due to the added layer of security that USPS provides with Registered Mail, speed isn’t what they prioritize…and delivery can be slower. A lot slower. In fact, when you use this service, it can sometimes take anywhere between 10-14 days for final delivery.

How Can I Send a Letter or Package via Registered Mail?

If you’d like to give your USPS shipment the highest level of security possible, you’ll need to present your package to an employee working the counter at your local Post Office, or to your rural letter carrier. From there, USPS will ask you for all the required information, such as your destination information, as well as the declared value of your mail piece.

The Different USPS Mail Classes You Can Use

Another thing to keep in mind is that Registered Mail isn’t available for every mail class. According to the USPS website, you can add Registered Mail to the following services:

  • First-Class Mail
  • First-Class Package Service (both Commercial and Retail)
  • Priority Mail

You’ll notice that the above list excludes certain USPS services, such as Media Mail and Parcel Select Ground. So, if you’re shipping with either of those services, Registered Mail unfortunately won’t be available for you.

To read more on the details of Registered Mail, check out the USPS website.

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  1. Earl

    I recall many decades ago visiting my aunt who was a postmaster in a small Texas post office, I would go with her to “help out”. I remember that registered mail went in a separate locked pouch and had to be checked and signed for at each post office where it changed carriers. (Of course, most of the journey the bag never left the train or plane.) Every overlap of paper was stamped, such as a letter flap, or perhaps on a box where paper meets on the end. Depending on how a package was wrapped, it could have a dozen or more postmarks, so it would show if anyone tampered with it. A long story, but registered mail is always vivid in my 82 year-old mind! [Harry Winston use registered mail to ship the Hope diamond…what more proof would one want?!

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