What is the Best Way to Ship Documents?

Learn about the different services for sending documents with USPS, including the cheapest service and the fastest service
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Need to send a contract that requires a signature? Companies like DocuSign have made it easy to sign and execute legal documents over the Internet. In the time of COVID-19, DocuSign’s service has become highly popular and embraced all over the world (the 184% gain in the stock price since January 2020 reflects this). However, there will always be a need to physically ship documents for real-life signatures…and USPS has you covered. If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are some of the different ways you can send documents with the US Postal Service.

Use Certified Mail for the Absolute Cheapest Way to Send a Few Documents

If you’re looking to save the most money when sending your documents, your best bet is to use Certified Mail. Certified Mail starts at just $4.10 at the Post Office ($3.55 plus the cost of a “forever” stamp at $0.55). When you purchase this service, USPS assigns you a tracking number when they accept it at the counter. Therefore, Certified Mail allows you to track your envelope up until USPS delivers it, while regular First-Class Mail doesn’t.

Like First-Class Mail, documents sent Certified Mail take anywhere from 2-3 business days to arrive at the final destination. However, keep in mind that the cost will be higher if your documents weigh more than the maximum limit of 3 ounces for mail.

Use the Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope for Shipping a Stack of Heavier Documents

If you’re shipping more than several documents that make your envelope weigh more than 3 ounces, then you’re better off using the Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope. This envelope will be a flat rate charge of $8.05 at the Post Office, no matter how much your documents weigh or how thick they are. Like USPS always says, “If it fits, it ships!”

Like all Priority Mail Services, delivery occurs anywhere between 1-3 business days, and the service is fully trackable. You can order these envelopes for free on the USPS website, or you can walk into your local Post Office to find them.

Pro Tip: The Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope will only cost $7.45 when you use shipping software to buy discounted postage online…which we’ll get to in a minute.

For the Fastest Service, Use the Priority Mail Express Legal Flat Rate Envelope

The Priority Mail Express Legal Flat Rate Envelope is hands-down the fastest USPS service available to ship documents. This makes it the perfect service for shipping time-sensitive legal documents. However, since it’s the fastest USPS service, it’s also the most expensive. Priority Mail Express features overnight delivery to most urban locations, and 2-day delivery to rural areas. Also, USPS will fully refund the cost of postage if the envelope arrives later than the guaranteed delivery time…so all in all, it’s a pretty good deal!

Pro Tip: No matter which USPS service you decide to use, you’ll always save the most money on postage when you use online shipping software. Online shipping software allows you to access the deepest level of discounts that USPS offers, known as Commercial Pricing. You can also buy and print the postage right from your home, so you won’t ever have to go to the Post Office again! To learn more about how you can save money on your shipping labels, check out our guide: Choosing the Best Shipping Software.

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