What is USPS Certified Mail? A Guide to USPS Certified Mailing

Certified Mail assigns a tracking number to a regular piece of mail that you send with the Postal Service
what is USPS Certified Mail?
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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?

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.

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 in to 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 that sells both mail postage and package postage, though the difference between mailing and shipping is something to be aware of before signing up.

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