In business, you may need to ensure that your mail is signed for. We take a look at what you need to know about USPS Certified Mail.
Some documents you don’t want to mess around with, like wills, records, and anything financial. So if you have to send it through the mail, how do you make sure it’s secure?
You send it through Certified Mail. But what is Certified Mail?
Check out our comprehensive guide below on USPS Certified Mail and why you need it more than you think.
What is Certified Mail?
USPS Certified Mail is when the recipient must sign for the package, so there’s proof of receipt.
If the person who signed for the package wasn’t the intended recipient, they have the responsibility of getting to them. If they don’t and the package gets lost, you know where to point blame.
You have to fill out extra forms to send Certified Mail since it’s essentially like sending your letter with a security guard. Once it’s received you’ll get a notification in your email or via snail mail.
The Benefits: Documentation
Other than it being more secure, Certified Mail comes with more tracking options than a classic package. You can search for your Certified Mail number in the database and check the delivery date.
You get a receipt with tracking information and your Certified Mail number for your records.
Sense of Urgency
If you’re trying to inspire someone to take action, like by sending them a Certified Mail request for money, they’re more likely to pay attention when they have to sign something for it. In fact, many organizations and institutions will require the recipient to pay the Certified Mail fee. That’s along with the bill they’re paying.
So, essentially, your company can add a charge to the bill for the cost of sending Certified Mail.
You can send Certified Mail to P.O. Boxes, which can be tricky to send mail to.
The person who opens their P.O. box will have a delivery slip, which they’ll take to the counter. The counter employee will have them sign and you’ll get the notification.
How to Send Certified Mail
When you go to the Post Office, you have to go through a few different steps than usual. Instead of going up to the counter and using a stamp – find a PS 3800 Form.
You’re looking for a small white sticker-like form with green border and a barcode.
You’ll fill out the recipient’s info as well as your own on the sticker and the envelope. The sticker will have forms that make it clear what information to provide.
Then, the barcode goes on the letter. You put it between where the stamp goes and the return address.
Time to Pay
Once you have the form filled out, take the envelope and the sticker up to the counter. You’ll have to pay $3.35 USD to mail the actual letter, then $2.75 for the return receipt.
After you pay for the certification, you can decide if you want First-Class Mail or Priority Mail.
Consider Your Options
Do you want to make sure that the person you’re sending it to is the one that signs for it? You can ask the Post Office to confirm identification before someone signs. This is called “restricted delivery service”.
To add this to your Certified Mail order, check the box on your form and tell the teller you’d like restricted delivery.
Mail the Letter
Once all the above steps are finished, make sure you have your receipt and place the letter in an outgoing mail slot.
With your receipt in hand, you’re now free to go home and check your letter’s progress online – with your Certified Mail number.
Depending on the options you chose, you can see the receipt proof in your email. It will come as a .pdf – like a scanned document.
Send it Online
In the last few years, people have started printing their own postage online. Yes, this is legal – you still have to pay postage fees. This is simply online retailers partnering with USPS to make customers’ lives easier.
There are many sites that offer this option – even PayPal asks if you’d like to print postage.
However, there are some sites that specialize in online postage. Like this one, which you can view here.
To use these sites, you fill out your information online and pay the postage amount to the site. Then they send you some sort of .pdf or image of the postage you need.
You print out the postage and adhere it to what you’re sending. If you don’t have special sticky paper, you can put clear packing tape over the top.
Things to Watch Out For
When you print postage online, you need to make sure you’re going through a reputable dealer. They should say they’re USPS certified or have language saying they sell USPS postage.
You don’t want to go through the trouble of printing something out and paying – just to have the Post Office send back your letter asking for correct postage.
When to Send USPS Certified Mail
When you’re trying to decide if you want to send Certified Mail, ask yourself this question: how bad would it be if this got lost in the mail?
The other time you need to send something certified is when you have to show proof that you sent it. Sometimes if you’re late on a payment or there’s something that says “must be postmarked by“.
Sending by Certified Mail gives you proof that you sent what you needed to send on time.
You can go to the Post Office or send your USPS Certified Mail online. However you do it, make sure you keep your receipt!
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