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How to Send Certified Mail?

how to send certified mail

Are you searching for a safe and secure way to send important documents through the post?

The United States Postal Service has an excellent reputation for delivering letters and parcels. However, the company deals with a huge volume of post, and mistakes can, and do, happen. If you are sending legal paperwork or tax documents, you are likely to want a little extra assurance. If these documents go missing for some reason, it could cause a serious issue. 

So, let’s find out how to send Certified Mail…

About Certified Mail 

This is a service offered by the United States Postal Service. When you choose this service, you are provided with a receipt that shows proof of mailing. This provides a little extra security when you are mailing important documents. 

How It Works?

You can send Certified Mail from home or your local post office branch. When arranging this service, you will be given a Return Receipt, which is also known as Form 3811. You need to fill out the form and attach it to the envelope when mailing your documents.

The form is used to provide proof of delivery to help erase uncertainty. The recipient or someone else at the address has to sign for the letter before the postal carrier hands it over. The signature is then stored in a USPS database for two years. You will also receive a copy of the signature electronically or by mail for your records. 

Pay attention to detail…

To get started, you need to fill out a Certified Mail Receipt, which is also known as Form 3800. You will need to supply details such as the mailing address of the recipient and the cost. You can also choose additional services like Certified Mail Restricted Delivery, a Return Receipt, and an Adult Signature. 

After completing the form, address your envelope and peel off the adhesive sticker attached to the Certified Mail Receipt. Affix the receipt just to the right of the return address. You need to take care to match the dotted line on the form to the top edge of the envelope. 

How It Works

A return address is recommended…

Fold the top flap of the form over the back of the envelope and then affix your postage. If you are adding a Return Receipt to the envelope, write your address and name on the back of the form. Then write the address and name of the recipient on the front of the form.

Tick the box for Certified Mail in box three. You then need to make sure that you remove the article number sticker from the Certified Mail Form. This sticker needs to be attached to be affixed in the dedicated space in box two of the Return Receipt. 

The Cost

The cost of this service is $3.75, which does not include postage. This means that the final fee includes the cost of mailing your item plus the cost of the service. You can also choose other add-on services at the same time for an additional fee.

What can you send?

This service is suitable for both First-Class and Priority Mail. You can send A4, A3, and A2 envelopes of any type. You need to make sure that the envelope is properly sealed and that the forms are attached. 

What can you send

The following types of documents can be sent:

  • Legal documents
  • Court papers
  • Tax audit notifications and updates 
  • Confidential and classified papers
  • Contracts
  • High-value parcels


It is important to note that this service is an add-on and not compatible with certain types of mail and services. It is best to check beforehand.

Certified Mail is not compatible with the following services:

  • Priority Mail Express
  • Bound printed materials
  • International mail
  • USPS Retail Ground
  • Media mail
  • Library mail

How long it takes?

The length of time it takes for your mail to arrive depends on the class you choose. If you send a First-Class letter, it typically takes between one and five business days to arrive. However, the same letter sent with Priority Mail should arrive in between one and three business days.

Sending the post

If you are busy at work, you might not have time to head to your local post office branch. As long as you have the required postage and forms, you can skip the post office altogether. Simply fill out the form, attach the postage, and drop the envelope in a mailbox.

You can also give the envelope to a USPS carrier to get the process started. However, choosing this option means that you won’t be able to select any add-ons. 

Sending the post


You can track Certified mail in the same way as you would track a parcel. After purchasing the service, you will be given a receipt containing a unique tracking number. Just type it into the tracking search box on the USPS website to follow your envelope on its journey. This is a good option if you are sending important documents to another part of the country. 


Post that you send using this service cannot be insured. Unfortunately, this means that you won’t receive compensation if the item you sent is lost or damaged. 

However, you can protect yourself a little by purchasing a Return Receipt. Under the terms and conditions of this service, you are guaranteed to receive it back after thirty days. If this doesn’t happen for some reason, the service fee will be refunded. 

Different Delivery Options 

When you use the service, you are provided with a tracking number and mailing receipt. You can also pay an additional fee and choose from a number of add-ons. This allows you to specify exactly how you want the documents to be delivered. 

This includes restricting delivery to the specific recipient and getting a copy of the recipient’s signature. Let’s take a closer look at the main add-ons you can choose from. 

Certified Mail Return Receipt

It is important to note that this is different from the standard mailing receipt. The mailing receipt appears on the right-hand section of the PS form 3800 you get when mailing your item. The Return Receipt is an add-on that allows you to receive a copy of the recipient’s signature through the mail.

 This allows you to keep the signature in your records in case the receiver says they didn’t get the document. You can choose a Return Receipt as an add-on when sending your item or after your item has already been sent. 

Certified Mail Return Receipt

Certified Mail Electronic Return Receipt

When the receiver signs for the letter, they will sign the form that’s attached to it. The signature will then be converted to a PDF and emailed to you. This is quicker and cheaper than having the recipient’s signature mailed to you. 

Certified Mail Restricted Delivery

This is a useful add-on that helps you to restrict who delivery can be made to. Only the addressee will be able to receive and sign for the sent item. They will also have to produce identification at the time of receipt to prove their identity. 

Certified Mail Adult Signature Required

You can use this option to make sure that only people aged 21 or older can sign for the item. This helps to prevent a teenager in the household from signing for the document and misplacing it. 

Certified Mail Adult Signature Restricted Delivery

This add-on is a blend of Adult Signature Required and Restricted Delivery. When you choose this option, only the person you send the item to can sign for it. They also need to be 21 or over to sign for the item. 

Certified Mail Restricted Delivery with Return Receipt

This is the most secure delivery option available when you choose this mailing service. The add-on boasts the benefits of both Return Receipt and Restricted Delivery. However, it should be noted that this is the most expensive of all the available add-ons.

Sending Official Documents By Post

We all know there are procedures when sending official documents. So, let’s start by finding out Does USPS Notarize Documents, as well as Can I Use Poly Mailers For USPS for the correct envelopes, and Does USPS Forward IRS And Other Government Mail if you’ve recently moved.

When choosing the right service, you might want to know How Fast IS USPS First Class, what the difference is between USPS Priority Mail Vs First Class, and Does USPS Have First Class Tracking in 2023?

You might also be wondering Where Can I Drop off USPS PackagesHow Much Is A PO Box At USPS, and What Does Insufficient Address Mean At USPS, along with What Does Available For Pickup Mean USPSWhat Does Missent Mean USPS The Ultimate, and When Do USPS Trucks Go Out For Delivery?

Final Thoughts

If you need to post an important document, you need to be sure that it reaches the receiver. Waiting for confirmation that the receiver has got your documents can be quite stressful. Fortunately, Certified Mail from the United States Postal Service helps to remove uncertainty. 

Using this service is generally pretty simple and provides extra peace of mind. When you visit a post office branch, an employee will be able to help you with the process. You can also find answers to commonly asked questions about the service on the FAQs section of the USPS website.

Happy Posting with USPS!

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