Several times a year I work with customers mailing a large volume of Certified letters. These are typically Collector’s Departments of municipalities, but lots of people seem to have questions about Certified mail.
Certified Mail – what is it and what do I get for my money?
Anything being mailed as First Class, First Class Package Service or Priority Mail (not including Critical Mail service) can be sent Certified. Certified Mail is handled through USPS channels as ordinary mail.
Certified costs more than just sending a letter, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Mailing Certified provides a mailing receipt, upon request electronic verification that the piece was delivered or that an attempt to deliver was made, and if you request and pay for the additional service you can receive a return receipt. The USPS maintains a record of delivery that is kept on file for 24 months.
The following services may be combined with Certified Mail if the applicable standards for the services are met and additional service fees are paid:
a. Return receipt (not available for Adult Signature).
b. Restricted delivery (not available for Adult Signature).
c. Adult Signature Required and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery (available only for Priority Mail, but not Critical Mail).
Most “casual” Certified Mail users are familiar with the USPS Form 3800 (this is green by the way)
The label part of the form must be placed above the delivery address and to the right of the return address, or to the left of the delivery address on parcels.
The return receipt portion is USPS Form 3811
Basic Instructions to Completing Your Certified Mail Form:
a. Enter on Form 3800 the name and complete address of the person or firm to whom you wish to send the letter.
b. If a return receipt is requested, check the box on the mailing receipt to show the fee. Near the Certified Mail endorsement on the address side, add the endorsement “Return Receipt Requested.” Enter the Certified Mail number on the return receipt card, address it, and attach it to the back of a small envelope or on the front of a package or large envelope. Enter the name and delivery address on the reverse of the return receipt to show where the receipt is to be sent. When a return receipt is requested, a complete return address (that’s your name and delivery address) is required on the mailpiece. The name and delivery address entered on the reverse of the return receipt do not have to match the sender’s name and return address on the mailpiece.
c. Affix to the envelope enough postage to pay for the Certified Mail fee and First-Class Mail price and, if requested, the return receipt fee.
d. If a postmarked sender’s receipt is requested, attach the Certified Mail sticker to the address side of the article and present the article and the completed receipt to the USPS employee, who then round-dates the receipt to show when the article was accepted. If asked to do so, the USPS employee also shows on the receipt the time the article was accepted. Otherwise, attach the “Certified Mail” sticker to the address side of the article, detach the receipt, and mail the article. Mark the receipt to show the date.
e. If restricted delivery of Certified Mail to the addressee or someone named by the addressee in writing is requested, endorse the mail “Restricted Delivery.” This service is available only for articles addressed to individuals by name.
You can track your mail and receive delivery information three ways:
- Over the internet (how convenient!) at www.usps.com. Simply enter the article number shown on the mailing receipt.
- By phone at 1-800-222-1811
- By bulk electronic file transfer for mailers with an electronic manifest to the USPS
If you are mailing a large volume of Certified mail, look into privately printed Forms 3800. There are specific requirements to these labels; a quick Google search will yield plenty of vendors selling the blank forms. Consult with your printer that they have the ability and know-how to produce, record and mail these forms.