Signed, Sealed, Delivered: What Is Certified Mail?

The United States Post Office has been offering Registered Mail services since the mid-1800s to help ensure that mail travels securely. But it wasn’t until a century later that Certified Mail became an option.

But what is certified mail and how can using it improve your business efforts? Here’s what you need to know:

What Does Certified Mail Refer To?

Certified Mail is a mail service available to residents of the United States. Mail labeled”certified” comes with the added security of a unique tracking number to trace it from one point to another.

If you choose to send something via certified mail, you’ll receive a receipt as the sender that is legally recognized and proves that you mailed it and from where it was mailed.

The intended recipient of Certified Mail has to sign for the letter or package in order to receive it. This extra step helps to ensure the safe delivery of the mail.

Wondering who can sign for Certified Mail? Well anyone that is present at the intended mailing address can sign for and accept the certified package. However, if the sender sends mail as “restricted Certified Mail”, then the only person who can sign for it is the person for whom it is addressed.

Certified Mail service is available as an option whether you’re mailing something First-Class or Priority.

The main difference between mail that sent as “Registered Mail” vs. “Certified Mail” is that you are unable to purchase insurance for items sent as “certified”.

How Does Certified Mail Work?

All Certified Mail pieces are each scanned and tracked in the United States Postal Service’s tracking system.

The items are first scanned and then accepted into the large stream of incoming mail at the post office, an then they’re tracked along their way through sorting and processing centers.

The last post office worker to handle your mail upon delivery will scan it first, track the recipient’s signature as required, and mark it as “delivered”.

After the recipient has signed for it, their signature stays on file for two years as a proof of delivery.

Does Certified Mail Always Require a Signature?

The purpose of Certified Mail is that a signature is required for its delivery. Without the signature, the package can’t be delivered. If a recipient won’t sign for the package, the mail delivery person cannot legally hand it over.

It may be that the sender doesn’t specifically request a signature; Certified Mail by its nature requires signed proof that the piece of mail has been successfully delivered.

If the item isn’t signed for, and no one picks it up from the post office, it will head back to the original sender.

Benefits of Certified Mail

There are many benefits to choosing Certified Mail, especially for your business. If you need to send time-sensitive, crucial documents, for example, just dropping it in the mailbox leaves you with no proof that your mail is sent. Without the “Certified Mail” status, you have no control as to when your mail will be delivered.

When you go the certified route, however, you have proof that you sent any urgent mail and that you sent it on time.

The tracking factor makes this option a safer way to mail as well. If you have a client that is anxiously awaiting a package from you, having the option to track it en route will diminish their anxiety and allow them to know when they can expect it.

Another great benefit to certified mail is its high priority status. Having that certified status adds some extra urgency to your mail which means you can likely expect your mail to arrive near the earlier side of your delivery window.

Reduce the Risk of Theft, Save Money

With Certified Mail your items are marked clearly as such, so everyone who handles it knows that it’s being tracked. This provides an extra element of protection in that it discourages theft and carelessness.

There are plenty of times when people assume that a piece of mail was lost on the way to their mailbox when in reality, it was stolen. But with certified mail, it’s never put in the mailbox. It’s always given to the recipient directly.

And of course, one of the biggest benefits of shipping with “Certified Mail” is that you get the same benefits of sending your mail through a private shipping service, at a fraction of the cost. No matter what line of business you’re in, you can probably appreciate saving money and cutting costs wherever possible.

It’s Popular Among Professionals

With all the benefits that Certified Mail provides, there are many professionals who rely upon it. Typical Certified Mail customers include government agencies, law firms, CPA’s, and courthouses.

And with the signature acting as a kind of receipt that stays on file for two years, senders feel confident using Certified Mail for their postal needs.

Learn Other Tips For Running Your Business

Now that you’ve learned some of the benefits of using Certified Mail for your business needs and how doing so can save you money and protect you and the goods you mail, check out some of our many other useful articles for running your business successfully.

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