What is Certified Mail? What is Certified Mail?

What Is Certified Mail? How It Works and When to Use It

As an individual or business, there are times when you need to send important documents or packages and want to be certain they arrive at the intended destination. For these situations, certified mail is a useful service offered by the United States Postal Service.

Certified mail provides you with a receipt to confirm your item was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made. It also allows you to obtain electronic verification that your mail item was delivered.

For a small fee, certified mail gives you peace of mind and documentation that critical correspondence made it to the recipient. If you have sensitive materials, legal documents, or anything else that requires confirmation of receipt, certified mail is an affordable solution and easy to use.

What is Certified Mail and When to Use it
What is Certified Mail and When to Use it

What Exactly Is Certified Mail?

Certified mail is a service offered by the US Postal Service (USPS) that provides proof of mailing and delivery. When you send an item via certified mail, you get a receipt to verify you mailed the item. The USPS also maintains records of certified mail in its system.

How Certified Mail Works

To use certified mail, you must take your item to a post office retail counter to purchase certified mail services. You cannot print postage or drop off in a collection box. You will have to present your item and declare the contents and value.

The USPS employee will weigh and validate the item, then apply a certified mail label and have you sign for the mailing. They will give you a receipt that serves as evidence the item was accepted for mailing.

Once delivered, the recipient will have to sign for the item to accept it. Their signature is captured by the USPS and kept on file as proof of delivery. You can obtain an electronic or paper return receipt to see the recipient’s signature. Check our free signature generator.

When to Use Certified Mail

Use certified mail when you need documented evidence of mailing and delivery. Common uses include:

  • Legal documents (contracts, notices)
  • Valuable items
  • Important records or paperwork
  • Correspondence requiring a high degree of formality

Certified mail provides end-to-end tracking and a legal record of the transaction between sender and recipient. For maximum security and insurance, you can also send the item by registered mail. Certified mail aims to give senders confidence and peace of mind for critical items.

The Benefits of Sending Certified Mail

Certified mail offers several benefits worth considering.

First, it provides proof of mailing and delivery. The sender receives a receipt with information about the delivery, including the recipient’s signature. This verifies that the item was delivered to the correct recipient at the specified address.

Second, certified mail is a secure method of delivery. It requires the recipient’s signature upon delivery, ensuring that only the intended recipient can receive the item. This added security gives senders peace of mind that confidential documents or high-value items will reach the proper recipient.

Third, certified mail allows senders to track the delivery status. You can go online or call USPS to track your item’s progress as it moves through the postal system to its final delivery. This end-to-end tracking gives senders insight into the item’s location and estimated delivery date.

Finally, certified mail provides compensation for loss or damage. The service includes insurance for the value of the contents, up to $5,000. In the unlikely event your item is lost or damaged, you may be eligible for compensation. This insurance acts as an additional layer of protection for important or valuable shipments.

In summary, certified mail is a reliable, secure service that provides proof of mailing, recipient signature, package tracking, and insurance. For sensitive documents or high-value items, certified mail gives senders confidence in the mailing and delivery process. When you need to know your shipment will reach its destination intact and securely, certified mail is an ideal solution.

When Should You Use Certified Mail?

Certified mail should be used when you need to confirm the delivery of important documents or items. There are a few key situations where certified mail comes in handy:

Legal Documents

When sending legal documents like contracts, notarized documents, agreements or notices, certified mail provides proof that the documents were delivered. The recipient’s signature is required upon delivery, giving you evidence that the documents were received. This can help avoid any dispute over whether or not the documents were delivered.


If you’re mailing valuable items, certified mail offers more security and coverage. The contents of certified mail are insured up to $5,000 in case the items are lost or damaged during delivery. Certified mail also requires a recipient’s signature, so there is a record of who received the delivery. This deters theft and provides a traceable chain of custody.

Time-Sensitive Materials

For time-sensitive documents or materials where proof of delivery and receipt is important, certified mail is a good option. The service provides delivery tracking so you know when the item is delivered, and the recipient’s signature is captured as evidence it was received. This ensures there is no dispute over when time-sensitive items were delivered.

In summary, anytime you need to confirm delivery and obtain a record of who received an item, certified mail should be considered. For sensitive legal documents, valuables, or time-critical materials, the security, insurance, and tracking certified mail provides can give you peace of mind that your items were safely delivered and received.

Can you Certified Mail Notarized Documents?

Yes, you are able to certified mail your notarized documents via USPS. It’s highly recommended to certified mail any serious legal documents that you want to keep absolute track of.  This of course includes notarized documents of all types.  If you need to get a document notarized ASAP, we recommend using an online notarization service or finding an online notary.

Certified Mail Conclusions

As you have seen, certified mail provides a secure method for sending important documents or high-value items through the US Postal Service. By using certified mail, you get the benefits of a paper trail, tracking information, and a recipient’s signature upon delivery.

While it may cost a bit more than regular first-class mail, certified mail is worth the investment when sending sensitive information or irreplaceable items. It provides peace of mind that your mail will be properly handled and delivered.

For critical mailing needs where proof of sending or receipt is required, certified mail is the service to choose.

How do I send Certified Mail?

Below is a detailed guide on how to prepare and send your certified mail. Make sure to follow all of the steps if you are sending an important document.


1. What Is Certified Mail?
Certified mail is a USPS service providing proof of mailing and delivery, ideal for important documents needing confirmation of receipt.

2. How Does Certified Mail Work?
Visit a post office, declare your item’s contents and value, and a USPS employee will apply a certified mail label and process your item. Recipients must sign upon delivery, providing proof of receipt.

3. When Should I Use Certified Mail?
Use certified mail for legal documents, valuable items, important records, or any correspondence requiring formal acknowledgment of receipt.

4. What Are the Benefits of Sending Certified Mail?
Certified mail offers proof of mailing, secure delivery with the recipient’s signature, package tracking, and insurance up to $5,000 for loss or damage.

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