Learn More About USPS Certified Mail® And It&039s Forms

Most people think of certified mail® as mail that comes with a green paper postcard signed by the recipient at the time of delivery, which distinguishes certified mail® from other types of mail. in fact, the “green card” is only an option when using certified mail®. In this article, we’ll explain the important role Certified Mail® plays for businesses, government, and individuals, the options you have when using Certified Mail®, and how Certified Mail® software will save you a lot of time and money.

what is certified mail®?

Certified Mail® is an additional service provided by the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) that provides you with official verification that your letter was mailed and delivered. Certified Mail® plays an important role in business and legal matters, as Certified Mail® receipts and delivery confirmations are considered prima facie evidence in legal proceedings in local, state, and federal courts throughout the United States. Approximately 190 million pieces of Certified Mail® are shipped annually, according to USPS reports.

How is certified mail® used?

Businesses, government, and citizens use certified mail® for a multitude of reasons. here are six broad categories:

  1. parties in legal proceedings use certified mail® to prove that they sent relevant documents to other parties and also that those documents were received. Certified Mail® Receipts and Delivery Confirmations are considered prima facie evidence in legal proceedings in local, state, and federal courts throughout the United States.
  2. hundreds of state and local statutes, in all states, require certified mail® for the transmission of specific documents, such as foreclosure notices and insurance policy cancellations.
  3. governments use certified mail® for important communications with citizens, such as subpoenas to act such as juries, tax assessments, tax collections, subpoenas, the granting of zoning variances, and planning committee findings.
  4. Businesses and other organizations rely on Certified Mail® to verify delivery of specific items in circumstances that could give rise to litigation in the future. For example, accounting firms use Certified Mail® to file state and local tax returns, in case the IRS misplaces the tax returns and the accounting firm needs to prove timely mailing. Likewise, automakers often use certified mail® to send recall notices to their customers. and oil exploration companies use certified mail® to deliver royalty checks to investors. the use of certified mail is widespread.
  5. For people, certified mail® communicates a sense of urgency and legitimacy when delivered, separating certified mail® from standard first-class mail that can often be overlooked.
  6. For sellers looking for a personal relationship with existing or potential customers, Certified Mail® allows them to deliver mail that is more likely to get noticed. it also allows them to trace each certified mail® letter back to the recipient who signed it.
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How does certified mail® work?

You have several options when it comes to using certified mail®:1. If you need proof of shipment, you have two options:

a. You can complete the Certified Mail® Receipt (USPS Form 3800) and attach it to the front of the mail piece. the post office stamps the receipt and gives you part of the receipt while the rest of the receipt remains in the mail piece. The unique 22-digit code on the receipt allows you to track the item through the USPS website. the carrier may leave the piece of certified mail® with anyone who signs for it at the indicated address. the usps website will show the delivery date, but not the signature.

b. there’s an easier way that eliminates the certified mail® receipt and trips to the post office altogether. simplecertifiedmail.com’s web-based software makes it easy to prepare certified mail® covers and labels that include usps® impb tracking technology and computer postage, resulting in a certified mail® envelope (see below). below) which you can drop off at any mailbox or leave for your mail carrier to pick up.

An (electronic) proof of acceptance, pictured below, is posted to your account shortly after your Certified Mail® letter receives its first outbound scan, which typically occurs within a few hours of mailing . proof of acceptance (electronic) is accepted as prima facie evidence that the post office physically took possession of the registered letter on a specific date and time. The IRS has deemed the POA to be in compliance with Title 26, Subtitle F, Chapter 77, Sec. 7502 of the United States Treasury Code with “timely shipment treated as timely presentation and payment”.

2. If you need proof that the certified mail® letter was delivered and signed, you also have two options:

a. The first is to use certified mail® with a return receipt. fill out usps ps form 3811, also known as the “green card,” and attach it to the back of the envelope. the mail carrier will not deliver the certified mail® piece until the green card has been signed by someone at the recipient’s address, and then the green card is returned to you by regular mail.

The green card is the original method of receiving a signature. It dates back to the 1955 launch of Certified Mail® and has some drawbacks. First, it is a manual process. It’s not bad if you only need a single certified mail letter, but it’s a hassle when you’re preparing several certified mail letters at the same time. Second, you often wait many days for your green card to be returned after you sign it, which can be a costly delay when an important legal or asset recovery proceeding cannot proceed without the signed green card in hand. Third, green cards don’t always come back to you as expected. they can accidentally get mixed up with someone else’s mail and get lost. and sometimes the green cards come back unsigned. Finally, the courts require you to present the original signed and dated green card as proof of service. scans or copies are not accepted. This often means storing signed and returned PS 3811 forms for years, in case they are needed. In general, the labor costs to prepare, mail, retrieve, and present green cards can easily double or triple the USPS rates for each piece of certified mail® you send.

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b. the second option is by certified mail® with acknowledgment of receipt (electronic). The USPS introduced Electronic Receipt Receipt (“ER”) in 2004 to eliminate many of the problems associated with the Green Card. The recipient’s signature, time and date of delivery are captured by the mail carrier and returned to you electronically as a PDF document that you can download from the USPS website and save to your own computer or server. You no longer have to worry about your green cards getting lost. Green cards no longer need to be kept on file, as the IRS, state taxing authorities, and courts accept any printed (electronic) receipt as the legal equivalent of a green card.

simplecertifiedmail.com Certified Mail® software takes full advantage of return receipt (electronic) by adding the recipients full address to the file and posting the pdf file to your account within 24 hours of receipt. the delivery of certified mail by the postman. letter ®. the software also saves the (electronic) receipt in your account for 10 years so you always have a backup when you need it.

3. when you need proof that your mail was received by a specific recipient: Using Certified Mail® with Return Receipt and Restricted Delivery, the carrier is authorized to deliver the item only to the specific recipient on the piece of mail or to someone acting as the consignee authorized agent. restricted delivery is most often used for contracts, legal documents, and other sensitive documents. It works whether you’re using green cards or (electronic) receipt.

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how much does certified mail® cost?

The 2020 fees for using Certified Mail® are listed below. These fees are in addition to the postage cost of the particular First Class or Priority Mail item being mailed. for example, 1 oz. the letter sent by certified mail® with a return receipt is $.55 for postage + $3.55 for certified mail® + $2.85 for the green card with a return receipt, a total of $6.95.

How long does it take for certified mail® to arrive?

The easy answer is how long it takes for the USPS to move your mail from location A to location B. and if you use a green card, again. but there is more.

When you send certified mail® that requires a signature, if there is no one at home or business to accept the mail, the carrier leaves a delivery reminder requesting that the recipient pick up their mail at the post office. If no one picks up the letter after five to seven days, the USPS attempts a second delivery, and if that doesn’t work, a third and final delivery attempt is made after 10 to 12 days. If three delivery attempts are unsuccessful, USPS marks the letter “unclaimed” and the letter is returned to you.

Fortunately, when using the simplecertifiedmail.com web-based software, every part of the mailing process that the software touches becomes faster. We’ve already explained how preparation and shipping is made much faster by eliminating manual forms and trips to the post office. Proof of Acceptance (electronic) is received within hours of receipt of your certified mail®, and acknowledgment of receipt (electronic) is sent to your account within 24 hours of receipt of signature by from the postman, thereby eliminating the green card altogether.


We hope this information has been useful to you. We think it’s important for you to understand the different options available to you when using Certified Mail® so you can choose and pay for only what you need.

If Certified Mail® is important to your business, watch our video below to learn how our online Certified Mail® software makes preparing and managing Certified Mail® simple, reducing postage fees and labor costs. work, and gives you a much faster delivery. receipt of proof of acceptance, proof of delivery and signed electronic receipt.

how simplecertifiedmail.com works

If you have any questions, please contact us toll-free at 888-462-1750 or by email. are you ready to register? there is no charge to set up an account. sign up today!

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