Accountable mail is mail that requires a signature upon delivery. This mail is able to be tracked and provides confirmation that the mail has been delivered. Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express, as well as First Class Packaging Services, provide tracking services.
There are required materials and forms necessary to utilize USPS Accountable Mail Services.
Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail
Registered Mail is very useful if you plan on sending out mail with monetary value. This is the most secured mail services, but it comes at a cost. Registered Mail maintains chain of custody through the delivery process, which increases the delivery timeframe.
Registered Mail allows you to declare the value of the contents of your mailpiece. The declared value determines the postage. Following are the current fees:
Registered Mail Current Fees
|Value||Fee (in Addition to required postage)|
Certified Mail provides the sender with the ability to track mail in transit. Certified Mail is mail within in First Class Mail Service level of one to five days depending upon distance and location to delivery point.
This is the least expensive method of tracking mail and obtaining a POD (Proof of Delivery) from the USPS. Before choosing this method, it is important to realize that you cannot insure this mail. It is traceable, so if lost or misdelivered, most of the time it is easy to track down.
As of 8/2021 certified mail currently costs $3.60 per letter, in addition to normal postage. PS Form 3800 must be filled out and attached to the envelope prior to mailing.
Return Receipt Service
Senders can also purchase optional Return-Receipt service for their registered or certified mail at an additional cost. Return receipt service cost for Registered Mail is $3.05, effective 8/29/21 and is $1.85 for Certified Mail effective 8/29/21, in addition to required First Class postage and extra service fees for registered/certified mail per piece.
Return receipts provide the sender with proof of delivery, including the signature of the recipient, information about the delivery address, and date and time of delivery. The USPS will retain the electronic information for up to 2 years. When a return receipt is requested, the USPS will not deliver your mail unless a signature is obtained.
Certified Mail Options
|Certified Mail Service||Description||Additional Fee|
|Certified Mail without Return Receipt (Tracking only)||Track a mail piece via USPS.com and see when it was delivered, or when an attempt to deliver was made. You will not be provided with a delivery confirmation receipt or signature.||$3.75
|Certified Mail with Electronic Return Receipt (E-Certified)||Track a mail piece via USPS.com and receive a PDF file of the delivery confirmation receipt and recipient signature directly to your email.||$5.60
|Certified Mail with Hard Copy Return Receipt (PS Form 3811)||Track a mail piece via USPS.com and receive a PDF file of the delivery confirmation receipt and recipient signature directly to your email.||$6.80
For legal, financial, and other important documents that have delivery deadlines or require PODs, e-certified mail will be your least expensive and most efficient option.
Clutter-Free: With most organizations moving to clutter free digital filing, the USPS has made it easier than ever, allowing you to have a POD emailed directly to your inbox.
Easy to Use: The difficulty of having to fill out the PS Form 3811 for Hardcopy Return Receipts has also been removed so all you have to do is keep the tracking number.
Efficient: Instead of waiting for the Hard Copy Return Receipt to be mailed back, your POD is available online as soon as the mail piece is delivered.
Less Expensive: E-certified return receipt costs $1.10 less than the hard copy return receipt.
How to Send E-Certified (Step by Step)
- Place the barcode portion of the sticker on the top, middle, front section of the mail piece and add postage on the top right as shown:
- Keep the small strip with the tracking number as your receipt.
- Once the mail piece is scanned, you will be able to track its location with your tracking number via https://tools.usps.com/go/TrackConfirmAction_input.
- For a PDF version of your return receipt, click “return receipt electronic” and enter your e-mail. It will be sent directly to you.
- “Save as” to your electronic file or print to add to your paper file.