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Understanding ‘Proof of Mailing’

In today’s world, individuals and organizations often need to provide or retain proof that a mailpiece was submitted to the USPS for mailing or a mailpiece has been received by the recipient. Failure to meet specific requirements may result in fines, making it essential to understand the different products and services available to meet these needs.

Proof of Mailing as a product or service does not exist within the USPS. However, the USPS offers various products that can meet expectations for proof of mailing. It is important to communicate with the relevant entity to ensure compliance with specific requirements.

Products that offer Proof of Mailing:

USPS Retail Receipt: When presenting a package for mailing at a USPS retail facility, you receive a receipt that can be retained as proof of mailing and lists a tracking number. It is important to note that the receipt does not list the recipient address.

Certificate of Mailing: This is a true method for providing proof of mailing through the USPS. To utilize this service, you must complete USPS Form 3817, listing the recipient and address for your 1-3 mail pieces. Each mailpiece must have the required First Class postage affixed to it, and you will pay the fee for service and affix the postage for the service to the Form 3817. Starting 7/9/23 the fee for Certificate of Mailing from Form 3817 will be $1.95. For mailings of more than three pieces, you will need to complete USPS Form 3665, listing all mailpieces in the mailing. The fee for Certificate of Mailing for each piece is $0.57 effective 7/9/23. The USPS will date stamp your form as proof that they received each of those individual pieces in your mail and return it to you. You are responsible for retaining the forms for your proof of mailing.

Bulk Certificate of Mailing: This is a more economical method to receive proof of mailing, accomplished by using USPS Form 3603. With this form, you provide the number of mailpieces, mailing weight, and your information and affix the applicable fee for the number of pieces being presented. All mailpieces must have the applicable USPS First Class postage affixed. The USPS validates that they received the number of mailpieces listed on the Form 3603. Effective 7/9/23 the cost for Bulk Certificate of Mailing will be $10.90 for the first 1000 mailpieces and $1.40 for each additional 1000 mailpieces. You are responsible for maintaining the documentation of what was included in the mailing.

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Products that offer Proof of Delivery:

Certified Mail: This service permits the mailer to affix and USPS Form 3800 to a mailpiece with the required First Class Mail postage and the fee for the Certified Mail service to have the ability to verify a mailpiece has been delivered or what the final disposition of the mailpiece if it was undeliverable. The form must be affixed to the top of the envelope at the dotted line folded over the envelope being sure to not obscure the postage. Effective 7/9/23 the cost for Certified Mail will be $4.35 plus applicable First Class mail postage.

Certified Mail Return Receipt: This is an additional service that can be used in conjunction with Certified Mail to receive a signed document confirming receipt of a mailpiece. By affixing USPS Form 3811 to a mailpiece with a Certified Mail Form 3800 affixed as well with the form filled out on both the from and the back. The fee for the Return Receipt must be included with the total postage. The fee for Return Receipt will be $3.55 effective 7/9/23. Return Receipt is NOT required to mail Certified Mail; it is a separate service. Mailers can also choose to utilize Electronic Return Receipt to receive signature confirmation by email once the mailpiece is delivered. 

Registered Mail: For a mailer sending extremely important or valuable items, Registered Mail might be the right solution. All Registered Mail pieces require a signature upon delivery. Starting 7/9/23 the fee for Registered Mail is based upon the declared value of the contents, ranging from $0.00 at $16.80 to $4,001-$5000 at $31.95 in addition to the required First Class postage. Due to the higher level of scrutiny placed upon this service, it is possible that the delivery time exceeds the service level for the Class of Mail used.

In conclusion, selecting the appropriate mailing service to meet proof of mailing needs involves ensuring that the service meets expectations and is cost-effective. Communicating with relevant entities to understand specific requirements is essential to avoid fines. By understanding the different options available, individuals and organizations can select the most appropriate and cost-effective mailing service to meet their proof of mailing needs.

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