If you are a customer of the USPS, most likely you are familiar with mailing products such as First Class Mail. If you are reading this article, then you have probably already heard of certified mail and are familiar with the perks and benefits of using it to send mail domestically.
One of the most common questions people have online, is whether certified mail can be sent to a po box or not. The short answer is, yes, you can. However, it may be worth reading through to understand the process and what is required from you, in order to send it properly.
Before we get into it, just a quick reminder of what Certified Mail actually is.
Certified Mail is a mailing option with the USPS, that gives the sender a mailing receipt and electronic verification that some piece of mail was delivered. If you would like to have that mail piece signed from the recipient, you can also request for signature confirmation at the time of mailing. Usual reasons why you would use Certified Mail to send mail, are due to sensitive mail or because of financial or legal documents. When you send Certified Mail, it creates an identifier such as a paper trail or electronic verification that the letter was sent and received.
Though it may be difficult to imagine a United States Postal Service existing without certified mail, the truth is certified mail is a (relatively) new creation by the USPS.
First established in 1955 by then Assistant US Postmaster Gen. Joseph Cooper Certified mail was created to provide a more consistent and trackable mailing solution for individuals, organizations, and businesses large and small.
The program has (obviously) been adjusted and modified throughout the years, but the root core of certified mail remains the same today – providing a trackable solution that gives proof of transit and receipt to both the sender and the receiver of mail sent via this mechanism.
The beauty of certified mail is that you are able to track its movement throughout the logistical system out the USPS with zero extra effort on your and whatsoever. The recipient of your mail also have the opportunity to track its movements, helping them to better plan around receiving the letter or package that is on their way to them.
You also have the opportunity to add different “extras” to certified mail as well. Some of the most popular “extras” include a return receipt that you can request (for an additional fee). This is basically a green, postcards sized piece of paper that is mailed back to you after your package, parcel, or certified letter has been delivered.
This is done directly by the USPS, providing you with full proof of delivery from the USPS that you can use in your records and later on should you need to prove that your letter did in fact reach its ultimate destination.
For we go further, it is important to outline that while certified mail is very similar to registered mail there are some major differences.
Registered mail provides for a much more secure transportation of your packages, parcels, and letters (sealed in locked containers throughout transit) and usually includes more delivery insurance than what you’ll get with certified mail alone.
There are 5 things that you get when using Certified Mail.
- A refund. Make sure to check this beforehand, as some items are exempt from refunds. If you do request a refund, that refund will only cover the service charge and not the postage fee.
- Proof of signature. When you mail your item, this is something you will need to request (also known as the Return Receipt Service.) You can decide whether you want to receive it via snail mail or electronically.
- A mailing receipt.
- Record of delivery. This will include a copy of the recipient’s signature and will be kept by the post office for up to two years from the date you send it.
- Status of delivery. You will be able to access this in three ways.
- Using bulk electronic file transfer
- By telephone
- Using the Internet
How To Send Certified Mail
In order to send certified mail, the first step will be to purchase a certified mail slip that you will be using to send along with your first class mail envelope. Once you have filled out your certified mail slip (if done online, you may be asked to provide proof of the identity,) then you will want to select from a list of USPS delivery options. This will give you a 18 digit USPS tracking number.
If you want to ensure that your certified mail will reach its destination, it may be a good idea to request proof of delivery. This will happen by getting a signature from the recipient of your mail. You can also request that the delivery notification happens via e-mail.
Something important to keep in mind, is that somebody will need to sign for the certified mail, otherwise the mailman will not be able to deliver the letter. So make sure that whoever it is you are sending your mail to, is going to be available to receive the package.
Because of the free tracking information provided with every certified mail piece you are usually going to be able to plan the delivery with the recipient quite easily.
Your recipient is also going to be able to see as the certified mail piece moves through the USPS systems towards them, anticipating delivery dates and times so that they can be available to receive the package.
Another big advantage of this included tracking information is that you’ll be able to watch as your mail piece moves to the recipient, especially if it’s important information or documents that need to be confirmed as delivered.
You’ll be able to see when you’re certified mail arrives at its ultimate destination, that it has been accepted and signed for by someone at the other end, and that the delivery has been completed successfully.
You’ll also be able to see if delivery was refused or if it wasn’t able to be successfully completed as well, helping you better navigate the next step in getting your important documents, letters, packages, or parcels to the intended recipient moving forward.
Can Certified Mail Be Sent To A PO Box?
As mentioned earlier, you are able to send certified mail to a po box. However the signing part, changes a bit. Normally, you need to have someone at the address to receive the certified mail in order to sign for it. Since this is a PO Box in this case, having someone sign upon delivery will not be possible. The way it works with po boxes, is you will receive a notification card within your box that informs you that you have certified mail that is waiting for you. From there, you will need to go to the post office clerk and receive the certified mail item from them. You will need to present the notification card to the mail clerk, in order to be able to pickup the package.
At this point, you will receive the delivery confirmation signature card. This is how the USPS will be able to capture and record the date and time of delivery electronically.
A good way to save money, is by sending USPS Certified Mail by using an electronic return receipt. These labels and envelopes have been approved by USPS and do not use stickers or forms. This form of delivery is easier and faster. It will include proof of mailing, in route letter tracking and Electronic Delivery Confirmation as proof of delivery, even if you do send a letter to a PO Box. The green cards that you have seen before, are expensive and hard to manage and can very easily get misplaced. So it is best to address your letter online, and print the USPS Tracking Number and bar code, in order to avoid a trip to the post office.
To put it simply, you can definitely still send certified mail to PO boxes – but the process for a recipient getting that package, parcel, or letter is going to be a little different. They’ll have a receipt in their box telling them to come to the desk to sign for the certified mail piece.
From there, it really depends on the kind of confirmation system that you have elected to use (traditional green postcards or electronic delivery confirmation) to follow through on the certified mail aspect of everything.
All in all, though, if the person that you want to send certified mail to only has a PO Box you can still confidently send them your mail pieces through this USPS service.
Sending Certified Mail To A Virtual Mailbox
If you want to avoid the back and forth with the mail clerk at the post office, and even having to go to the post office overall, you may want to consider looking into a virtual mailbox. These are regular physical mailboxes, located at a physical street address that you are able to access virtually.
On top of that, because these are virtual mailbox services you’ll be able to access them from all of your favorite internet enabled devices.
This gives you a lot more control over your modern mail experience in a way that just isn’t possible with traditional PO Box services or other physical mailbox services from organizations like the USPS, for example.
The best part of the services is that you are always in the driver seat when you choose to take advantage of virtual mailbox options!
Once certified mail comes in, there is a full time mail professional at the mailbox location who signs on your behalf and then uploads your document into your virtual mailbox. From there, you are able to access it all online with your smartphone or desktop computer. Whether it is a package or mail, you will get scanned copies of them uploaded into your account.
The only thing that is a little bit different here is that someone other than the intended recipient or addressed recipient on your certified letter will be signing for the documents, packages, or parcels that you have sent.
This may or may not present a problem on your end and may or may not be an ideal solution, but you’ll still have confirmation that your mail has arrived exactly as you intended and that it is in the mailbox of the individual that you have sent the mail to in the first place.
If you need some mail or package shipped to your location, you can request that online and have it shipped with up to 80% off retail shipping rates.
Those looking to take advantage of a virtual mailbox service are encouraged to research the options available from the folks at US Global Mail.
US Global Mail has been the leader in virtual mailboxes since 1999. Since then they have built a legendary reputation in the virtual mailbox world, offering some of the most useful services in the industry at fair price points and with sterling silver customer service and support across the board.
Another huge advantage of using US Global Mail as your virtual mailbox service is that they continue to improve and innovate their services on a regular basis.
This is not a virtual mailbox service that likes to sit on its laurels or the content with its success. Instead, US Global Mail continues to improve upon its services (with new mail scanning, mail forwarding, and even check depositing services available to all clients) to make this more modern approach to mailboxes more effective and efficient.
If you would like to learn a little bit more about US Global Mail services, visit their homepage today. You can also reach out to their customer service department directly and have your specific questions answered ASAP through the live support chatline they make available.
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