What is a Certificate of Mailing, How Much Does it Cost, and Should I Use One?
There are a few different ways to prove that you have mailed a letter or package, with one of the most prominent being the certificate of mailing. Read on for a detailed breakdown of what a certificate of mailing is, when you might need one, and whether it’s relevant for online stores.
What is a certificate of mailing?
A certificate of mailing is a receipt that documents the date a package was received by the postal service for mailing. With a certificate of mailing, you have documented evidence that you sent your mail on that date if the package is lost or stolen.
Which USPS services offer a certificate of mailing?
USPS offers a certificate of mailing when you send mail with any of the following services:
- Priority mail
- First-class mail
- Package services
- First-class mail international
- Priority mail international (only if uninsured)
- Parcel select
- Media mail
- Special handling
How much does a certificate of mailing cost?
In 2019, a certificate of mailing costs a flat fee of $1.45.
How to get a USPS certificate of mailing
You can only purchase a certificate of mailing from USPS at the time of mailing. When you send mail from a USPS office, request a certificate of mailing from a representative, and it will be given to you once you hand over your mail.
When should you use proof of mailing? 4 common situations
There is always the possibility that your mail gets lost, destroyed, shipped to the wrong address, or some other problem. In that case, if the mail is important or timely, a certificate of mailing can be a lifesaver. Here are a few situations that may require a certificate of mailing.
1. Tax forms
Your tax forms need to be submitted by a certain date, and if the IRS does not receive them by that date then you may be penalized. With a certificate of mailing, you will have proof of the date that you shipped your tax forms if something goes wrong so you can avoid penalties.
2. Government forms/payments/etc.
You may owe the government money or have to submit a government form by mail. If the mail is lost and the government doesn’t receive the documents, then a certificate of mail will demonstrate that you did your part and shipped them in.
Get a certificate of mailing when you mail a check, so there is evidence that you shipped the check if it is never received.
4. Timely documents
A certificate of mailing can also be valuable if you need to send mail by a certain date. Sometimes mail gets delayed, and with a certificate of mailing, you can show that you shipped it in time.
Certificate of mailing vs. certified mail
Certificates of mail are sometimes confused with certified mail. The main difference between a certificate of mailing and certified mail is that with certified mail, you receive confirmation that the package was received as well.
Certified mail provides the sender with a mailing receipt that the mail was shipped, and gives the sender notice that the mail was delivered or a delivery attempt was made.
What is the difference?
A certificate of mailing only proves that mail was shipped on a certain date, but it does not prove or confirm that the mail was delivered. Certified mail provides proof that the mail was shipped AND delivered.
Do ecommerce businesses ever use certificates of mailing?
Ecommerce businesses may use certificates of mailing for administrative purposes, such as submitting government or tax forms by mail. Certified mail is more commonly used to fulfill customer orders, since ecommerce businesses typically require proof of delivery as well as a proof of mailing. If a package is particularly valuable (e.g., worth hundreds of dollars), the ecommerce business may choose to purchase shipping insurance.
Now that you know what a certificate of mailing is, you can make sure to purchase one when it may prove useful. Certificates of mailing are cheap and easy to get. While nobody expects their mail to get lost, it does happen, and with a little bit of preparation you can avoid the more serious consequences of losing important mail.