How Long Does Certified Mail Take?


May 30, 2023

In 2021, over 35 million Americans reported they were victims of package theft by porch pirates, and an estimated value of more than $5 billion was lost. To avoid this misfortune, you can use the USPS Certified Mail service for assurance and security.

Have you tried using USPS Certified Mail to deliver time-sensitive documents or other essential items? Do you want security and peace of mind when sending important packages that require proof of mailing? 

USPS Certified Mail is a unique USPS service that gives the sender proof of mailing and delivery via a receipt. Yet, only a few people know exactly how long it takes to deliver a package using Certified Mail. 

Is USPS Certified Mail a faster service than regular mail? What items can you send using certified mail, and how much does it cost?

This article provides a comprehensive guide for using USPS Certified Mail. It will show Certified Mail’s benefits and how it differs from regular mailing services. Delivery time frames and costs will also be discussed.

Do you need to find the location of different United States Post Office centers in the country where you send your Certified Mail? Visit, an online search tool that pinpoints the location of all 31,330 post offices in the U.S.

How Long Does It Take USPS to Deliver a Certified Letter?

A USPS Certified Mail letter with First Class mail delivery may take 3 to 10 business days to reach its destination.

An option you can take is to speed up the delivery by upgrading it to Priority Delivery which shortens the delivery time to only 1 to 3 days. 

The USPS Certified Mail service is not intended or designed to be the fastest mail delivery service the company provides. However, it provides proof that you are the mailer and that the item was delivered in a specific method to meet the regulatory requirements the sender needs. 

With USPS Certified Mail, mailers get “proof of mailing and “proof of delivery” via a receipt given to the sender. 

Delivery Timeframes

Actual delivery times for Certified Mail can vary. The U.S. Postal Service says that the minimum time for a letter carrier to deliver is three business days. However, in many cases, most letters get delivered within 5 to 6 days. Meanwhile, there were cases where it took up to 10 business days before the mail was delivered. 

If you are the recipient of certified mail, the local post office carrier will leave a note for you to pick up your letter at the local USPS branch. Note that the post office can keep the letter for up to 20 days before it is returned to the sender if you fail to pick it up within that period. 

Keep in mind the delivery time frames the USPS website provides to know if your package was delayed or has been delivered already. 

Guide to USPS Certified Mail

USPS Certified Mail is a great way to send mail or packages that require proof of delivery. Certified Mail is different from other mail services today, especially the no-signature delivery popular in eCommerce. 

USPS Certified Mail is the best option if you want proper documentation of everything you sent and has been delivered through a courier service. 

The Certified Mail fee may be higher compared to regular mail services in Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and other states. Still, it is worth the cost because of the benefits you get from this USPS mail service. 

What Is USPS Certified Mail?

The Certified Mail that the United States Postal Service provides is a mail service that requires a delivery signature. Unlike other packages, certified mail can not be left in a mailbox or on someone’s porch or doorstep. 

With Certified Mail, someone should sign the receipt when receiving the mail you sent. You can also keep track of the delivery status of your mail piece through its tracking system. The service also provides return receipts, which are sent back to you through email. 

This add-on service allows you to have proof of delivery. This proof is crucial when you are sending time-sensitive documents like legal documents that require proof that it was delivered and received at a specific time and date. 

Which Carriers Have Certified Delivery Options?

UPS and FedEx provide delivery confirmations and signature requirements. UPS offers a delivery confirmation service that gives you a delivery receipt close to the one USPS provides. 

However, for legal reasons or official documentation, USPS is the best option. USPS is the only company where you can get an official Certified Mail service. There are courts and government agencies that only accept Certified Mail as valid proof of delivery. 

How Much Does USPS Certified Mail Cost?

As of June 2022, the USPS Certified Mail costs $3.75. The cost does not include the added cost of the postage required to mail your letter. 

Do you want the return receipt add-on? That would mean an additional $3.05 if you want a mail receipt delivered to you. An electronic receipt will only cost you $1.85.

How to Send Certified Mail

You need to visit the local post office in person when you want to send a letter using the USPS Certified Mail service. You must get Form 3800 and attach this document to your mail when you proceed to the post office or mailing center. 

You can print certified mail labels at home, but if you want proof of mailing, you must present it at the post office counter. The postal worker stamps your mailing receipt as proof that you have mailed the letter. 

How to Track Certified Mail

Tracking Certified Mail is the same as tracking other packages sent through the USPS delivery service. After you send your mail, you will get a tracking number linked to your delivery. 

With mail tracking number, you can visit the USPS website, where you need to enter the tracking number. You can now check your mail as it goes through the entire delivery process. 

Why Has My Certified Letter Not Been Delivered?

The postal service will include your letter in the tracking system when accepted. You can give it extra time as this is a complex process involving many people. It may take 10 days for your mail to be delivered. 

Your mail will be delivered to the local post office if the intended recipient is unavailable or not at home. The post office is not obligated to ensure your mail is received, but they must make or attempt a delivery. 

Suppose the final delivery attempt resulted in no one accepting your mail. In that case, the post office will place a sticker letting the recipient know they have an unclaimed letter at the local post office.  

What if the Post Office Can Not Deliver My Certified Letter?

After providing notice to the recipient about an unclaimed certified letter, it is held up in the post office for 15 days, waiting for the intended recipient to claim the letter or schedule a redelivery. The letter is returned to the sender if no one comes to pick up the unclaimed letter. 

Does Certified Mail Take Longer Than Regular Mail?

Certified Mail is considered a more secure and reliable way to mail essential documents than regular mail. There are added processes in delivering certified letters, contributing to slightly longer shipping time. 

The extra delivery time for certified letters depends on many factors, including distance, the USPS mail carrier fleet in your area, and the environmental factors that may happen during the process. 

It is best to give leeway for the process to go through its course. It is also best to avoid delays when sending important, time-sensitive documents through this mail service. 

Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail: Which Is Better?

Even with the highly convenient email services internet tech giants provide, many still use the services of USPS to send documents over vast distances both in the U.S. and abroad. 

There are two popular mail services that USPS provides when sending regular letters: Registered Mail and Certified Mail. Which is better?

The following discussion shows the difference between Registered Mail and Certified Mail that the USPS provides. Knowing these can determine what service is well-suited for your needs. 

Registered Mail

Registered Mail has been the original, fast, and safe USPS mail service option. Mailers would prefer Registered Mail to send their irreplaceable or valuable items securely. The cost for this mail service depends on the package’s weight. 

This mail service provides up to $50,000 insurance against damage or loss. 

You can choose Registered Mail when you send your letters through other USPS services like:

  • First-Class Mail
  • Priority Mail

Registered Mail also has a return receipt service delivered to you after mailing. Also, you are notified electronically when a delivery is completed or attempted. You can also specify that only the addressee can receive the mail. 

During delivery, your mail is kept in a secured container, accessed through electronic and physical signatures at every USPS facility. This security feature allows a custody record, making USPS tracking easy and accurate. 

When not in transit, registered letters are kept safe in a sealed area, separated from other mail in the post office. 

Certified Mail

In 1955, the USPS added Certified Mail to the Registered Mail system. USPS introduced it for people who need a secure delivery service for less valuable or essential mail than those with Registered Mail. 

The Certified Mail service gradually became the transport medium for tax returns, legal documents, and notices. The stark difference between Registered Mail and Certified Mail is that the latter is not kept in a secured, locked container when delivered. 

Still, both types of mail services have tracking, return receipts, and proof of delivery service crucial for legal documents. It is up to you what kind of USPS service you will get to deliver your documents and other valuable things through the existing postal service in the country. 

Use Registered Mail and Certified Mail for Valuables

You can use both mail services to deliver your valuables securely. You can combine the benefits of both mail services to make an ultimate delivery package for any important document or valuable item you want to be delivered anywhere. 

Registered Mail allows your mail pieces to be insured for up to $50,000. Certified Mail will give you the proof that you have sent it and that it has been delivered and received. Registered Mail provides lock-and-key protection during deliveries, which Certified Mail does not provide.   

Certified Mail Q&A

  1. Who do I call if I have questions about my USPS letter delivery?

You can get in touch with USPS through their helpline at 800-275-8777 or visit their website at You can also visit for information about your local post offices, like contact number and address. 

  1. Do I need a signature showing who signed for the certified mail letter?

Showing the recipient’s signature for a Certified Mail letter is optional. You can confirm this with the regulations in your local jurisdiction. in many cases, proof that you have mailed the letter and that it was delivered is enough. Some states require return receipts, which can be done through the USPS website’s electronic verification system. 

  1. What will happen if USPS cannot give me proof of letter delivery?

In cases where the USPS cannot provide proof of letter delivery, there is a process that you can use provided that the letter has yet to be delivered after 30 days. If this is the case, you should request a refund. 

The main benefit of filing a refund is not to compensate for the loss but for the system to investigate what occurred. 

This process will reveal the reason for the failed delivery and provide solutions that will help prevent it from happening again.