Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail

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May 24, 2023

Are you planning to send items through USPS but need to use Registered Mail or Certified Mail? You may have heard of these two mail services but are still trying to figure out how they work. If this is your case, then this article is for you. 

What’s the difference between Registered Mail and Certified Mail? What are the benefits of each service, and which is better, cheaper, and delivers faster?

This article can help you understand how Registered Mail differs from Certified Mail. We can help you compare both services by outlining their benefits, so you can decide which is better for your needs. 

This article also includes information about each service’s cost and delivery timeframe to help you choose between the two services.

The United States Postal Service both provide Registered Mail and Certified Mail. People can use these mail services when sending their mailpieces anywhere New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, and other cities in the United States. 

Do you need to find the location of different post offices in the country where you can send your mail and packages? FindPostOffice.org can help.

FindPostOffice.org is an online search tool that pinpoints the location of all 31,330 post offices in the United States. Find the local post office nearest to you using our website.

You can also ask your local post office about its Registered Mail and Certified Mail services to know which one you prefer and need.

Certified Mail Basics: What Is Certified Mail?

Certified Mail provides the sender with a mailing receipt and an electronic verification or return receipt as proof of delivery.

USPS Certified Mail has three services, each with a specific purpose. 

  • Certified Mail Restricted Delivery: Only the addressee or an authorized agent can receive Restricted Delivery mail. This mail service is ideal when you’re sending confidential or sensitive mail. 
  • Certified Mail Adult Signature Required: Only a person 21 years or older can receive mail with an adult recipient’s signature requirement. 
  • Certified Mail Adult Signature Restricted Delivery: This is a combination of the first two services. Only the addressee or an authorized agent 21 years old and above can receive this mail. 

Note that Certified Mail is only available with USPS Priority Mail, First Class Mail, and First-Class Package service. 

Registered Mail Basics: What Is Registered Mail?

Registered Mail is a USPS service that’s similar to Certified Mail but with added security for sensitive documents and items with value. The added security helps ensure that your items get delivered safely and securely. 

Similar to Certified Mail, Registered Mail is available with USPS Priority Mail, First Class Mail, and First-Class Package service.

What Is Registered Mail Used for? Why Do People Use It?

USPS Registered Mail provides delivery options like locked safes, sealed containers, locked cages, and chain of custody tracking that you can verify. This mail service tracks custody by requiring digital and physical signatures.

Insurance is available only for items with value. The Registered Mail fee includes insurance coverage of up to a maximum liability of $25,000 based on the mailed item’s value. 

To better understand the difference between Registered Mail and Certified Mail, here is a comparison of the two services.

Benefits of Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail

The U.S. Postal Service made these mail services for two different purposes. You can learn the difference between both mail services by knowing the benefits you can get from them. 

Proof of Mailing

Registered Mail and Certified Mail provide proof of mailing services that can help customers or recipients needing this certification. 

Registered Mail and Certified Mail are more secure than regular mail, where you don’t have proof that you have mailed a package. 

In many cases, proof of mailing can help protect business owners against complaints filed by customers who claim they didn’t receive the ordered items from a store. 

Tracking and Delivery

There are two primary benefits with these delivery options. The first benefit is you have the ability to track packages throughout the shipping process. The second benefit is you have the assurance that the intended recipient receives the package.

Location Tracking

Tracking helps you monitor the status of your package during the entire delivery process. Seeing where your package is at any point in the delivery can put your mind at ease. You can also use the tracking information to communicate with your recipient to let them know that they should expect a package. 

However, Registered Mail can’t be tracked through the mail stream. You can only get your mail item’s status by requesting point-of-delivery confirmations. 

Meanwhile, Certified Mail provides tracking numbers to monitor your package throughout the delivery process. Other services have tracking, but it is cheaper with Certified Mail than as an add-on to other shipping services. 

Proof of Delivery

Proof of delivery or return receipt service confirms that USPS delivered the package. You can request to have this proof of receipt sent to you via electronic or postcard form. You’ll get a copy of the recipient’s signature, proof of billing, delivery attempt. 

Proof of delivery also helps you track the progress of your deliveries, especially if you’re an eCommerce business and rely heavily on speedy shipping services. In addition, proof of delivery is crucial when sending sensitive documents like legal papers.

You can have proof of delivery in other shipping services, but it’s an add-on that costs more than Registered and Certified Mail. 

Prioritized Delivery

Here, you will see the stark difference between Registered Mail and Certified Mail. Delivery speed is crucial for eCommerce owners, and Certified Mail is the faster service of the two. 

Certified Mail has a similar delivery speed as First-Class Mail or Priority Mail. Your recipient can get their packages in two to five days. Also, you’ll get your mail sooner when you mail your package through Priority Mail with Certified Mail as an add-on.

Meanwhile, Registered Mail has a slower delivery time because of the added security this mail service provides. Still, this service is an excellent option if you need a secure way to deliver valuable items that are not time-sensitive. 

Recordkeeping

Another added benefit of using Certified Mail is its recordkeeping feature. USPS keeps records for this mail service for up to two years. You may need this recordkeeping aspect when problems arise in the future, or there are claims where you need proof of mailing and delivery in the last two years. 

You can also access this record on the USPS website.

Labels Available on Demand

With the ability to print labels created online, you don’t have to wait in line at your local post office. You can print labels in your home and send your package to your local post office for delivery. You can get more information about the labels you need by visiting the USPS website. 

Protection Against Loss or Theft

USPS handles millions of packages daily, which makes lost packages a genuine concern. Certified Mail keeps a record of everyone who handles this type of mail. 

With Certified Mail, business owners have better protection and security against claims from customers whose orders may have gotten lost during delivery. 

Certified Mail requires the recipient’s signature, which prevents your package from being left on your porch or mailbox, making it prone to theft. 

Delivery Times

Certified Mail requires two to five business days to deliver your package. It’ll be longer with failed delivery attempts. 

Registered Mail has no definite time frame for delivery, but 10 to 14 days is a reasonable estimate. Registered Mail emphasizes security, and because all processes are done manually, they’re slow. 

USPS Transit Times for Registered and Certified Mail

Certified Mail sent through Priority Mail has a quick mail delivery time. Usually, it takes 1 to 3 business days, significantly faster than other mailing services. 

Registered Mail service can usually take up to 14 days. The longer delivery time is due to the added security set in the delivery process. So, send valuable items as Registered Mail if you need a  secure way to ship sensitive packages without any time conditions. 

Handling of Valuable Items

USPS defines valuable items on its website. Here’s a broad summary of the different items regarded as valuable that can be sent via mail. 

  • Money (banknotes, currency notes, and coins)
  • Anything payable to the bearer (checks, drafts, and securities)
  • Precious metals (gold, silver, and platinum) 
  • Jewelry and precious stones
  • Traveler’s checks

Use of Registered and Certified Mail for Valuables

When you’re planning to send valuables and important documents that require added security, Registered Mail is a good option. Another advantage of sending registered mail is the insurance coverage of up to $50,000 against loss or damage. 

On the other hand, Certified Mail ensures that the addressee receives the package. If you want confirmation of receipt, sending Certified Mail is the way to go. You can also use USPS Tracking to check on the delivery progress of your package, a feature not provided with Registered Mail. 

Other Mailing Considerations

You need to consider other factors when you send your packages through USPS via these two mail services. One consideration is the difference in delivery speed between the two services

For example, you can expect the delivery to take a bit longer if you use insurance with Registered Mail. 

Also, note that Registered Mail can be purchased with Collect on Delivery, which is not available with Certified Mail. When you ask for Collect on Delivery, you won’t be given a guaranteed delivery date.

What’s the Difference Between Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail Service?

You’ll need to consider the following when choosing Registered Mail or Certified Mail. Carefully consider these factors to make the most out of these delivery services provided by the U.S. Postal Service. 

Code

When you ship an item through Certified Mail, you’ll get a 20- to 22-digit numeric code or your tracking number. You can input this on your USPS tracking portal and see the status of your package.

Meanwhile, tracking is not provided with Registered Mail, as the item you sent is en route to its recipient. Registered Mail services, domestic and international, cannot be tracked through the mail stream.

However, you will still be given delivery information providing delivery status or attempted delivery status once your sent package reaches its destination. 

Focus

Certified Mail focuses on providing the sender with proof of delivery and ensuring only the recipient or any authorized person receives the package. 

Registered Mail focuses on security, providing the sender with a safe delivery service for valuable items and sensitive documents. 

Mail Handling

Certified Mail handles items like ordinary mailpieces. They deliver these packages similarly to other packages.

Registered Mail places items in a secured container, a safe, or a cage while in transit. It focuses on the safety and security of your package throughout the delivery process. 

Suitability

Certified Mail is suitable for deliveries that require proof or receipt. You choose to send items or documents by Certified Mail if you require the recipient’s signature.

Registered Mail is suitable for deliveries of valuable items. A list of what USPS considers valuable items are also discussed in this article under “Handling of Valuable Items.

Security

Certified Mail security is similar to other mail services besides Registered Mail. 

Many USPS customers consider Registered Mail a secure way of sending packages through USPS. The mail service focuses on providing added security measures to ensure your package is safe throughout the delivery process. 

Insurance

Certified Mail does not include insurance. It only ensures that the recipient gets the delivery in person or through an authorized agent. 

Registered Mail offers insurance for packages with a declared value of up to $25,000. The downside to this is the lengthy delivery time, which is not an issue if you’re shipping packages without any time conditions. 

Delivery Timeframes

One concern in eCommerce and time-sensitive packages is delivery times. Certified Mail vastly differs from Registered Mail in terms of delivery times. 

Knowing the different delivery times will give you an idea of what service to use depending on what package type you need to ship. 

Service

Certified Mail provides proof of mailing, proof of delivery service, and a quick delivery time. 

Registered Mail provides a secure delivery method, insurance, proof of mailing, and return receipts. 

Cost of Registered and Certified Mail

Registered Mail, along with its extra services and insurance options, costs more than Certified Mail. So, if you want a delivery service that won’t hurt your budget, you can use Certified Mail. 

Cost Comparison

USPS announced the increase in price rates of postal services by January 22, 2023, making the cost of Certified Mail $4.15. Aside from this, you’ll pay for the required postage. 

If you want a return receipt, you’ll pay an additional $3.35 for a printed mail receipt or $2.10 for an electronic copy sent to you online. 

USPS Registered Mail costs depend on the declared value of your item, weight, and size. The base cost for this service ranges from $14 to $27.30. (price is based on declared values from $0 to $15,000,000)  

You can visit the USPS website for a complete list of costs per add-on service to Certified and Registered Mail. 

USPS: Less Expensive Than Private Shipping

You’ll find it more cost-efficient to deliver your mail through USPS than with other carrier companies. 

Suppose you’re a startup entrepreneur or someone starting in eCommerce. In that case, you can rely on USPS to provide safe, speedy, and secure deliveries to your clients at affordable prices. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does Registered Mail require a signature?

Yes, especially with the Restricted Delivery add-on. The recipient is required to sign a receipt confirming the acceptance of delivery. 

  1. How much does Certified Mail cost?

A Certified Mail costs $4.00, without postage and added services. Add-ons will increase the cost of sending items as Certified Mail. However, the January 2023 price increase for USPS mail services led to the current cost of Certified Mail at $4.15.  

  1. How do I send Certified Mail?

You can visit your local Post Office. Searching for one is easy with FindPostOffice.org. When you get to the Post Office counter, ask for PS Form 3800 and fill it out. Attach the form to your mail, together with the required mail labels. Then, have the Post Office stamp the form for proof of mailing.

  1. Can Certified Mail be delivered without a signature?

Certified Mail needs a signature from the recipient upon delivery. The delivery cannot be completed without a signature from the recipient.

In this case, USPS records the delivery attempt in its system, and you can schedule a redelivery online using a tracking number. You can also use the barcode on the back of your PS Form 3849. Scheduling redelivery with USPS is free.

  1. How much does it cost to send a letter through Registered Mail?

Registered Mail cost depends on the declared value of the item. It can range from $14.65 to $27.30 after the January 2023 price hike took effect. You can visit USPS.com for more information on mail service prices.