Where Is Mail Scanned for Informed Delivery?

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March 24, 2024

From its Enhanced Package Processing System (EPPS), capable of sorting over 25,000 parcels an hour, to the largest robotic fleet worldwide, which moves an excess of 300,000 mail trays daily, the United States Postal Service has continued to innovate since its creation over a century ago.

This visionary approach has helped the U.S. Postal Service, USPS for short, provide mail and package delivery services that have and continue to meet the ever-changing needs of American mailers.

And if you frequently rely on USPS, you’ve likely heard of one of its most ingenious offerings— Informed Delivery. It’s a service that lets you gain insight into incoming mail by giving you a sneak preview, a snapshot, of what you can expect to arrive at your doorstep.

That said, have you ever wondered how it works? This article breaks down the intricate web of the USPS Informed Delivery service, the technology that makes it possible, and where your mail is scanned for previews.

Are you interested in knowing what other innovations the U.S. Postal Service has in store and how they can help with your mailing needs? Visit your local post office, which you can find using FindPostOffice.org’s USPS facility finder.

Informed Delivery – The Basics

Before we explore the specifics of the scanning process, let’s first understand what USPS Informed Delivery is and how it works.

What Is the United States Postal Service (USPS) Informed Delivery?

USPS Informed Delivery is a remarkable opt-in service that gives you a sneak peek into your mailbox from your computer or mobile device by providing scanned images of your incoming mail and packages.

The U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery feature also lets you track your mailpieces’ journey throughout the USPS mail network and manage them by allowing you to leave special delivery instructions, including sending them to a different address.

History of the United States Postal Service Informed Delivery

As mentioned, the U.S. Postal Service has had many great ideas that helped it become one of America’s major mail carriers. But the Informed Delivery service may have been inspired by someone else.

In 2014, the legendary stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld jokingly requested USPS to open his mail and tell him its contents. Seemingly, in response, the Postal Service launched Informed Delivery shortly after.

Track Your Mail With Informed Delivery

Informed Delivery seamlessly integrates with USPS Tracking, allowing you to receive notifications regarding your mail’s journey from when it’s sent to its arrival at the final destination.

It’s an excellent tool for staying informed about the status and whereabouts of your shipments, especially considering that Informed Delivery can also provide tracking information for Certified Mail and Registered Mail.

The Image

When you sign up for Informed Delivery, you’ll receive grayscale images for up to 10 incoming letter-sized mail items in your email. You can see the preview for subsequent shipments in your Informed Delivery dashboard at InformedDelivery.USPS.com.

Fortunately, USPS also provides package previews and allows participating mailers to add colored pictures to replace the black-and-white photos, giving you a more precise look at what’s heading to your mailbox.

Do understand, however, that the Postal Service won’t open your parcels and take pictures of the inside, despite Seinfeld’s request. Instead, the digital previews will only be of the mailpieces’ exterior, focusing on the address side.

The Informed Delivery Tool

To get the benefits of Informed Delivery, you only need to sign up on the USPS website at USPS.com. This simple signup process gives you access to your Informed Delivery dashboard and all the features that come with it.

Mailer/Mail Service Provider Participation

USPS Informed Delivery isn’t exclusively for individuals looking to see digital images of their incoming packages. Businesses can also benefit from this service by allowing them to launch marketing campaigns.

However, this feature has stringent guidelines, requiring automation-compatible mailpieces with valid Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMbs).

Automation-compatible mail items are those that USPS’ automated sorting machines can handle. Conversely, IMbs are 65-bar identifiers that qualify parcels for automation prices.

Talk to a Postal Service representative for additional information on using Informed Delivery to increase your business’ reach. Visit FindPostOffice.org to find your area’s most convenient USPS facilities quickly.

Who Can Use Informed Delivery?

The Informed Delivery service launched to a select few ZIP codes. Since then, the program has grown to accommodate residential, business, and P.O. box addresses in most areas, resulting in over 52 million Informed Delivery users.

In other words, almost every American with a uniquely coded mailbox assigned by USPS can use Informed Delivery. To determine your eligibility, visit InformedDelivery.USPS.com or contact a Postal Service representative.

What Is Informed Visibility?

Informed Visibility and Informed Delivery are two distinct U.S. Postal Service initiatives. The latter’s primary function is to provide mailers with scanned images of incoming mailpieces. However, the former aims to help shippers track their marketing materials in near real time.

What Data Does Informed Visibility Provide?

Informed Visibility provides data about your mail’s movement, from when it moves from a USPS sorting facility to a delivery truck to when it arrives at the intended recipient’s address.

This Postal Service feature also gives you data on delivery progress, such as whether your marketing mail items are “being sorted,” “en route,” or “delivered,” the destination ZIP code, and the campaign name.

How Does Informed Visibility Impact Communication?

By providing near real-time delivery information, Informed Visibility offers a clear picture of direct mail touchpoints or the stages your mail has reached.

If you’re a marketer or a business looking to advertise your products or services, Informed Visibility can help streamline marketing communication and allow you to participate in and enhance multichannel campaigns.

Multichannel campaigns are marketing efforts utilizing various mediums to reach customers simultaneously, such as mailing coupons and emailing supplementing material when the advertisement arrives. 

Is the Informed Delivery Service Useful?

Whether you’re planning an extended vacation or want to determine what incoming packages are heading your way while you’re at work, Informed Delivery can make your postal experience more convenient and efficient.

While previews are one of Informed Delivery’s most noteworthy upsides, it’s not just about letting you keep an eye on arriving mail— it’s about giving you control of your deliveries.

Is USPS Informed Delivery Safe?

You must be in an eligible ZIP code area to reap the benefits of the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery feature. Although the signup process includes identity verification, there isn’t one for the address.

In other words, you don’t have to prove you live at the address you applied with, which wrongdoers can exploit. Unfortunately, this lack of address validation has caused many to question the USPS service’s security.

How Safe Is Informed Delivery?

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about thieves monitoring your incoming shipments and waiting for high-value mail to steal. As cited, the digital previews provided by the Informed Delivery service only show the outside of the mailpiece, not what’s in it.

USPS Security Measure

The U.S. Postal Service has made significant strides toward reliability. Recently, it boasts three-day delivery for 98% of Americans. Therefore, it’s safe to say that USPS takes security seriously.

Apart from the identity verification process, USPS employs other safety measures, including requiring Informed Delivery applicants to provide information on their previous addresses and contact numbers and to answer a multiple-choice questionnaire.

How Does Informed Delivery Work?

Now that we have a solid understanding of the basics, let’s dive into how Informed Delivery operates and how you can benefit from it.

Informed Visibility and the Flow of Information

As mentioned, Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility are different USPS offerings. However, aside from the preview images, they work functionally the same.

When You Send the Mail

When the U.S. Postal Service receives and processes your shipment, its information enters the tracking system. At this stage, you can access the mailpiece’s tracking information, including its status and whereabouts.

You’ll then receive notifications via the Informed Delivery or Informed Visibility online dashboard as your package progresses through various stages of the USPS delivery cycle.

When the Mailer Reaches Its Destination

USPS will conduct a final scan once your mailpiece reaches its destination facility. This last scan is proof of delivery until the mailpiece arrives at the delivery address, at which point the Postal Service will update the parcel’s tracking information again as “Delivered.”

Near Real-time Delivery Information

Whether for individuals or businesses, Informed Delivery provides near real-time delivery information. It’s like riding along your package as it travels throughout the Postal Service’s mailing network.

What Time Does the Informed Delivery Update?

When USPS’ automated equipment scans your mail, it will update that parcel’s status and information. These changes should be available in the system and your dashboard after a few hours.

That said, the U.S. Postal Service will only send you Informed Delivery notifications once daily via the Daily Digest email and text message. For up-to-the-minute updates on your mailpieces, use the Informed Delivery dashboard.

How to Access the Scanned Mailer Images

You have several options to access your mail’s scanned images conveniently. The most common is through email notifications. To receive these updates, ensure you click on the “Turn on my Informed Delivery email notifications” option in your Informed Delivery account. 

However, you can also view the image previews on the online dashboard by visiting InformedDelivery.USPS.com or downloading the USPS mobile app.

Is USPS Informed Delivery Available for Businesses?

The Informed Delivery service previously only catered to residential and P.O. box addresses. However, business owners can also benefit from it today, offering a way to stay informed about their incoming mail, manage deliveries efficiently, and elevate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

USPS Informed Delivery Doesn’t Filter Out Junk Mail

While the Informed Delivery service offers various benefits, it has its fair share of downsides. One of the most glaring is that it doesn’t filter out junk mail.

In other words, you’ll receive previews of all your incoming mailpieces, including catalogs, advertisements, and promotional material, which can clutter your dashboard.

USPS Email Notifications Aren’t Always Accurate

The U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery tool provides near real-time updates. The keyword here is “near.” Occasionally, up-to-date tracking information on your mailpieces can take up to 48 hours to reflect.

USPS Informed Delivery Only Supports USPS

Being a USPS offering, Informed Delivery is designed to work exclusively with USPS mail and packages. In short, it won’t provide information on deliveries from other carriers, such as FedEx (Federal Express), UPS (United Parcel Service), and DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn).

Benefits of Informed Delivery From a Marketing Perspective: Why Use Informed Delivery?

One of the most significant benefits of Informed Delivery for businesses is its ability to enhance marketing initiatives. So, if you’re running a business, such as an eCommerce site, here’s how you can leverage the USPS feature to your advantage:

Monitor Direct Mail Campaigns With Informed Delivery

Informed Delivery provides access to a user base that tends to be more engaged, resulting in higher-than-average email open rates. You can further boost the impact of your marketing communication by mailing physical marketing materials, which you can track using the dashboard.

Leverage the Data Provided by Informed Delivery

Informed Delivery equips you with valuable data insights that allow you to measure your advertising efforts’ performance accurately. Analyzing these insights lets you fine-tune your strategies and allocate resources more effectively, maximizing your marketing spend.

Coordinate Your Postal and Digital Campaigns

With Informed Delivery, you can generate multiple impressions from a single piece of mail. By providing a preview of your mail to recipients, you create an additional touchpoint reinforcing your message and brand.

What Are the Information You Can’t Access Using Informed Delivery?

Although Informed Delivery provides valuable insights, there are some limitations to what it can reveal. One of these is the mailpiece’s contents. The U.S. Postal Service won’t open your packages and read your letters. Instead, it only shows the exterior of the incoming item.

How Much Does Informed Delivery by USPS Cost?

With all the advantages of utilizing Informed Delivery, it makes sense to question how much the service costs and whether it’ll be efficient to shoulder that expense. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that, as USPS Informed Delivery is a free service.

How Is Informed Delivery Scanned?

In 2022, the United States Postal Service had around 516,760 employees. However, it’s actually automated equipment that handles the majority of the scanning, sorting, and imaging crucial in making Informed Delivery possible.

Does All Mail Get Scanned for Informed Delivery?

According to USPS, letter-sized mailpieces are scanned for Informed Delivery. In other words, parcels that are at least 3 ½” by 5” in height and length and 0.007” thick and under 6 ⅛” high, 11 ½” long, and ¼” thick are eligible for Informed Delivery.

In other words, not every piece of mail will go through the scanning and imaging process. However, the Postal Service allows Informed Delivery users to provide images for packages that aren’t automatically scanned.

What Time Does Mail Get Scanned for Informed Delivery?

Automated equipment typically scans mail when it reaches a USPS sorting facility. While there’s no specific time this process occurs, it is usually done at the beginning of the sorting and delivery stage.

Does USPS Scan Mail at the Local Post Office?

The scanning process primarily happens at USPS facilities with mail sorting equipment rather than local post offices. These facilities are equipped with the necessary technology for efficient scanning and processing.

How Long Does It Take for Informed Delivery to Update?

Once your Informed Delivery account is activated, which can take three to seven business days, you’ll begin receiving updates on incoming packages. You’ll get these notifications once daily, typically before 9 AM local time.

Apart from these daily updates, you can view mail delivery status using the Informed Delivery dashboard within a few hours of the item passing through the several stages of the USPS delivery cycle.

How Do I Get Package Updates?

As cited, the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t scan packages with its automated equipment. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t receive updates on them.

The Informed Delivery service lets you manually add mailpiece tracking numbers to your monitoring list, allowing you to stay informed about its whereabouts and status.

Will I See All My Mail on the Informed Delivery Dashboard?

While USPS doesn’t limit the number of inbound mail and packages you can track, you won’t see all of them- at least not simultaneously.

The Informed Delivery dashboard only provides digital previews for seven days. Conversely, information on packages you manually added is only available for 15 days after delivery. 

How to Get Informed Delivery Notifications for Your Mail

Once you’ve signed up for Informed Delivery, you should receive daily email and text notifications. To ensure you get these updates, check your email’s junk settings, enable your Informed Delivery account’s notifications, and verify you provided the correct phone number.

Informed Delivery in Action

Do you still need more proof of the effectiveness of Informed Delivery? Here’s Informed Delivery in action, backed by impressive statistics:

  • High open rate: 67.4% of Informed Delivery notifications are opened on any given day. This impressive stat reflects users’ genuine interest and engagement in previewing their incoming mail and packages.
  • Very satisfied users: Informed Delivery has garnered significant user satisfaction. An impressive 89% of consumers report being satisfied or very satisfied with their Informed Delivery experience.
  • Highly recommended: The enthusiasm for Informed Delivery extends beyond personal satisfaction. An overwhelming 91% of consumers are willing to recommend Informed Delivery to friends, family, or colleagues.

How to Sign Up for Informed Delivery

Signing up for the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Head to InformedDelivery.USPS.com and click “Sign up for Free.”
  • Check your address eligibility.
  • Sign in or create a USPS.com account.
  • Verify your identity by completing a one-time numeric passcode confirmation.
  • Wait for your Informed Delivery account’s activation.

You can visit the 18,000 USPS facilities offering in-person proofing services if you can’t complete the online identity verification process. Use FindPostOffice.org’s post office locator tool to find your area’s identity-proofing facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why haven’t I received mail images and notifications from Informed Delivery?

The short answer is that your Informed Delivery account hasn’t been activated. Generally, it takes three to seven business days for the activation to occur, and you’ll begin receiving notifications.

Otherwise, either the Informed Delivery notifications were considered spam, you didn’t provide the correct contact number, or you haven’t opted in to receive notifications.

2. I’m receiving Informed Delivery emails, but I can’t log into my dashboard. What could be happening?

If you’re receiving Informed Delivery notifications but can’t access the online dashboard, two things may have happened: one, you signed up with an active change of address (COA) request. Two, a USPS employee created your account using a mobile enrollment app.

Either way, you can create a new account, which is free. You must provide a unique username and password when signing up for the Informed Delivery service. If successful, you’ll receive a one-time link to activate the account, allowing you to access the dashboard.

3. When are informed delivery emails sent?

USPS sends email updates daily, before 9:00 AM local time, from Monday through Saturday, except federal holidays and days when you don’t have incoming mail.

4. Why do I receive notifications for another person’s mail or packages?

As mentioned, the eligibility requirements for Informed Delivery revolve around the address. If the previous resident or a housemate applied for the service, you may receive updates on their mailpieces. Unfortunately, USPS doesn’t have a method to separate notifications per user.

5. My mailpiece was scanned but not delivered. What went wrong?

Occasional errors can occur. Sometimes, your USPS Informed Delivery dashboard may provide a mail preview despite delivery not taking place. If you encounter this situation, it’s best to wait.

Conversely, you can visit your local post office to inquire about the package’s delivery status. Fortunately, you can quickly find your area’s most convenient USPS facilities by visiting FindPostOffice.org.

6. Are P.O. box customers eligible for Informed Delivery?

P.O. box customers can apply for USPS Informed Delivery and receive digital previews of their incoming mail and packages. However, the P.O. box itself must be in an eligible ZIP code.

7. Is USPS Informed Delivery available everywhere?

Informed Delivery is available in many locations, but not all. You can check your eligibility by visiting InformedDelivery.USPS.com.

8. Can you track USPS Certified Mail?

You can track USPS Certified Mail through Informed Delivery. You can also leave USPS Delivery Instructions, manage email and text notifications, and schedule redelivery for this mail class.

9. How does USPS benefit from offering Informed Delivery?

With Informed Delivery being a free service, you may wonder what the Postal Service gets from it. One of the primary reasons is that it empowers customers to manage their mail, achieving the USPS goal of providing reliable mail delivery services to all Americans.

10. Why isn’t my address eligible for Informed Delivery?

Most ZIP codes are eligible for Informed Delivery. However, if your mailbox isn’t uniquely coded, you won’t be qualified for Informed Delivery even if your residential, business, or P.O. box is.

11. How do you talk to someone from USPS customer service?

To speak to a USPS customer service representative, call the USPS customer service phone number at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or visit your local post office. Head to FindPostOffice.org to find your area’s USPS facilities.

12. Is there a USPS Informed Delivery app?

Previously, there was. Unfortunately, USPS discontinued its standalone Informed Delivery mobile app. To access your Informed Delivery dashboard using your mobile device, download the USPS app available on the Google Play and Apple App Store.

13. Why aren’t my packages showing up on Informed Delivery?

The Informed Delivery service relies on automated imaging and sorting. If your mailpieces didn’t go through this process, you won’t receive notifications for them.

14. Do I have to have emails/texts?

While an email address and phone number are required to create an Informed Delivery account, you can opt out of receiving notifications on them in your account’s settings.

15. How do you enhance your Informed Delivery using direct mail automation?

While Informed Delivery doesn’t expedite shipping, you can use an automation process to streamline mail delivery. For instance, you can use the Click-N-Ship service to print USPS-approved shipping labels, which helps avoid snags in the scanning and sorting stage. 


USPS offers Click-N-Ship so you can print pre-paid shipping labels for particular mail classes.

16. Why is my mail taking so long to be delivered?

There could be various reasons for delayed mail delivery, including high mail volume, weather conditions, or other logistical issues. Fortunately, you can check your Informed Delivery dashboard to determine the cause of your shipment’s delay.

Alternatively, talk to a Postal Service representative. Visit FindPostOffice.org and use the post office locator tool to find your area’s nearest and most convenient USPS facilities.

17. How long will mail images remain visible?

Preview images for your mailpieces remain available on the Informed Delivery dashboard for seven days. On the other hand, package tracking information stays for 15 days after delivery.

References

  1. INNOVATION IN THE MAIL
    https://facts.usps.com/innovation/
  2. POSTAL FACTS
    https://facts.usps.com/
  3. Informed Delivery by USPS
    https://www.usps.com/manage/informed-delivery.htm
  4. Informed Delivery® – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Informed-Delivery-The-Basics
  5. USPS Delivery Instructions™ – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Delivery-Instructions-The-Basics
  6. Informed Delivery by USPS [Ultimate Guide]
    https://www.postscanmail.com/blog/informed-delivery-by-usps
  7. Postal Service offering high-tech way to preview your mail
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/usps-mail-preview-service-informed-delivery/
  8. USPS INFORMED DELIVERY EXPLAINED
    https://www.jet-mail.com/blog/usps-informed-delivery-explained-for-marketers
  9. Intelligent Mail® Barcode
    https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/intelligent-mail-barcode
  10. Track Your Direct Mail with Informed Visibility
    https://www.uspsdelivers.com/track-your-direct-mail-with-informed-visibility/
  11. How to Sign Up for Informed Delivery®
    https://www.usps.com/c360/images/10.3.19_ID-Sign-Up_Guide.pdf
  12. What Is USPS Informed Delivery, And How Can It Benefit Your Direct Mail Marketing?
    https://www.postgrid.com/mail-scanned-for-informed-delivery/
  13. USPS Improving Service Reliability, Financial Sustainability in First Two Years of Delivering for America Plan
    https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2023/
  14. How does USPS informed delivery work?
    https://www.earthclassmail.com/blog/how-does-usps-informed-delivery-work
  15. USPS Tracking
    https://getcircuit.com/package-tracker/usps
  16. Informed Delivery for Business Mailers & Shippers
    https://www.usps.com/business/informed-delivery.htm
  17. Where is Mail Scanned for Informed Delivery?
    https://www.postalytics.com/blog/where-is-mail-scanned
  18. Number of Postal Employees Since 1926
    https://about.usps.com/who/profile/history/employees-since-1926.htm
  19. Sizes for Letters
    https://pe.usps.com/businessmail101
  20. What Time Does Informed Delivery Update
    https://www.usglobalmail.com/blog/what-time-does-informed-delivery-update/
  21. USPS® In-Person Identity Proofing
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-In-Person-Identity-Proofing

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