The Legal Difference Between Certified Mail & Registered Mail

By Taruna Chhabra
Certified Mail and Registered Mail are two types of extra mail services offered by the USPS.
mail image by Marvin Gerste from

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers various extra mailing services including certified mail and registered mail. While both types include a proof of mailing, registered Mail comes with maximum security and insurance options.


Certified mail and registered Mail allow online access to track the date, time and address of the delivery by inputting a unique tracking number, which is provided at the time of the mailing. At the time of the delivery, a signature is required from the recipient to ensure correct delivery.

Security and Insurance

Registered mail is used specifically for sending valuables or irreplaceable items. Items sent through registered mail are kept under tight security and can be insured for up to $25,000 for loss or damage. Certified mail cannot be insured.


As of July 2010 certified mail costs $2.80 plus the cost of postage. Charges for registered mail begins at $10.60 and increases as the declared value of the mailed item increases, plus the cost of postage.

Additional Services

Registered mail can be combined with the cash on delivery (COD) service which allows the price of the mailed item and the postage to be paid by the recipient at the time of delivery. The COD service cost $4.85 as of July 2010.

International Mailing

Unlike certified mail, which is only available for domestic mailing, registered mail can be used for international mailing.

About the Author

Based in California, Taruna Chhabra has been writing general knowledge and science-related articles for various websites since 2010. Chhabra holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of San Francisco.