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How to Track Certified Mail Receipts From the US Post Office

By Melissa Cheri - Updated March 05, 2019

Having proof of sending an item, especially documentation, is vital in case you ever have to prove the item was sent and received. While there are many choices for sending a trackable package, the United States Postal Service offers one of the most cost effective choices: certified mail. Tracked certified mail allows you to send trackable mail for a fraction of the cost of other providers.

What Is Certified Mail?

Certified post tracking is a domestic service offered by the USPS. Using this service, you can send mail anywhere in the United States and receive proof that the item was both sent and received. At a bare minimum, it provides you with a tracking number. You can add on a return receipt, either in electronic form or using a special postcard for an additional fee. Return receipt, which provides proof of signature, is a complementary feature.

How to Track Certified Letters

The first step in sending certified mail is to make sure you correctly address the envelope. There are self-service resources in your local post office that will help you determine the correct ZIP code. This helps ensure that your mail will arrive quickly at its intended destination.

Once you have addressed your mail, you will need to fill out Form 3800 Certified Mail Receipt. This green and white form is readily available at most post offices. If you do not see the form or cannot find it, you should ask a postal worker to provide you with one.

Filling out Form 3800 is fairly simple: Provide the full mailing address, including the name of the person to whom you are sending the package. Then, take the form to a counter, where a postal worker will help you complete the transaction and use certified mail tracking.

Additional Tracking Options

It is important at this point to decide whether you want to send the form with a return receipt postcard or use electronic return receipt. This complementary service is important because it provides an extra layer of confirmation. Return receipt allows you to identify who, precisely, signed for the mail you sent.

There are two ways to use the return receipt feature. The classic way is by filling out a green postcard, Form PS 3811. On the front of the postcard, you will have to identify where you want the return receipt postcard sent. On the back, you will copy the mailing information. There is a place on the postcard for the addressee to sign. Once signed, a postal worker will send the postcard to you. This service is written evidence of both delivery, including the name of the person who signed, as well as proof of the date it was received.

The process for using electronic return receipt is similar This is the least expensive service, which you can request when you are at the counter or kiosk.

Tracking Certified Letters

Once you have completed your transaction, you will receive a receipt containing a tracking number for each piece of trackable mail. To track your package, go to the USPS website at www.usps.com and select Track a Package. At the top of the tracking page is an empty box where you can enter up to 35 tracking numbers at one time. Carefully enter the tracking number from your receipt. The website provides up-to-date tracking information, including the day and time of delivery.

If you used one of the complementary tracking options, you will either receive a postcard in the mail or you will receive an email with Form 3849, which identifies the person who signed for the receipt of your package.

About the Author

Melissa McCall is an accomplished lawyer, science journalist and legal analyst. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003 and spent two years as a Judicial Law Clerk, followed by 2 years at a general litigation firm and a brief stint as the Director of Environmental Protection for the Virgin Islands. Since leaving the US Virgin Islands, she has worked as a legal recruiter, legal writer and legal analyst.

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