Skip to content

Certified Mail vs. Priority Mail

When you are sending important documents, there are many USPS options to choose from including Priority Mail, First Class Mail, Media Mail, and Certified Mail. But what is the best option?

That depends. Each USPS mail service is designed for a specific purpose. This article focuses on two popular options — USPS Certified Mail versus USPS Priority Mail.

What Is Certified Mail?

Certified Mail is a Extra Service from the USPS that provides proof that a sender’s item entered the mail stream and proof the item was delivered to the addressee or reported that a delivery attempt was made. The service is used in hundreds of industries, ranging from Federal and State tax agencies, insurance, construction, legal, account receivable management, debt collection, and much more, and is mandated in thousands of federal, state and local laws.

Certified Mail is added to letters and packages sent via First Class Mail or Priority Mail. When using Certified Mail, the sender receives tracking information as the letter moves through the delivery process using a bar code tracking number placed on the mailpiece. For an additional fee, the sender can request a Return Receipt that includes a signature of the person receiving the letter.

Return Receipt has two different options with one being an actual post card (PS Form 3800) that includes the recipient’s signature and the other option being Return Receipt Electronic which posts the signature on a downloadable PDF document from the USPS website.

What is Priority Mail?

Priority Mail is a low cost option to ship small packages weighing up to 70 lbs. to destinations throughout the United States. Packages are usually delivered nationwide within 2-3 days, but there is no guaranteed delivery time.

Priority Mail has multiple cost structures with the most popular options being retail pricing (weight and distance) or Flat Rate pricing. For retail pricing, the cost is determined by package weight and the distance the package is traveling. For Flat Rate, the sender uses boxes or envelopes provided by the USPS and will pay one flat rate (based on box size) regardless of the weight or distance.

Differences Between Certified Mail vs Priority Mail

Understanding these two different mailing methods will help you make the best choice. Listed below are some of the main features of each mailing service:

When to use Certified Mail:

  • Certified Mail is used when it’s important for the sender to have Proof of Acceptance from the USPS that the mail piece was sent, and/or Proof of Delivery by the USPS of the mail piece, with or without the recipients signature. For many users, Certified Mail is not a discretionary choice. It is mandated by thousands of federal, state and local laws.

When to use Priority Mail:

  • Very popular for e-commerce delivery since it is cheaper to send small packages to residences with the USPS compared to UPS and FedEx
  • Provides fast delivery — usually 1-3 days — to all major metro areas in the U.S.
  • Includes tracking information.

How Simple Certified Mail Can Help

If you need to send important letters via Certified Mail, it couldn’t be any easier than with Here’s how it works:

  • No Post Office trips required: Prepare, print and send Certified Mail and Return Receipt from your computer using plain paper and our free Certified Mail envelopes.
  • No more manual forms or green cards to complete by hand: Certified Mail is too important to rely on the traditional manual forms that are prone to error. We automate everything to eliminate manual processing errors.
  • Print one at a time or hundreds using our Batch Process: Quickly generate multiple Certified Mail with or without Return Receipt using our simple batch processing feature or integrate with our REST API.
  • Simple and easy pricing: No subscription fees, no equipment leases and no hidden transaction fees. Our costs are included in the price. Plus, we provide free Certified Mail envelopes forever!

Ready to sign up?

There is no charge to set up an account. Sign up today! If you have questions, contact us toll-free at 888-462-1750.

Scroll To Top