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Registered Mail vs. Certified Mail

When sending a product that has significant value or important documents, the USPS offers two great options: Registered Mail and Certified Mail. However, sometimes people mix up the two services or think they are the same product.

While there are some similarities, there are also important differences between Registered Mail and Certified Mail. This article will take a brief look at each mail service, so the next time you need to send important documents, you’ll know which service to use.

What is USPS Registered Mail?

Registered Mail is the most secure service offered by the USPS. It’s best to use this if you’re sending something with high value such as jewelry, cash, money orders or anything else valuable. Insurance is included with Registered Mail for up to $50,000 of declared value.

Registered Mail keeps items safe and secure during the entire delivery process. When not in transit, your mailpiece is stored in locked cages and safes. Registered Mail also provides a verifiable chain of custody that tracks all USPS employees who touch the mailpiece. Each item is electronically tracked, step by step, throughout the entire mailing and delivery process, and a record is made each time the mailpiece changes USPS employee’s hands.

What is USPS Certified Mail?

Certified Mail provides proof that your item was mailed (called Proof of Acceptance or Proof of Mailing) and delivered or that a delivery attempt was made (called Proof of Delivery). The service is typically used for important documents such as tax forms, insurance claims and legal notifications that do not have an intrinsic value. Unlike Registered Mail, Certified Mail is handled by USPS employees as ordinary mail.

70% of Certified Mail pieces are also sent with instructions that the Mail Carrier receive a signed Return Receipt proving the mailpiece was delivered. The USPS charges an additional fee for the Return Receipt and it must be purchased at the time of mailing.

What are the Differences Between Registered Mail and Certified Mail?

While both services include tracking and delivery confirmation, here are some key differences:

  • Registered Mail provides a higher level of security through the delivery process. This service includes locked safes, sealed containers, and a verifiable chain of custody by USPS employees. In contrast, Certified Mail is handled like regular mail.
  • Registered Mail includes insurance up to $50,000 in value. Certified Mail does not include insurance.
  • Registered Mail is significantly more expensive — usually at least four times the cost of Certified Mail.
  • Registered Mail use is small, with less than 1 million pieces mailed in the last USPS fiscal year. In contest, 158 million pieces of Certified Mail were sent during the same annual period, with 112 million of the mailpieces also receiving a signed Return Receipt.

In short, use Registered Mail if you are sending an item that is valuable such as cash or jewelry. Use Certified Mail if your mailed item does not have a lot of intrinsic value but you need proof of mailing and proof of delivery of the mailpiece, such as when sending tax documents or legal notices.

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:

  • eliminates USPS Certified Mail forms, postage meters and trips to the Post Office. Instead you simply print Certified Mail cover sheets, complete with all the proper address information, Certified Mail bar codes, and electronic postage, right from your home of office printer using plain paper and the free Certified Mail envelopes we provide with our service.
  • No more manual forms or green cards to complete by hand. We automate everything by allowing you to print a cover sheet that includes postage, tracking and Return Receipt using a regular printer while placing the documents in a window envelope. Customers report time savings of 80% and more!
  • Electronic Proof of Acceptance is posted to your account soon after your mailpiece receives its first outbound USPS scan. Proof of Delivery and the USPS Return Receipt Electronic are posted to your account within 24 hours of delivery, where they are archived for 10 years, and can be accessed, downloaded, and printed at any time. No more waiting days for Green Cards to return, and then struggling to store and manage them.
  • Prepare your Certified Mail envelopes or labels one at a time or by the hundreds and thousands using our Batch Process.
  • REST APIs enable you to fully automate the preparation of Certified Mail and management of USPS tracking data, within other business software, whether the printing and mailing is done in premise, or outsourced to a Print & Mail service provider. Combining the Electronic Proof of Acceptance, Delivery and Return Receipts with the initial correspondence greatly improves efficiency and compliance.
  • There is no cost to sign up and no recurring monthly or annual subscription fees. Just a small transaction fee for each piece of Certified Mail prepared and managed using Plus, we provide Certified Mail envelopes at no charge to match your normal usage.

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.

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