The postal system can be confusing. There are so many options out there; how can you tell which ones you need and which ones you can skip? After all, you don’t have unlimited resources or inbound and outbound logistics, so you need to spend your money where it counts. Also, it helps if you know how to calculate the shipping costs.

If you’re confused about what a USPS Certificate of Mailing is and whether or not you need one, read on to figure out everything you need to know about this concept. 

What Is a USPS Certificate of Mailing?

A USPS Certificate of Mailing is proof from the United States Postal Service that you mailed something on a certain date. This certificate costs $1.50 for each package and is ideal for time-sensitive shipments where you may have to provide proof that you mailed it before a set deadline. 

Even though a USPS Certificate of Mailing provides you with proof that you mailed something out, it doesn’t include any tracking information or confirmation of delivery. It doesn’t insure the contents of the package either. You’ll need to keep the physical certificate on you for proof as the USPS does not keep records of them. 

How to Get a USPS Certificate of Mailing?

So if you’re looking to protect yourself when mailing something out and want to do so by purchasing a USPS Certificate of Mailing, how can you do this? First of all, you’ll have to physically go into your local post office as you cannot do this process online. 

When you go to the post office, you will need to fill out Form 3817 with the relevant sender address and recipient address. Then, you will hand the form to the clerk at the counter, and they will take your shipment and then issue you a Certificate of Mailing. 

If that sounds easy, it’s because it is! However, there’s a little bit more to it than that because this certificate cannot be issued in every scenario. 

When Is a USPS Certificate of Mailing Available?

Now that you know how to get a USPS Certificate of Mailing, you should know that it’s not offered with every shipping option. So how do you know if the class or shipping service that you’ve selected allows you to purchase a Certificate of Mailing? 

Here are the classes and services that can be combined with a USPS Certificate of Mailing:

  • First-Class Mail: Sends standard-sized, single-piece envelopes that weigh up to 3.5 ounces, and large envelopes and small packages that weigh up to 13 ounces that are delivered within three or fewer business days. 

  • First-Class Package Service-Commercial: Sends lightweight packages that weigh less than 16 ounces for businesses that qualify. In order to qualify, the company must sign a customer commitment agreement to ship more than 5,000 pieces at this class, making it ideal for companies with high shipping volumes, such as eCommerce companies. 

  • Priority Mail: Sends packages quickly—between one and three business days. This service includes things like free USPS tracking, up to $50 of insurance, and free package pickup. This service also offers flat-rate options where you don’t have to pay based on the weight of your package—it just has to fit inside the box, and you’re good to go! 

  • USPS Retail Ground: Ships packages that may be too large for Priority Mail delivery options since the size limit is 130 inches in combined length and girth in addition to a weight limit up to 70 pounds. It ships packages in two to eight business days, making it ideal for sending large items that aren’t very urgent. 

  • Bound Printed Matter: Sends single-piece or volume permanently-bound sheets of advertising, promotional, directory, or editorial material. These packages can weigh up to 15 pounds and include things like catalogs, phone books, etc. 

  • Library Mail: Sends qualified items between academic institutions, public libraries, and museums. Qualifying items include things like books, recordings, and media material. 

  • Media Mail: Sends media and educational materials with a maximum weight of 70 pounds. You’re able to send things like books, films, printed music, printed test materials, video recordings, medical loose-leaf pages, computer-readable media, and more. 

When to Use a USPS Certificate of Mailing

While you don’t necessarily need to use a USPS Certificate of Mailing with every single item that you mail out, there are some circumstances when you may want to purchase one:

  • When you’re mailing legal documents that require a response by a certain date. 

  • When you’re mailing tax documents to the IRS that requires a response by a certain date. 

  • When you’re mailing other important or time-sensitive materials that need to arrive at their destination by a certain date. 

In these circumstances, you’re protecting yourself and your materials by being able to prove that they were sent out on a certain date. After all, we live in such an unpredictable world where it’s not totally uncommon for things to get lost in the mail. By spending a little bit of extra money on a USPS Certificate of Mailing, you’re able to cover all your bases in the event that something happens to your shipment. 

Other Ways to Protect Your Packages

Even though getting a USPS Certificate of Mailing is a great way to protect your packages throughout the shipping process, there are other things you can do to ensure that everything arrives in one piece as you intended. 

Here are some other things you can do to protect your packages:

  • Purchase insurance: You can purchase insurance on the contents of your shipment for up to $5,000 with USPS to protect against loss and damage that may occur during the shipping process. 

    The amount you can insure is based on the declared value of the items included. More expensive items will cost you more to insure. For mail that is insured for more than $500, the recipient may have to show ID before the items can be delivered in order to provide an extra layer of protection. 
  • Expedite shipping: Another way that you can protect your package is to use expedited shipping. As you may know, packages can go through a lot during the shipping process that can easily lead to damages along the way. 

    However, if you use expedited shipping instead of standard shipping, your package will experience less handling throughout its journey. So instead of starting and stopping in several different locations along the way and being thrown around in each one, your package will go directly from its origin to its destination with minimal handling. Although this doesn’t 100% guarantee the safety of your package, it’s definitely one thing that you can use to minimize risk and satisfy your customer with speedy shipping at the same time! 
  • Package properly: The last thing you can do to protect your package during the shipping process is to actually pack and seal it properly. There’s more to proper packing than just throwing your items in any old box. 

    Instead, you need to make sure that you’re using a box that’s made out of corrugated for more protection and insulation. Then you need to make sure that the box is the right size and doesn’t provide too much extra room for the items to move around.

    From there, consider fillers to separate different items or protect them from hitting the sides of the box during transit. Fillers can include things like dividers, inserts, bubble wrap, air pouches, and packing peanuts. Finally, seal the box properly with the right amount and placement of packing tape. Depending on the weight of your package, you may need to use multiple layers in certain places to reinforce the box.

    No matter what your packaging needs, BoxGenie is able to help you out with tons of personalized solutions and assistance! BoxGenie offers custom packaging solutions and expertise based on almost 50 years in the business. So before you fret about finding the right protective packaging, contact BoxGenie to make the entire process easy from start to finish. 


Now you know all about USPS Certificates of Mailing as well as other ways that you can protect your packages so that they arrive at their destination in one piece. If you need help figuring out the best options for you and how you can best protect your shipments, contact BoxGenie for expert advice. 




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