Direct Mail

Certificate of Mailing or Proof of Mailing VS Certified Mail

By 7 December 2021No Comments
certificate of mailing or proof of mailing vs certified mail

Certificate of Mailing or Proof of Mailing VS Certified Mail

When it comes to sending vital or time-sensitive documents, businesses usually have two choices, Certificate of Mailing or Certified Mail. Many people assume that these two are the same, but that is not true. Certificate of mailing and Certified Mail are two different services offered by the USPS. You must understand the difference between the two services to select the right one for your business needs.

certificate of mailing or proof of mailing vs certified mail

We will define and explain these two services offered by the USPS and help you find what distinguishes Certificate of Mailing from Certified Mail. Furthermore, you will also learn the importance of these two USPS services in business communication.

But, most importantly, we will show you what happens when you put Certificate of Mailing service against Certified Mail by comparing their salient features.

What Is A Certificate Of Mailing, And Why Is It Important?

A certificate of mailing is nothing but a receipt that states the date on which a postal service provider received a mailpiece for mailing. You can get it at the Post Office when you go there to send out a mailer.

The certificate of mailing can be vital when it comes to business communication or if you want to keep a record of your mailing. If you ever require proof that you have sent a mail to someone on a specific date, you have an official document to back yourself.

Usually, businesses and individuals prefer to have a certificate of mailing on the off chance that the package gets lost or stolen. However, it is worth noting that not all USPS services let you get a certificate of mailing. Listed below are the USPS postal mail services for which you can get a certificate of mailing.

  • First-class mail
  • First-class mail international
  • Priority mail
  • Priority mail international (only if uninsured)
  • Package services
  • Parcel select
  • Media mail
  • Special handling

How Does Certificate of Mailing Work?

The primary purpose of a certificate of mailing is to act as evidence that you have sent a postal mail at a specific time/date. While the official record also keeps track of postal deliveries, it only shows the date the addressee accepts your mail.

However, they do not keep a record of when you sent the item or proof of mailing. Furthermore, postal services like the USPS do not keep copies of the certificate of mailing. Therefore, the recipients must keep their certificate securely with them should they ever need it.

The USPS does not let you get a signature or receipt when your mailer reaches its destination. You can not get insurance against loss or damage without a certificate of mailing. It is also required for you to get insurance if the mailer gets lost or damaged along the way.

What is Certified Mail?

Certified mail is a service offered by the United States Postal Service. It allows the postal mail sender to get confirmation of the postal mail delivery. The delivery confirmation of the mailer is possible for certified mail because it requires a signature from the recipient.

USPS can not deliver certified mail unless there is someone willing to sign for it. Furthermore, the sender also receives proof of delivery from the USPS. Certified mail even offers a “restricted delivery” option which means only the addressee of the mail can receive the mailer.

You can get certified mail service from the USPS for First Class Mail and Priority Mail. In a way, you could say that the certified mail is a more enhanced version of the certificate of mailing service offered by the USPS.

What Is Proof Of Mailing?

As the name suggests, proof of mailing is proof that correspondence has been presented to the USPS for mailing. Usually, the proof of mailing is the certificate of mailing itself, which the USPS issues. However, there are different forms, including the Certificate of Bulk Mail from USPS.

You can use the proof of mailing in courts and in arbitrations to establish a claim. Below, we discuss some of the most widely used evidence of mailing.

  • Certificate Of Mailing
    As we have already discussed above, a certificate of mailing is a postal form you can get from the USPS. It is stamped by the Post Office whenever you send mail. However, it is an optional service, and the form must include all the necessary information.
  • Certified Mail With Return Receipt
    Certified mail is another efficient choice for proof of mailing. USPS’s certified mail requires a signature from the recipient. The sender can even opt for “restricted delivery.” It means only the addressee or the addressee’s authorized agent can receive the mail.
  • Fax Cover letters
    A fax cover letter is a page that is often sent at the beginning of a Fax. It includes information on what details the recipient can find in the following documents. Additionally, it also provides the sender’s contact information.
  • Affidavit Form The Sender
    Another reliable proof of mailing is an affidavit from the person who physically mailed the document.

How And Where Can You Get a USPS Certificate Of Mailing?

There is only one way to get a USPS Certificate of mailing if you are sending the mail by yourself. You have to go to the USPS Post Office in person to get it. Certificate of mailing is purchasable for mailers you send within the United States and internationally. 

However, you will need to fill out Form 3817 and give it to the USPS official at the Post Office counter. Certificate of mailing for firms uses a different form which is Form 3655. However, you can also use Form 3877 or Firm Mailing Book for Accountable Mail. We will elaborate more on the various forms you can use as we proceed further.

There is, however, an alternative method for conveniently collecting the certificate of mailing for businesses. Direct mail automation using advanced tools like PostGrid lets you lay back and relax. At the same time, the system takes care of everything. It means you can also get it without any unnecessary haggling. 

Certificate Of Mailing Cost

The certificate of mail cost changes every year, but it is still among one of the most affordable USPS services. As of 2021, the certificate of mailing cost from the USPS stands at $1.55. However, it is worth noting that this fee may vary from time to time.

Now, you are probably wondering when or how the certificate mailing cost varies. The fees for a certificate of mailing depend on whether you purchase it with an individual article or not. If you are using an individual article with a Firm Mailing Book, the chances are that you will get a better deal.

Finally, it would be best to keep in mind that the certificate of mailing cost is in addition to your regular postage.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail

There is a good chance that some of you have confused the certificate of mailing with certified mail. We can see that the certificates of mailing and certified mail sound similar to each other. However, the similarity between them doesn’t extend far beyond their names.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail: Delivery Notification/Confirmation

The critical difference between a certificate of mailing and certified mail is that the latter does not notify when a mail is delivered. Certified mail, on the other hand, gives you confirmation whenever the package is received.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail: Receipts

Both the certificate of mailing and certified mail provides you with a receipt. Therefore, you can use either USPS services to show that you sent out a postal mail at a specific time. However, if you need to know whether your postal mail got delivered, you need USPS’s certified mail service.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail: Tracking

Certified mail comes equipped with tracking capabilities for postal mail. It means you can easily track where a certified mail is after sending it. On the other hand, a certificate of mailing service does not include tracking of the mailpiece.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail: Convenience

When it comes to convenience, certified mail again has the upper hand. You have to go to the Post Office to access the certificate of mailing service unless you have an automated direct mail solution. In contrast, you can drop the certified mail in the mailbox after filling out the certified mail form and attaching it to the envelope.

Certificate Of Mailing VS Certified Mail: Pricing

The pricing or fees is where the certificate of mailing holds the upper hand. Did you know that the cost of sending certified mail is almost twice that of a certificate of mailing? The affordable price of the certificate of mailing makes it the ideal choice for many businesses.

4 Common Situations Where You Can Use Proof Of Mailing

Even though postal service providers like the USPS are known for delivering mail accurately, there is always a chance for error. Your mailer could get lost, destroyed, or even get shipped to the wrong address by accident.

Suppose your mailer contained a critical or time-sensitive document and the postal service provider lost it. In such a case, having a certificate of mailing can be just the thing you need to save yourself from any unwanted problems.

Some of the situations where proof of mailing can help you are as follows.

#1 Sending Tax Forms

When we talk about official documents, tax forms are as crucial as they get. They are time-sensitive, and if you fail to send them within the specified time, you run the risk of getting penalized by the IRS. Hence, if your tax forms get lost in the mail by some remote chance, you can use a certificate of mailing to prove you sent it.

#2 Sending Government Forms And Payments

There are situations where you may owe money to the government. In such cases, you usually have to submit a government form via mail. Similar to the tax forms, these are also time-sensitive. Hence, if it does not get delivered because of a mistake from the mail carrier’s side, you can use the certificate of mailing to prove your innocence.

#3 Sending Checks

Sending checks via postal mail is always a matter of concern to both the sender and recipient. Security is usually the primary concern, and you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Here, having a certificate of mailing can help you put your mind at ease because the sender has proof for sending the check.

#4 Sending Time-Sensitive Documents

If you have ever had to send a time-sensitive document, you’d know how frustrating it can be to worry about missing a deadline. Sometimes the mail can get delayed, which can put you in an undesirable situation. Having a certificate of mailing enables you to show that there were no delays in sending the document.

Different Certificate Of Mailing

The USPS provides a different certificate of mailing based on the unique requirements of the sender, each with its specific form. Below we discuss the various certificates of mailing and their forms.

PS Form 3817

The PS Form 3817 can get the certificate of mailing for both domestic and international postal mail. However, the distinguishing factor is that the shipment can only contain one or two items.

PS Form 3665

You can use PS Form 3665 for domestic as well as international Certificate of Mailing. Initially, USPS created PS Form 3665 for postal shipments that contained three or more items. USPS revised the PS Form 3665 in 2017. In addition to domestic products, the revised form allowed the form to be used for:

  • Unregistered First-Class Mail International 
  • Unregistered First-Class Package International Service 
  • Free Matter for the Blind
  • Airmail M-Bags items.

Additionally, the new PS Form 3665 includes information on USPS approval for privately printed or computer-generated forms.

PS Form 3877

There are two versions of the PS Form 3877 available online after USPS updated it in 2017. In the beginning, you could use the PS Form 3877 for domestic Certificate of Mailing and international Certificate of Mailing. During this time, the shipment could contain three or more items.

However, the USPS later changed the criteria. Now, you can only use the PS Form 3877 (including USPS-approved privately printed ones) for domestic Certificate of Mailing. As a result, PS Form 3877 can effectively substitute PS Form 3665 when the shipment contains three or more items.  

PS Form 3606

The PS Form 3606 is more popularly known as the Certificate of Bulk Mailing. You can view the PD Form 3603 here. This form is used to verify or check the number of mailpieces with identical weights in bulk international mailings.

PS Form 3606-D

As you may have already guessed from the form’s name, this is also a Certificate of Bulk Mailing. The D at the end of the form name is an indication for domestic form. You can use the PS Form 3606-D to verify or check the number of mailpieces with identical weights in bulk domestic mailings.

How To Optimize Your Postal Mail Communication With PostGrid

Identifying, filling, and printing the relevant certificate of mailing forms can be challenging and time-consuming for businesses. By using a tool like PostGrid, you can automate your entire direct mail process. It means you can automate everything from personalization to delivery of your postal mail.

The fully-automated direct mail system can meet all your postal mail requirements, including obtaining a certificate of mailing. As a result, you can save valuable time and avoid any undesirable delays in the process.


Certificate of mailing or proof of mailing is similar to Certified Mail in many aspects. In terms of capabilities and convenience, Certified Mail has the upper hand. It can provide proof of mailing and notify the sender when the mail has been delivered.

However, Certified Mail service costs almost twice as much as the certificate of mailing service from USPS. It can be a deal-breaker for many businesses. The price difference can significantly change the capital they need to invest in their direct mail communications.

Regardless of which USPS service you choose, you can use PostGrid as a direct mail automation tool to optimize your operations. PostGrid automates all manual and time-consuming processes involved in USPS certificate of mailing and Certified Mail.

As a result, you can minimize the chance of error and speed up your direct mail process like never before, regardless of which USPS service you choose.

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