Direct Mail

Certificate of Mailing or Proof of Mailing VS Certified Mail

By 4 March 2024April 16th, 2024No 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 a 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 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 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 provide 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 of 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.

Also Read: Where Does PS Go In a Business Letter

When is It Best to Use USPS Certificate of Mailing?

As discussed, USPS offers many delivery options with varying speeds, features, and costs. But it can only guarantee that it can deliver your mailers to the correct addresses with delays. 

The Post Office might face a demand surge. Or the carrier may deliver your documents to the wrong person. 

Imagine you mail a business contract to a company’s purchasing head. But it does not reach the concerned person, even though the mail status shows delivered. These situations cause confusion and miscommunication. 

Hence, having a copy of the mailing receipt helps you store legal evidence that you shipped a document to someone and it reached their destination.

Below are some use cases where buying a Certificate of Mailing is helpful: 

Tax Documents

Individuals and companies must send their tax forms to the IRS before a specific date each year. Otherwise, the IRS can penalize them, leading to a tarnished reputation and unnecessary expenses. 

But what happens if you ship your tax documents on time but they get lost in transit? 

Does the IRS consider these situations? 

The answer is both yes and no! 

It can consider your situation only when you can prove you shipped the tax forms before the specified date. And a Certificate of Mailing can help you do that! 

You can present the Certificate of Mailing as proof you shipped the documents via post before the due date. Hence, you can save yourself from paying penalties. 

Otherwise, you may face the consequences, primarily when using untracked mailing methods. 

Luckily, PostGrid lets you send tracked shipments, and you may view your records via your dashboard whenever needed. 

Check Payments

You may owe your clients or suppliers hundreds or thousands of dollars. And you may pay them by check

Checks are still popular payment instruments in the US and other countries. You can write a check, insert it in a secured envelope, and drop it off at a mailbox. It is simple and quick! Also, direct mail services like PostGrid make the process faster and more affordable.

But the Post Office may misplace or delay your check deliveries, causing you to pay interest on late payments. 

The Certificate of Mailing helps you safeguard yourself against these problems. You may send a copy to your debtor on the day you ship the check, letting you and they track the shipment from start to finish. 

It allows you to align your client communications and keep them updated. Thus, you can come up with better solutions if a mishap occurs. 

However, you don’t need to worry about your mailers being lost in transit because PostGrid helps you mention the correct mailing addresses on time. The Post Office does not need to do the legwork of correcting mistakes or manually sorting your items before shipping. Also, it reduces the chances of incorrect or delayed deliveries. 

Business Communications

You don’t need to prove that you mailed an item to all intended recipients. Yet, always documenting your commercial communications is advisable. It lets you prepare to handle things if something goes wrong. 

USPS offers the Certificate of Mailing to curb mailing and delivery issues. You can benefit from this service by storing receipts for all items you ship. 

For example, you may use a Certificate of Mailing to send 

  • Business agreements
  • Renewals
  • Purchase or sales orders
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Customer statements
  • Commercial documents or forms
  • Valuable mailers

Time-Sensitive Documents

Use the Certificate of Mailing whenever you commit to mailing something to a party that must reach within a specified number of days. 

This receipt allows you to store accurate records in your system. Also, the Post Office can help you track these items better because it keeps tabs on all Certified Mail and Certificate of Mailing shipments.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Certified Mail safe?

Yes. Certified Mail helps you track your mailers up to their final delivery points. You can see your items moving through the USPS’s infrastructure to stay informed and ensure they reach their destinations on time. 

If you use Priority Mail Express with Certified Mail, tracking your items lets you get a refund if they don’t arrive within the time frame. 

Also, Certified Mail offers a signature on delivery, helping you learn who collected your envelope or package.

Is Certified Mail cost-effective?

The Certified Mail costs are higher than other mailing options. But it gives senders the peace of mind of knowing their items will reach the recipients accurately and securely. Also, please note that it is an add-on shipping service. Hence, you must pay the price in addition to your First-Class, Priority, and Express Mail rates. 

PostGrid’s direct mail service lets you use Certified Mail with and without a return receipt at the most affordable rates nationwide. And our all-in-one solutions allow you to pay a single price for drafting, printing, and mailing your items. It is a win-win deal for you!

Does PostGrid help you send mailers with the certificate of mailing?

Yes. You can get the Certificate of Mailing for your sent items. Also, you can access the tracking numbers and campaign performance reports via your dashboard.

PostGrid ensures you can document your mailing processes and access all the details whenever needed.

Does PostGrid offer other ways to track mailers and ensure they reach the delivery addresses on time?

Yes. We provide many advanced features, allowing you to track your sent items accurately. First, we help you add Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMBs) to your mailers to monitor them as they move through different postal outlets. 

Our printing partners also presort your items according to ZIP codes to enable postal employees to process your shipments faster. Aside from tracking and improving mailing speed, these features also let you bag low postal rates. 

How to get started with PostGrid?

You can sign up on our website and access the dashboard to prepare mailers and order on-demand or in bulk. 

Or download our automation software on your device, which you can use to upload your files and mailing lists and continue your mailing processes.

The best deployment method is integrating PostGrid’s direct mail API into your existing marketing or CRM systems. It lets you send printed items directly from your system with minimal clicks.

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