Direct Mail

USPS Return Receipt

By 14 March 2024April 17th, 2024No Comments
What is USPS Certified Mail and How Does it Work?

What is USPS Return Receipt and How’s It Helpful to Mailers?

USPS offers several mailing services to individuals and businesses, including First-Class, Certified, and Registered Mail. But do you know about its USPS Return Receipt option?

What is USPS Certified Mail and How Does it Work?

If not, you are missing out on one of the most helpful shipping features the Post Office provides mailers! But what is it, and how does it help?

Let us find out!

What is a Return Receipt?

Many business mailers ask us—What is a Return Receipt?

A Return Receipt is a United States Postal Service feature that offers delivery evidence (date and recipient’s name) to mailers. It also provides information about the new mailing address if it differs from the address on the mailpiece.

You can receive the Return Receipt electronically (a copy of the recipient’s signature) or via mail (the original receipt). It gives you peace of mind about your document or letter reaching the correct person.

The USPS Return Receipt option is available for almost all mailing classes, including First-Class and Priority Mail. You can also combine it with extra services, like Special Handling, Parcel Airlift, and USPS tracking.

How Does the Return Receipt Work?

The Return Receipt offers senders delivery evidence, a postcard with the recipient’s signature, time, and date. Some senders opt for the e-receipt, which they get as an email.

However, senders must request a Return Receipt at the time of mailing to avail of this shipping service. USPS cannot provide it when your item is already in its mail stream.

You can only request the Post Office provide delivery details if you purchased the service during shipping but didn’t receive the receipt. Visit any postal branch and complete the PS form 3811-A within 90 days to get your shipping details.

Also, please specify whether you want an electronic or physical return receipt to get it on time and hassle-free. USPS does the needful after the carrier makes the final delivery.

The receipt acts as legal proof whenever you must prove that you mailed something or that a person has received your shipment. Thus, most businesses choose this service to send a

  • Government document
  • Tax form
  • Debt recovery letter
  • Foreclosure notice
  • Invoices
  • Healthcare records
  • Legal notice

The process to send a mailpiece with a Certified Mail Return Receipt is simple and quick.

  1. You must collect the USPS form 3800 from a nearby postal outlet. Fill out the recipient’s address and certified Mail fee, and check the box with the service you want.
  2. Complete the PS form 3811 with the recipient’s mailing details. Many refer to it as the USPS Return Receipt for better understanding.
  3. Peel the label off PS form 3800 and apply it to the green card in box 2. Then, you must stick PS form 3800 to the front of your envelope. Fold the thin green strip over the top.
  4. Stick PS form 3811 to your envelope’s back on the opening flap.
  5. Take your Certified letter or other mail item to the Post Office, where the clerk stamps the PS form 3800 and returns the bottom section to you. You can store it for record-keeping or as proof that you mailed something.

Use this section to get your tracking number. You can enter it on the USPS website to regularly check where your receipt has reached.

The Post Office returns the green card or USPS Return Receipt to your address with the recipient’s signature.

Please note that you can ship your Certified Mail items from your home or office or drop them in a mailbox. But you won’t get the mailing proof with the tracking number.

What Does a Green Card or Return Receipt Look Like?

The Return Receipt’s hard copy looks like a green postcard with two printed sides. It includes a tracking number and a barcode.

Many people think the tracking number helps you track your mailer. But it only lets you locate your Return Receipt card—when the carrier collects the recipient’s signature and returns the card to your address.

You can pair the Post Office Return Receipt with USPS tracking to check your mail’s status. It costs extra but keeps you updated on your sent mailers, providing an additional security layer.

The Return Receipt has many sections for your intended recipient’s delivery address and barcode, article number, signature, received by, arrival date, and service type.

You can write your return address on the backside with the postage.

Here is what a USPS Return Receipt looks like:


How Much Should You Pay for a Return Receipt?

The Return Receipt costs more if you choose electronic verification over physical. USPS charges a fee of $3.55 for sending you the physical receipt or green card via mail.

But you only pay $2.20 for the USPS electronic return receipt, wherein a PDF file replaces the offline PS form 3811.

Both Return Receipt types are equally valid. The Post Office stores your delivery information for up to two years whenever you buy this service. Thus, retrieving the details from USPS is easy (if you lose the green card).

You can choose the physical version when you have a valid address to receive the green card. Otherwise, sticking to the electronic receipt is advisable!

Also Read: How to Track Certified Mail

Which Mailing Classes Can You Combine With the Return Receipt?

You can avail of USPS Return Receipt tracking with the following domestic mailing classes:

Please note that your postage does not include the Return Receipt fee and vice versa. You must pay both to opt for the service.

Also, affix your postage on the back of PS form 3811 to avoid unnecessary mail returns or delays. You can combine the USPS Return Receipt service with additional insurance, tracking, and other features by paying the necessary fee.

Can I Get a Refund On the Return Receipt?

The Certified Mail Receipt is eligible for a refund under some circumstances. For instance, you can claim it when the postal services fail to provide you with the recipient’s signature.

However, there are some exceptions, like when the intended recipient refuses to provide signature confirmation or the item returns to the sender.

You can visit the postal website and claim the refund after 30 days but before 60 days from the mailing date.

If you purchased USPS receipt confirmation at a retail Post Office, you can request a replacement record or refund after

  • Thirty days from the mailing date.
  • You know a carrier delivered your item to the intended destination.

Visit the website and check the status of your electronic Return Receipt if you paid for it but didn’t get it within 3-5 days since your request.

Physical Vs. Electronic Return Receipt

Many of our clients at PostGrid need help determining which mailing Return Receipt is ideal for them.

They need more details to decide whether the Certified Mail online receipt option would suit them.

So we have listed some differences below to help them:

  • The physical USPS delivery confirmation needs the recipient to sign the green card when the carrier is at their doorstep to deliver mail.
  • USPS ships this card to your address via First-Class Mail, which means it can take a few days for the item to arrive.
  • The electronic receipt is similar to the physical version, wherein the recipient signs the card on delivery. But the way USPS returns it to you is different.
  • It captures a picture of the USPS Return Receipt and converts it into a PDF file. Then, it emails the copy to you on the ID you provided when purchasing the service.

Types of USPS Certified Mail Options With Return Receipt

You can combine a Return Receipt with any Certified Mail Service, like

  • Certified Mail Restricted Delivery: It helps you instruct the postal services to deliver an item only to the addressed recipient or their authorized agent. Otherwise, the carrier makes another delivery attempt or returns the Certified Mail item to the sender. It prevents your mailers from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Certified Mail Adult Signature Required: This mail service allows you to direct your mail delivery to an adult over 21 years only. It is another way of protecting your mailers and ensuring the addressed recipients receive them.
  • Certified Mail Adult Signature Restricted Delivery: Many commercial shippers use this option to send a legal notice, collection letter, or another crucial document. It doubles the mail security because this mailing option needs the carrier to deliver the mailers only to the intended recipient or their authorized agent who is 21 years or older. You can request a Return Receipt with this mailing for delivery confirmation.

Send Your Certified Mail With Return Receipt Using PostGrid’s Direct Mail Services

Businesses hesitate to use additional USPS services because it adds to their Certified Mail cost. Also, they must bear other expenses for design, printing, presorting, and shipping.

PostGrid eliminates this issue with its online direct mail solutions!

We help you opt for Certified Mail with a USPS Return Receipt without spending a fortune.

You can prepare, print, and mail items using our automation software or direct mail API. They assist you throughout the process of completing all tasks online.

We do the legwork on your behalf, saving you time, money, and effort!

Request a demo to learn more about how we help clients send Certified Mail with a USPS Return Receipt at the lowest prices!

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