How to Prepare and Mail Certified Letters

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Sending a letter by certified mail through the U.S. Postal Service provides proof of mailing, online proof of delivery and — if requested — hard-copy proof of delivery. If you have no need to insure the contents of a letter but you require proof of delivery, including a signature of the person who accepts delivery, certified mail is the service you require.

How to Prepare and Mail Certified Letters
(Melissa Kirk/Demand Media)
Step 1

Place the letter or document that you intend to send into a suitable mailer. You may use a regular letter-size envelope, a manila envelope, or even a box if the size of your article warrants it. Add the address to which it should be delivered and your return address.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 2

Obtain PS Form 3800, Certified Mail Receipt, and PS Form 3811, Domestic Return Receipt, free at any post office, or order them for free from the USPS website.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 3

Enter in the lines on the right side of the PS 3800 the name and address of the business or person to which you are mailing the article.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 4

Complete PS Form 3811. Enter your name and address in the blank box on the front side of the form. If you want the receipt to go to someone other than yourself, enter that name and address instead.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 5

Write the name and address of the intended recipient in the section titled "Article Addressed To" on the back of the PS Form 3811. Put a check in the box that says "Certified" in the section titled "Service Type." Peel off the adhesive number-strip from the edge of the PS Form 3800 and stick it to the bottom of the PS Form 3811 in the section titled "Article Number."

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 6

Tear off the right side of the PS Form 3800. Keep this part as your proof of mailing. The barcoded/numbered label from the PS Form 3800 is attached to the address side of your mailpiece. Peel off its adhesive backing and affix it to the top of your envelope or package, to the right of the return address. Peel off the adhesive strip from the green PS Form 3811 and affix it to the envelope. If you are mailing it in a regular business size envelope, attach the return receipt to the back side of the envelope. If you are using a large manila envelope or box, attach the return receipt to the front of the article if there is room.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media
Step 7

Take your package to the post office. Present your package and your proof-of-mailing portion of the PS Form 3800. A Postal Service employee will calculate and affix the proper postage, date-stamp your proof of mailing portion of the PS 3800 and return it to you for your records.

Melissa Kirk/Demand Media

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