So you want to send a certified letter but dont know where to start. Its confusing and you may not know what you are actually getting out of the service for filling out the PS Form 3800 (sounds fun, right?).
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A certified letter is a regular letter with an extra attachment, that PS Form 3800 I mentioned. It looks like this below.
So there is really nothing different between writing a certified letter and a regular letter, except for filling out that form and paying extra for the service.
Why people want to send certified letters
Certified letters are mostly used for important or sensitive documents like legal notices, contracts, and official correspondence. If you want your recipient to perk up when they receive the letter, a certified letter is the way to go. It shows you mean business. I would argue more so then sending a letter in a UPS or Fedex Envelope because sending these out are more time consuing and there is a general perspection that if its sent certified it is sent for a legal purpose.
By the way, you want to know how to make sending certified letters super easy? Just upload your document as a PDF to Thatch. That's it. We will print out, fill out the form, and give you the tracking number. Its way easier than finding a PS Form 3800 at the post office, waiting in line, handing it to the postal worker and getting your receipt. If you think about it, sending one certified letter will probably take you at least an hour. This is why its not done widely, except with Thatch!
If you need to send a certified letter yourself, here's a step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Choose the Right Delivery Method
The first step in writing a certified letter is to choose the right delivery method. There are three types of extra services that the USPS offers
Check out our article on the details of the cost of a certified letter
- Certified Mail - starting at $4.15 + postage
- Registered Mail - startign at $15.25+ postage
- Certified Mail with return receipt - an extra $3.35 on top of postage and certified mail
- Certified Mail with electronic return receipt - an extra $2.10 on top of postage and certified mail
There are abunch of other services, but these are the main ones.
If you need a signature as proof of delivery, certified mail services with a electronic return receipt is your best option.
Step 2: Write the Letter
Get your letter ready, printed and in an envelope. A certified letter should be formal and professional, and it should clearly state the purpose of the letter and the action that you expect the recipient to take. Invoices, demand letters, and other form type letters work very well for certified mail.
When writing the letter, don't forget the basics and include the following information:
- Your name, address, and contact information
- The recipient's name, address, and contact information
- The date
- A subject line that clearly states the purpose of the letter
- The body of the letter, which should be concise and to the point
- A closing line that thanks the recipient for their attention to the matter
- Your signature
Step 3: Prepare the Envelope
Once you have written the letter, it's time to prepare the envelope. This is a regular envelope you will need to provide. Just write out the sender and recipient name like any normal letter you would send. Make sure to include the recipient's full name and address, as well as your return address. You can order the PS Form 3800 online for free from the USPS website. Or your can go to the local post and get one from the worker. Sometimes they even have these forms around in cubbies to start filling out.
Step 4: Pay for Delivery
See the basic costs above, this is all subject to change, so check with USPS for the latest information. The cost of delivery will vary depending on the weight of the letter and the service level you want (i.e. first class vs standard vs priority). Remember! When sending a certified letter through the USPS, you'll need to pay for the cost of the stamp, on top of the fee for the certified mail service.
Step 5: Send the Letter
Now you are ready to have your letter sent. The postal worker that you gave this form to will give you a back the perforated part of the form with a tracking number. You can put that tracking number into the usps shipment tracker here to see the latest status.
Writing a certified letter is sometimes annoying, but it can be a simple process once you've done your 10th or 20th mailing. Make sure to choose the right delivery method, writing a clear and professional letter, prepare your envelope, fill out the PS Form 3800, pay for delivery, and send the letter. Now you can rest easy, you can ensure that your important or sensitive documents are delivered in a safe and secure manner.