Every day, the United States Postal Service (USPS) expertly handles 421.4 million pieces of mail. That breaks down to 4,877 pieces of mail every second. Each letter and package moves through an intricate and highly efficient system that takes your mail from point A to point B safely and securely. It is truly incredible that each and every day, the USPS shows up and pulls off a logistical masterpiece.

The USPS is so good at what they do that when we put something in the mail, we trust it will arrive on the other end. We trust them with precious and personal things. On mail delivery trucks in your town, you can find high-value checks, family heirlooms, legal documents, precious letters and cards, gifts, and even live animals. And they rarely get it wrong. That’s why we trust them with our most treasured things.

In addition, they handle an enormous amount of ordinary, every day mail. Businesses send invoices and catalogs, or might utilize a mass letter mailing service to send thousands of pieces of bulk direct mail. Somehow, things always seem to make it to their destination.

Occasionally, you need to mail something so special or important that you need an extra layer of security and the peace of mind that comes with it. The postal service has just the solution for you. Whether you need enhanced security or a guarantee that your mail has been received, you can upgrade to higher-level services to get the assurance you need.

In addition to traditional mail, the USPS offers two services catering to people looking for a guarantee. Certified mail and registered mail are two different products that provide enhanced security but have different appeals. They are often confused but are entirely different products that guarantee different things. The end result of both is peace of mind and assurance that your important and valuable things get the best possible care and attention. Let’s take a look at all three and how they can meet your needs.

Traditional Mail

Most people send mail by throwing a first-class stamp on an envelope and tossing it in the mailbox. Most of the time, this is all you need. Occasionally, a package will require a choice between priority or first-class service.

First-class mail is a basic delivery service promising a quick and inexpensive arrival. Priority mail offers a speedier timeline at a higher price tag. These options take a piece of mail on a journey through the inner workings of the postal system. It changes hands several times as it routes through the local post office, distribution centers, mail trucks, and eventually into the recipient’s mailbox. This is perfect for most things like letters, postcards, bills, and marketing. For a vast majority of mail, this service will suffice.

Certified Mail

If you need to track your mail and prove that it arrived, certified mail is what you want. It will travel through traditional routes with your regular mail carrier. The difference comes at delivery time. Your certified mail requires a signature upon delivery so there is no question your crucial documents were received. It is often used for important legal documents or anything necessitating proof of delivery. While it arrives relatively fast, it won’t be delivered until a signature is retrieved, providing proof of delivery. Some features of certified mail service include:

  • Individual tracking number. Up-to-date information gives you a precise location for your mail. You will be able to track the projected delivery date and delivery attempts.
  • Signature required. Your mail will only be delivered after a signature is obtained. The USPS uses the signature as physical proof that your mail was handed off to the intended recipient.
  • Delivery record available. Upon request, the postal service can provide you with a delivery record. You can obtain a copy of the signature and the official documentation proving delivery.

Registered Mail

Registered mail is the perfect solution when you mail something highly valuable or irreplaceable. Your mail will travel through a chain of custody with enhanced security measures. This service isn’t cheap or fast but promises ultimate security every step of the way. Your package will always be under lock and key and handled with an extra level of care. Registered mail guarantees your mail is always prioritized, locked for safekeeping, and delivered only to the specified recipient. Features of registered mail service include:

  • Unique tracking number. With registered mail, you will get a unique tracking number that allows you to watch your package progress. This service can take extra time, but you will have the peace of mind of knowing exactly where your mail is.
  • Guaranteed security for your mail. The postal service has a special process for registered mail to ensure it is completely safe. It will be either personally attended to or placed in a lock box. The system should give you all the confidence in the world that your precious package is safe and secure.
  • Chain of custody. There will be a documented chain of custody that accounts for every minute your package is in the care of the postal service. This system of documented responsibility is an effective way to ensure that valuable things don’t go missing.
  • Delivery assurance. The postal carrier will only deliver registered mail to the intended recipient. Nobody is allowed to sign in their place. You will receive a copy of the signature as proof that your valuables made it safely to their destination.
  • Insurance. You get $50,000 in insurance for your package by using registered mail. Higher value insurance is available at an additional cost.

However you choose to send mail, the USPS has solutions to fit your needs. The postal service has an outstanding success rate. They handle letters and packages flawlessly most of the time, but there are instances when things get lost or damaged. When you need to mail something but can’t assume that risk, it’s time to upgrade to a higher level of service. The peace of mind you will gain with registered or certified mail will be well worth the extra fees.