Certified Mail – Return Receipt vs Electronic Return Receipt (ERR)

What is the difference between a Return Receipt and Electronic Return Receipt (ERR)?

Actually, let’s get more specific, shall we? What are the different types of Return Receipt for Certified Mail?

There are two different ways to get a Return Receipt through the United States Postal Service (USPS) for your Certified Mail. The first is the traditional green card, also known as PS Form 3811, which the Postal Service calls a Return Receipt.

The second method is an Electronic Return Receipt (ERR). No special forms are needed to purchase or take advantage of with ERR. An Electonic Return Receipt, simply put, is an electronic version of a Return Receipt.

Do I Need a Return Receipt?

Let’s back up just a bit and point out that you may not even need a Return Receipt for your Certified Letter. A simple Certified Letter without a Return Receipt will provide tracking on USPS.com or various other websites that have access to USPS tracking data, like LetterStream.com and www.OnlineCertifiedMail.com. So, if you just want to know the status of your letter, you may not need to spring for the additional expense of a Return Receipt.

The Return Receipt, however, does give you the added information of the name and signature of the person who received your letter. This provides you with a little extra information and might help you prove that someone actually saw your letter and took it into their hands.

Return Receipt Vs Electronic Return Receipt

So, back to the differences between Return Receipts. A Return Receipt, also known as a green card, is a green pre-printed postcard that you can pick up at your local post office and apply to the back of the Certified letter you are about to mail.

You will need to add your address to the green card or the address where you’d like the green card sent after the letter gets signed for. You’ll also want to put the tracking number from the Certified Mail barcode label (PS Form 3800) on the green card as well so you will know specifically which letter the green card relates to.

After paying the extra fees for Return Receipt and attaching the form to your letter, you are ready to give the letter to the USPS and let them do their part. When they deliver your Certified letter with Return Receipt included, they will have the person who gets your letter sign the green card.

The postal carrier will then take the green card back to the USPS and put it in the mail so it will be returned to the sender. If all goes well, you’ll have your green card back in no time (or maybe longer, just depends).

The process gets a bit simpler with Electronic Return Receipt. You simply tell the USPS cashier that you’d like to send your Certified Letter with ERR. No extra forms are required, but there is a charge for this service. The cashier will scan the Certified Mail barcode (PS Form 3800) that you’ve placed on your letter. This tracking number will appear on your USPS receipt along with the fees for Electronic Return Receipt. You will then be able to use this tracking number to check the status of your Certified letter.

Collecting a Signature

When the mail carrier delivers your Certified letter, they will collect a signature either on the green card or on their digital tracking pad. When they get back to their office, they will either scan it into their computer system or they will download the signatures from their digital tracking pad.

Once the signature is in their computer system, they will create an electronic document/letter providing details of the delivery. It will show the date the letter was delivered and include the signature of the person who received the letter. If you choose to send it as a Return Receipt, the green card will get mailed back to you. If Electronic Return Receipt is choosen, this document will not be mailed to you; however, you can go to USPS.com, enter the 20-digit tracking number from your receipt and request the signature via email when it is available.

If you choose to mail you Certified letter, either through LetterStream or OnlineCertifiedMail.com then you can access a copy of the Electronic Return Receipt right in your online portal.

Is There a Difference Legally?

Some people want to know if there is a difference in the legal authority of a green card compared to an ERR. Long ago the USPS claimed on their website that there was no legal difference, however, they soon discovered that they are not the judge of that. Instead, the ultimate authority belongs to the local judge who gets to determine whether they are the same or not.

From our experience, the Electronic Return Receipt is accepted by most judges. We haven’t heard even a rumor of a judge tossing out the ERR as valid proof of delivery. If in doubt, we suggest that you contact the local authorities and see if they can confirm that an ERR is just as binding as a green card.

To sum it up, Return Receipt and Electonic Return Receipt both provide the same value when it comes to the added information of the name and signature of the person receiving your Certificated letter. One actually just is a bit more convenient than the other.

What Does My Tracking Information Mean?

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What Do Certified Mail Tracking Numbers Mean?

Using your LetterStream account you are able to track the entire process of your created Certified Mail – from job creation to successful delivery, and all other statuses in between.

Although we want nothing but the best for our customers, LetterStream cannot guarantee the success of a delivery or timeliness to your intended recipients since this is dependent upon the United States Postal Service (USPS).  We do, however, offer real-time transit status and tracking information for each piece of Certified Mail, which provided directly from the USPS.

Here is a breakdown of the various status levels along the journey:

Mailed: Your Certified Mail piece has been printed, inserted into envelopes, and given to the USPS for processing and to attempt to be delivered. This begins the transit stage of your Certified Mail. Mailed pieces shouldn’t be confused with Delivered mail, as “mailed” simply means that your letter(s) are in the mail stream/system.

In Transit: Your Certified Mail is in the hands of the USPS. At this point, we are at the mercy of the USPS in regard to a successful delivery to the intended recipient.

Delivery Attempted: Delivery to the intended recipient has been attempted. The Post Office likely left a notice of attempted delivery for the recipient with instructions on how and where the item can be received.

Unclaimed By Recipient: After attempts of delivery had been unsuccessful, and the recipient does not make an attempt to receive the item, the status is changed to “Unclaimed By Recipient.”

Refused By Recipient: If the intended recipient refuses to accept and/or sign for the mail piece, the status is changed to “Refused By Recipient” and is returned to the sender.

Returned To Sender: In the event the mail piece is undeliverable due to a bad address, the recipient is no longer at the address, etc., then the status is changed to “Returned To Sender.”

Delivered: Your Certified Mail was successfully delivered to the recipient, and a signature was acquired. Once this status is achieved and the USPS gives you access to the electronic signature file, you can view the signature by clicking the “View” link to the right of the status indicators for each recipient.

You will also see 3 status boxes next to each recipient within your LetterStream account.  These are color-coded by status.

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See below for the color that represents the corresponding status: 

White – No action has occurred, or the Post Office has not updated the tracking information

Lime Green – Recent status updated successfully

Light Yellow – Unclaimed/Business Closed

Orange – Out for Delivery/Attempted

Violet – Forwarded

Pink – Returned to Sender

Dark Green – Returned (2nd box will be pink)

Red – Refused (2nd box will be pink)

These rules are applied to the tracking status bar at the top of the page as well.

Never be out of the loop along the journey.

Proposed USPS Price Updates For July, 2023

proposed_usps_postage_rate_increase_july_2023The USPS (United States Postal Service) has submitted new price requests to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), and the new rates will go into effect on July 9th, 2023.  These rates are still under review, but the USPS typically gets what they ask for.

In similar fashion to the last postage increase, the price of a first-class stamp will be raised by three cents again.  Below are the other notable changes that will have an impact on some of the other products LetterStream has to offer: 

 

  • First Class Letters (1 oz.) are going up, from $.63 up to $.66 cents
  • First Class Flats are going up, from $1.26 to $1.35
  • Certified Mail is going up, from $4.15 to $4.35
  • Certified ERR is going up, from $2.10 to $2.20
  • International Letters (1 oz.) are going up, from $1.45 up to $1.50
  • Domestic Postcards are going from $.48 up, to $.51
  • International Postcards are going from $1.45 up, to $1.50
  • Extra Ounces staying at $.24
  • Registered Mail is going up, from $24.35 to $25.90

If you’re looking for an electronic way to send your statements, we provide an email delivery service (eDoc Delivery), which allows you to send your documents via email directly through your LetterStream account.  This can be done in place of real mail or in addition to your real mail.  Click here for more information. 

For more information regarding this price increase, visit the USPS website or download the complete list of July 2023 USPS rate changes. 

Visit our website for more information about LetterStream and how to send your mail online without ever touching a piece of paper.

Pro tip:  if you want to get the old pricing but don’t want your mailing to go out before July 10th, you can always use our schedule job option to schedule your job to be mailed on a future date!

USPS Pricing Updates – January 2023

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The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the January 2023 price increase for a number of products and services that the USPS offers, and the new rates will go into effect on Sunday, January 22, 2023. 

The price of a first-class stamp will be raised by three cents.  Below are the other notable changes that will have an impact on some of the products LetterStream has to offer: 

  • First Class postage is going up 3 cents; from .60 to .63
  • Certified mail is going up 15 cents; from 4.00 to 4.15
  • Certified ERR (Electronic Return Receipt) is going up 10 cents; from 2.00 to 2.10
  • First Class flats are going up 6 cents; from 1.20 to 1.26
  • Postcards are going up 4 cents; from .44 to .48
  • Extra Ounces (Letters) are going up 4 cents; from .20 to .24 
  • International postage is going up 5 cents; from 1.40 to 1.45
  • Registered mail is going up .80; from 18.25 to 19.05 
  • Standard/Marketing mail is going up 4 cents; from .26 to .30

If you’re looking for an electronic way to send your statements, we provide an email delivery service (eDoc Delivery), which allows you to send your documents via email – directly through your LetterStream account.  This can be done in place of, or in addition to, your real mail.  Click here for more information. 

For more information regarding this price increase, visit the USPS website or download the complete list of January 2023 USPS rate changes. 

Visit our website for more information about LetterStream and how to send your mail online without ever touching a piece of paper.

USPS Raises Postage Rates Twice in 2022

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For the second year in a row, the US Postal Service is raising their prices twice within a single year.

The USPS traditionally issues a price update annually (at the beginning of each year). However, moving forward they will implement price updates on a semi-annual basis (in January and July), starting in 2022.

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the 2022 mid-year price increase for a number of products and services that the USPS offers, and the new rates will go into effect at Midnight on Sunday, July 10, 2022. 

The price of a first-class stamp will be raised by two cents.  Below are the other notable changes that will have an impact on some of the products LetterStream has to offer: 

  • First Class postage is going up 2 cents; from .58 to .60 
  • Certified mail is going up 25 cents; from 3.75 to 4.00
  • Certified ERR (Electronic Return Receipt) is going up 15 cents; from 1.85 to 2.00
  • First Class flats are going up 4 cents; from 1.20 to 1.24 
  • Postcards are going up 4 cents; from .40 to .44 
  • Extra Ounces (Letters) are staying the same at 20 cents 
  • Extra Ounces (Flats) are going up 4 cents; from .20 to .24 
  • International postage is going up 10 cents; from 1.30 to 1.40 
  • Registered mail is going up 1.10; from 17.15 to 18.25 
  • Standard/Marketing mail is going up 2 cents; from .24 to .26 

For those who rely on LetterStream as their valued print and mail partner, the new rates will go into effect at 4pm the last business day before the USPS implements their new prices (July 8th, 2022).  This is because orders that are received after 4pm Pacific Time will not be mailed until the new rates are in effect on Monday. 

If you’re looking for an electronic way to send your statements, we provide an email delivery service (eDoc Delivery), which allows you to send your documents via email – directly through your LetterStream account.  This can be done in place of, or in addition to, your real mail.  Click here for more information. 

For more information regarding this price increase, visit the USPS website or download the complete list of August 2022 USPS rate changes. 

Visit our website for more information about LetterStream and how to send your mail online without ever touching a piece of paper. 

Pro tip:  if you want to get the old pricing but don’t want your mailing to go out before July 10th, you can always use our schedule job option to schedule your job to be mailed on a future date!

USPS Raises Postage Rates Twice In 2021

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For the first time in 20 years, the US Postal Service is raising their prices twice within a single year.

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved a mid-year price increase for a number of products and services that the USPS offers.  The new rates will go into effect at Midnight on Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Below are some of the notable changes impacting letters, postcards and certified mail:

  • First Class stamps are going up 3 cents; from $.55 to $.58
  • Certified mail fees are going up 15 cents; from $3.60 to $3.75
  • Electronic Return Receipt for Certified letters is going up 10 cents; from $1.75 to $1.85
  • Flats (large envelopes) are going up 16 cents; from $1.00 to $1.16
  • Postcards are going up 4 cents; from $.36 to $.40
  • International postage is going up 10 cents; from $1.20 to $1.30
  • Extra ounces are staying the same at $.20 per extra ounce (for letters and flats)

For individuals and businesses who rely on LetterStream as their valued print and mail partner, the new rates will go into effect at 4pm the last business day before the USPS implements their new prices.  This is because orders received after 4pm Pacific Time will not mail until the new rates are in effect on Monday.

As a reminder, LetterStream rarely raises our prices.  We simply increase our prices by the amount of the annual (in this case, semi-annual) USPS rate increases.

For more information regarding this price increase, visit the USPS website or download the complete list of August 2021 USPS rate changes.

Visit our website for more information about LetterStream and how to send your mail online without ever touching a piece of paper.

Pro tip:  if you want to get the old pricing but don’t want your mailing to go out before August 30th, you can always use our schedule job option to schedule your job to be mailed on a future date!

USPS Postage Rates 2021

COVID-19 & Holiday Mail Delivery

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It has been a while since our last COVID-19 update, but that’s because nothing much has changed in our protocols or a capability to process mail.  Our systems remain strong despite large increases in web traffic and our team remains healthy because of the many safety measures that we’ve been operating under.

We do have some concerns however about how the United States Postal Service will keep up with the increase in mail volume this December.  There are large increases in package deliveries this year as shoppers avoid stores and shop online due to the Cornavirus.  These packages will take up truck and delivery vehicle space and may limit the amount of mail or the speed at which mail can be delivered.  We are already seeing our inbound freight shipments being delayed.  That said, we encourage all our customers to send mail early this year for timely delivery.

While not promoted heavily on our website, we do offer electronic delivery of documents in the event you have email addresses for your recipients.  If interested, please contact our support staff or your sales representative.

Coronavirus Update March 25, 2020 – Mailing Continues

LetterStream continues to print and mail your critical business correspondence.

Arizona, home of LetterStream, Inc., has yet to implement a shelter in place order but even if they do so, both the State and Federal language around Essential Services should allow us to remain operational for the foreseeable future.

Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order on March 23, 2020 which classifies mail and shipping businesses as Essential Services.  A similar order came from the US Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on March 19, 2020 stating that “Postal and shipping workers, to include private companies” are a part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure.  That said, we believe we will continue to process your mail even if conditions worsen across the country.

Additionally we are taking extreme steps to make sure our workforce is practicing CDC recommendations as well as embracing preventive measures as quickly as we implement them.

To improve Social Distancing we have taken three key actions.  First, we have asked that all administrative employees to work from home.  Secondly we have extended our normal operating hours allowing fewer people to be working at any one time.  And finally we have temporarily suspended the use of our Express Letter job type (click to learn more – Express Letter Temporarily Unavailable ). Each of these actions along with the commitment of all the amazing LetterStream team members should keep us positioned to get your mail out.

Thank you for your continued support of our business and for trusting us with your critical mail.

LetterStream – Coronavirus Update March 18, 2020

LetterStream is paying very close attention to the Coronavirus situation and is meeting and taking new actions daily.

At this point, we are still fully operational but we are reducing the number of active employees working at peak times in order to increase “social distancing” for our team.  And while we expect minimal impact, we do know that the amount of mail we can get out the door the “same day” it arrives is likely to be diminished.

Keep in mind that FedEx, Certified Mail, and Expedited mail will have the same priority as always and we believe we will continue to hit those targets.  The change will be in USPS First-class, NonProfit and Standard/Marketing Mail where customers may be accustomed to loading a job at 3pm and seeing it mail the same day, without paying for expedited service.  We foresee this being the most impacted and highly unlikely for weeks ahead.

Here are some things you can do to help us stay in step with you about your mailing projects.  If you need the mail delivered quickly, we highly recommend our FedEx overnight and 3-Day options.  If you absolutely need your mail processed quickly by LetterStream, pay to have your job expedited through rush or expedited services in the shopping cart.  If you just wish your mail would go out faster, I’d recommend trying to load your jobs earlier in the day. Lastly, please anticipate that delays are going to be occurring all around us and all around you.  Please work on plans to compensate for the new normal so that your mailings will go out as needed.

As always, if you have any questions you can contact our awesome Customer Service team, all of whom are working remotely.  Also, our website provides a lot of good help, solutions, and information via the Help button floating in the lower right corner of the screen.

Thank you for your business, for your frequent kind words and for trusting us with your critical mail.  Stay well and hunker down.