November 27, 2017 (RARC-WP-18-002)
- Despite recent volume declines, Certified Mail accounts for over half of all Ancillary Services revenue, bringing in more than $670 million in FY 2016.
- Certified Mail is widely used by Americans with 58 percent of people having used it for either personal or professional mailings.
- The OIG has identified possible explanations for declining volume ― including electronic diversion, changes in legal requirements, and negative customer experiences ― as well as potential avenues for improvement.
- Certified Mail remains an essential service that provides peace of mind and legal assurance that important mail items have been sent and received.
Introduced in 1955, Certified Mail was created to provide a more affordable alternative to Registered Mail for sending important mail items of little or no inherent monetary value. To this day, it remains highly valued by government officials, businesses, and individuals for its tracking and verification features.
However, as technology advances, governments face budget restrictions, and customers encounter service issues, Certified Mail is likely losing some of its volume to alternatives that try to present themselves as cheaper and easier for both senders and recipients but do not provide the same level of legal assurance as Certified Mail.
To continue to provide this highly valued and trusted service in an affordable and attractive way to Postal Service customers, Certified Mail could be modernized through various technological advancements. The U.S. Postal Service would also benefit from closer adherence to its existing procedures and wider adoption of retail, delivery, and bulk mail best practices.