Special USPS Services

This article provides an overview of the various types of USPS Special Services available for you to use in Stamps.com, as well as all the necessary information for each.

Certificate of Mailing

A Certificate of Mailing is a receipt that provides evidence of the date that you presented your mail to the Postal Service.

A few things to know about using a Certificate of Mailing:

  • Provides evidence of mailing only. It is not considered legal proof. However, a certificate can be used as evidence of mailing in case of insurance claims.

  • Can be used for domestic or international shipments.

  • You must go to a retail Post Office to purchase and validate the certificate.

  • No insurance is provided by the certificate alone, but you can purchase supplemental insurance, either through the USPS or through Stamps.com, in most cases.

  • Evidence of payment will be in the form of postage stamps or meter strips affixed and canceled at the counter.

  • Does not serve as evidence or proof of delivery.

  • Mail using a certificate cannot use Return Receipts.

You can only purchase it at the time of mailing. For this reason, Stamps.com does not allow you to pay for the Certificate of Mailing using our software. Instead, consider using Certified Mail as it includes proof of mailing receipt as well as proof of delivery.

Supported Services

You can add a Certificate of Mailing when using the following services:

Certified & Registered Mail

Certified Mail is a special USPS service that can provide proof of mailing with a receipt to the sender, either physical or electronic. You can prepare and send certified mail with our certified mail envelopes in just a few steps.

Registered Mail is a secure transport method the USPS uses for high-value letters and packages. It establishes a chain of custody that tracks and secures your shipment throughout the entire transit process. Additionally, registered mail items can be insured for up to $25,000. While you can prepare registered mail with Stamps.com, please be aware that you must drop off your registered mail pieces at an official US Post Office.

Review our article about Certified & Registered Mail for details about creating this type of mail in Stamps.com.

Collect on Delivery (COD)

With Collect-on-Delivery, more commonly known as COD, you can arrange for your recipient to pay upon delivery of the package, with the USPS collecting payment in either cash or check. If paid by check, the USPS will forward the check to you. If paid in cash, you'll be sent a USPS Money Order for the value of the payment. And, all packages are insured automatically against loss, breakage, or theft up to $1,000, automatically.

To add COD to a shipment, add COD as an extra service before you create your label. Enter your COD value in the COD field and check the box if you want a Notice of Non-Delivery.

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COD Value Must Be Shown on Label

When you select COD as the Extra Service, USPS requires the print value to be shown. Hidden Postage is not allowed when you use USPS Extra Services: Collect On Delivery,

Supported Services

You can use Collect-on-Delivery with the following USPS services:

With COD, your mailpiece is already insured up to $1,000. You cannot purchase USPS insurance with this service. You can, however, purchase supplemental Stamps.com.

COD Regulations

The following regulations and restrictions apply to USPS Collect-ion Delivery Services:

  • You cannot purchase COD if you specify the value of your postage or if you elect to hide your postage.

  • When sending COD, you must obtain a USPS form 3816 from your local Post Office. Fill out all the required information completely and affix it to the mailpiece.

  • You must mail your COD mailpiece at a Post Office or through a rural carrier. You cannot drop it in a collection box.

  • COD is not available for Registered Mail.

  • The merchandise shipped must be explicitly ordered by the addressee.

  • The total amount collected by the carrier cannot exceed $1,000.

  • COD cannot be used in the following circumstances:

    • Merchandise returns, unless you have agreed beforehand to the arrangement.

    • Mailing of bills only, though if the recipient has a past-due balance on other merchandise, that can be included in any COD collection, so long as the recipient agrees in advance, and as long as the total amount collected is still $1,000 or less.

    • Film reels getting returned by theaters to manufacturers, distributors, or exchanges.

    • Collection agency mail.

  • COD is not available when shipping to APO-FPO addresses or to or from the Marshall Islands or the Federated States of Micronesia.

  • Except for Priority Mail Express COD, the local postmaster may restrict delivery of COD mail if, in his or her opinion, it could make a mail carrier a target of theft or robbery.

  • Valid ID in the case of a check payment, or the appropriate Mail Order fee, in the case of cash, must be presented with payment by the recipient at the time of delivery.

  • If the package is undeliverable (where the carrier has made reasonable attempts to deliver the piece, but it is either refused or no delivery can be made), you can use USPS Package Intercept Service to provide the USPS with instructions for how the package should be handled.

    You can only purchase USPS Package Intercept Service directly from the USPS. The service is not available through Stamps.com. Learn more about how you can use USPS Package Intercept Service here.

Free Carrier Pickup

You can schedule a free USPS Carrier Pickup with Stamps.com in just a few steps. If your package is Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, or First Class Mail International, the service is free.

Review our How to Schedule a USPS Carrier Pickup article for details.

Schedule a Pickup Ahead of Time

You can schedule a USPS Pickup up to 2AM, Central Time, for pickup later that day.

Hazardous Material & Special Contents

The USPS requires that you declare the contents of your package for certain types of shipments:

  • Hazardous Material: Currently, shipments containing hazardous materials can only be shipped when USPS Ground Advantage has been selected as a service with Stamps.com.

    This content type should be selected when sending legally-mailable hazardous materials as defined by the USPS. Note that you are responsible for determining whether or not a hazardous material may legally be mailed and which services you are permitted to use to mail the hazardous material.

  • Live Animals: For certain shipments of live animals, the USPS requires an additional postage fee. You should select the Live Animal (with Fee) content type. Note that you are responsible for determining which live animal shipments require this additional fee.

  • Cremated Remains: Cremated Remains, both human and animal, may only be sent using Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail Express International.

    • You must use the new USPS Label 139, available free of charge in the USPS Store. You must place the new USPS label 139 on all 4 box sides, plus the top and bottom of the box.

    • The new USPS Cremated Remains Kits include a specially labeled Priority Mail Express Cremated Remains box and sealing tape, and in kit 2, bubble cushioning is available in the USPS Store.

    • Additional mailing services for shipping cremated remains are limited to Insurance and Return Receipt.

    • Shipping cremated remains can be an emotional experience. If you have any questions about how these packages are handled, please review USPS Publication 139 or contact the USPS at Shipping Service@usps.gov. For additional information, see our blog about How to Ship Cremated Remains.

    Once you have selected a valid service, you will use the Handling option to declare either hazardous material or live animals are contained in your shipment.

    To add these extra services in Stamps.com

Hold for Pickup

Hold for Pickup is a USPS special service that delivers a package to a USPS facility where it can be picked up by a specified recipient. When the package arrives at the pickup location, the USPS will send an email to the recipient to notify them that the package is available for pickup. To obtain the package, the recipient must present a valid ID matching the recipient information on the shipping label.

Stamps.com will automatically choose the pickup location based on the destination address.  The ability to specify the pickup location is not currently supported.

Printing Hold for Pickup Labels

To print a label with Hold for Pickup:

Printing a Postage Receipt

Occasionally, you may need to issue a postage receipt to a recipient of one of your packages. You can print a receipt through Stamps.com and take it to your local Post Office for an official postmark. With a postmark, the printout can be used as an official receipt indicating proof of shipment in case of an insurance claim.

You can print a postage receipt using one of the following methods:

  • While printing postage, or

  • After printing postage.

While Printing Postage

Check the Print Receipt checkbox option below the preview image of your label before you create and print the label.

After Printing Postage

You can print a receipt for any USPS transaction after you have printed postage.

  1. Go to  History.

  2. Select the item you need the receipt for.

  3. Choose Print Receipt from the details action menu.

    Shows A dropdown menu and print Receipt option for a USPS shipment

Redirect Mail with USPS Package Intercept

The USPS Package Intercept service allows a domestic shipment that hasn't been delivered or released for delivery to be held at a Post Office as a Hold For Pickup or sent to a different domestic address.

For more information and to use the USPS Package Intercept service, go to the USPS Package Intercept page.

USPS Account Required to Use Package Intercept Service

You must have a USPS account set up to use this service. Such an account is separate from your Stamps.com account.

Restricted Delivery

When you need to send sensitive mail, like confidential legal documents, important contracts, negotiable instruments, and even classified documents, you must make certain it gets into the hands of one person and one person alone. For this, the USPS offers Restricted Delivery to ensure your mail is received only by the addressee (or in limited cases, a designated agent).

With Restricted Delivery, the mail carrier will request proof of the recipient that they are the addressee or agent and will have them sign for the package. Restricted delivery does not guarantee a delivery date (outside of regular service commitments) nor provide insurance.

The following conditions apply to shipping Restricted Delivery via Stamps.com:

  • You must add the Restricted Delivery service (available as an Extra Service).

  • You can only purchase Restricted Delivery through Stamps.com if you use one of the following services:

  • If you're using Stamps.com's Certified Mail envelopes or labels, many also have room for Restricted Delivery. Select Restricted Delivery (along with Certified Mail), select the label or envelope as the medium to print on, and print.

  • All mail that is restricted delivery must be clearly marked "Restricted Delivery." This endorsement must appear in 2 places:

    • Above the delivery address, and

    • To the right of the return address.

Supported Services

The following USPS services offer Restricted Delivery as an available feature:

Restricted Delivery Regulations

The following regulations apply to USPS Restricted Delivery Service:

  • The USPS may require a valid ID from the addressee.

  • In the case of joint addressees, such as Dr. John Smith and Sarah Jane Smith, all of the listed names must be present and must sign for acceptance.

  • There are some special cases where the named person may not be the person who actually signs for the mailpiece:

    • In the case of celebrities or executives or other famous personages who receive large amounts of mail, they may have designated an agent to sign for and receive such mail.

    • Officials of the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches of the Federal Government, or corresponding branches of state, county, or local governments, or members of the Diplomatic Corps, may be received by those authorized by the addressee or by US Government regulations.

    • Mail for unit commanders, staff section commanders, or other officials of the United States Military will be received by the unit mail clerk or other such position in the name of the official.

    • Restricted mail for an inmate of a prison or jail will be received by the prison's warden or assigned designee.

    • Restricted mail for minors or those under guardianship may be received by their parents or guardians.

    • In other cases, an addressee may fill out USPS Form 3801 or send a letter to the local postmaster authorizing an agent to sign for Restricted Mail. The addressee must include the notation that, "This authorization is extended to include Restricted Delivery mail" on Form 3801 in the area set aside for signatures."

Return Receipts

A USPS Proof of Delivery Return Receipt is available for Certified Mail, Registered Mail, mailpieces with an insurance value of more than $500, COD, and Priority Mail Express. If your mailpiece needs a Proof of Delivery Return Receipt, the USPS offers two kinds: A Physical Return Receipt and an Electronic Return Receipt.

  • With a Physical Return Receipt, your recipient signs the Return Receipt in the presence of their mail carrier, which is then mailed by the USPS to you as proof of delivery. This receipt is admissible in court, but please note different jurisdictions have different rules, so please check with the USPS as well as your local government if this is a concern. Not all Certified Mail labels and envelopes offer a Physical Return Receipt.

  • With an Electronic Return Receipt your recipient signs for the mailpiece electronically with their mail carrier and that signature is entered into the USPS computer system. Instead of waiting for a Physical Return Receipt to be mailed to you, access your Electronic Return Receipt by going to the USPS Track and Confirm page to have a copy emailed to you. An Electronic Receipt is also admissible in court, but please note different jurisdictions have different rules, so please check with the USPS as well as your local government if this is a concern.

    Electronic Return Receipt is less expensive than a Physical Return Receipt and you can check it almost immediately. Please note that when not using the Stamps.com Certified Mail labels or Envelopes, mailpieces that require an Electronic Return Receipt must be taken to the Post Office.

Certified Mail prepared with Stamps.com labels and envelopes do not need to be taken to the Post Office but can be handed to your mail carrier or placed in a USPS mailbox. 

An Electronic Return Receipt is not available with Priority Mail Express or when shipping to APO/FPO addresses, US Territories or Possessions, or to the "Freely Associated States" of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau.

SCAN Forms

SCAN Forms allow multiple packages to be received by the USPS with one quick bar code scan. A great time saver.

Review our article about Creating a SCAN Form for details.

Shipping Live Animals

Although not commonly known, the USPS regularly delivers shipments containing live animals.

Use Accurate Weight and Dimensions of All Packages Containing Live Animals

To prevent delays and to ensure the well-being of animals being shipped, please be sure to enter the accurate weight and dimensions of all packages containing live animals.

Why is this important? The USPS flags shipments with incorrect or insufficient postage. A flagged package may be delayed, plus the recipient may be presented with a bill that must be paid to receive the shipment. Not a good customer experience and certainly not good for animals being shipped.

The USPS has surcharges for shipping live animals:

A Live Animal Transportation fee of $0.20 per pound is charged when Day Old Poultry (newly hatched chicks) is shipped by air when using:

USPS Publication 52 contains packaging requirements for when you ship live animals.

USPS Special Services Glossary

  • Adult Signature Required: Upon delivery, an adult who is 21 years of age or older must provide a driver's license, passport, or other government-issued photo identification that lists age or date of birth and provide a signature for receipt of the mailpiece.

  • Adult Signature Restricted Delivery: Adult Signature Restricted Delivery provides the same service as Adult Signature Required with the additional restriction of limiting delivery to a specific addressee or authorized agent who is 21 years of age or older. If the specific addressee is not 21 years of age or older, the mailpiece will be returned to the sender.

  • Certified Mail: Provides proof of mailing and delivery for your important letters. For an additional fee, you can request a copy of the signature record before or after delivery with a Return Receipt.

  • Collect on Delivery (COD): The USPS will pick up your customers' payment for you and mail you the proceeds, and this service automatically includes insurance coverage up to $1,000. Your customers can pay with cash or a personal check. If they pay with cash you will receive a USPS money order.

  • Delivery Confirmation: Lets you track your package as it progresses through the USPS delivery network. Using any web browser, you will be able to view these tracking events up to the date it was delivered. To save time, consider printing a Stamps.com shipping label, which prints postage and the electronic Delivery Confirmation number (Form 152) in one step. Plus you can track the status of your package with a single click right from our software.

  • Do not deliver on Saturday: This option can be selected when using Priority Mail Express and where you want your item held until the Monday after, in case it is scheduled to be delivered on a Saturday. Ideal when shipping to a business address and the item you are sending is valuable.

  • Electronic Return Receipt: With Electronic Return Receipt, the USPS will email a PDF confirming details of a delivered mailpiece, including a signature confirmation from the recipient.

  • Hold for Pickup: With Hold for Pickup, the package will be delivered to a USPS facility where it can be picked up by a specified recipient. When the package arrives at the pickup location, the USPS will send an email to the recipient to notify them that the package is available for pickup. To obtain the package, the recipient must present a valid ID matching the recipient information on the shipping label.

  • Insured Mail: USPS will reimburse you for the value of your contents up to $5,000 if your package is lost or damaged while being handled by the USPS. To save time and money, consider using Stamps.com Insurance, where you'll save at least 10%, and there are no additional forms to complete.

  • Priority Mail Open and Distribute: Expedite the transportation of bulk mailings by using Priority Mail Open and Distribute to send an outer-container full of mailpieces to a destination postal facility. When the outer-container reaches the postal facility, it is opened by the USPS and the inner-contents are processed for final delivery.

  • Registered Mail: The most secure service that USPS offers, registered mail is ideal for your high-value shipments. It incorporates a system of receipts to monitor the movement of the mail from the point of acceptance to delivery and can be insured up to $25,000 against loss or damage. This service also includes proof of mailing and delivery.

  • Restricted Delivery: Ensures that your mail is only delivered to the person you specify, or to the person authorized in writing to sign for intended recipient. Mail for minors or persons under guardianship may be delivered to their parents or guardians.

  • Return Receipt: Provides proof of delivery that includes the recipient's signature, date of delivery, and actual delivery address. A return receipt may be purchased before or after the mailing.

  • Return Receipt for Merchandise: Similar to Return Receipt, this service is available when shipping merchandise only and provides both a mailing receipt and a signed, dated Return Receipt postcard.

  • Signature Confirmation: Gives you everything included with Delivery Confirmation as well as an added level of security by requiring a signature from the person who accepts your package. You can even request to have a copy of the signature faxed or mailed to you.

  • Special Contents: For certain types of shipments, the USPS requires that you declare the contents of your package.  This service must be used whenever sending hazardous material, live animals, and cremated remains.

  • Special Handling: Special Handling is required for specific types of shipments that need extra care when being mailed, such as certain live animals or bees. Special Handling is not typically required for fragile or breakable items so long as these items are safely and securely packaged and labeled "FRAGILE".

  • Sunday/Holiday Delivery Guaranteed: This service can be selected when using Priority Mail Express and where you would like your package to be delivered, even on Sundays and Holidays.

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