A certified mail receipt provides a way for senders to verify that recipients received a mailed letter or document. Each piece of certified mail has a unique tracking number that is printed on the receipt. A receipt is filled out with the sender's name, the recipient's name and address, and the total postage fees. Once the recipient signs for the letter, the sender receives a copy of the signature and date of delivery.
Industries that deal with legal documents and notices, such as real estate, need to obtain proof that those documents and notices were received by their intended recipients. For example, a landlord needs proof that late rent and eviction notices were received in order to proceed with the next course of action. Lease language usually gives the tenant some sort of protection, such as three days' notice to pay back rent owed, before an eviction can take place. Since certified mail requires a signature in order to be delivered, it is a way to obtain written documentation that the tenant received the notice.
The United States Post Office delivers and distributes certified mail. A certified mail receipt can be obtained from any U.S. post office location or through the agency's online store. It does not cost anything to obtain certified mailing supplies, but it does cost extra postage fees to send certified mail.
Filling out a certified mail receipt is fairly simple. The receipt is attached to the side of the mailing envelope, with the certified barcode and tracking number remaining on the mail piece. A perforated portion is filled out with the applicable postage fees and recipient's name and address. Green in color, a certified mail receipt contains the tracking number on both portions.
Return receipt labels can be attached to the back of the mailing envelope. This is what is returned to the sender once the recipient's signature is obtained. On the return receipt label will be the name of the sender and the name of the recipient. At the bottom is a place for the mail recipient to sign.
Proof of delivery is not the only benefit of a certified mail receipt. Senders can use the tracking number to see if the notice was delivered in case the return receipt gets lost in the mail or the sender does not want to pay for the return receipt service. Certified mail is somewhat equivalent to delivering a document through an official courier.