Not everything worth tracking through the mail needs a box or even a large envelope. Sometimes something as small as a letter of correspondence is important enough.
But what if you want to track a letter and see every step of its journey, including delivery? You’d be correct if you assume First-Class Letter doesn’t include that option. So how to track a letter through USPS if that is your wish? I have the answer below!
How to Track a Letter With USPS In 2022
Customers of the United States Postal Service can indeed track a correspondence letter by choosing a mail class other than First-Class Letter or by adding on a special service known as Certified Mail. Certified Mail can then be combined with other services, like Restricted Delivery or Adult Signature Required, for additional proof of delivery in 2022.
To learn more about how this works and what each add-on means, as well as whether you can track a letter without a tracking number or how you can tell if your letter was delivered, keep reading!
Can You Track a Letter With USPS?
As mentioned above, you have two methods for tracking a letter, because First-Class Letter mail does not include tracking information on its own.
Adding Certified Mail + Other Add-ons
The less expensive option is to mail your letter as Certified Mail
Certified Mail is a service that includes Tracking and also provides “electronic verification that an article was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made.”
The record of delivery is not automatically sent to the sender, but can be checked by the sender in three ways:
- Online, using USPS.com and the Tracking number
- Over the phone, using the Tracking number
- Via bulk electronic file transfer
Certified Mail costs just $3.75.
In addition to Certified Mail, you can add on other services to ensure further delivery security.
- Certified Mail Restricted Delivery: The letter can only be delivered to the addressee
- Certified Mail Adult Signature Required: The letter can be delivered to and signed for by an adult over the age of 21
- Certified Mail Adult Signature Restricted Delivery: The letter can be delivered to either the addressee or to any adult over 21 (who will then have to sign for it)
All three of the above services cost $9.75.
To access these services in order to add Tracking to your letter, you will have to visit your Post Office; they can’t be purchased for First-Class Letter online.
From there, the Tracking number will be located on your receipt; check out this page for a tutorial on finding it.
A Different Mail Class
The more expensive option (in most cases) is to use a different mail class that includes USPS Tracking.
The most commonly used mail classes that include Tracking are as follows:
- First-Class Package – Put your letter in a box and you can take advantage of the First-Class Package, which does indeed include shipping.
As long as the box weighs less than 13 ounces, it qualifies, and you don’t even need to print any postage – a few Forever stamps will work for most parcels this light.
If your parcel-with-a-letter-within weighs one ounce or less, you’ll pay between $4.50 and $5. The most you could end up paying with First-Class Package is $7.65.
So, as you can see, it’s a very affordable shipping service, with a 2-8 day delivery window.
- Priority Mail and Priority Mail Flat Rate – Because letters are so light and small, if you’re shipping beyond Zones 1 and 2, you are better off using a Flat Rate envelope.
Priority Mail for a package or envelope under 1 lb. starts at $8.70 and goes up to $11.60 for Zone 8 and $19.40 for Zone 9.
Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes cost just $8.95, no matter the destination, so if you’re not shipping locally or within a few states, go with Flat Rate.
This mail class is also desirable because it’s faster than First-Class – the delivery window is 1-3 days, depending on the distance.
- Priority Mail Express and Express Flat Rate – The fastest shipping option USPS offers, Priority Mail Express promises delivery the next day or within two days.
And in addition to Tracking, you get $100-worth of insurance and a money-back delivery guarantee.
Assuming a weight of eight ounces or less, Zoned pricing starts at $26.95 on the cheap end and can cost as much as $40.90 for Zone 8 and $56 for Zone 9.
Express Flat Rate offers envelopes only, but that works if you’re sending a letter. The Flat Rate postage starts at $26.95 for a regular envelope.
- Retail Ground – It might seem a little silly, but if you want to send a letter via Retail Ground, no one can stop you.
- Regional Rate – For local or regional shipping, you can use a special Regional Rate box to ship your letter.
How Can You Track a Letter Without a Tracking Number?
Unfortunately, if you mailed a letter via USPS simply using a stamp or two, and you don’t have a tracking number, you cannot track it.
The only way to track a letter is to add on a service, like Certified Mail, or use a mail class other than First-Class Letter.
Doing either of those, you will receive a tracking number that you can use to follow the letter’s progress to the destination.
How Do You Know If Your Letter Was Delivered?
You can’t know if your letter was delivered if you didn’t use a USPS service that includes Tracking or Signature Confirmation.
If you don’t have either, you can simply ask the recipient to let you know that they received it.
If you’d like to avoid such uncertainty in the future, consider adding on Certified Mail or sending your letter with a mail class that includes Tracking, like Priority Mail or First-Class Package.
In order to track a letter, you must either send it via Certified Mail (plus any add-on services, like Restricted Delivery) or box it up and ship it via a different mail class, like Priority Mail.
While these services do cost more than a basic Forever stamp, if it’s important to you to be able to follow along as your letter travels to the destination, the investment is worth it.