As any adult will tell you, getting real mail – not bills, not junk – is the highlight of your day over the age of 25. And anticipating that a birthday card or Amazon package is a spectator sport.
Perhaps the United States Postal Service had that in mind when they rolled out their Informed Delivery tool and brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “check the mail.”
So, what is USPS Informed Delivery? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is USPS Informed Delivery?
The United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery tool is a free, voluntary service that allows USPS customers to preview their incoming mail for the day via email, USPS.com account dashboard, or mobile app. Previews consist of scanned images taken in their local Post Office’s sorting area.
To learn more about how the Informed Delivery tool works (and how you can sign up), how much it costs, why you should use it, and if it’s safe to use, keep going to find all the details below!
How Does USPS Informed Delivery Work?
The United States Postal Service rolled out Informed Delivery (ID) in 2014 as a pilot program before extending it to much of the U.S. in 2017.
The tool gives USPS customers the option to preview incoming letter-size mailpieces and see which packages are arriving that day.
Users who sign up for ID receive a daily email notification containing the mailpiece scans, or they can view the scans on their USPS.com account dashboard or on the app.
In the zip codes where ID is available (which is most), the Post Office locations scan the mailpieces as part of processing.
To sign up, you must have a USPS.com account. You can create this in a few minutes.
After you are signed up, on the USPS.com main page, you can find an “Informed Delivery” header at the very top right.
Click on that or go to “informeddelivery.usps.com” in your browser. This takes you to the ID landing page, where you will see a button that says “Sign Up For Free.” Click on that.
You will have to verify your identity and your address. This process includes answering some questions about your previous addresses, phone numbers, area codes, etc.
(I’ll talk more about the verification process and some concerns raised about possible security pitfalls further down in this article.)
You can also elect to verify your identity/address by mail (which will obviously take longer).
But if you have gone the online route, after verifying your information, you can then elect to enroll in Informed Delivery notifications, which are daily emails.
Not only will those begin as early as the next day, but you can also immediately view your mailpiece/package activity for the last week.
Yes, that information has been there all along – it was just waiting for you to come and unlock it!
In my experience, the daily notification emails from ID come between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
For a full walk-through of the sign-up process, check out the USPS’s handy illustrated guide here.
Other Services Via Informed Delivery
From your Informed Delivery dashboard, you can also access other services, such as Delivery Instructions.
Simply click on the package listed as upcoming for delivery.
The next page will show the option to Add Delivery Instructions, which can include a specific location on your property or even having the Post Office hold onto the item for pick-up.
However, this tool is only available to packages not marked as Out for Delivery.
From the Informed Delivery dashboard, you can also schedule a redelivery and track packages.
How Much Does USPS Informed Delivery Cost?
USPS Informed Delivery is free! The tool is just another great service from USPS that costs customers nothing to sign up for or to use.
If at any point you receive any communication indicating that there is a fee for the service, do not click on any links.
Instead, report the email to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can find the contact information for that here.
How Does USPS Verify Identity For Informed Delivery?
USPS goes to some lengths to ensure that people who are signing up for Informed Delivery are who they say they are.
This happens during the verification process online when the website asks questions about previous addresses and phone numbers.
For example, it might ask a multiple-choice question where you have to choose the correct partially censored address where you used to live.
You might then have to choose the landline associated with that residence.
Or it might ask you to pick at which set of former addresses you previously lived. All but one choice will have one or two incorrect addresses, so you do have to read carefully.
Keep reading to see further down how this has raised some security concerns.
What Can’t You See On USPS Informed Delivery?
USPS Informed Delivery cannot show you anything larger than letter-sized or smaller booklet-sized envelopes.
Thus, magazines, larger ads, catalogs, and other mailpieces of that nature will not show scans on your ID notifications.
(More on what you will see instead in the section just below!)
Also, while you will see what parcels are arriving, you will only see those that have shipped via USPS.
You will not see deliveries arriving via UPS, FedEx, or the like.
Finally, if you receive more than 10 mailpieces for the day, you will only see the first 10 that USPS has scanned.
What Does It Mean For USPS Informed Delivery When It Says They Don’t Have an Image In Today’s Mail?
If you see the message “Mailpieces that we do not have an image for are included in today’s mail,” that means that you are receiving something that was too large to be scanned.
In my experience, that has meant a magazine, a catalog, or something in a larger envelope, where an 8.5”x 11 sheet of paper could lay flat without folding.
This is especially noteworthy if you are expecting important documents. If you see this message in your ID notification email, be sure to check your mail later!
Why Use USPS Informed Delivery?
There are a lot of reasons why people find USPS Informed Delivery useful.
I personally just like seeing what is coming in the mail each day. It’s as simple and as basic as that for me!
For high schoolers and their families waiting to hear back from colleges, it’s a heads-up that a very important letter is almost to its destination.
For someone who doesn’t typically track their deliveries, it’s a great way to see that there will be a package arriving that day.
Informed Delivery also gives customers the ability to mark mailpieces and packages that they did not receive.
If you look at your ID dashboard on the USPS.com website, just below each mailpiece is a small box with the words “I didn’t receive this mailpiece” next to it.
When something important isn’t in your mailbox, and it’s supposed to be, this is a good way to start the process of figuring out where your mailpiece is.
Does USPS Informed Delivery Ever Miss Mail?
The humans behind USPS Informed Delivery are just that: human, meaning they are not perfect, and sometimes mistakes happen.
So it is definitely possible that a piece of mail you were expecting somehow missed getting scanned.
As I mentioned, Informed Delivery only includes the first 10 mailpieces that got scanned, so if you had a big mail day, anything beyond the tenth mailpiece will not be listed.
But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive those mailpieces.
Why Didn’t an Item On the USPS Informed Delivery Notification Arrive?
Informed Delivery makes a point of mentioning in their notification emails that these are the mailpieces you can expect to receive “soon.”
That could mean the same day, but it could also mean the next business day (Saturday is a regular business day for USPS, by the way).
For me, it never fails – every time Informed Delivery tells me I am getting a check that day, it doesn’t arrive until the next business day!
When it’s not there, I panic for a second, but then remember: it’ll be there the next time I check the mail.
So don’t panic if something has been scanned into Informed Delivery but doesn’t make it to your mailbox. Give it one business day.
However, if it does not appear after two business days, that’s your cue to inform the Postal Service that something could be lost or stolen.
Is USPS Informed Delivery Safe?
As great a service as USPS Informed Delivery is, it’s not perfect, and that begins with its security measures, which leave something to be desired.
For starters, while you must verify your identity during sign-up, you don’t have to provide any proof of actual residence at the address.
That means that virtual strangers could sign up for your address, see what mail is coming to you, and swipe it before you retrieve it.
There have also been concerns that ID could be used by “stalkers, abusive ex-partners (*I would argue current ones, too), private investigators…”
For example, a controlling partner could sign up for Informed Delivery and use it to monitor their partner’s mail, swiping items they don’t want their partner to receive.
For most people, ID can be used to no detriment. But it is important that you understand there are risks, even if you don’t sign up for it.
Why Did USPS Informed Delivery Stop Sending Notifications?
For some people, when USPS shut down their Informed Delivery app (the tool is available on mobile via the USPS app), their email notifications stopped sending.
I also recently noticed I stopped receiving emails for a few weeks.
Mine resumed after a while without any action on my part, but if this happens to you and you notice right away, you can try this.
Log into your account and navigate to Informed Delivery settings. At the top is the header for Daily Digest Email Notifications, with a button to toggle on and off.
Toggle off and reload the page; then toggle it back on and reload again. This should reset the setting so that you receive your daily email.
There could be another explanation, too. If you noticed that ID skipped a day, it’s more likely that you simply didn’t have any mail that day.
Rather than inform you that your mailbox will be empty, Informed Delivery just skips a notification altogether.
How Do You Cancel USPS Informed Delivery?
You can toggle off Informed Delivery notifications (emails) by logging into your account at USPS.com and navigating to your Informed Delivery dashboard.
In the upper right corner, you will see a gear icon with Settings. Click that, and the next page will say “Daily Digest Email Notifications” at the top, with a toggle button below for your address.
Click it to the off position, and you will no longer receive notifications.
However, if you don’t want your account associated with Informed Delivery at all, you will have to delete your USPS.com account entirely.
You can find the instructions for doing so – you’ll send an email to USPS.com – on this page here.