How does USPS informed delivery work?

USPS informed delivery, a no-cost, opt-in U.S. Postal Service service, gives customers the ability to preview incoming mail electronically before it arrives at their mailbox. Users receive an email notification with a preview of some of their letter-sized mail. Those previews aren't always accurate and don't allow you to do anything but get a glimpse at what's arriving.

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February 8, 2024 |

USPS informed delivery, a no-cost, opt-in U.S. Postal Service service, gives customers the ability to preview incoming mail electronically before it arrives at their mailbox. Users receive an email notification with a preview of some of their letter-sized mail. Those previews aren't always accurate and don't allow you to do anything but get a glimpse at what's arriving.

A man sits at a table typing on his open laptop computer while reading about U.S. Post Office Informed Delivery.

What is informed delivery?

Informed delivery launched to most of the U.S. in 2017, giving its users a preview of what mail to expect.

More than 22 million people use the service. They receive daily emails that show them scanned images of the exterior of the envelopes on their way. Sometimes, the mail preview shows what's coming in the mail that day; other times, it can take two or three days to arrive.

This helps people know when to check their mail and tells them what will come soon. Informed delivery doesn't have a mechanism to open users' mail to show them what's inside envelopes or do anything with the contents.

USPS informed delivery only shows the exterior of your mail

USPS informed delivery subscribers receive emails with a low-resolution, gray-scale digital image of only up to 10 pieces of mail a day.

USPS informed delivery doesn't show customers all of their mail. Some letters arrive without ever showing up as a preview. The mail users do get previews of will only show them the outside of the envelope. This helps you know what to expect to see in your mailbox.

You can't see what's inside your mail, forward it, or reject it.

Is USPS informed delivery available for businesses?

The postal service limits who can use informed delivery. Currently, it isn't offered to businesses, and is only available for residential addresses and P.O. boxes in eligible ZIP codes.

Businesses who are looking to manage their mail can digitize it completely with a virtual mailbox. Virtual mailboxes give users more than a mail preview, they get an entire virtual mailroom.

USPS informed delivery doesn't filter out junk mail

Junk mail is annoying ... and time consuming. In the United States, the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year, adding up to 76 billion pieces of junk mail sent annually.

Unfortunately, USPS informed delivery does not filter out junk mail from your previews, which can overload your dashboard.

You don't have to deal with junk mail. There are many ways to put an end to it, such as a virtual mailbox that automatically filters out junk mail or taking the time to remove yourself from mailing lists.

USPS email notifications aren't always accurate

You may have mail coming in, but it doesn't always show up on the USPS informed delivery dashboard. Even if you receive an email notification with a mail preview, there have been instances where the mail is still delayed and stays in your dashboard for days without delivery.

USPS informed delivery only supports USPS

Because of its affiliation with USPS, it's understandable that informed delivery only shows incoming mail and packages from the postal service. Unfortunately for customers, mail comes from multiple carriers such as FedEx, DHL, UPS, and more.

Informed delivery gives you a preview of your mailbox, but is not a mail management solution. If you need that, a virtual mailbox could help.

What time does informed delivery update?

Informed delivery sends one update per day, in most cases around 9 a.m. If you have mail due, it sends updates each day. It does not update on federal holidays or Sundays. Updates are sent to your email address. You can also check your dashboard however you need to remember that there is only one update daily.

How to sign up for informed delivery?

You must have a physical address or a P.O. Box for personal use only. informed delivery notifications are not available to businesses and business P.O. Box addresses. Your ZIP Code and address must be suitable for informed delivery. It will be checked during the signup process. You need to visit and go to sign up. Full fill with your address or P.O. Box address to check If it is proper for informed delivery. You need to create a USPS personal account. You must verify your identity by completing the mobile phone verification process, or you can request the code by mail. When you verify your identity, you will be moved to the confirmation page. You can click “Go to Dashboard" or, just wait, and the web page will automatically redirect you to your informed delivery account.

Upgrade your USPS informed delivery with a virtual mailbox

Virtual mailboxes have been around longer than informed delivery, and have more robust features.

With a virtual mailbox with Earth Class Mail, you'll be able to select from more than 80+ virtual addresses where you can receive your mail. These addresses can give small business owners real street addresses for their home-based or remote businesses.

When you receive mail, you'll have access to the full digitized contents of your incoming mail and packages, and decide whether to shred, share, or forward your mail.

Virtual mailbox services also allow you to check your mail from anywhere, make sure your contents are securely shredded, and get your checks deposited automatically.

Informed delivery mail preview

One of the biggest differences between informed delivery and a virtual mailbox is the digital scans the customers receive.

Informed delivery won't always show users all of their mail. With informed delivery, customers receive a low-resolution, gray-scale digital image of the outside of incoming mail the day the mail arrives. Not every piece will show up since informed delivery skips some types of mail and limits each user to 10 pieces a day.

With a virtual mailbox, you'll receive a mail notification with high-resolution, full-color PDFs of the outside and inside contents of incoming mail and documents.

Mail received at virtual mailboxes enables you to do more than read your mail. You can share PDFs with colleagues or family, shred the mail, forward the physical contents, upload it to the cloud, or deposit incoming checks to your bank.

Because informed delivery allows you to digitally preview the outside envelope, it's not ideal for anyone who can't access their mailbox regularly.

Long-term travelers, business owners, and others may prefer a virtual mailbox, which allows them to manage all their mail online and read their mail from anywhere with the use of a mobile app and account dashboard.

Mailing addresses eligible for informed delivery

Informed delivery can only be used at your physical address or a P.O. Box. It doesn't offer a way to receive mail if you don't have a physical address there. Businesses and certain mailing addresses aren't eligible for the service.

A virtual mailbox gives you a real address to use remotely as your mailing or business address without the need to physically occupy the space. These addresses give remote businesses a virtual business address to use for registrations and marketing purposes.

Mail scanning

The number of scans a virtual mailbox customer receives depends on the service provider chosen. If you choose Earth Class Mail, our plans for individuals include 50 scans per month, which increases for business plans. Those scans don't include junk mail.

Earth Class Mail filters out junk mail, unless you specifically choose to receive it.

Comparatively, PostScan Mail includes five scans in its base price, and Anytime Mailbox doesn't include any. Informed delivery limits its scans to up to 10 incoming pieces of mail at a time.

Cloud and physical storage

Informed delivery gives you a preview of incoming mail and saves that digital scan for seven days. Afterward, it's no longer accessible in your account.

Virtual mailboxes offer digital storage of your mail. Earth Class Mail integrates with Google Drive, DropBox, Quickbooks, and and stores your PDFs indefinitely.

Additionally, virtual mailbox services will store the physical mail items and packages—Earth Class Mail gives its customers the first 30 days of mail storage free, while informed delivery does not offer any storage.

Informed delivery for businesses

Informed delivery limits its availability to customers who live in eligible residential zip codes. However, residents in some densely populated urban areas may have difficulty signing up if they live in apartment complexes or buildings, depending on your mailbox's individual coding.

You can't sign up for informed delivery for your business. The USPS doesn't offer the service for businesses at all, whether they are home-based or in commercial buildings.

Anyone can sign up for a virtual mailbox, whether it's for their business, personal mail, or they live in another country.

The price difference between informed delivery and a virtual mailbox

The USPS doesn't charge customers for informed delivery, which is why it limits the service.

Earth Class Mail's virtual mailbox starts at $19 a month, which includes 50 mail scans, a virtual address, and unlimited cloud and forwarding capabilities.

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LegalZoom provides comprehensive legal, tax, and compliance products to run and grow your business with confidence. We've helped more than 4 million people form businesses over the past 20 years. LegalZoom also gives customers access to trusted, affordable legal help via our independent network of attorneys. This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. It is the expression of the author and has not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy. Information may have changed from the date of publication.

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