Updated: July 24, 2023
In an era of rampant identify theft and stolen mail, many homeowners remain unaware that there’s a free, readily available service to help monitor their incoming postal mail – Informed Delivery from the United States Postal Service (USPS).
In our case, we learned of this invaluable service in recent years when randomly reading a thread on NextDoor about a neighbor who had just experienced mail theft. The service then quickly became a critical element of how we manage our household.
This article provides all of the crucial details you should know about this vital mail service, as well the most commonly asked questions.
Table of Contents
- What is Informed Delivery?
- The Benefits of Informed Delivery
- How Does Informed Delivery Work?
- What is in the Informed Delivery Email Notification?
- What If I Do Not Receive an Item Listed in Informed Delivery?
- How is Certified Mail Handled through Informed Delivery?
- Where is Informed Delivery Offered?
- Who is Eligble to Receive Informed Delivery?
- Limitations of Informed Delivery
- USPS Informed Delivery FAQs
- USPS Informed Delivery Resources
What is Informed Delivery?
Informed Delivery is a free, optional notification feature offered by the USPS that allows postal customers to preview their letter-sized mail that is scheduled to be delivered to their home or mailing address. The service allows users to manage package delivery online, as well.
Digital images for mail scheduled for delivery that day are available for preview as early as 7PM the previous night. The service is available on a computer, tablet or mobile device and allows customers to view their mail contents when traveling or as an alternative to walking to their mailbox in inclement weather or driving to a PO Box to check if mail has arrived.
The USPS rolled out Informed Delivery in a soft launch in 2014. An expansion of the program followed in 2017 and then again in 2019 to reach over 15 million users. Postal customers who sign up for Informed Delivery have the ability to preview a digital image of the mail they will receive, usually the next day, at least ten hours before it is actually delivered. This can be done via email notification, online dashboard, or mobile app.
In other words, you can check your Informed Delivery at 7PM on Monday night to see what will be in your mailbox on Tuesday afternoon. The program is helpful in combatting postal theft, as customers can be made aware of an item that appears in the digital preview but has failed to be delivered in their mailbox. Knowing when important pieces of mail will be delivered trains recipients to retrieve their mail promptly, further reducing the chances of identify theft.
The Benefits of Informed Delivery
The overriding benefit of Informed Delivery is peace of mind, as you can keep close track of important pieces of mail. Close monitoring of incoming mail is a highly effective way to reduce the chances of having your identity stolen.
As a rule, we never let critical mail items sit in our mailbox for long and certainly not overnight. Conversely, it is liberating to know when only junk mail is coming to your mailbox. In that situation, you do not have to worry about unnecessarily trekking to your mailbox late at night or through inclement weather.
How Does Informed Delivery Work?
The United States Postal Service digitally images the front exterior of letter-sized mail that runs through its automated mail sorting equipment, as part of the mail handling and sorting process.
These same digital images are now being directed to residents, who have signed up and have been verified for Informed Delivery, as a “push notification” email with the digital images attached. This service is also offered to PO Box holders in eligible zip code locations.
What is in the Informed Delivery Email Notification?
Customers of Informed Delivery receive an email, usually by 9AM each morning, sent to their personal email accounts from USPS Informed Delivery. If there is no mail for a particular customer on a regular mail day, no email is sent. Informed Delivery is not available on non-mail delivery days, namely Sundays and Federal Holidays. To ensure you receive these email notifications, please check your Email Opt-In settings to make sure your email notifications are turned on and are using the right email address. If you still aren’t seeing any emails, please check your spam filter settings and make sure that you add the Informed Delivery email address to your email contacts: USPSInformeddelivery@email.
The email subject header is formatted as:
Your Daily Digest for <Day-of-Week>, <Month>, <Day>
The email contains grayscale images of the front exterior of up to 10 items of mail scheduled for delivery, usually that day, or arriving soon. Information on mail items scheduled for potential delivery can also be found by accessing the USPS Dashboard directly and entering your user name and password to view digital images for mail, as early as 7PM the previous night.
Incidentally, the dashboard has all of the images of letter sized mail to be delivered, whereas the email sent to customers limits the item count to 10.
What If I Do Not Receive an Item Listed in Informed Delivery?
If an item for which you receive a digital image for that day fails to show up in your mailbox, simply logon to the Informed Delivery dashboard and notify USPS. Next to each item’s digital image is a clickable box I Didn’t Receive This Mailpiece
Clicking on the box for items that did not arrive in your mailbox informs USPS that the physical mailpiece was not delivered. This information is routed to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and/or the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for investigative purposes. No additional action is taken; these submissions do not result in any search activity or customer response. The USPS does however suggests allowing several days for the missing mail item to appear in your mailbox, as an errant delivery may have occurred or the postal carrier may not have received that item in his daily batch that day.
The USPS does recommend that customers contact the sender of the missing mailpiece, especially if the item contains a check, which can result in check washing fraud. Persistent delivery issues should be reported to your local Post Office.
How is Certified Mail Handled through Informed Delivery?
Any additional items with USPS Tracking, such as Registered or Certified mail, as well as incoming packages, are also viewable with Informed Delivery. Status of the mailpiece is noted and users can provide instruction to USPS to re-direct, return or re-schedule any of these trackable items. Separate tracking updates can also be received for USPS Tracking items as separate emails or text notifications.
Where is Informed Delivery Offered?
Informed Delivery is now available to eligible residential and eligible PO Box consumers in the majority of ZIP Code locations across the country. Visit the USPS Informed Delivery website to sign up and check if your address is eligible for the feature.
Who is Eligble to Receive Informed Delivery?
Informed Delivery is available to residential consumers and eligible personal PO Box addresses. However, it is not currently available to business customers.
You must live in an eligible ZIP Code location and be able to verify your identity in order to sign up for Informed Delivery. You also need a mailbox address that is uniquely coded to work with Informed Delivery. In rare instances, a person may live in an eligible ZIP Code, but be prohibited from signing up due to not having a uniquely coded mailbox. 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.
The unique coding is required so that the service can accurately send notifications to the intended address only. Mailboxes in high density residential areas (e.g. apartment buildings and condos) are more susceptible to not having unique coding.
If your address is currently not uniquely coded, the USPS recommends checking back at a later date, as they are continually attempting to increase the number of addresses that will work with Informed Delivery.
The USPS has also stated that they hope to offer Informed Delivery to small business customers in the future.
Limitations of Informed Delivery
Informed Delivery, although an excellent and innovative use of digital technology, is not flawless.
There have been a number of times that a digital image for an item appeared in the morning email only to not appear physically in our mailbox. Following the instructions, we clicked on the email stating that the email was not received, but nothing happened. The fact that this feature exists is superfluous and ridiculous. Why bother to notify the USPS that an item is missing if they have no process for tracking the item and working with customers to rresolve missing mail issues?
Only mail processed on USPS automated sorting equipment is included in the Informed Delivery notification. Larger items of mail such as catalogues, magazines and items larger than a mail-sized envelope are not included in the digital scan. Instead customers receive a notification stating:
“A mailpiece for which we do not currently have an image is included in today’s mail.”
Recently, Informed Delivery customers have been hit with SPAM from fraudsters attempting to gain personal information, such as user names and passwords. Emails with headers ” Your Package Received Today will be Returned” are merely attempt at phishing or social engineering attempts to steal user data including login credentials and credit card information.
In Summer 2021, the USPS discontinued the Informed Delivery app for download. Users who have not previously downloaded the app must perform all digital item viewing by logging into their informed delivery account on the USPS website or through emails sent via daily notifications.
Delivery instructions are overruled if a package fits into a mailbox. This defeats the purpose of combatting postal theft if a customer instructs USPS to deliver the package elsewhere or to place it in an alternative or concealed spot to thwart thieves.
Delivery instructions for packages are not available for all items. A list of those items for which this service is unavailable is on the USPS website.
USPS Informed Delivery FAQs
- What is Informed Delivery?
- How does Informed Delivery work?
- What is in the Informed Delivery email notification?
- What if I do not receive an item listed in Informed Delivery?
- How is certified mail handled through Informed Delivery?
- Where is Informed Delivery offered?
- Who is eligble to receive Informed Delivery?
- What time does the Informed Delivery dashboard update?
- What time is the Informed Delivery Daily Digest email sent?
- Why was my mail scanned but not delivered?
- Where is mail scanned for informed delivery?
What Time Does the Informed Delivery Dashboard Update?
The Informed Delivery online dashboard will be updated with images of the next day’s mail no later than after midnight on days with scheduled mail (i.e. all days excluding Sundays and Federal Holidays). However, depending on your area and local processing facility, previews can be viewable as early as 7PM to 8PM the night before. Be aware that additional mail items may be added after your early evening preview, with the midnight processing time including the last items for the next day’s mail.
What Time is the Informed Delivery Daily Digest Email Sent?
The daily Informed Delivery email digest is sent once daily typically before 9:00AM local time, Monday through Saturday, excluding Federal Holidays. The daily digest email can be received as early as 7AM to 8AM. If you do not have mail scheduled to be delivered, you will not receive the daily digest.
Why was my mail scanned but not delivered?
The most likely reason that a scanned mail item was not delivered is that it did not reach your local post office in time for the daily delivery. Postal mail items are actually scanned in another processing center, so even though you may see scanned images of your mail, this does not mean that they are physically at your local branch ready for delivery.
Where is mail scanned for informed delivery?
The mail you see using Informed Delivery is actually scanned at large USPS sorting and processing facilities, and not at your local post office. These centers are equipped with high-speed cameras that capture digital images during the sorting process. This necessary reliance on dedicated scanning and sorting centers is a common reason why some scanned emails may not arrive in the next delivery batch, due to timing issues.
USPS Informed Delivery Resources
Recommended Home Services Articles
- Best Online Legal Services for Homeowners & Property Owners
- Important Must-Have Legal Documents for Homeowners
- 10 Traits of Innovative Homeowners
- How Technology is Influencing What Consumers Want from Homeownership
|Purgula is reader-supported. When you click on links to other sites from our website, we may earn affiliate commissions, at no cost to you. If you find our content to be helpful, this is an easy way for you to support our mission. Thanks! Learn more.|