Contents Index
S900 Special Postal Services
S910 Security and Accountability

S915 Return Receipt


S915 describes why and when a return receipt is required, the specific classes of mail included, endorsement conditions, fees and postage, refund policy, and procedures to follow when using this special service.

1.0 Basic Information


Return receipt service provides a mailer with evidence of delivery (to whom the mail was delivered and date of delivery). After delivery, the return receipt is mailed back to the sender. A return receipt requested before mailing also supplies the recipient’s actual delivery address, if the delivery address is different from the address used by the sender. A return receipt may be requested before or after mailing.

1.2Eligible Matter

Return receipt service is available for Express Mail. It is available also for First-Class Mail (including Priority Mail) and Package Services when purchased at the time of mailing with one of the following services:

a. Certified mail.

b. COD.

c. Insurance (for more than $50).

d. Registered mail.


Mail for which return receipt service is requested must be endorsed “Return Receipt Requested” above the delivery address and to the right of the return address.

1.4Fee and Postage

The applicable fee for return receipt service must be paid in addition to postage and other fees. For purposes of computing postage, the weight of the return receipt is excluded from the weight of the mailpiece to which it is attached.

1.5Privately Printed Form 3811

If authorized, a mailer may use a privately printed Form 3811. The privately printed form must be nearly identical in design and color to postal-provided forms. A minimum of three preproduction samples must be submitted to the business mail entry manager serving the mailer’s location for review and approval by the mailpiece design analyst.


Return receipt fees are refunded only if the USPS fails to furnish a return receipt.

1.7Additional Services

If return receipt service has already been purchased with one of the services listed in 1.2, then one or more of the following special services may be combined with those services at the time of mailing if the applicable standards for the services are met and the additional service fees are paid:

a. Delivery Confirmation (Priority Mail and Package Services only).

b. Parcel airlift service (PAL) (Priority Mail and Package Services only).

c. Restricted delivery.

d. Signature Confirmation (Priority Mail and Package Services only).

e. Special handling.

2.0 Obtaining Service

2.1At Time of Mailing

The mailer may request the service at the time of mailing by using Form 3811 and marking the mail with appropriate endorsement in 1.3. A firm mailer must complete the mailer’s entries on the form, including the article identification number; attach the form; and place the correct one on the article. The name and address of the person or organization to which the return receipt is to be returned must be that of the mailer or the mailer’s agent. The mailpiece must bear the return address of either the mailer or mailer’s agent.

2.2After Mailing

The mailer may request a delivery record after mailing for Express Mail, certified mail, registered mail, COD mail, and mail insured for more than $50. When a delivery record is available, the USPS provides the mailer information from that record, including to whom the mail was delivered and the date of delivery. The mailer requests a delivery record by completing Form 3811-A, paying the appropriate fee in R900, and submitting the request to the appropriate office as follows:

a. For items mailed to an APO/FPO, U.S. territory or possession, or freely associated state (with the exception of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), the form should be sent to the office of delivery.

b. For all other items, send the form to any post office.

2.3Time Limit

A request for a return receipt after mailing for Express Mail must be submitted within 90 days after the date of mailing. All other requests must be submitted within 2 years from the date of mailing.

3.0 Delivery

Delivery of mail for which a return receipt is requested is subject to D042.

4.0 Requests for Delivery Information

4.1Receipt Not Received

After a reasonable period, not longer than 2 years after the date of mailing, a mailer who did not receive return receipt service for which the mailer had paid may request information from the delivery record, using Form 3811-A. Any request for such information for Express Mail must be filed within 90 days after the date of mailing.

4.2Form 3811-A

The mailer must complete Form 3811-A at any post office. The applicable fee is waived if the mailer can produce a receipt showing that the applicable return receipt fee was paid.


The fee for a return receipt after mailing is not charged for a duplicate receipt for certified mail if the original Form 3800 was date-stamped by a post office at the time of mailing.

DMM Issue 58 (8-10-03)