Registered Mail can be tracked but only to a point. It's not like tracking parcels, which are scanned at various points along their route, giving you near-real-time positioning. Instead, Registered Mail hearkens back to a less complex but more uncertain time — like the 1980s — when simply knowing that a letter arrived in the right hands was a premium service worth an additional price.
In the United States, Registered Mail is kept separate from other letters and packages. It's always stored in a secure area, and access to it is restricted. Once your Registered Mail crosses the border, USPS no longer controls it, so it is handled according to the procedures used by the mail service in the destination country.
The mail service in the destination country does not have to get a signature to deliver the mail. You will simply be told when it arrived in the destination country's post office. International Registered Mail does not offer expedited delivery or guaranteed delivery times.
You can use International Registered Mail if the service is available in the destination country for First-Class mail, postcards, postal cards and packages, including free matter for the blind. It's not available for Priority Mail or Global Express Guaranteed items.
There are several ways to find the status of your Registered Mail. It's the same process if you sent the letter to an address in the U.S. or abroad. In each case, you will need the tracking number from your receipt. Registered Mail delivery data is stored for two years.
For companies that provide USPS with an electronic manifest, the status of Registered Mail can be retrieved using bulk electronic file transfers. However, for most small businesses as well as individuals, there are four ways to track Registered Mail, including International Registered Mail:
- Go to USPS.com and select the "USPS Tracking" option. Type your receipt tracking number in the search field. The webpage will tell you the delivery status of the letter.
- Call USPS customer service at 1-800-222-1811 and tell them your tracking number.
- Send a text to 28777 (2USPS) using your tracking number as the content of your text message.
- Download the USPS app for your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet and enter the tracking number there.
Currently, International Registered Mail costs an extra $16.00 on top of what the letter would normally cost to mail. Registered Mail addressed within the U.S. starts at $12.60 but can cost more depending on the declared value.
Registered Mail isn't the only way to send a letter internationally. USPS offers other services to 190 countries, although the prices are higher than Registered Mail.
- Global Express Guaranteed: Letters and packages are delivered within one to three business days with a money-back guarantee. The cost starts at $67.80, and international delivery is provided by FedEx Express.
- Priority Mail Express International: Letters and packages are delivered within three to five business days. Letters can be sent in a flat-rate envelope for a price starting at $45.95.
- Priority Mail International: This service includes shipment tracking in a free flat-rate envelope for letters. The cost starts at $26.90.
These services give you additional options for an additional cost, like insuring the contents of your letter, delivery confirmation and limited tracking as well as a certificate of mailing, which gives you proof that the item was sent when you say it was.