What Happens to Certified Mail That Is Not Picked Up?

by Sara Hickman; Updated September 26, 2017

When you are sending money or a legal document, you can send the items through certified mail to ensure that it reaches its destination. This service costs additional money aside from postage, because the mail delivery person must obtain a signature upon delivery. If the recipient is not home, a note is left from the post office to pick up the mail at the post office.

Pick Up

To obtain the piece of mail, you must present a card that is left in your mail box from the post office. On this note, it will give you a confirmation number and the name of the person or company that sent the mail. Take this card to the post office with your identification, and the postal worker will give you the piece of mail. You will need to sign for it at the post office.

Warning

If you do not pick up the mail, you will be notified again that the mail is waiting for you at the post office. It is the same type of notification you originally received (a peach slip of paper). You must take this slip along with your ID to the post office to pick up the mail. There is no fine or penalty to pick up certified mail; it's simply a reminder that mail is waiting for you.

Failure to Pick Up

When you don't pick up the mail after the warning, it is sent back to the sender free of charge. The mail will be delivered back to the company or person as certified mail as well, in case it contains important contents. To resend the mail, the original sender will have to repackage the item, send it again and pay for the certification service.

Process

To send something as certified mail, you must visit the post office or print a label off the Internet. You will pay an extra fee and must fill out additional information as to where the mail is going to and where it is coming from. You can also do this at mail self-service kiosks.

About the Author

Sara Hickman owns a preschool science-based entertainment business in the Greater Cincinnati area. She has a bachelor's degree in communication and psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.