If you ever travel for an extended period of time, you’ve probably wondered how to handle your mail. And if you’re juggling multiple credit cards and bank accounts, that can cause some anxiety — What if I miss something important in the mail? Should I have someone open everything for me? Do I just let it pile up and deal with it when I get home? Did my significant other throw away something important while I was gone? Thankfully, there is a free service from the US Postal Service that I believe has now rolled out nearly nationwide: USPS Informed Delivery. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and I’m pleasantly surprised at this innovative and useful service — so I thought some readers may be interested also.
How it works
Once you sign up, you receive an email each morning (mine come in around 7am) with scans of the mail scheduled for delivery that day. Here are some examples:
What it doesn’t scan
The post office doesn’t scan things other than letters and postcards. For instance, we get The Wall Street Journal delivered — we don’t get a scan of the front page. Magazines and packages don’t get scanned, either.
How to sign up
Click the picture below to go to the USPS site and start the sign up process:
Click “View My Mail” and it will prompt you to sign in to your USPS account. If you do not have a USPS.com account, you can sign up for one. I believe there is some sort of process for verifying your physical address if you have not previously had a USPS.com account — so you may not be able to sign up for informed delivery immediately if you need to do some sort of verification. I’ve had a USPS.com account for years as I occasionally buy postage or order boxes (Priority Mail boxes are free and don’t cost anything to deliver — it’s convenient to have some lying around).
Once you log in to your account, you will chose “Informed Delivery” as you see here under the “Account Management” section of “My Preferences”.
That brings you to the following page where you confirm opt-in and your address. This whole process took me less than 90 seconds.
Will it work if I have a mail hold?
According to a commenter at Reddit, you will continue to receive the daily scans even if you have a hold on your mail:
That’s very convenient. As straver says in that post, the proof of date could also be useful — have you ever received a mail offer that expired before you received it? This could come in handy.
This service doesn’t open your mail and scan what’s inside — it only provides scans of the outside (and only the side with your address — you won’t get the back and front of a postcard). I have read about services like open your mail and scan what’s inside, but have been wary for privacy concerns. This service is a great innovation from the USPS — it takes a process they are surely already doing (scanning the mail to sort it) and makes it useful for customers. If you manage multiple credit card / bank accounts, this service could be particularly useful for keeping track of the mail when you’re not at home. And the cost of admission (free) makes this very worthwhile in my opinion.
Have you signed up for USPS Informed Delivery? Are you happy with the service? Let us know in the comments.