Short Answer: The IRS, Social Security Administration, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services send certified mail. You may also get certified mail from attorneys, your local municipality, or your employer. For details on who sends certified mail letters, see below.
Reasons for Sending Certified Mail
Certified mail is an add-on service offered by the United States Postal Service. For a fee of $3.50 (in addition to standard postage), certified mail provides the sender with proof of receipt/delivery to the intended recipient. If the letter could not be delivered, it will also alert the sender that a delivery attempt was made. Along with the recipient’s signature, you can opt to have a verification email sent or a postcard mailed to you as another assurance of delivery.
Certified mail is most often used for official or legal correspondence. Because a signature is required upon delivery, it is commonly used by government and legal services, as well as employers. Certified mail is not necessarily bad news; it could be a final paycheck from your former employer or even naturalization documents from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Who Sends Certified Mail Letters?
Certified mail is most often used for official or legal documents of some kind. The most common services and agencies that use certified mail are outlined below.
Internal Revenue Service
The IRS sends some letters and notices via certified mail. Typically, this includes audit notices, Notice of Deficiency, and Notice of Intent to Levy, which by law must be sent certified mail. Other IRS letters, such as notifications of a change on a tax return, will be sent through the regular post.
You should always read and respond to a certified letter from the IRS. Mail will be the agency’s first attempt to contact you with a pressing matter; it will not contact you via phone or email.
Lawyers use certified mail to send summons, complaints, will notices/waivers, final decisions, and other documents as mandated by law.
Sending documents via certified mail does not have any major bearing in legal matters, but it can potentially be used in a dispute over whether or not the recipient truly received the documents.
Local municipalities send court summons, court judgments, subpoenas, notices from landlords regarding matters such as eviction, and notices from contractors via certified mail.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration has an option for blind and visually impaired individuals to receive SSA notices via certified mail. Postal workers must get a signature from the addressee or an authorized representative in order to deliver the letter. If the delivery cannot be made, the SSA says that you will have five days to pick up your notice from the post office. If there is no response after 15 days, it will be returned to the Social Security Administration.
Your place of employment may send important documents via certified mail, including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms or final paychecks.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The USCIS sends Certificate of Naturalization documents or denial letters via certified mail.
Our related article has the details on what to do if someone sends mail to the wrong address.