Is Snail Mail Catching Up?

The US Postal Service is rolling out a new service called Informed Delivery, a rather ominous name for something quite helpful.


When you have mail, they scan and email the images of envelopes that are going to be delivered to you that day. They’re simple black and white scans of regular-sized envelopes. Catalogs and magazines aren’t included yet. And USPS doesn’t open your mail, so there are no privacy issues. Of course, a determined hacker could get intercept your email, but they’d still only see the contact information on the outside of the envelope.


The Informed Delivery service was rolled out a year ago in a few areas, and will be available by April 14th in most other zip codes.


This is great for when you are expecting time-sensitive, or important, documents through the mail, such as a passports or tax documents. Or, if something you mailed out has been returned undelivered, you’ll get a heads-up right away.


This service may also help prevent thefts from less secure mailboxes, because mail won’t be sitting there for days before the owner picks it up. Also, if roommates and family members share a mailbox, there is complete transparency as to what arrives each day and for whom.


Seniors, and others who still receive checks by mail, will have confirmation that their mail has arrived safely. If something goes missing, they’ll at least know where to start looking, and take measures to prevent the same thing from happening again.


On the website, create an account, sign up for Informed Delivery, and then wait for the physical verification letter that USPS will send you. It contains a code that ensures the right email address is associated with your physical address.


This is not new tech, just a new service. USPS’s sorting machines already scan and track packages and envelopes as they arrive at each facility in the delivery chain. It’s just awesome that they’re sharing the technology with us.