Informed Delivery by USPS – What is it? How does it work? | 2018 Review
This review is designed to give you a full understanding of the Informed Delivery service by USPS.
How you might ask?
Because we go in-depth about the questions you need answers to when using Informed Delivery by USPS.
In short: We spent countless hours reading documentation and figuring out exactly what Informed Delivery is all about.
Lets get started.
Informed Delivery FAQ:
- What is Informed Delivery?
- How do I sign up for Informed Delivery?
- How much does Informed Delivery cost?
- Why should I use Informed Delivery?
- Is Informed Delivery available everywhere?
- Am I eligible to use Informed Delivery?
- What are other users saying about Informed Delivery?
- What does the USPS get out of people using Informed Delivery?
What is Informed Delivery?
Informed Delivery by USPS is a relatively new service that allows you to preview mail and manage packages scheduled to arrive at your house that day.
The service allows users to view black and white images of the *outside (exterior) mailing face on letter rate mailpieces.
*The section that shows your name, mailing address, barcode and return address of person sending you the mail piece.
The photos you receive through Informed Delivery are only from letter rate pieces that qualify for bulk mail automation.
So you’re friends wedding invitation or a birthday card from grandma won’t show up on your list.
Each morning, you receive an email (or online account or app) black and white photos of your mail and/or packages expected to arrive at
your house or business that day.
This leads us to our next question…
How do I sign up for Informed Delivery?
Signing up for the Informed Delivery by USPS service requires a few steps.
Step 1: Create a USPS.com online account >>
The first tab has you enter in your mailing address.
It allows the USPS to know which address is going to receive Informed Delivery mail pieces.
If your address is found by the USPS, it will show the address verification tab with a “success” marker on it.
Basically saying “Hey, this is a known address in our system, we can deliver mail here.“
The second tab has you fill out a form for your account creation. Broken down by sections, this is pretty easy to understand and fill out without much help.
Complete the form and click CONTINUE to go to the next tab.
Third and final tab makes you verify your identity. This is so nobody can sign up to see what mail is coming to your house.
Choose one of the options: verify online or request invitation code by mail.
We went with the verify online option.
The screen brings up a series of multiple choice questions for you to answer based on your previous mailing history, phone numbers, area codes, etc…
It’s different for everyone and seems pretty random (we tried it a few times to make sure).
The second option of request invitation code by mail will send a letter to your current address with a special code inside.
You will have a wait a bit for the mail piece to come in before you can finish the sign up process.
Once you fully verify your identification, a success screen appears to confirm.
Next, you will be redirected to a middle page asking if you would like to enroll in Informed Delivery notifications.
Assuming you are here to learn how to sign up for this service, press Enroll. (You can always select No Thanks and do it later)
After you click ENROLL you will then be redirected to your account page.
Here is where you can view all current or past deliveries to your address.
As you can see it is separated by Mailpieces and Packages.
Only letter rate mailpieces that qualify for USPS automation (mailpieces with barcodes) can be viewed under that tab.
Packages will be displayed with a status and when clicked you can view the tracking information.
You can now use Informed Delivery by USPS to see what’s being mailed to your house.
But there’s another important question you might be asking….
How much does Informed Delivery cost?
The short answer is FREE for both consumers and commercial mailers.
Residential consumers just sign up for an USPS online account and edit their settings to allow Informed Delivery notifications (mentioned above).
However, it’s a different story for commercial mailers.
The sender of the mail could sign up for an Interactive Campaign which includes custom images also known as “Representative” and “Ride-Along” images. These can be used as a call-to-action message or promotion to visit your website.
Interactive Campaigns are fairly easy to set up and only include Campaign ID numbers (you create a random series of numbers), Campaign title, start and end date of campaign and ride along images (comes in two sizes).
A target URL can also be added so that it directs the viewer to a your website or other digital destination.
Simply put, the USPS combines the recipients barcode with your mailer ID’s Interactive Campaign and matches them up.
This will then allow recipients, who have Informed Delivery accounts, to view the automation letter rate mailpieces arriving at their home or business.
The costs to mailer advertisers are, frankly, less clear.
Attached is a quote from the USPS’s Informed Delivery FAQ:
Is there a fee for Informed Delivery campaigns or will there be one in the future?
“At this time, conducting an Informed Delivery interactive campaign with a Ride-along Image or dual
campaign (Ride-along and Representative Image) is provided at no additional cost to mailers. The
Postal Service® does, however, reserve the right to monetize new aspects of Informed Delivery in
We will update this information as soon as the USPS decides to charge you for it.
On to the next question.
Why should I use Informed Delivery?
For consumers, especially those who travel often, or have misdirected packages – it can help to know what’s happening with home direct mail delivery.
Especially when you can manage them online.
You can even leave delivery instructions or schedule a re-delivery if you happen to miss the first one.
But is it beneficial?
Such verification, especially with actual black and white snapshots, might be VERY HELPFUL in short-term situational uses.
In fact, most users actually respond well to the Informed Delivery by USPS service.
It allows you to brand your notifications to your recipients so they receive extra information such as promotions,
call to actions and more.
And with over 11 million people who have signed up for it, that’s more reach to targeted users.
To answer the question, you should use the service to keep track of mail, packages and as a business, provide more call to action to your brand or service.
With that in mind…
Is Informed Delivery available everywhere?
For the most part, YES.
The service is available in most ZIP codes, NOT ALL.
It seems the coverage area is targeted around “major cities“.
Especially on the coasts, such as San Francisco and New York, south-central Florida, northern Georgia, Chicago, Seattle, Northeast Seaboard, Hawaii, St. Paul MN, Oklahoma City, etc.
Even where it’s available, the adoption is still in its infancy, so expect many more changes to come.
We will update this review with any new information released by the USPS on this service.
If you live in those areas, you might ask…
Am I eligible to use Informed Delivery?
As long as you are within the service area, the answer is YES.
*The USPS states that eligibility is determined at time of sign-up.
When creating a USPS online account, explained above, it will let you know if you can or can’t use the service.
For mailers, keep in mind the amount of registered accounts and users that are in the eligible areas.
The Informed Delivery page updates weekly for user and household numbers. With the frequency of Move Updates (NCOA) the numbers will be changing constantly.
That way you can always stay on top of how many people can receive your Interactive Campaign and Informed Delivery notifications.
Let’s hear some comments from previous users.
What are others saying about Informed Delivery?
Let me give you a Zagat style overview of some of the better, less bot-like or robo-esque online reviews:
“Chuck” Paid-contributor at DoctorofCredit.com
Stated that the service is “only marginally interesting”.
Yet correctly noted that if you have a PO Box or travel a lot, or even have multiple addresses, “it’s a game-changer“.
Since Chuck does seem to have an active PO Box for his mailing address, he reports that “it’s super helpful to know what came and whether I need to stop by the post office.”
Receiving daily images via email, is also very helpful because he doesn’t have to log into his USPS.com Informed Delivery account to get these notices.
Nick Reyes at FrequentMiler.com
Found the service both “innovative and useful”, appreciated the cost (it’s free) and recommended it to his audience of frequent travelers.
Nick also reminds us that newspapers and packages don’t get scanned images – only letters and postcards get snapshots (addressed mailing face only).
He was further kind enough to reference a Reddit thread wherein other users of the Informed Delivery services noted accurately that permitted mail can now be date-stamped the day you receive it.
That you can see if the mail that was supposed to show up (e.g. credit card bills) actually did.
Brian Krebs of KrebsonSercurity.com
Feels that there are potentially significant security flaws arising from Informed Delivery.
He cautions his blog readers to have thoughtful consideration prior to a head-first plunge into the adoption pool.
Indeed, one early adopter in NYC stated in a blog comment that she began seeing images of other people’s mail from within her apartment building.
Brian’s well-written review, which naturally focuses on privacy and security, was one of the few to include pro/con input from multiple media angles.
Some of the raised eyebrow points, however, might be addressed by now given the 2017 blog posting.
Apparently the USPS is aware of such issues and has been making on-going fixes to the service.
What does the USPS get out of people using Informed Delivery?
It’s really quite simple:
The USPS has a lot at stake in getting people to continue to value direct mail.
This new service is a natural outgrowth of the USPS need, and perhaps obvious realization, that it must innovate to survive.
With other major services becoming more and more digital, the mailing service needs to keep pace with modern technology.
To sum up our review, Informed Delivery has its uses for both the consumer and business users. There are pros and cons to such a new service and only time will tell if it becomes the standard for mailing with the USPS. But from what we have experienced, it can…
- Provide consumers with snapshots of their scheduled mail
- Track and manage packages
- Leave delivery instructions
- Increase your web traffic with Interactive Campaigns
- Bring more customers/clients
- Grow your brand
And best of all…