How to Send a Letter

Last revision: Last revision:15th November 2023

Once a letter has been drafted, it must be sent to the recipient. This can be done in different ways and which is most beneficial in the individual case varies.

Sending a letter in Australia may seem straightforward, but there are various factors to consider depending on the circumstances and the importance of the letter. This guide will cover different methods of sending letters, and the pros and cons of each option.

Before sending a letter, it is a good idea to check if there are any rules specific to the particular matter which specify how letters should be sent. For example, some contracts might contain specific rules about how letters should be sent. In addition, some recipients (especially large companies or authorities) might state their preference for how to write to them (such as via a "Contact Us" page on their website).

Registered mail

What is it?

Registered mail is a special type of mail that provides extra security and proof that a letter has been sent and received. If a document is sent by registered mail, the sender receives written confirmation both that the letter has been sent and that it has been received. Registered mail is also assigned a tracking number, which makes it possible to follow the shipment.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantage of sending a letter by registered mail is that it provides a higher level of security compared to sending letters via regular mail. In many cases, legal documents contain sensitive information, which is why it is of great importance that they are handled securely. By sending documents by registered mail, they can be tracked and it can be ensured that the recipient has received them.

On the other hand, if documents are sent via regular post, it is not certain that the letter has actually been received by the recipient.

A disadvantage of registered mail is that the cost is higher than for letters sent by regular mail. The price for registered mail depends on weight and where it is being sent. Another disadvantage is that it can take longer than delivery by regular mail. This is because the recipient of registered mail must acknowledge it in person (and therefore must be present at the time it is delivered), while a letter sent by regular mail can be delivered to the recipient's mail box.

Requirement for registered mail

Not all letters need to be sent by registered mail. However, sometimes it might be required by the specific circumstances of the matter. For example, if the letter relates to a contract, then the contract might contain a requirement that any letters are sent by registered mail. In addition, for some court related matters, documents might need to be sent by registered mail.

If original documents need to be sent (rather than copies), then they should be sent as securely as possible. In some cases, the law requires that a document be delivered in person. If this is not possible, shipment via registered mail may be accepted (but you should always check what is permitted for your particular situation).

Delivery in person

Delivery in person means that a letter is physically delivered to a person without any intermediary such as a postal service. This is an even safer alternative than sending letters via registered mail, as the sender receives immediate confirmation that the letter has been received. Delivery of letters in person reduces the risk of loss and delay. This type of delivery is mainly used when terminating contracts or serving important documents before a legal process.

Online portals

Many authorities and large businesses have some kind of online portal where they might receive letters and other documents. For example, this might be found through a "Contact Us" page on their website.

This enables the handling of documentation online and traditional mail handling is therefore not necessary. Many times, authorities prefer that letters be sent via their portal as it is a safer alternative than both regular mail and registered mail. Documents managed via online portals are often protected with encryption and other security measures to prevent unauthorised access. Sending mail via an online portal is both efficient and environmentally friendly.

Ordinary mail

Ordinary mail is sent with Australia Post, just like registered mail. The difference between them is that ordinary mail is not traceable and handling takes place without any extra security measures. If documents are sent by regular mail, the sender is not given any confirmation of delivery or receipt. There is no requirement that anyone sign for this type of mail, which means that it can be sent to the recipient's mail box. There is also no tracking for this kind of mail.

The cost of sending letters by ordinary mail is also lower than the cost of registered mail. As legal documents often contain sensitive information and it is important that they are delivered to the right person, it is more risky to use ordinary mail.


Sending a letter by email means that it is sent digitally from one email address to another. In most cases it is allowed to send legal documents by email but it may be good to check this with the recipient in advance. If the document is to be signed before it is sent, it can either be done electronically via an e-signature service or in person.

If signing takes place in person, the document can be printed, signed, scanned in and then attached to the email. When sending sensitive documents via email, it is important to ensure that the email and the document itself are properly encrypted to prevent unauthorised access. If the parties agree, and encryption can be ensured, email can be a good method of sending legal documents as it means a quick delivery. It can be particularly useful when there are deadlines to consider.

However, even when delivery of email normally takes place directly, it can be difficult to prove that a document has actually been received, which can lead to a dispute. Some email services offer an opportunity for the sender to receive a delivery confirmation or a notification that an email message or attachment has been opened. If this is not possible, registered letters, online portals and delivery of letters in person are safer alternatives for sending legal documents.

In conclusion

There are various ways to send a letter, each with a range of advantages and disadvantages.

In some cases, the specific circumstances of the matter will dictate how the letter is to be sent. For example, in some cases there is a legal requirement, or a requirement in a contract, for a letter to be sent a particular way. Or in some cases, the recipient may have a preferred means of contact. For big businesses and government authorities, there is often information on their website about the best ways to write to them.

A document that is sent by registered mail is sent with tracking, and requires the recipient to provide a signature to acknowledge receipt of it. Usually, confirmation is sent to the sender both when the letter is sent and when it is received.

Regular mail is sent without this security. There is no tracking, and the sender does not get anything to confirm whether the letter has actually be received by the recipient. Regular mail is a cheaper alternative but also entails a greater risk of the letter getting lost or ending up in the wrong person's hands.

Letters delivered in person are one of the safest ways to deliver letters, as the sender receives immediate confirmation that the letter has arrived. The disadvantage of this type of delivery method, however, is that the sender must physically get to the recipient.

Online portals are used by many large businesses and authorities and are often their preferred way of receiving letters. The letter is then sent via digital means and electronic platforms. When an online portal is not available, email is another option.

When sending letters digitally, it is important to prevent unauthorised access, which is often done via encryption. Sending letters digitally is both efficient and environmentally friendly.

Choosing the right method for sending a letter in Australia depends on various factors like the nature of the letter, the requirement for legal proof, and convenience. Always weigh the pros and cons of your options, particularly when it comes to obtaining proof of receipt, as it could be crucial down the line.

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