How to Send a Letter

Last revision: Last revision:November 17th, 2023
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Sending a letter is a traditional and reliable means of communication that, even in the internet age, is still commonly used today. Whether it is a personal letter, a formal business document, or any other type of correspondence, following the right steps ensures your letter reaches its intended recipient in a timely and secure manner. This guide will outline the process of sending a letter that has been written, exploring all the different options when it comes to how to send the letter.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a method to send a legal letter or documents, several important considerations should be taken into account to ensure the security, efficiency, and compliance of the communication.

  1. Legal requirements: Check if there are any legal requirements or regulations specifying the method of delivery for the particular type of legal document. Some documents may need to be sent by certified mail or through a specific legal process.
  2. Contractual obligations: Review any contractual agreements involved. Contracts may stipulate the method of communication, so it is critical to comply with these terms to avoid potential disputes.
  3. Nature of the documents: Consider the nature of and sensitivity of the legal documents. Highly confidential or sensitive information may require a more secure and traceable method of delivery.
  4. Proof of delivery: Assess the need for proof of delivery. Some legal matters may require confirmation that the recipient received the documents. Choose a method that provides a reliable proof of delivery, such as certified mail or courier services with tracking.
  5. Recipient's preference: If known, take into account the recipient's preferred means of communication. Some individuals or organizations may prefer electronic methods, while others may require physical copies. Large entities, such as corporations, often have instructions or online communication portals on their websites.
  6. Urgency: Evaluate the urgency of the communication. If time is of the essence, consider expedited or express delivery services. Electronic methods, such as email, are generally quicker than traditional mail.
  7. Security measures: Consider the security features offered by the chosen method. For some sensitive legal information, it may be necessary to use encrypted email, secure courier services, or methods that minimize the risk of interception.
  8. Record keeping: Think about the record keeping capabilities of the chosen method. Electronic communication typically provides a digital trail, while physical methods may require meticulous documentation of delivery receipts.


Sending legal documents by mail, whether through traditional postal services or courier services, has been a long-standing method of legal communication. Understanding the different options for delivery allows the sender to select the most suitable service for their letter based on factors like delivery speed, tracking, and security.

Pros: Mailing legal documents adds a level of formality to communication that isn't present with using email communication. It is often considered an official and recognized method in legal proceedings. Many postal and courier services offer tracking options, providing a record of when the documents were dispatched, in transit, and delivered. This tracking information can serve as proof of delivery. Mailed documents provide a tangible, physical record of the communication. This can be important in situations where having a hard copy with signatures or official stamps is required. Sending legal documents by mail is a widely accepted and accessible method. Mailing documents can be a more secure option than electronic methods for sensitive information, as physical interception is less common than electronic interception.

Cons: The process of mailing documents can be time-consuming, especially if the recipient is located in a different geographic area. Delays can occur due to factors such as transportation issues, customs clearance, or local postal service efficiency. There is a risk of documents being lost or damaged in transit. While tracking services help mitigate this risk, it does not eliminate the possibility entirely. Mailing legal documents can incur costs, including postage fees, courier charges, and the expense of additional services such as tracking or insurance. These costs may be higher compared to electronic methods.

First-class mail

First-class mail is the standard option for sending letters and small packages, and pricing starts at $0.66 for a standard-sized rectangular envelope. The time for delivery is typically within one to five business days (Monday through Friday), but is very dependent on the distance between the sender and the recipient. There is limited tracking available for letters sent through first-class mail. However, this is a common option for everyday due to its affordability, with postage rates based on weight and size.

Priority Express mail

Priority express mail is the fastest option, ideal for time sensitive documents. Express mail offers guaranteed delivery within one to three business days. It also offers more detailed tracking and delivery options than first-class mail. Due to the expedited service, it is more expensive than first-class mail, starting at $9.65.

Certified mail

Certified mail is a service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that provides proof of mailing and delivery. It is commonly used for important documents and legal notices. It incurs an additional charge starting at $4.35, which is paid in addition to the regular postage depending on whether it is being sent first-class or priority. Certified mail provides a level of security by requiring the recipient's signature upon delivery, which creates a record that the letter was received. Certified mail offers basic tracking capabilities, allowing the sender to check the delivery status online. Certified mail is most often used when the sender needs proof that they mailed a document, such as a legal notice, contract, or essential correspondence, and they need confirmation that the letter was delivered, along with the date and time of delivery. Certified mail creates a legally recognized record of communication.

Registered mail

Registered mail is a specialized mail service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS). It is designed for sending valuable or sensitive items that require the highest level of security, tracking, and accountability. To use this service, it costs $16.80, which is paid in addition to the regular postage. Time for delivery varies, but registered mail is one of the most secure mailing options. Each piece of registered mail is sealed in a tamper-evident envelope and tracked at every step of its journey. Registered mail requires a signature at every point of transfer, ensuring that this item is only released to authorized individuals. Registered mail is a popular choice for legal documents, notices, and court papers where proof of delivery is critical. Registered mail is more expensive than standard mail services, like first-class mail, due to the heightened security and extensive tracking it offers.

Though registered mail and certified mail share similarities in that they both provide proof of mailing and delivery, they differ in several key ways. Registered mail offers a higher level of security compared to certified mail. Registered mail items are sealed in a tamper-evident envelope and are handled with heightened security protocols. While both services offer tracking, registered mail provides more extensive tracking and records each handling step, ensuring a comprehensive chain of custody. Registered mail is generally more expensive than certified mail due to its enhanced security and tracking features. Certified mail is often used for important but less sensitive items, whereas registered mail is reserved for highly valuable or sensitive items that cannot be replaced.

Sending the Letter

Once the letter has been put in an envelope and addressed and the appropriate mail option has been selected, it can be sent in one of the following manners.

Post office

The local post office or postal service provider handles the vast majority of mailed letters. The letter should be placed in the appropriate mail slot or handed to a postal worker. The postage should be paid at the post office based on the chosen mail option and the weight and size of the letter. Some post offices offer self-serve kiosks. If the sender preserves one of these, they should follow the on-screen instructions to weigh the letter and select the desired mail service. If applicable, the sender will receive a receipt with a tracking number.


Letters can be sent online via various mail and courier services. If a sender wishes to use this option, they should visit the website of their chosen service and follow the instructions to create an account and schedule their letter for pickup or drop-off. They can then pay for postage online and print a label with a tracking number.

Sending legal documents by hand delivery or through a process server involves physically delivering the documents to the intended recipient. If required by law or for added formality, hire a licensed process server. Process servers are trailed to serve legal documents in accordance with legal requirements. Ensure that the person delivering the documents collects proof of service, such as a signed acknowledgement or an affidavit, which can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. Understand and follow the legal procedures for hand delivery or process serving in your jurisdiction. This may include specific timelines, methods, and documentation requirements.

Pros: Hand delivery and process serving provide a clear and indisputable proof of delivery. The person delivering the documents can obtain a signed acknowledgement, providing evidence that the recipient received the documents. Hand delivery and process serving add a level of formality to legal proceedings. It is often viewed as a more formal and official means of communication than using the mail. Physical delivery can also enhance the security of the documents. It eliminates the risk of interception or unauthorized access that may be associated with electronic methods like email. In some cases, hand delivery or process serving is a legal requirement for certain types of documents, especially those initiating legal actions or court proceedings.

Cons: Hand delivery and process serving can be time-consuming and may involve additional costs, such as hiring a process server or courier service. This method may not be as quick or cost-effective as electronic methods. Physical delivery may be impractical or expensive in cases where the recipient is located in a distant or remote location. This can be a challenge in international or long-distance legal matters. Unlike electronic communication, physical delivery is limited by the availability of the recipient at the specified address. If the recipient is not present, additional attempts may be necessary.

Sending legal documents by email has become a common practice due to its convenience and efficiency. However, there are considerations that must be made before doing so. To send a legal document through email, a secure email platform should be used that offers encryption to protect the content of the email and its attachments. Consider password-protecting sensitive attachments and sharing the password through a separate, secure communication channel. Request read receipts or confirmation replies to have a record of when the recipient opened the email and accessed the documents. For documents that must be signed, that can be done either electronically via an e-signature service or in person by printing, signing, and then scanning the document and including it as an attachment to the email.

Pros: One of the primary advantages of sending legal documents by email is the speed at which the documents can be transmitted. Email is also a cost-effective method compared to traditional mail services. There are no postage costs and it eliminates the need for physical copies. Email allows for easy collaboration, as multiple parties can receive and review documents simultaneously. Finally, emails provide a digital trail of communication, making it easy to track and reference specific documents or discussions.

Cons: One of the main drawbacks of sending legal documents through email is the potential security risks. Emails can be intercepted and attachments may be vulnerable to hacking or unauthorized access. Ensuring the authenticity of email and its attachments can also be challenging. It may be difficult to prove that the recipient received and opened the email, which can be crucial in legal matters.

Final Takeaways

Sending a legal letter or documents is a straightforward process, as long as someone knows how to address the envelope properly and choose the most suitable mail option. By following the steps outlined in this guide, anyone can ensure their letter reaches its intended destination securely and efficiently. Whether you're sending a personal message, a formal document, or important correspondence, using the right approach makes all the difference.

  • Sending a letter offers various methods, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
    • The choice of how to send a letter is often influenced by specific circumstances related to the matter.
    • Legal requirements or contractual obligations may dictate a particular method for sending a letter.
  • The recipient's preferred means of contract can play a role in determining the sending method.
    • Larger entities, such as corporations or government authorities, typically provide guidelines on their websites for the optimal ways to correspond with them.
  • Selection of the most suitable method depends on factors like the letter's nature, legal proof requirements, and considerations of convenience.

About the Author: Malissa Durham is a Legal Templates Programmer and Attorney at Wonder.Legal and is based in the U.S.A.

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