The USPS (the U.S. Postal Service or, as most people refer to it, simply, ‘the post office’) Informed Delivery service is now in full swing. Announced earlier this year, with the Informed Delivery service you can sign up with the post office to have scans and notifications of your mail sent to you via email and text message, including first class envelopes and packages that are on their way to you.
Here’s how the post office describes it: “Informed Delivery is a free and optional notification service that gives residential consumers the ability to digitally preview their letter-sized mailpieces and manage their packages scheduled to arrive soon. Informed Delivery makes mail more convenient by allowing users to view what is coming to their mailbox whenever, wherever – even while traveling – on a computer, tablet, or mobile device.”
Now, before you get creeped out at the idea of the post office scanning the front of the envelopes of all of your 1st class mail, here’s the thing: they already are doing that anyways. Yep, that’s right, scanning the front of your envelopes has already been part of their sorting process for years. What’s new is their making those scans available to you. You have to admit, it’s kind of brilliant.
Sample Informed Delivery Email
As for packages, with Amazon now using the post office to deliver Amazon packages, this sort of package tracking becomes even more useful.
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So how, specifically, does it work?
The USPS Informed Delivery FAQ explains:
Users receive email notifications containing grayscale images of the exterior, address side of incoming letter-sized mailpieces that are arriving soon. These images are also accessible on the Informed Delivery dashboard at informeddelivery.usps.com… For items with USPS Tracking, users will be able to view delivery status of packages, provide USPS Delivery Instructions, manage their notifications, and schedule redelivery from the dashboard… Users can also receive USPS Tracking updates for incoming packages via separate email or text notifications. The dashboard displays mailpiece images for a seven-day period, while package information displays for 15 days after each package has been delivered. Users can opt-in to receive email or text notifications with status updates for incoming packages, too.
Wondering how to sign up for USPS Informed Delivery? Here you go!
How to Sign Up for the US Postal Service Informed Delivery Email and Text Messages of Your USPS Mail
Go to the post office Informed Delivery website (link below).
Look for the searchbox on that page to check whether Informed Delivery is available in your area (according to the post office, Informed Delivery is now available in most zip codes – it is not generally available for non-post office mailboxes such as PMBs).
Once the system confirms that you are in an eligible area, you will see this:
Now, here’s the thing, when you click that link, it’s going to take you to a page that looks like this:
And you are probably going to say “Huh??”
Welcome to the Poorly Designed User Interfaces Awards.
In order to actually sign up, you need to scroll down the page.
Ah, there it is:
At this point you may be thinking that the rest will be a breeze – your zip code is eligible, and you have successfully passed the test of finding the hidden signup button. But you would be wrong. You have only just begun to run the gauntlet of the USPS Informed Delivery signup process. But persevere, intrepid signer-upper.
After entering the routine things (name, address, etc.), you will be prompted to create a username and password.
In order to create your password, there are a host of restrictions. Your password must be at least 8 characters in length and include at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one number. Your password cannot include your username or more than two consecutive identical characters.
So, you dutifully will enter a password that meets all of these criteria, and:
(The red means that your password was rejected, try again.)
It turns out that if the system thinks that your password isn’t difficult enough, it will reject it – but not tell you why it is rejecting it. It doesn’t say “Password too easy to guess” or “Password contains (whatever it doesn’t like)” or anything. It just gives you the red-boxed password form. Again and again.
If you run into this with your first few password attempts, you may want to use a password generator to get over this hurdle.
Ok, username and password accepted.
NEXT, you will be subjected to those stupid ‘identity verification’ questions that are so in vogue with financial institutes and the like these days.
(Editorial rant: These are designed to make it very hard for you to verify that you are you – like really? Who knows what year their house was built?? – while hackers can just endrun the entire process by simply hacking the system such as the hackers hacking into Equifax.)
Once you get through all of this, however, you will see this sweet sign of success:
Now you can set up your Informed Delivery options. These include previewing incoming mail, tracking packages, providing delivery instructions, and even rescheduling delivery.
Email Notifications of Letter-Sized Mail
Email Notifications of Informed Delivery Package Tracking
Text Message Notifications of Informed Delivery Tracking
Note: You actually do not have to sign up for Informed Delivery to receive text message tracking of a given package delivery. All you need is the tracking number of the package, and then to send a text to 28777 (2USPS) with your tracking number as the content of the message. The text reply from USPS will be the latest tracking information for the item. In fact, you can even send the tracking number plus a keyword to get highly specific information back (how cool is that?)
The keywords and what information they return are:
AA – All past and future activity on the package
AF – Future activity only on the package
AP – Previous activity only on the package
DND – Notification of each delivery or delivery attempt
Delivery – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
Date – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
Update – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
When – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
Stop – Stop receiving Text Tracking messages for this label.
FD – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
Future – Expected / Guaranteed Delivery by or on, if available
TD – Expected delivery on, if available
Today – Expected delivery on, if available
AL – Delivery Exceptions on a package, such as weather delay or schedule a redelivery
Alert – Delivery Exceptions on a package, such as weather delay or schedule a redelivery
Alerts – Delivery Exceptions on a package, such as weather delay or schedule a redelivery
UP – Package available for Pick up
Pickup – Package available for Pick up
Pick-up – Package available for Pick up
So, for example, texting “1234567890987654323489 DND” to 2USPS would result in your receiving text notifications of each delivery or delivery attempt for the package associated with that tracking number (that’s what the DND keyword does). Texting “1234567890987654323489 UP” would cause you to receive a notification when the package is available for pickup at the post office.
But, we digress. You can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery here.
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