Informed Delivery is a service from the United States Postal Service that scans the outside of your mail and shows you the images each morning before the mail is actually delivered.
While the USPS first started testing the free service more than a year ago, it’s finally rolling out (almost) nationwide for residential addresses. Now it’s available in almost every major metropolitan area, and by April 14th will be available in most of the remaining ZIP Codes covering the U.S.
To make sure you aren’t getting anyone else’s mail, USPS sends you a physical letter with a verification code when you sign up.
While you still won’t be able to see the inside of your mail until it arrives, it should be helpful to know if an important letter is being delivered today or not.
Right now the service only provides black and white scans of regular letter-sized mail. But in the future they may add other flat-sized pieces like magazines. Subscribers get an email digest each morning with images of the first 10 pieces of mail, and a link to view the rest if they received more than 10.
Interestingly, the USPS has already been scanning the outside of your mail for a while — it’s how their automated equipment sorts it for delivery by ZIP Code and street address. They also occasionally provide these images to law enforcement agencies that request them as part of a criminal investigation.
So providing these images directly to users didn’t require any additional hardware — just the software backend to direct the scanned images to the right accounts.
Startups have tried this before, like Outbox, which actually would scan and email you both the inside and outside of your mail. But they shut down in 2014 due to low demand and an upset postmaster general, who thought the service “compromised the security and value of the mail.”
You can enter your ZIP Code here to see if Informed Delivery is available in your area and sign up now.