Mail Tips

Never send cash through the mail. Send checks or money orders only.

Every year, the U.S. Postal Service receives thousands of complaints about cash missing from mailed envelopes. Columbia University is not responsible for claims concerning missing cash.

Never send validated credit cards through the mail.

Validated credit cards can be used immediately without having to place a secure call to the issuer. Please ensure that all credit cards mailed are not validated until received by the card user.

All parcels containing perishable items should be clearly marked as such.

This includes food, medication, flowers, etc. Failure to mark perishable items appropriately may delay delivery.

Use signature tracking and insurance options for sensitive and valuable items.

It is highly recommended that valuable or other important items be sent via private courier or using USPS’s delivery tracking and signature confirmation services.

The USPS and most private couriers (e.g., FedEx, UPS) offer package tracking services. They also offer services that require a signature upon delivery; in the event that an item is lost, it can then be tracked to the point of disappearance. If an item is insured, the sender will be reimbursed by the courier in accordance with the courier's terms and conditions. Note that even using these services, you should never send cash or activated credit cards through the mail.

Note that the USPS only offers delivery tracking and signature confirmation as supplementary service options, not as part of its standard delivery services. Without electing these supplementary options, when an item is lost it is nearly impossible to locate.

Also note that the U.S. Postal Service's Tracking service only confirms that a package was delivered to a particular zip code (i.e. 10027); it does not confirm delivery to the Undergraduate Package Center. From the date of confirmed delivery to the post office, please anticipate an additional 1-3 business days for the Package Center to receive and process a package. The Package Center sends email notification to students within 24 hours of package delivery to the Package Center.