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What Is a Delivery Receipt?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A delivery receipt is a document that confirms delivery of a message, object, or order. There are several ways to use delivery receipts, including in mail exchanges as well as the logging of orders sent out by a company for delivery. Generic versions for companies to fill out as needed are available, and many software programs designed to assist with shipping also produce delivery receipts.

One setting where this type of document is common is at the post office, where senders can request a delivery receipt for an extra fee. When the mail arrives, a recipient must sign for it, acknowledging delivery. This allows the sender to know that the mail arrived safely. It can be important where there is a deadline or similar measure in place, and the sender wants to have documentation in the event of a dispute. If an attorney claims she didn't receive a communication in time, for example, the sender can use the delivery receipt to prove otherwise.

Email can also come with a delivery receipt option. Some automated mailing systems generate receipts so senders know their emails arrived safely. This is especially common in customer service, where the receipt will also provide a reference number and a time frame so the sender knows when she can expect to hear back. This email comes from an automated address, and senders are advised that they cannot email things to that address and expect a response.

In shipping, many companies use a delivery receipt system to address the risk of customer claims. When the customer receives a shipment, he must review it and sign a delivery receipt, indicating that he received it in full. Since shipments are often tightly packaged, and the delivery service is waiting to move on to the next delivery, customers may sign the forms without checking, and have a brief window to dispute something on the form. A bookstore, for example, could sign the documentation and then discover that it's actually several copies short on a title, and request a refund or reshipment.

The delivery receipt goes into the records pertaining to the shipment. If a customer claims something never arrived, the company can pull the delivery receipt to investigate the situation. It may find that products were delivered to a wrong address, or were not signed for by an authorized representative. It could also determine that, according to its records, the shipment went to the right person at the right place, and the company has no recourse.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By pastanaga — On Aug 20, 2011

@croydon - The problem with that is that it can be so much more expensive and inconvenient for everyone if you have to sign for a delivery.

I've had to wait an extra week or more because they came while I wasn't home and then took my package back to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere.

And it can cost three times as much as standard shipping, which is ridiculous, really, as often it seems like the only difference is they have to get a signature.

So, if I was selling things, I would make it an option, but not compulsory. I'd just tell people they buy at their own risk.

By croydon — On Aug 19, 2011

If you are selling goods online it might be a good idea to just make it compulsory to use shipping that requires a signed delivery confirmation receipt.

This is an especially good way to handle things if you are shipping items overseas. It's just too easy for customers to claim they never received the goods, and often the websites will side with the customer, if there is no proof either way.

At the very least, they might put some bad reviews on your site, which you can then refute if you have a signed receipt.

I've had trouble with this in the past, as people really try to take advantage. You should try to give them the benefit of the doubt, of course, but at the same time, you should cover your own bases.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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