On days when you’re anxiously awaiting an important piece of mail (college acceptance letters, your best friend’s wedding invitation), you’ll be glad you signed up for the United States Postal Service’s free Informed Delivery service, which emails you scans of the outside of your mail so you can preview them in your inbox before they land in your mailbox. The USPS has been testing out the service in parts of Virginia and New York City for years, but expanded the service to most U.S. zip codes on April 14.
The USPS has been photographing mail for years as part of its sorting process—and even sometimes provides the images to law enforcement for criminal investigations—so the new service didn’t require any new hardware. Having your mail emailed allows you to patrol your mailbox from afar, even while you’re traveling. The service could also be helpful for large households or roommates who share a single mailbox. If the doctor’s bill that was supposed to arrive today didn’t show up, you know it may have gotten tucked into your roommate’s pile. Currently, the service only scans flat mail, such as letters and postcards, but the Huffington Post reports that it may expand to include packages and magazine covers, so you can always know exactly which day your Real Simple subscription will arrive (finally!).
To sign up, visit USPS.com and scroll down to “Informed Delivery.” Click “View My Mail,” and you’ll be prompted to create a USPS account if you don’t already have one. The site may be able to verify your identity online with a series of security questions, or you may be asked to complete an in-person verification at the post office. Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to check your mail this summer while lounging on a beach in Bermuda or driving across the country.