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Preparing the Payment and Mailing the Application

Now you have a completed Form VA, a completed continuation sheet, and a CD or DVD containing all your images, annotated with the date of first publication on each one. The only part that’s missing is the application fee.

You must include either a check or money order with your application for the full amount of the fee, payable to the Register of Copyrights. As of this writing, the fee for Form VA is $85, but always check the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov to ensure you have the most up-to-date fee information. Although not required, I typically paperclip my check to the form to help make sure that the check doesn’t get lost when the mail gets opened. (I recommend against stapling because it could damage the application form when the Copyright Office pulls off the check, which could make it more difficult to process.)

I highly recommend that you put the disc containing your images in a hard plastic case rather than a plastic or paper sleeve. I’ve found that discs sent without adequate packaging often get crushed or can snap in half as they go through mail sorting equipment. For that same reason, I also strongly recommend sending your application in a small box, rather than a padded envelope.

The U.S. Copyright Office is located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and because of that, its mail is subjected to intense security screening procedures, including irradiation. It’s also subject to lengthy delays getting from the post office to the Copyright Office’s mail intake facility. You can shorten that time somewhat by using an express courier such as UPS or FedEx. Although it costs a little more than regular mail, the packages are traceable and I’ve found they’re less likely to get damaged on their way to the Copyright Office. If you do use regular mail, consider sending it using delivery confirmation or by certified mail with a return receipt. Because the effective date of your registration is based on the date everything is received by the Copyright Office, it’s useful to have that date for your records.

When you’re ready to send your application materials, mail them to:

  • U.S. Copyright Office—VA
  • Library of Congress
  • 101 Independence Ave. SE
  • Washington, DC 20559
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