To ensure delivery of holiday cards and packages to military service members by Dec. 25, the Postal Service suggests that mail be sent by the these dates.
Holiday Dates for Domestic Mail
|Domestic Mail Class/Product||Cutoff Date|
|Standard USPS Retail Ground||Dec. 14|
|First-Class Mail||Dec. 20|
|Priority Mail||Dec. 20|
|Priority Mail Express||Dec. 22|
*Priority Mail Express postage refund eligibility is adjusted for shipments mailed Dec 22-25
**See additional information below.
Holiday Dates for Military Mail
|Military Mail||Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)1||First-Class Mail Letters and Cards||Priority Mail||Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL)2||Space Available Mail (SAM)3||Retail Ground|
|APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 090-092||Dec. 18||Dec. 11||Dec. 11||Dec. 4||Nov. 27||Nov. 6|
|APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093||N/A||Dec. 4||Dec. 4||Dec. 4||Nov. 27||Nov. 6|
|APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 094-098||Dec. 18||Dec. 11||Dec. 11||Dec. 4||Nov. 27||Nov. 6|
|APO/FPO/DPO AA ZIP 340||Dec. 18||Dec. 11||Dec. 11||Dec. 4||Nov. 27||Nov. 6|
|APO/FPO/DPO AP ZIPs 962-966||Dec. 18||Dec. 11||Dec. 11||Dec. 4||Nov. 27||Nov. 6|
1 – PMEMS: is available to selected military/diplomatic Post Offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
2 – PAL: is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Standard Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
3 – SAM: parcels are paid at Standard Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.
Holiday Dates for International Mail
|International Mail Addressed to:||Global Express Guaranteed (GXG)***||Priority Mail Express International (PEMI)||Priority Mail International (PMI)||First-Class Mail International|
|Africa||Dec. 19||Dec. 8||Dec. 1||Dec. 1|
|Asia/Pacific Rim||Dec. 19||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Australia/New Zealand||Dec. 20||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Canada||Dec. 20||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Caribbean||Dec. 20||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Central and South America||Dec. 18||Dec. 8||Dec. 1||Dec. 1|
|Mexico||Dec. 19||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Europe||Dec. 20||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
|Middle East||Dec. 20||Dec. 15||Dec. 8||Dec. 8|
1) Cutoff date does not take into account time needed for customs clearance.
2) Should allocate extra transit day(s) for delivery outside major cities.
The USPS Post office offers free military care kits which includes:
- 2 Priority Mail APO/FPO flat rate boxes
- 2 Priority Mail Medium flat rate boxes
- Priority Mail tape
- Priority Mail address labels
- Appropriate customs forms
Call 800-610-8734 to order the kit.
Express Mail Military Service (EMMS) is available from selected military post offices. If mailing to an APO/FPO address, check with your local post office to determine if this service is available.
Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
Space Available Mail (SAM) refers to parcels mailed to APO/FPO addresses at parcel post rates that are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space available basis. The maximum weight and size limits are 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. From overseas locations, items mailed at Parcel Post rates are sent to CONUS by air on a space available basis. The maximum weight and size limit are 70 pounds and 130 inches in length and girth combined.
Can I use Fedex, UPS or DHL to ship to APO addresses?
Unfortunately, only the USPS in conjunction with the Military Postal Service Agency delivers to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. However, there are a couple of solutions that do work with the USPS to ensure final delivery such as Fedex SmartPost and ShipitAPO.
Fedex SmartPost will ship to a USPS location that is closest to its point of destination. Final delivery to the recipient is then handled by the USPS. Pricing can be cheaper than the USPS as well.
ShipitAPO is a unique service that allows shoppers ordering online to ship to any APO/FPO/DPO address. When a company doesn’t allow APO/FPO/DPO shipping people with an account with ShipitAPO can send the package to them who will then in turn ship the package to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
Can my care package to an international service member still get there if I ship after the deadline?
There is a chance but there are no assurances. The only way to guarantee delivery is to send your care package on or before the deadline dates listed.
Is there a way to deliver a package to overseas military after the shipping deadline?
Fedex SmartPost is your best option. By shipping through Fedex they can bypass the multiple touch points within the USPS delivery system plus you can track the delivery status. Contact Fedex to confirm delivery dates. This is not a guaranteed solution but it’s your best chance if you missed the cutoff.
Can I internationally ship an iPad or any electronic device with a lithium battery to an APO/FPO/DPO address?
Yes! Effective November 15, 2012 the USPS started allowing the shipping of lithium batteries again.
Click here for tips on sending military care packages overseas.