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Postal Service holiday shipping deadlines for sending packages to troops

United States Postal Service issues recommended 2020 mailing dates for service members overseas
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan D. McLearnon
Sailors sort boxes during a mail call aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 2020 holiday season has begun and if you're thinking about sending holiday gifts or care packages to service members overseas, the United States Postal Service (USPS) wants you to remember to plan ahead and ship early.

USPS has released the recommended mailing dates for service and diplomatic members at APO/FPO/DPO addresses.

To send packages to military and diplomatic posts abroad, the Postal Service offers a discounted price of $19.60 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The price includes a $1.50 discount per box for mail sent to APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office) destinations worldwide.

Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are available at no cost at Post Office locations and can also be ordered via usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can also be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship. All mailing products can be found at store.usps.com/store/home.

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, the Postal Service recommends that cards and packages be sent to military APO/FPO/DPO addresses overseas no later than the mailing dates listed below.

Credit: USPS
1. PMEMS is available to select 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 USPS Retail Ground 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 USPS Retail Ground 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.

Use the Military Care Kit to Send Presents and Care Packages

The Postal Service has created a free Military Care Kit based on the items most frequently requested by military families. The kit contains:

  • Two Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate Boxes
  • Four Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Boxes
  • Priority Mail tape
  • Priority Mail address labels
  • Six Custom Forms Envelopes

To order the kit, call 800-610-8734. Guidelines for packing, addressing and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at store.usps.com/store/product/shipping-supplies/military-care-kit-P_MILITARYKIT. To order flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo, go to usps.com/freeboxes.

Addressing the Package

1. Write the service member’s full name

2. Include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP Code (if one is assigned). For example:

Army/Air Post Office (APO)
PFC JANE DOE
PSC 3 BOX 4120
APO AE 09021

Fleet Post Office (FPO)
SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH
UNIT 100100 BOX 4120
FPO AP 96691

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)
MELANIE ADAMS
UNIT 8400 BOX 0000
DPO AE 09498-0048

3. Do NOT write the country name where the service member is stationed in the address

4. Include a return address

5. Inside the box, include the service member’s name and address as well as the sender’s name and address on an index card in case the shipping label gets damaged in transit.