As the holidays near, it’s time for military families to start thinking about getting holiday packages in the mail. If you’re mailing to a service member overseas or if you’re stationed OCONUS and sending packages back to the states, you’ll want to take note of these domestic and APO, FPO and DPO ship-by dates.
Tips for saving money and time when shipping your holiday packages
Using money-saving tips can make the shipping process easier. Save on shipping with a Priority Mail flat-rate box, which is a single rate no matter the weight. They have three different sizes: small, medium and large, and the rates vary depending on the size. Whatever you can fit inside the box ships for a flat rate even for overseas APO, FPO and DPO locations, up to 70 lbs. Shipping with Priority Mail flat-rate boxes with USPS is often the most cost-effective way to ship packages to a service member or family overseas.
If you are stationed overseas and want to ship something back to the United States, you can also use the USPS flat-rate boxes, which are available at your local post office, for the same rate.
We all know time is of the essence over the holidays, and many of us are avoiding going into stores as COVID numbers increase. You can avoid your local Post Office when shipping via Priority Mail flat-rate boxes by using the USPS’s Click-N-Ship online services. Here you can pay for and print your shipping labels. You can even request your package be picked up by your mail carrier during their normal delivery route so you don’t even have to leave home to drop it off at the mailbox.
Non-military or civilian international locations are not available to ship flat rate with USPS.
It is a good idea to check the cost of shipping a package when shipping domestically as sometimes the USPS Priority flat rate boxes are more expensive than shipping based on weight. Take your package to your local Post Office to find out the best way to ship all of your holiday goodies if you are shipping domestically.
For more information on making sure your package lands by Dec. 25, head to USPS.com.
2020 military mail shipping dates for USPS
There are several different ways to mail packages to service members. The easiest and most cost-effective way, especially for APO, FPO and DPO mail is usually using the USPS’s Priority Mail flat-rate boxes. However, there are a few other ways you can ship holiday packages overseas including:
Space available mail (SAM)- These packages are USPS Retail Ground rates with a maximum weight of 15 lbs and 60’’ in length and girth combined.
Parcel airlift mail (PAL)- These packages are USPS Retail Ground rates, with an additional PAL fee, with a maximum weight of 30 lbs and 60’’ in length and girth combined.
Priority Mail Express Military Service- This is the flat-rate Priority Mail service that many people opt for when shipping packages to service members overseas, or to family back in the United States when stationed OCONUS. They are available at select military and diplomatic post offices.
In order to get your service member their holiday package(s) in time for Dec. 25, ship by these dates:
Contiguous/lower 48 states:
- USPS Retail Ground Service: Dec. 15
- First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 18
- Priority Mail Service: Dec. 19
- Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 23
READ: Need gift ideas to put inside your holiday package? Download our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!
Alaska and Hawaii
- First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 15 for Hawaii, Dec. 19 for Alaska
- Priority Mail Service: Dec. 15 for Hawaii, Dec. 19 for Alaska
- Priority Mail Service Express: Dec. 21
FPO, APO, DPO and other international locations
Addressed to zip codes 090-099 (AE), 340 (AA), and 962-966 (AP)
- Space Available Mail, or SAM, should be shipped by Nov. 27
- Parcel Airlift Mail, or PAL, should be postmarked by Dec. 4
- First-Class Mail Service should be postmarked by Dec. 11; zip code 093 should be postmarked by Dec. 9.
- Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) should be postmarked by Dec. 18 (No date is given for 093 zip code)
Other international mail
- First-Class Package International Service and Priority Mail International Service: Nov. 30 for Africa, and Central and South America. Other international locations should be postmarked by Dec. 7.
- Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 7 for Africa and Central and South America, Dec. 14 for other international locations.
- Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 17 for Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Dec. 19 for Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim, and the Middle East, Dec. 22 for Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.