Halloween ghouls and Thanksgiving turkeys are just around the corner, but Christmas and Hanukkah aren’t that far away, either.

So military postal officials and the U.S. Postal Service have issued their suggested mailing deadlines for holiday packages and letters, for the best chance of getting them to military locations overseas in time for Christmas. To get them there in time for Hanukkah, which starts on Dec. 2 this year, subtract 23 days from the deadlines.

The deadlines for various methods of shipping are the same for most APO/FPO/DPO (diplomatic post office) ZIP codes, with the exception of some mail going to APO/FPO/DPO Zip Code 093, which covers overseas contingency areas.

  • USPS Retail Ground mail (the slowest way to go, formerly known as Standard Post): Nov. 6.
  • Space Available Mail (SAM): Nov. 27.
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL): Dec. 4.
  • First-Class and Priority Mail (letters, cards and packages): Dec. 11, except for ZIP 093, which is Dec. 4.
  • Priority Mail Express Military Services: Dec. 18. Not available for ZIP 093.

You’ve got time to plan within your budget. Check with your local post office to compare prices of the ways to send your package.

U.S. Postal Service offers free priority mail flat-rate boxes, which can be used to ship items — at a flat shipping rate regardless of the weight — to overseas military addresses. The cost of shipping to APO/FPO/DPO addresses is the same as domestic shipping prices. But those who use the largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box for mail sent to these addresses get a discount of $1.50, paying a reduced price of $17.40.

The priority mail flat boxes can also be ordered free online. Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online using Click-N-Ship.

For more information on how to prepare, pack and address packages going to military locations overseas, click here.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

In Other News
Load More