Mail early to reach the armed forces

Ensuring those serving in the nation’s armed forces and diplomatic service receive their presents, care packages and cards in time for the holidays is a priority for the U.S. Postal Service and for friends and family members of military and diplomatic personnel serving their country around the world.

To send packages to loved ones serving in the military abroad, the Postal Service offers a discounted price of $16.75 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The price includes a $2 per box discount 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 local Post Offices and online at shop.usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship at usps.com/ship.

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by December 25, the Postal Service recommends that cards and packages be sent to military APO/FPO/DPO addresses overseas no later than December 16 to APO/FPO/DPO addresses for priority mail (express military service); December 2 for APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093; December 9 for priority mail; November 25 for space available mail and November 7 for standard posts.

PMEMS is available to selected military and diplomatic Post Offices. Check with a local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.

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 and 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.

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.

To address the package, write the service member’s full name and include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP Code (if one is assigned). Do not write the country name where the service member is stationed in the address. Include a return address. 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.

Domestic mailing deadlines are:

December 15 – Standard post

December 20 – first-class mail

December 21 – priority mail

December 23 – Priority Mail Express