While there are still a few weeks to go before Halloween, it’s time to start thinking about getting those Christmas and Hanukkah packages and cards to overseas military locations.
The U.S. Postal Service released its recommended mailing deadlines to help you start your planning to get your goodies overseas by Dec. 25. You can mail the items later, but there’s a better chance of getting them there in time if you mail by the deadline. To get them there in time for Hanukkah, which starts on Dec. 10 this year, subtract 15 days from the recommended deadlines. You’ll have plenty of time to get the packages to your overseas destination after the election and the crush of absentee ballots.
The deadlines for various methods of shipping are the same for most APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/diplomatic post office) ZIP codes. The exception is mail going to 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. 9.
· Priority Mail Express Military Services: Dec. 18. This service is not available for ZIP 093.
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To get the most bang from your buck use the Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes. The boxes themselves are free; you can stuff whatever you can fit into them, and they cost one flat fee to ship your goodies, regardless of weight. There’s a $1.50 discount per box for those going to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. For example, the cost of shipping the largest military discounted box is $19.60. The boxes come in various shapes and sizes.
The boxes are available at post offices, and at www.usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can also be printed online any time using the Postal Service’s Click-N-Ship. Each Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express shipment also includes USPS tracking.
The Postal Service has also created a “military care kit,” which consists of the items most often requested by military families. It’s free and can be ordered here. It consists of:
· two Priority Mail APO/FPO/DPO flat rate boxes
· four Priority Mail medium flat rate boxes
· Priority Mail tape
· Priority Mail address labels
· Customs forms
About Karen Jowers
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.