Letters and Packages Connect Loved Ones Around the World
Being away from loved ones during the holidays isn’t easy. The separation is even harder when you are a military service member stationed overseas. Before email, world-wide internet, and cellular capabilities became part of everyday life, those in overseas locations relied upon contact through letters, packages, and an occasional (expensive and short) phone call.
When I served aboard ships in the U.S. Navy during the early 1980s, I spent many weeks at sea in the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans without much regular mail service. We read letters and listened to cassette tapes from our families and friends over and over again until the next mail call. When the announcement was sounded that mail was inbound, the mood of everyone aboard noticeably lifted. Everyone excitedly went topside to welcome our airborne, modern day version of the Pony Express then eagerly awaited the mail to be sorted out.
Although our men and women in the Armed Forces have contact with family and friends more frequently because of email and social media, there still is something special about receiving a letter, card or package. Packages filled with artwork from children, special foods carefully packed to prevent crumbles, and other hard-to-get aboard ship or ashore items are still highly anticipated arrivals during an arduous deployment.
Delivering holiday letters and packages to your loved ones is what the Postal Service loves to do. And we want to work hard to help them reach their destinations when you need them to.
As you make your holiday gift lists and begin to purchase your holiday stamps and cards, remember that items for those living abroad will need to be mailed a little earlier for a timely delivery.
Shipping Abroad Made Easy
Military Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes
To send packages to friends and loved ones serving in the military and diplomatic posts abroad, the U.S. Postal Service offers a discounted price of $18.45 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The price includes a $1.50 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 Post Office locations at no cost and online at shop.usps.com.
And remember, postage, labels, and customs forms can be printed online at usps.com/ship.
Best Shipping Dates for Military Packages
The Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping dates for expected delivery by Dec. 25 to Army/Air Post Offices (APO), Fleet Post Offices (FPO) and Diplomatic Post Offices Armed Forces Europe (DPO AE)*:
The Postal Service offers a free “Military Care Kit” based on the items most frequently requested by military families. A variety of Priority Mail supplies makes preparing care packages for service members overseas easier.
Some countries require customs forms. When using Click-N-Ship, you will be stepped through the process based on where you are shipping.
¹ PMEMS: Priority Mail Express Military Service is available to selected 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: Parcel Air Lift 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 lbs. 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: Space Available Mail parcels are paid at USPS Retail Ground prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 lbs. 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.
* Not a guarantee, unless otherwise noted. Dates are for estimated delivery before Dec. 25. Actual delivery date may vary depending on origin, destination, Post Office acceptance date and time and other conditions. Some restrictions apply. For Priority Mail Express shipments mailed Dec. 22 through Dec. 25, the money-back guarantee applies only if the shipment was not delivered, or delivery was not attempted, within two (2) business days.
Complete details on Mailing and Shipping Services can be found on usps.com.