As we approach the holiday season, sellers need to be aware of shipping deadlines for the three most popular shipping carriers in the U.S.

This list includes deadlines for domestic U.S. shipments. For international shipments, shippers should consult with each carrier as there can be significant differences between destinations.

USPS (United States Postal Service)

The Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines for expected delivery by Dec. 25 to Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office and domestic addresses.

Only Priority Mail Express shipments to domestic addresses and P.O. Boxes offer a service guarantee. All other services are based on typical transit times to the shown locations.

  • Nov. 6 – APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) USPS Retail Ground
  • Dec. 4 – APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP Code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 11 – APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 14 – USPS Retail Ground
  • Dec. 18 – APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express
  • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 20 – First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 20 – Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 20 – Priority Mail
  • Dec. 20 – Alaska to mainland Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 22 – Alaska to mainland Priority Mail Express
  • Dec. 22 – Hawaii to mainland Priority Mail Express
  • Dec. 22 – Priority Mail Express

UPS (United Parcel Service)

UPS will offer a service guarantee for air services, but on Ground services from November 19 to December 28, a limited number of UPS Ground and UPS Standard packages, with transit times of three or more days, and with specific origins and destinations, will require an additional day in transit.

  • Dec. 14 – Ground
  • Dec. 18 – 3 Day Select
  • Dec. 20 – 2nd Day Air Services
  • Dec. 22 – Next Day Air Services


FedEx will offer their money-back service guarantee on air services, but the money-back guarantee for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will be suspended temporarily for packages picked up on Monday, Nov. 26, through Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.

FedEx will also only guarantee end-of-day delivery on air services from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24. All air services with earlier time commitments during those days will not be eligible for money-back guarantee if the delivery was made on the commitment day.

  • Dec. 10 – SmartPost Services
  • Dec. 14 – Ground
  • Dec. 17 – Home Delivery
  • Dec. 19 – Express Saver
  • Dec. 20 – 2Day Services
  • Dec. 21 – Overnight Services

Weather and Seasonal Rush

While the three main carriers in the U.S. make these recommendations, sellers should always be aware that these dates are only recommendations and not guarantees.

UPS and FedEx remove their money back service guarantees almost for the month of December and USPS doesn’t even guarantee Priority Mail or First Class mail at any time during the year.

When in doubt and financially feasible, sellers should choose guaranteed air services in the last week before Christmas, especially on higher priced items that could be returned if they arrive late.

READ MORE: Americans Feel Comfortable Buying From Small Online Merchants During Holiday Season

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