USPS Military Mail and Diplomatic Mail APO / FPO / DPO Holiday Season Shipping Deadlines

USPS Holiday Season Shipping Deadlines and Information for Military & Diplomatic Mail (APO/FPO/DPO) – 2021

The US Postal Service has released its 2021 posting dates and guidelines for military and diplomatic mail so that shipments arrive in time for the holidays to service members and diplomatic personnel serving abroad.

USPS is expecting to process more than 12.6 million pounds of mail to APO/FPO/DPO destinations this holiday season and with another busy holiday season expected waiting until the last minute is not recommended, especially with those deadlines that are later in December.

The good news is that this year, the deadlines are consistent for all military and diplomatic mail addresses, with only one exception noted in the USPS Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) section.

USPS Retail Ground deadline is November 6 to the following zip codes:

  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs 090-092
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIP, 093
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs, 094-099
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AA, ZIP, 340
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AP, ZIPs 962-966

USPS Priority Mail deadline is December 9 to the following zip codes:

  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs 090-092
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIP, 093
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs, 094-099
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AA, ZIP, 340
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AP, ZIPs 962-966

USPS First Class Mail Letters and Cards deadline is December 9 to the following zip codes:

  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs 090-092
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIP, 093
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs, 094-099
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AA, ZIP, 340
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AP, ZIPs 962-966

USPS Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) deadline is December 16 to the following zip codes:

  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs 090-092
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIPs, 094-099
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AA, ZIP, 340
  • APO/FPO/DPO, AP, ZIPs 962-966

PMEMS Notes: PMEMS service to APO/FPO/DPO, AE, ZIP, 093 is not available. Also, PMEMS is available to select military/diplomatic Post Offices and shippers should check with their local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.

Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) and Space Available Mail (SAM) are no longer available to any military or diplomatic address.

Addressing and Preparing APO/FPO/DPO Shipments

The USPS recommends shippers address and prepare APO/FPO/DPO shipments as follows:

  • Please use the service member’s full name on the address label.
  • Include the unit and APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP Code (if one is assigned).

Examples:

Army/Air Post Office (APO)

PFC JANE DOE
PSC 3 BOX 4120
APO AE 09021

Fleet Post Office (FPO)

SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH
UNIT 100100 BOX 4120
FPO AP 96691

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

MELANIE ADAMS
UNIT 8400 BOX 0000
DPO AE 09498-0048

  • Do not include the city or foreign name where the service member is stationed on the address label or anywhere outside the box. This could cause the shipment to be treated as regular international mail channels and will result in delays or the shipment being returned to the sender.
  • A return address should always be provided like with any other USPS mailing.
  • USPS advises that shippers should include the service member’s name and address as well as the sender’s name and address on an index card inside the box in case the shipping label gets damaged in transit.
  • Some APO/FPO/DPO zip codes have additional restrictions. USPS has a tool to check what restrictions may exist to specific zip codes.
  • Important: Do not ship hand sanitizer or flammable sanitizing wipes overseas.

Shippers can check our USPS Domestic Mail Service Status Page for transport issues that may impact the domestic portion of the shipment. Also included is a section for service suspensions to APO/FPO/DPO zip codes that the Postal Service will return the shipment to the sender.

Shipments to APO/FPO/DPO are International Shipments

While the US Postal Service treats military and diplomatic mail as domestic mail for pricing purposes, the shipments are international shipments, and packages to APO/FPO/DPO addresses will require shippers to fill out customs forms.

Most online shipping platforms should be able to handle APO/FPO/DPO shipments, including creating the necessary customs forms.

However, if the shipping platform you are using can’t process military or diplomatic mail, The Postal Service’s free USPS Click-N-Ship online tool can generate the necessary label and customs form.

Transport, Tracking, and Insurance

Military mail is transported by the military from US collections centers. Except for USPS Retail Ground, most mail and parcels are transported by air subject to space availability. Most USPS Retail Ground will be transported by sea.

Tracking can become a challenge with military mail as USPS has no direct visibility of the shipment after the item is turned over to the military for transport.

Most APO/FPO/DPO US-based final tracking will be from one of six services centers located in the US; Newark, NJ; Jamaica, NY; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; San Francisco, CA; or Honolulu, HI.

This is like international shipments where the US Postal Service has to rely on another postal operator to provide tracking updates. There is no waypoint (i.e. customs, hubs, etc.) tracking until final delivery with most APO/FPO/DPO shipments.

Typically, tracking of USPS Priority Mail and USPS Priority Mail Express items are updated rather quickly once delivered to a major base. It can take a little more time to other locations.

Insurance is available to most APO/FPO/DPO addresses and it is best to use the US Postal Service’s insurance for these shipments instead of third-party insurance.

Other US Postal Service options like registered or certified mail are also available to many military and diplomatic mail addresses.

The US Postal Service offers more information and helpful hints about shipping mail and parcels to service members and diplomatic personnel on their website. There is even a link on how to order free shipping supplies for APO/FPO/DPO shipments.

Final Note: This information provided here is for outbound shipments from the United States to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. While some of the information may be applicable for shipments coming to the US from a military or diplomatic address, we recommend checking the USPS website for more details and requirements on US inbound shipments.

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