2020 USPS Holiday Shipping Cut Off Dates for Military Members

The US Post Office sets deadlines to mail packages to and from overseas locations, including overseas military locations and APO, FPO, MPO, and DPO addresses.
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Military Holiday Mail Shipping Cut Off Dates

The Christmas holidays are almost here, which means you need to act quickly if you have friends or family members who are living overseas on a military installation. Shipping to MPO / APO / FPO / DPO (Military Post Office™, Air/Army Post Office, Fleet Post Office, Diplomatic Post Office) addresses can take a little longer than shipping in the continental U.S., especially when the holiday season rolls around.

The following tables list the USPS holiday cut off dates for domestic, MPO/APO/FPO/DPO, and other overseas locations. Pay attention to the shipping cut off dates in order to make sure your Christmas gifts and care packages arrive on time for the holidays. You should try to beat the cut off dates if possible, since some shipments may require customs checks or may experience other delays.

2020 Domestic Mail Holiday Shipping Cut Off Dates

The following chart lists the cut off dates for domestic mail packages to reach their destination by the Christmas holiday. When in doubt, try to get your package out earlier than the cut off date if possible.

Domestic Mail Class/ProductCut Off Date
USPS Retail GroundDec. 13
First-Class Mail®Dec. 18
Priority MailDec. 19
Express Mail*Dec. 23

2020 Military Mail Christmas Holiday Cut Off Dates

USPS holiday mail schedule for military

Military members can receive standard packages at Military Post Offices (MPO), Army/Air Force Post Offices (APO) and Fleet Post Offices (FPO) addresses. The price of Military Mail postage is the same as domestic postage, and a First-Class® Mail stamp will deliver a letter to a U.S. military service member located anywhere in the world. These packages are first sent to the East or West Coast of the U.S. and then shipped to military installations worldwide. Keep in mind there can be delays, so it’s best to ship your package early if possible.

Military Mail Addressed ToExpress Mail® Military Service (PMEMS)1/First-Class Mail® Letters and CardsPriority Mail®Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) 2/Space Available Mail (SAM)3/USPS Retail Ground
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090-092Dec. 18Dec. 11Dec. 11Dec. 4Nov. 27Nov. 6
APO/FPO AE ZIP 093N/ADec. 9Dec. 9Dec. 4Nov. 27Nov. 6
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 094-098Dec. 18Dec. 11Dec. 11Dec. 4Nov. 27Nov. 6
APO/FPO AA ZIP 340Dec. 18Dec. 11Dec. 11Dec. 4Nov. 27Nov. 6
APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962-966Dec. 18Dec. 11Dec. 11Dec. 4Nov. 27Nov. 6

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

3/ SAM: Parcels are paid at Parcel Post postage rate of postage 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.

2020 International Mail Christmas Holiday Cut Off Dates

International Mail Addressed ToGlobal Express Guaranteed® (GXG)*Express Mail® International (EMS)Priority Mail® International (PMI)First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS)
AfricaDec. 19Dec. 7Nov. 30Nov. 30
Asia/Pacific RimDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
Australia/New ZealandDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
CanadaDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
CaribbeanDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
Central & South AmericaDec. 18Dec. 7Nov. 30Nov. 30
MexicoDec. 18Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
EuropeDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7
Middle EastDec. 19Dec. 14Dec. 7Dec. 7

*GXG: Cutoff does not take into account time needed for customs clearance. Extra Transit time should be allocated.

Tips for Sending Military Members Mail Overseas

There are a few restrictions for sending mail to military members in overseas locations. In general, you want to ensure anything you send to military members in an overseas location is legal in the country where they are located. You also want to avoid sending hazardous items, illegal substances, and anything else which may be restricted.

Other tips:

  • Use sturdy packaging. Use a strong box with appropriate tape (no string or twine).
  • Use adequate cushioning. Bubble wrap, air cushions, and Styrofoam peanuts are great for securely packing items.
  • Labels and customs forms. Clearly label the contents, especially if you need a customs form.
  • Batteries. Remove batteries from objects and wrap them separately.
  • Be aware of heat or other extremes. Many military members are stationed in extreme temperatures and some contents may not do well in hot weather (it’s not a good idea, for example, to send chocolate bars to a desert location in the summer).
  • Don’t send packages to “Any Service Member or Any Wounded Warrior.” This practice has been discontinued following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Only send packages to troops you know, or make a donation to a service organization that supplies troops with care packages.

Customs Forms May Be Required When Sending To/From APO, FPO, and MPO Zip Coes

Starting on March 13, 2020, anyone sending a package to an international address, that has an APO, FPO, or MPO Zip Code™ in the return address, will need to create a customs form online, or fill out PS Form 2976-R before visiting a retail counter for the clerk to create the label.

Starting August 13, 2020 anyone sending a package with an APO, FPO, or MPO Zip Code™ in the return address will need to create a customs form online, or fill out PS Form 2976-R before visiting a retail counter for the clerk to create the label.

Use the Military Care Kit to Send Presents and Care Packages

The Postal Service has created a free Military Care Kit based on the items most frequently requested by military families. The kit contains:

  1. Two Priority Mail APO/FPO/DPO Flat Rate Boxes
  2. Two Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Boxes
  3. Priority Mail tape
  4. Priority Mail address labels
  5. Appropriate customs forms

To order the kit, call 800-610-8734. Guidelines for packing, addressing and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-dpo.htm. To order Flat-Rate Boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo, go to usps.com/freeboxes.

Photo credit: Eric E Johnson

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

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  1. Rick Smith says

    I mailed a package to my son in germany on 12/10/2010 parcel post. was told should arrive by Christmas. it is now January 15 and they still have not received it. when i enter the customs tracking number, it only shows the date mailed from our post office and no updated information. would like to know if you could help track my box. please email me. thank you in advance. customs #cp588302452us.

      • Hate UPS says

        USPS will not help you once it is out of their hands. I’ve been looking for four packages for Germany for days! All they could tell me was it was out of their system by 12/24/2011. Customs numbers or not-they are done once it reaches the militray. I’m waiting to hear from [email protected] to see if they can help. Once again-once it is in the hands of the militray the USPS is done and are not much help. Good luck!

  2. Nancy Sadowsky says

    Mailed a box priority on 11/02/2010 to APO address from Bottineau, ND 58318. Customs Tracking #CP63 9434 582U S. Box has not been recieved to date 12/02/2010 by military family. I thought I mailed early enough. I just want someone to help track this box so I have some idea what’s going on or what I need to do. When I enter customs tracking # in, it shows me package was delivered in 2009!! It’s very frustrating. Thank You.

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