2021 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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Holiday shipping deadlines for militaryPhoto: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Lewis

The U.S. Postal Service sets deadlines to mail packages to and from overseas locations, including overseas military locations and Army or Air Force Post Office, Fleet Post Office and Military Post Office addresses.

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 addresses can take a little longer than shipping within the continental U.S., especially when the holiday season rolls around.

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

2021 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. 15
First-Class Mail®Dec. 17
Priority MailDec. 18
Express Mail*Dec. 23

2021 Military Mail Christmas Holiday Cut Off Dates

Military members can receive standard packages at Military Post Offices, Army or Air Force Post Offices 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 that 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®USPS Retail Ground
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090-092Dec. 16Dec. 9Dec. 9Nov. 6
APO/FPO AE ZIP 093N/ADec. 9Dec. 9Nov. 6
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 094-098Dec. 16Dec. 9Dec. 9Nov. 6
APO/FPO AA ZIP 340Dec. 16Dec. 9Dec. 9Nov. 6
APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962-966Dec. 16Dec. 9Dec. 9Nov. 6
* PMEMS is available to select military post offices. Check with your local post office to determine if this service is available.

2021 International Mail Christmas Holiday Cut Off Dates

International Mail Addressed ToGlobal Express Guaranteed® (GXG)*Priority Mail Express International® (EMS)Priority Mail® International (PMI)First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS)
AfricaDec. 20Dec. 6Nov. 29Nov. 29
Asia/Pacific RimDec. 20Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
Australia/New ZealandDec. 20Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
CanadaDec. 22Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
CaribbeanDec. 21Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
Central & South AmericaDec. 20Dec. 6Nov. 29Nov. 29
MexicoDec. 21Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
EuropeDec. 22Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
Middle EastDec. 20Dec. 13Dec. 6Dec. 6
*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, ensure anything you send to military members in an overseas location is legal in the country in which they are located. Also avoid sending hazardous items, illegal substances and anything else that 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. (For example, it’s not a good idea to send chocolate bars to a desert location in the summer).
  • Don’t send packages addressed 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 Codes

Effective Aug. 13, 2020, if you are sending a package from an APO, FPO or MPO ZIP code, you must create a customs form online, or bring a completed PS Form 2976-R to a retail counter for the clerk to create the label.

Use the Military Care Package Kit to Send Presents and Care Packages

You can order a free military care kit, created by the Postal Service and containing the following items, which military families most frequently requests:

  1. Two Priority Mail APO/FPO/DPO flat-rate boxes
  2. Four Priority Mail medium flat-rate boxes (two top-loading and two side-loading)
  3. One roll of Priority Mail tape
  4. Six Priority Mail address labels
  5. Six customs-form envelopes

Call the U.S. Postal Service at 800-610-8734 to order a kit, and visit their website for guidelines for packing and shipping packages to service membersTo order flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports YOU” logo, go to usps.com/freeboxes.

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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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