2016 Christmas shipping deadlines | Be prepared when you hit the Post Office
December 7, 2016
The clock is ticking to send holiday mail to military and overseas locations.
To ensure that friends and family serving in the military receive their care packages from home on time, mailers are reminded to ship their holiday gifts no later than Dec. 9 for the best rates.
For other international destinations, it's best to have mail on its way by Dec. 10, the Post Office said.
For anyone who misses the Dec. 9 and 10 dates, expedited services are available with later deadlines.
Retail Ground — Dec. 7
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Priority Mail Packages — Dec. 9
First Class Cards and Letter — Dec. 9
Priority Mail Express Military Service — Dec. 16
Priority Mail International — Dec. 10
Express International — Dec. 15
Global Express Guaranteed — Dec. 21
Some countries have restrictions on what can be sent, so the Post Office recommends checking regulations at usps.com/send/apo-fpo-dpo.htm.
USPS Retail Ground — Dec. 15
First Class Cards and Letters — Dec. 20
Priority Mail Packages — Dec. 21
Express Service — Dec. 23
To send packages to loved ones serving in the military abroad, the Postal Service offers a discounted price of $16.75 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. The price includes a $2 per box discount for mail sent to Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office destinations worldwide.
Additionally, the Postal Service has created a free Military Care Kit based on the items most frequently requested by military families. The kit contains address labels, tape, boxes, and customs forms. To order the kit, call 800-610-8734, and select "supplies" from the options menu.
Guidelines for packing, addressing, and shipping items to U.S. troops can be found at https://www.usps.com/ship/apo-fpo-dpo.htm.
Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are available at no cost at the Post Office and online at http://shop.usps.com. Postage, labels, and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship at http://www.usps.com/ship.
While you are at usps.com, you can also print your shipping labels, pay for postage, and call for your letter carrier to pick up your Priority or Priority Express items at your home or business for free (where available).
The Post Office offers these mail preparation tips to make sure items are delivered timely and in good condition:
Use strong boxes and strong packing tape. No duct tape or masking tape. No string or wire. No shoeboxes.
Don't use boxes from a liquor store. Boxes that indicate that there is alcohol inside cannot be mailed.
Don't ship anything with a lithium battery.
Always include a return address on the parcel, and include destination/return address on a card inside the parcel (in case the address on the parcel is rendered unreadable).
Never use wrapping paper around your parcel — it is very thin and isn't suitable in the high-speed sorting machines.