How To Ship Care Packages to Military Serving Overseas (2017)

Do you have a loved one who will be serving overseas this holiday season?  Perhaps a friend, acquaintance, or neighbor you know will be in a distant land next month?  Maybe you just want to show your support to our Armed Forces servicing on foreign soil by participating in a community, church, or other civic program to provide presents, goodies, or a Thank You card for the wonderful work they are doing?

Whatever your reason, below is the mailing schedule for shipping care packages and ideas that you will need to follow to ensure the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine in your thoughts and prayers gets the “gift” you are considering sending.

Shipping Care Packages to Military Serving Overseas


Shipping Care Packages Holiday Deadlines

The following are the shipping care package deadlines for military mail to ship through the United States Postal Service and to arrive by December 25, 2017.

Europe / Atlantic (APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 090-092 and 094-098)

  • USPS Retail Ground Service – Monday, November 6th
  • Space Available Mail (SAM) – Monday, November 27th
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) – Monday, December 4th
  • Priority Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • First Class Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) – Saturday, December 16th

Iraq / Afghanistan / Middle East (APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093)

  • USPS Retail Ground Service – Monday, November 6th
  • Space Available Mail (SAM) – Monday, November 27th
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) – Monday, December 4th
  • Priority Mail Service – Monday, December 4th
  • First Class Mail Service – Monday, December 4th
  • Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) – Not Available

Central America / South America /Caribbean (APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 340)

  • USPS Retail Ground Service – Monday, November 6th
  • Space Available Mail (SAM) – Monday, November 27th
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) – Monday, December 4th
  • Priority Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • First Class Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) – Saturday, December 16th

Japan / Korea /Pacific Islands (APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 962-966)

  • USPS Retail Ground Service – Monday, November 6th
  • Space Available Mail (SAM) – Monday, November 27th
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) – Monday, December 4th
  • Priority Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • First Class Mail Service – Monday, December 11th
  • Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) – Saturday, December 16th

Shipping Care Packages Notes

* Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) is only available to select military/diplomatic post offices.

*Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) provides air transportation on a space available basis and only available for USPS Retail Ground, Package Services, and Parcel Select mail not exceeding 30 lbs or 60 inches.

*Space Available Mail (SAM) are transported domestically and then air on a space available basis and must not exceed 15 lbs or 60 inches.

Shipping Care Packages Contact

USPS Holiday Shipping Dates


Shipping Care Packages Ideas

Military members serving a deployment overseas would greatly appreciate a care package during the holidays. These service members will not only be appreciative but may even find many items in the package immensely useful. The following are the most requested items that would be really useful to service members serving a deployment overseas.

Edible Items

  • Powdered Drink Mixes
    • Hot Chocolate
    • Instant Coffee
    • K-Cups for Keurig
    • Powder Creamer
    • Sweetened Iced Tea
    • Sweetened Lemonade
    • Sports Drink Mix
    • Tea Bags
    • 5 Hour Energy Drinks
  • Meal Enhancers
    • BBQ Sauce
    • Hot Sauce
    • Instant Soup
    • Ketchup
    • Mustard
    • Ramen Noodles
    • Relish
    • Seasoned Salt
    • Soy Sauce
  • Quick Protein
    • Beef Summer Sausage
    • Energy Bars
    • Granola Bars
    • Mixed Nuts
    • Non-Perishable Beef Jerky
    • Tuna
  • Snacks
    • Items in Hard Containers
      • Chips
      • Mixed Nuts
      • Pretzels
    • Cereal
    • Cookies
    • Freeze-Dried Fruits
    • Fruit Strips
    • Gum
    • Hard Candy
    • Microwavable Popcorn
    • Oatmeal Packets
    • Peanut Butter and Cheese Crackers
    • Sunflower Seeds

Personal Care How To Ship Care Packages to Military Serving Overseas

  • Small, Travel Size
    • Avoid Aerosol Cans
    • Place Items in Plastic Bags
  • Toiletries

    • Baby Powder
    • Baby Wipes
    • Body Wash
    • Cotton Swabs
    • Disposable Razors
    • Feminine Hygiene Products
    • Floss
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Individual Tissues
    • Lip Balm
    • Lotion
    • Mouthwash
    • Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Shaving Lotio
    • Sunscreen
    • Toothbrushes
    • Toothpaste
  • Medicinal Items
    • Antacids
    • Disposable Hand Warmers
    • Eye Drops
    • Medicated Foot Powder
    • Pain Relievers
    • Pain Reliever Topical Cream
    • Throat Lozenges
  • Clothing and Accessories
    • Basketball Shorts
    • Beanies
    • Boot Socks
    • Brown T-Shirts
    • Fingerless Gloves
    • Goggle Style Sunglasses
    • 100% Cotton Sweatsuits
    • 100% Cotton Undergarments
  • Household Items
    • Air Fresheners
    • De-Humidifier
    • Tupperware
    • Ziploc Bags

Entertainment

  • Reading Material

    • Comic Books
    • Magazines
    • Paperback Books
  • Games
    • Board Games
    • Crossword Puzzles
    • Deck of Cards
    • Frisbees
    • Hacky Sacks
    • Word Searches
  • Electronics
    • Batteries (AA and D)
    • CD’s
    • Handheld Video Games
    • iTunes Gift Card
    • Movies
    • Portable DVD Player
    • Video Games
  • Writing Materials
    • Envelopes
    • Journals
    • Notepads
    • Pens and Pencils
    • Stamps

Sentimental

  • Homemade Baked Goods
  • Homemade Cards
  • Handwritten Letters
  • Family and Friend’s Photos
  • Family Videos (On USB Drive)

Items to Avoid (Particularly Middle East)

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate (Warm Climates)
  • Items Offensive to the Islamic Faith
  • Lithium Batteries
  • Non-Approved Political Items
  • Pork or Pork By-Products
  • Pornography
  • Religious Items Contrary to Islamic Faith

It is recommended that you check in with your local Ombudsman, key volunteer, or family support coordinator on additional possible restrictions or needs of current deployed service members in your area. There will be specific restrictions on military ZIP codes and those will be outlined in the label printing process whenever you are ready to ship your care package.


Shipping Care Packages Supplies

An affordable option to shipping care packages to deployed service members includes utilizing the free shipping kits available from the United States Postal Service. The military shipping kit includes address labels, tape, boxes, and custom forms.

To receive a free military shipping kit:

Contact: (800) 610-8734, USPS

Addressing Military and Domestic Mail

The following is the correct way to address mail to the APO, FPO, and DPO addresses. Make sure to note not to include city or country information when shipping to military addresses.

Army/Air Post Office (APO)                   Fleet Post Office (FPO)              Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

PFC JOHN DOE                                   SEAMAN JOHN DOE                 JOHN DOE

PSC 3 BOX 4120                                  UNIT 100100 BOX 4120            UNIT 8400 BOX 0000

APO AE 09021                                      FPO AP 96691                           DPO AE 09498-0048

APO, FPO, and DPO Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes

The United States Postal Services provides flat rate boxes that are one price regardless of weight (maximum of 70 lbs) or destination. The Board Game Large Flat Rate Box and the Large Flat Rate Box are similar to the military themed box but with the logo, “Americasupportsyou.mil.” These military themed boxes addressed to any APO, FPO, or DPO destination are priced less than the traditional large flat rate boxes. All mail addressed to APO, FPO, or DPO must have a hard copy or electronically generated Customs Declarations PS Form 2976, PS Form 2976-A, or PS Form 2976-B.

APO, FPO, DPO Flat Rate Box Dimensions: 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ Inside and 12-1/4″ x 12-1/4″ x 6″ Outside

Price: $17.35

Space Available Mail (SAM) Parcels

Space Available Mail (SAM) Parcels are shipped to overseas military post offices. These items must be labeled “SAM” below the postage and above the name of the recipient. SAM parcels mailed within the 48 contiguous states must be under 15 lbs in weight and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL)

Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) is a space available option for air transportation between military post offices outside  or within the 48 contiguous states. These items must be labeled “PAL” on the address side. This service is available for USPS Retail Ground, Package Services, or Parcel Select services and must not exceed 30 lbs in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined.

Price:

  • Weight no more than 2 lbs – $.75
  • Weight no more than 3 lbs – $1.40
  • Weight no more than 4 lbs – $1.90
  • Weight no more than 5 lbs – $2.55

These fees must be paid in addition to the regular surface price postage for each addressed item. Other additional services that may be added to PAL for additional service fees if applicable consist of:

  • Certificate of Mailing
  • Insured Mail
  • Insurance Restricted Delivery (Insured over $500)
  • Return Receipt (Insured over $500)
  • Return Receipt for Merchandise
  • Special Handling- Fragile

Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)

Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) is an expedited service between the 48 continuous states and overseas APOs and FPOs of military members serving overseas with a money-back guarantee. The delivery time is typically 3 to 5 business days depending on the destination. This service however is not available between APO, FPO, and DPO destinations.

Price: Excluding Flat Rate packaging each addressed item is charged postage based on weight and zone.

Don’t delay or procrastinate, think about giving to someone you know serving overseas currently, the thought will more than likely brighten their day and remind them of home. If you are going to send a package, parcel, or card do it NOW to ensure it arrives in time for the holidays.

Tips for Shipping Care Packages to Military Serving Overseas (2017)

About Anita Clark Realtor

Anita Clark has written 876 posts on this blog.

Anita is a residential Real Estate Agent in Warner Robins Georgia, with Coldwell Banker SSK Realtors (478) 953-8595, aiding buyers and sellers with all their real estate questions on her Warner Robins blog.