Make sure your loved ones have the perfect presents to unwrap on Christmas morning! You’ll be in the clear when you stick to the holiday shipping guidelines for the US Postal Service.
Mark your calendars to be sure that your packages and cards arrive by December 24!
Get a Jump on Holiday Packages: 2018 Deadlines for Sending Packages Around the World
No matter where you are shipping in the continental US, it’s a good idea to have your goods on the go by December 14 for basic rate options. This includes greeting cards and regular retail ground shipping services.
For First Class and Priority Mail, you have until December 20 to get those gifts in the mail.
If you’re notorious for waiting until the very last second, the absolute last day to get your presents in the mail for the lower 48 is December 22. However, you’ll be stuck paying for Priority Mail Express to ensure that everything arrives by Christmas Eve.
For Alaska and Hawaii, your mail needs to be sent by December 20 for First Class and Priority. At the absolute latest, you can send packages Priority Mail Express on December 22.
Send Your Gifts Overseas
Many of us are missing someone around our holiday tables. If your shipping to a loved one stationed overseas, pay close attention to shipping deadlines.
Whether you are hoping to send something from the US or to the US, it will help to stick to these hard deadlines.
Don’t forget to fill out a customs form before you ship your packages. Cards generally do not need customs forms.
Be sure to register for your free supply of shipping products specifically to send to military members overseas!
APO/FPO/DPO AE Zip 093: Iraq, Afghanistan & Middle East
If you’re hoping to spread holiday cheer to a loved one in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, you need to have everything sent by December 4.
All other APO/FPO/DPO Addresses: Europe, Africa & Asia
For folks shipping to and from Europe, Africa, and Asia, be sure to have your packages and letters ready to go by mid-December.
Priority and First Class Mail all need to be shipped out by December 11. The absolute last day for shipping your presents, using Priority Express Military Mail, is December 16.
Address your APO/FPO/DPO packages following this format:
Mail being sent to military or diplomatic post offices follows the US standard address format.
In place of the city, put FPO, APO, or DPO based on which type of post office your mail is being sent to. For the state, use the region: AE for Europe or the Middle East, AP for Asia and the Pacific region generally, and AA for Africa.
Use this basic format:
Rank (if being sent to Active Duty troop) First Name Last Name
PSC XXX Box XXX
FPO (or APO or DPO) (Region: AP, AE, AA) Zip
Non-Military African Addresses
First Class and Priority Mail International should be posted by December 1. Priority Mail Express International items need to be mailed by December 8. For last minute packages, you’ll need to ship your gift by December 16 and use Global Express Guaranteed.
Non-Military Asian, Austrailian & New Zealand Addresses
Make sure that you have First Class and Priority International packages in the mail by December 8. Priority Express International items need to be shipped by December 15. Use Global Express Guaranteed by December 19 for guaranteed Christmas delivery. For Australia and New Zealand, you have until December 20 with Global Express Guaranteed.
Non-Military Canadian & Caribbean Addresses
Have packages going First Class or Priority International in the mail by December 8. You have until December 15 for Priority Express International items and December 20 for Global Express Guaranteed.
Non-Military Central & South American Addresses
Make sure to have First Class and Priority International packages shipped out by December 1. Priority Express International items need to be sent by December 8. Global Express Guaranteed items must be mailed by December 18.
Non-Military Mexican Addresses
Ship off your First Class and Priority Express presents and cards by December 8. You have until December 15 for Priority Express International and until December 19 for Global Express Guaranteed.
Non-Military Middle Eastern & European Addresses
Send your packages, but Priority International or First Class International Mail, by December 8. Priority Express International packages will need to be shipped by December 15 and Global Express International by December 19.
Address Your Non-Military Packages
International addresses are different than the US standard three lines: name, house number with the street, followed by city and state with the zip code.
You’ll want to address your packages and cards using the standard address system in the destination country. Consult with your gift’s recipient for specifics before you send.
Packing Gifts to Arrive Safely
You’ve spent so much time and care to select just the right gifts. It would be a shame for them to arrive damaged or broken.
For fragile non-liquid items, it is recommended that you pack them carefully. Wrap them in layers of tissue or newspaper at a bare minimum. Using bubble wrap is ideal. In a pinch, packing breakables inside of clean socks or tucked in between cushioning items might be okay.
If you are sending liquid items, wrap them carefully to prevent the container from breaking. Spills due to pressure changes are also a risk. It is advised that you place wrapped liquids inside of ziplock plastic bags.
You can also prevent leaks in many items, like lotions and bath products, with a simple plastic wrap trick. Remove the lid of the container. Place a small piece of plastic wrap over the top the now-open bottle or jar. The plastic wrap should be big enough to cover the whole opening plus spread down the sides. Once it’s covered, put the lid back on and tighten it completely.
Food and other perishables should be sent in a sealed plastic bag or hard plastic container.
Never send alcohol by USPS or via international mail. Certain countries may have restrictions on particular goods, like meat products or produce. Be sure to check with your local USPS office for specifics.