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Shipping holiday mail to military? Here are the deadlines to ensure delivery

The US Postal Service has announced the 2021 shipping dates for holiday mail to the military.
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mckee
Sailors and Marines carry mail onto the USS Makin Island during a port call in Singapore.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Planning on sending holiday presents and care packages to U.S. servicemen and diplomats overseas? 

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced the 2021 deadlines and new pricing for sending packages to friends and family who may be stationed abroad.

First, there's the new pricing. On August 29, 2021, USPS increased the price of First-Class Forever stamps from 55 cents to 58 cents. Sheets and individual holiday and winter-themed First Class stamps are available at your local Post Office locations and online at usps.com.

There are also temporary price increases in place through December 26, 12:01 a.m. Central Time (1:01 a.m. Eastern Time) for the following services:

  • Priority Mail Express (PME)
  • Priority Mail (PM)
  • First-Class Package Service (FCPS)
  • Parcel Select
  • USPS Retail Ground
  • Parcel Return Services

International products are unaffected by the temporary price increase. You can calculate how much your package will cost to ship by using the online Zone Chart at usps.com.

Second, USPS recommends the following deadlines for mailing and shipping packages for delivery by December 25 to domestic and APO/FPO/DPO (Air/Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office/Diplomatic Post Office) addresses: 

  • Nov. 6 — APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) USPS Retail Ground service
  • Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground service
  • Dec. 16 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express Military service
  • Dec. 17 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • Dec. 18 — Priority Mail service
  • Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express* service

Alaska

  • Dec. 18 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S.– First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 18 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S.– Priority Mail
  • Dec. 21 — Alaska to/from Continental U.S.– Priority Mail Express

Hawaii

  • Dec. 17 — Hawaii to/from mainland--Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
  • Dec. 21 — Hawaii to/from mainland--Priority Mail Express

Don't wait to get that holiday mail in the postage system! USPS says customer traffic is anticipated to increase the week beginning December 6 -- with the busiest mailing, shipping, and delivery week of the season to be December 13-18.

  • You can get free Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes -- the "if-it-fits-it-ships" boxes -- at your local Post Office or online at store.ups.com. A free Military Care Kit contains 6 boxes (2 APO/FPO flat-rate boxes + 4 medium flat-rate boxes), tape, and labels.
  • Use Click-N-Ship to create shipping labels and pay for postage online and save a little bit of money.
  • Save yourself a trip and schedule free package pickup for all of your packages with your mail carrier online at usps.com/pickup