USPS Holiday Shipping Dates 2020

USPS recommended holiday shipping dates

USPS Announces 2020 Holiday Shipping Dates

This year has been something! Between the election and the pandemic, many customers are turning their attention to the holiday season for solace. Many in our military community have just moved or are moving overseas, which can further complicate holiday shipping times when it comes to sending gifts and care packages.  

The best guidance available is from the United States Postal Service (USPS), who have just published their recommended “send-by” dates to best ensure deliveries before December 25, 2020.

2020 Holiday Shipping Dates for Overseas Military Mail

The following information outlines the USPS guidance for shipping to APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP codes. The dates listed are the “send by” date.

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 090-092:

USPS Retail Ground Service Nov 6
Space Available Mail (SAM)1 Nov 27
Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL)2 Dec 4
First-Class Mail Service Dec 11
Priority Mail Service Dec 11
Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)3 Dec 18

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093:

USPS Retail Ground Service Nov 6
SAM Nov 27
PAL Dec 4
First Class Mail Service Dec 9
Priority Mail Service Dec 9
PMEMS N/A

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 094-098:

USPS Retail Ground Service Nov 6
SAM Nov 27
PAL Dec 4
First Class Mail Service Dec 11
Priority Mail Service Dec 11
PMEMS Dec 18

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 340:

USPS Retail Ground Service Nov 6
SAM Nov 27
PAL Dec 4
First Class Mail Service Dec 11
Priority Mail Service Dec 11
PMEMS Dec 18

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 962-966:

USPS Retail Ground Service Nov 6
SAM Nov 27
PAL Dec 4
First Class Mail Service Dec 11
Priority Mail Service Dec 11
PMEMS Dec 18

 

  1. SAM Parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space available basis.
  2. PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis.
  3. PMEMS is available to selected military/diplomatic Post Offices.

2020 Holiday Shipping Dates for the Lower 48 States

The following chart outlines the recommended send-by dates for expected delivery before December 25, 2020:

USPS Retail Ground Service Dec 15
First-Class Mail Service Dec 18
Priority Mail Service Dec 19
Priority Mail Express Service Dec 23

2020 Holiday Shipping Dates for Alaska & Hawaii

Alaska

First Class Mail Service Dec 18
Priority Mail Service Dec 19
Priority Mail Express Service Dec 21

Hawaii

First Class Mail Service Dec 15
Priority Mail Service Dec 15
Priority Mail Express Service Dec 21

Military Care Kits

Did you know that the USPS offers a Military Care Kit?

These kits come with 2 APO/FPO flat-rate boxes and 4 medium flat-rate boxes, along with the tape, address labels, and customs envelopes you will need to ship boxes to our Heroes overseas.

The best part is that these kits are free of charge. To order this awesome kit, call 800-610-8743. These are not a seasonal product, so you can order these throughout the year. Also, to order the flat-rate boxes featuring the “America Supports You” logo, go to usps.com/freeboxes

RELATED: How To: Military Care Package Do’s and Don’ts

Addressing Military & Diplomatic Mail

The USPS also published guidance for shipping to an APO/FPO/DPO:

  • Always include:
    • the recipient’s name, rank, and unit
    • the APO/FPO/DPO address with the 9-digit ZIP code
    • a return address
  • Must be addressed to a specific person – “Any Service Member” no longer authorized
  • Do not include city or country names in APO/FPO/DPO addresses. Doing so could cause your package to enter into foreign mail networks.

Examples of proper addresses (Do NOT ship to these addresses!)

Army/Air Post Office (APO)

PFC JOHN DOE

PSC 3 BOX 4120

APO AE 09021-4120

Fleet Post Office (FPO)

SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH

UNIT 100100 BOX 4120

FPO AP 96691-4120

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

JOHN ADAMS

UNIT 8400 BOX 0000

DPO AE 09498-0048

It’s always a good idea to learn about Domestic & International Shipping Restrictions.

Postage & Other Shipping Supplies

In addition to those fantastic Military Care Kits, you can order an assortment of packages, envelopes, and labels all from USPS.com. These packages items are free and will also be shipped to you within 2-8 business days. This is an especially important benefit since COVID has most of us locked down. 

While the packages and envelopes may be free, shipping them will still cost money. If you do not want to wait in long, socially-distant lines at your local post office, you should utilize the USPS Click-N-Ship, which allows you to:

  • Print shipping labels
  • Request a package pickup
  • Buy stamps and ship
  • Manage P.O. Boxes
  • Print customs forms online
  • File domestic claims.

In order to take advantage of this increasingly prevalent option for shipping, you will need to create a USPS Account. You can create either a personal or a business account. It is worth mentioning that you will need to supply your own printer in order to print labels. That’s not one of the free items!

USPS Holiday Newsroom

Don’t forget, the USPS is updating the 2020 Holiday Newsroom this month in preparation for the holiday season.

This is where you can participate in USPS Operation Santa, that connects needy kids with generous donors who can get the kids things from their wish lists.

There is also the Greetings from the North Pole program which is a program that allows kids around the country to receive letters in the mail postmarked from the North Pole. My kids love this program!

Finally, USPS has a blog (who doesn’t, right?), where they offer updated information relating to seasonal shipping concerns holidays, or even information concerning shipping complications caused by the pandemic. 

I hope all of you have an amazing holiday season despite the let down that 2020 has been so far. Be sure to share all of this information with your friends and family!

(photo courtesy of USPS)

 

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About the author

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.