The brave Americans who serve our country as part of the armed forces deserve all the support and love they can get while deployed.
The United States Postal Service has always been instrumental in providing that support for the troops, and even now, with Zoom calls and email, care packages cannot be beaten.
Letters and care packages are all sent via military shipping. What is USPS military shipping? I’ve got the answer you need below.
What Is USPS Military Shipping In 2022?
The United States Postal Service military shipping is the sole provider of mail carrying to APOs/FPOs/DPOs domestically or abroad. Military mail requires specific shipping labels and comes with some prohibitions, but Flat-Rate packages shipped to military destinations abroad are always sent at a significantly discounted rate for the convenience and accessibility of military families.
To learn more about how USPS military shipping works, if you can use the online tool Click-N-Ship, how to properly address military mail, and even which items are prohibited, you will find all the details if you keep reading!
How Does USPS Military Shipping Work?
Military families can send letters and packages domestically and abroad using the USPS military shipping program.
In fact, USPS is the sole shipper of military mail; while rivals like UPS and FedEx have expansive carrier networks, they cannot deliver mail to military bases.
Mail is sent to APOs (Army Post Offices), FPOs (Fleet Post Offices), DPOs (Diplomatic Post Offices) and MPOs (Military Post Offices), so the addresses are rendered a little differently.
To ship a letter or package to a member of the armed forces or Department of Defense personnel, you can use any envelope or box, provided the address labels are correct.
However, you can also take advantage of the Postal Service’s free military shipping supplies, including this comprehensive Military Care Kit.
While you can address the labels yourself, following the proper format, you can also use the USPS.com tool Click-N-Ship, which will guide you through the process.
For mailings going overseas, in many, if not most cases, a customs form will be necessary. If you use Click-N-Ship, the tool will guide you through the process of filling it out.
Finally, one of the major conveniences of military shipping with USPS is that any letter or package, no matter where the military base is in the world, ships for the domestic price.
That means you can send your loved one a letter in France, Japan, or Turkey using the same postage you’d buy to send a card to the next American state.
Even better, you can send care packages using Priority Mail International and pay domestic Priority Mail prices.
According to Stamps.com, Armed Forces Pacific mail ships out of San Francisco; Armed Forces America, Miami; and Armed Forces Europe out of New York City.
Can You Use USPS Click-N-Ship For Military Shipping?
You can absolutely use USPS’s Click-N-Ship tool to create military shipping labels, and the site will even guide you through the customs form process for international shipments.
Even more conveniently, you can also arrange for a package pick-up, free of charge, meaning you don’t even have to leave your house to send mail to deployed loved ones.
You can also have the free military shipping supplies, including Flat-Rate boxes, shipped to your house at no cost.
How Do You Address USPS Military Mail?
Military mail is addressed slightly differently than regular mail, and you’ll want to make sure you do it correctly to avoid any service hiccups.
The label should read:
- Addressee’s full name (you can include rank/grade/rating, but you don’t have to)
- Unit # Box #
- City (APO, FPO or DPO – not an actual city name)
- State (AA, AE, AP – not an actual state/country name)
- Zip Code (5-digit, starts with 0 or 9)
Does USPS Ship To Military For Free?
USPS does not ship to military bases for free, but they do ship to international bases at domestic prices.
In many cases, that is a steep discount for what would normally be quite pricey shipping services, including for Priority Mail and Priority Express.
You can also get military shipping supplies completely for free – even if you order online and have them shipped to your home.
How Long Does USPS Military Shipping Take?
Military shipping domestically is comparable to regular shipping, but overseas shipments, which have to go through extra layers of security, may take longer.
USPS.com provides estimate examples for how long mail normally takes to reach different destinations: Germany, 7-9 days for Priority letters; Iraq, 11-13 days; Japan, 9-12 days; Africa, 15-18 days.
And parcels can take much longer in some cases, especially to Asia.
If you’re sending cards or packages for the winter holidays, USPS has a chart to estimate by what date you would need to ship things out for them to reach the destination by Dec. 25.
You can find those charts here, and note how far in advance you have to ship using USPS Retail Ground, the cheapest – but slowest – package delivery service.
Does USPS Have Military Discount?
Active-duty servicemen and women can send mail to U.S. addresses for free, however, there is no discount on postage for non-active duty.
As always, though, friends and family can send mail to soldiers overseas for the same price as domestic postage, a significant discount in many cases.
What Can You Not Put In A USPS Military Care Package?
Unfortunately, you can’t send anything and everything into a military care package.
Per Stamps.com, here is a list of prohibited items:
- Pork or pork by-products
- Cordless telephones
- FRS radios
- FM transmitters
- Bulk amounts of Islamic religious materials
- Any media container nude or semi-nude content
- Non-authorized political materials
- Mobile phones
- Fridges, freezers, TVs and other major appliances
- GPS software/hardware
Steer clear of those items, and your package won’t end up getting you, or the recipient, in trouble.
USPS’s military shipping program provides secure mailing of letters and packages, even shipping overseas at the same rates as domestic shipping.
That discount makes it easier for military families to feel connected, even when they are separated by oceans.