Soldiers deployed overseas are often seen waiting impatiently for letters and care packages to arrive from home. Not only does mail from loved ones break up the daily routine, but usually, it’s the motivation soldiers need to stay strong during challenging moments.
So how does exchanging mail with someone in the military work? Well, it turns out that it’s not as complicated as you’d think. If you have questions about this process, check out all my research below!
What Are Military Stamps?
Military stamps are postage stamps used by a military branch in wartime or during a peace-keeping operation as of 2023. Usually, the Army assumes responsibility for delivery to the destination country. During World War II, such stamps were widely used by soldiers when communicating with loved ones. Their use has declined significantly with the advent of electronic forms of communication.
If you want to know even more about sending mail to service members, then you’ve got to keep reading!
What Is Military Mail?
There’s no talking about Military stamps without talking about Military Mail.
With that, Military Mail is a general term for mail sent to Army Post Offices (APOs) and Fleet Post Offices (FPOs).
Although letters and packages sent through Military Mail are sent abroad, USPS treats them as domestic mail.
Further, because USPS delivers mail to a domestic military base, the military then takes responsibility for the rest of the delivery.
Do Deployed Soldiers Need Stamps?
Active duty members of the United States Armed Forces deployed in designated combat areas can send personal correspondence free of charge to addresses in the United States.
Thus, they do not need stamps.
Does It Cost Money To Mail Something To A Soldier?
While on-duty members of the Armed Forces in designated combat areas can send personal correspondence without stamps or postage, the same cannot be said for civilians.
So, although several bills advocating for free mail exchange between service members and civilians have been proposed in Congress, so far, none have been successful in securing this benefit.
That said, the federal government does subsidize the postage an individual pays when mailing something to the troops.
Under this agreement, a sender is only charged for the domestic portion of the delivery.
In other words, when sending something to an APO or FPO, USPS will only charge you for the transportation to a domestic military mail location (located in New York, Newark, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago).
Once your mail arrives at one of these locations, the Department of Defense pays to move the mail from the United States to its destination overseas.
In addition to this subsidized mail service, USPS offers discounted package service to families sending packages to Armed Service members stationed overseas.
How Do I Ship Something To Someone In The Military?
When mailing a package or a letter to a military address, make sure to include the unit and box numbers (if applicable).
However, don’t include the city or country names in APO or FPO addresses, as this may cause packages to enter foreign mail networks.
Instead, use APO or FPO in the “City” field and AA (Armed Forces Americas), AE (Armed Forces Europe), or AP (Armed Forces Pacific) in the “State” field.
Further, here’s an example of the proper format for a military address:
First Name Last Name
Unit 1 Box 1000
APO, AE 09898
When addressing packages, the Department of Defense requests that you only write the address information on one side of the box.
Also, it’s worth noting that you don’t need to fill out a customs form when sending a letter via Military Mail.
You will, however, need to complete one if you’re sending a package that weighs more than a pound, where you’ll need to list everything inside the package as well as the final destination.
Finally, you must give packages going to military addresses to a USPS employee. That said, you can either bring your item to the Post Office or schedule an in-person pick-up at your home.
Are There Restrictions On Military Mail?
Naturally, there are certain restrictions when sending Military Mail.
For example, packages headed to APO or FPO addresses must weigh less than 70 pounds and have combined maximum dimensions of less than 108 inches in total length and girth.
In addition to the size restrictions, there’s a list of items you’re prohibited from sending to military personnel.
I’ve listed some examples below, but be aware that different countries or bases may have additional prohibitions.
Therefore, you cannot send the following items through Military Mail:
- Air Bags
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Dry Ice
- Hemp-based products (including cannabidiol, or CBD)
- Marijuana (medical or otherwise)
- Nail Polish
- Perfumes (containing alcohol)
While it’s tough being separated from loved ones in the military, it’s good to know that USPS and the federal government have made the mail exchange process easy and affordable.
Further, military members don’t need to pay for postage to send a letter back home.
However, if someone from the US wants to send a letter or package to a military member, they’ll have to pay for postage.