Whether it be gifts from loved ones or direct purchases, Military Mail can lift the spirits of military personnel. USPS Military Mail provides those stationed overseas with an affordable carrier option, so they’re able to receive letters and packages. While Military Mail is technically classified as domestic mail, but it does follow some of the same processes and requirements as international shipments. This includes completed customs forms and compliance with international shipping restrictions. The mention of international shipping may come with a negative connotation, but we’ll guide you through shipping military mail, so you can provide the carrier service to customers.
Table of Contents
- What is Military Mail?
- Shipping Military Mail with USPS
- Delivery time frames and services for Military Mail
- USPS free supplies and resources
- Customs form requirements for Military Mail
- Military Mail with UPS
- Tips for shipping to a military address
- Holiday considerations for Military Mail
- Shipping to other specialty addresses
- Sending Military Mail with ShippingEasy
What is Military Mail?
Military Mail is a classification of USPS mail including both letters and packages sent to different military departments, service members, and their families living on military bases. Military Mail is technically domestic mail but does require attached customs forms for packages weighing over 16 ounces (1 pound). Military Mail is shipped through an extension of the USPS called The Military Postal Service.
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Shipping Military Mail with USPS
The Military Postal Service provides the same services as USPS with only slight variations, depending on where the recipient is stationed. Military Mail delivery is also made possible with the help of the US Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command, Military Transportation Command, and Military Sealift Command. These agencies work to keep shipments safe throughout transit and ensure packages are delivered to the correct destination.
Delivery time frames and services for Military Mail
The most commonly used services for Military Mail are Express Mail® Military Service, First-Class Mail®, and Priority Mail®. The estimated delivery timeframe of packages will vary based on the service used and the package’s destination. You can find estimated delivery windows below as well as on the USPS website.
|Destination||Zip Code||Express Mail® Military Service Delivery Window||First-Class Mail® / Priority Mail® Delivery Window|
|Europe/Atlantic||(APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 090–092 and 094–099)||3 Days||7–9 Days|
|Iraq/Afghanistan/Middle East||(APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 093)||Service Not Available||7–13 Days
Pacific Islands/Far East
|(APO / FPO AP ZIP™ Codes beginning with 962–966)||3 Days||7–9 Days|
|Central America/ South American/Caribbean||(APO / FPO AA ZIP™ Codes beginning with 340)||Service Not Available||7–9 Days|
USPS free supplies and resources
USPS offers free shipping supplies for Military Mail, including Priority Mail Flat Rate® boxes and envelopes. These supplies can be shipped to your home or business at no cost. USPS also provides a Military Mail restriction tool to the public. The APO/FPO/DPO Restrictions tool will show any restrictions or guidelines for the destination zip code and helps you avoid adjustments and reduces the risk of packages being returned.
Customs form requirements for Military Mail
As we mentioned earlier, all packages over 16 ounces (1 pound) require customs forms. Fortunately, Military Mail only calls for one copy of customs forms, and they’re included with your label! You’ll just enter the customs information for each item in your shipment when creating the label in ShippingEasy.
In addition to customs descriptions, you should also provide Harmonized System (HS) codes for your items. HS codes are six-digit classifications used to identify your product and its characteristics. HS codes are universal, helping bypass language barriers to move shipments through customs easier. This infographic from our carrier partner, GlobalPost, does a great job of highlighting the requirements for HS codes.
Military Mail with UPS
Military Mail is handled by its own dedicated postal channel. For this reason, there’s no need to list city or country names in a military address. In fact, you should actively avoid including city or country names because you don’t want Military Mail to enter domestic or foreign postal networks.
The military address format is straightforward. Use the service member’s full name and title, followed by the unit and APO/FPO number.
Here’s an example:
SSGT RECEIVER’S NAME
UNIT 2050 BOX 4190
APO AP 96278-2050
APO stands for Army Post Office (Army and Air Force installations), and FPO stands for Fleet Post Office (Navy installations and ships). As shown above, the APO or FPO designation is followed by one of:
AA = Armed Forces of the Americas
AE = Armed Forces of Europe
AP = Armed Forces of the Pacific
Followed by an extended zip code. When sending Military Mail, provide a return address on the front of the package.
Please note, for Military Mail, UPS utilizes UPS SurePost® service which is currently available for packages picked up within the 48 contiguous United States for delivery to residential addresses in the 48 contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and to U.S. Post Office Boxes™ and APO/FPO/DPO addresses.
Learn more about UPS over in our blog.
Tips for shipping to a military address
We’ve gone over how to ship Military Mail, but how should you package these shipments? When shipping to a military address, you should:
- Confirm the address and customs forms information on your label before printing. Military addresses are written in an unfamiliar format, so it’s easy to make mistakes.
- Double-package items to decrease potential damages in transit.
- Include labels on both the inner and outer packaging in case of label smearing.
- Consider the temperature of your package in transit. Military Mail might encounter extremely hot and cold temperatures in transit, so plan accordingly.
Find tips for shipping fragile items in Your Guide to Shipping Fragile Items.
Holiday considerations for Military Mail
As with domestic and international services, Military Mail has its own set of shipping deadlines. Shipping deadlines or cutoffs are the last date a package can be shipped and still arrive for Christmas. We’ll update our shipping deadlines blogs as we receive information, so bookmark our blog and keep your eyes peeled for updates. 👀
Shipping to other specialty addresses
Military addresses follow a different format than most addresses. However, orders shipping to apartment complexes, campus mailboxes, PO boxes, and shared housing spaces might have additional information for your package to reach a customer.
Sending Military Mail with ShippingEasy
You may have to fill out customs information, but ShippingEasy automatically chooses the correct customs forms for you. All you need to do is confirm the service and packaging are both listed correctly for your shipment! Additionally, if your business ships the same or similar items, you can save HS codes and product descriptions in your international settings. These saved categories will auto-populate on your customs forms, so you don’t have to manually reenter the information with each new order.
It may seem small, but opening a package can brighten someone’s day. Military Mail may follow some international shipping restrictions and require customs forms, but shipping Military Mail doesn’t require a large amount of additional work. USPS offers free shipping supplies and tools to quickly locate restrictions, and ShippingEasy selects the necessary type of customs forms for you. Verify your store or marketplace supports APO/FPO addresses and notify your customers when this option is available. You never know how much the option for Military Mail could make someone’s day.