How to help your customers ship to APO/FPO addresses

By Rob Zaleski
Feb 7, 2018
shipping to military service members

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and since love recognizes no geographic boundaries, you may have customers who need to ship to their loved ones serving overseas. When shipping to military service members comes up, there are many nuances you’ll need to help your customers with. In order to make it easy on them, you’ll need to be familiar with everything that goes into shipping to military service members. We’ll dive into some of the details here to help you make it as easy on your customers as possible to send gifts to loved ones abroad.

(P.S. See the end of this post for standard turnaround times by service)

Address Format

One of the most crucial parts of shipping to military service members is how you format the address. A common question is whether or not the sender should add the city and country name to the shipping address. The answer to this is NO.

When shipping to military service members use the APO/FPO/DPO (APO is used for Air/Army Post Office; FPO is used for Fleet Post Office; DPO is used for Diplomatic Post Office) in the ‘City’ field of an address. From the State field, select:

  • Armed Forces – AE is the abbreviation for Armed Forces. It is used for armed forces in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Canada
  • Armed Forces Pacific – AP is the abbreviation for Armed Forces Pacific and is used for the Pacifics
  • Armed Forces America – AA is the abbreviation for Armed Forces America and it excludes Canada

Then enter a 5-digit zip code. Following this format not only ensures the package will arrive properly, it also makes it clear that the package is military mail when entering the mail stream.

This is what it looks like filling out the destination form in ShippingEasy.

shipping to military service members

Below are a couple examples of what this should look like on a label.

      UNIT 2050 BOX 4190
      APO AP 96278


    PSC 802 BOX 74
    APO AE 09499

Another note about format: if you mail an article to a military address and do not include a valid addressee, it will be returned to sender. If you do not include a return address, the mail will be opened in the Military Post Office Mail Recovery Center Network to attempt to decipher the sender’s address. If they are unable to determine the return address, the contents may be sent to local charities.

Customs Forms

A major headache for anyone shipping items overseas is customs forms. We answer all your questions about customs forms here. If you use a shipping solution like ShippingEasy, we actually make it easy to insert all the correct information into customs forms based on where the shipments final destination is. Use the button below to give us a try, FREE for 30 days.

Free Trial of ShippingEasy

Tips For Packing Items

Depending on what you sell, there are certain precautions you’ll need to take to ensure that your customers’ packages arrive to their loved ones. Below is a list from the Military Postal Service Agency:

  • Place the mailing address inside the parcel on a separate piece of paper.
  • Use a box that is constructed to conform to the contents you are sending.
  • Place items in the box so that the weight is evenly distributed.
  • Add packing material on the inside if any portion of the box sags or is easily depressed.
  • Use packaging tape for wrapping the outside of the box. Do not wrap with string.
  • Cross out or cover excess markings or printing to prevent your box from being missent.
  • Enclose all personal hygiene items, such as deodorant, lotion, or shampoo, in a sealable bag.
  • Place all perishable items, such as cookies, chips, etc., in a plastic container.
  • When mailing liquids, ensure they are properly packaged. Limit the quantity, use a leak-proof container, and wrap the articles in an absorbent material between the inner and outer containers.

Restricted Items

When shipping internationally, there is already a laundry list of restricted items. When shipping to military service members, that list becomes even longer. Some that may surprise you are items like lottery tickets, alcohol, and anything over 70 lbs. On top of that, there are items that are restricted based on destination, so where you’re shipping matters.

Show That You Care

Every order should be followed by a confirmation email, and that email is a great way to personalize the experience for your customers. Particularly when shipping to military service members, you can thank them for their service and sacrifice with a custom message. That process doesn’t have to be tedious when you set up shipping rules in a shipping software like ShippingEasy.

Set rules for any military shipment and use a custom template to add an extra special thank you, or perhaps a special offer or military discount for their next purchase. You can also start using this information to build a targeted list segment for use later, possibly providing special offers and messaging to military service members and their family on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or during the winter holidays.

Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, any other holiday, or just a surprise gift, make shipping to military service members easy on friends and family. They’ll remember you for it, and be back.

Typical expected turnaround times:

      (APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 090–092 and 094–099)
      Express Mail® Military Service: 3 Days
      First-Class Mail® / Priority Mail® Service: 7–9 Days
      Package Services(*): 30–45 Days


      (APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 093)
      Express Mail®: Military Service Not Available
      First-Class Mail® / Priority Mail® Service: 7–13 Days
      Package Services(*): 20–24 Days


      (APO / FPO AP ZIP™ Codes beginning with 962–966)
      Express Mail® Military Service: 3 Days
      First-Class Mail® / Priority Mail® Service: 7–9 Days
      Package Services(*): 30–45 Days


      (APO / FPO AA ZIP™ Codes beginning with 340)
      Express Mail®: Military Service Not Available
      First-Class Mail® / Priority Mail® Service: 7–9 Days
      Package Services(*): 18–21 Days


  • (*) Package Services class of mail applies to mail sent at the surface or Parcel Post® rate. This class receives surface transportation by ship to certain locations.
The following two tabs change content below.

Rob Zaleski

Head of Brand at ShippingEasy
I'm a digital content and social media nerd with a passion for telling stories, helping connect people, and finding joy in the details.

Latest posts by Rob Zaleski (see all)