This week, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving – a time to pause and reflect on our good fortune and prosperity. And while decorations have been up in some stores for weeks, it also marks the “official” start to the holiday season. For individuals and businesses, it means it’s time to start finalizing plans for shipping packages that we want to arrive by December 24th.
Our country has service members stationed all over the world – South America, Europe. Africa, Asia – and of course, the Middle East. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the Military Post Office worked together to develop a schedule that takes into account the logistics and other conditions impacting delivery times. To ensure timely delivery to a service member, use the following dates.
While most of us will use First-Class Mail or Priority Mail, there are other options included in the chart.
- Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) is available to selected military and diplomatic Post Offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
- Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Standard Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight and 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
- Space Available Mail (SAM) parcels are paid at Standard Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.
As with all mail, addressing is important to ensure delivery. Because of the abbreviations used by the military, many corporate shipping systems will need to be modified to accept the different verbiage. There are no streets or PO boxes, but unit designators, APOs, FPOs and DPOs. The address should include the service member’s full name, including their rank (At Fort Carson, I served with a COL Rock and a SGT Rock – we never wanted to get their mail mixed up).
For domestic shipping, mailers need to remember 3 key dates to get packages delivered by December 24:
- December 20, 2016 – if using First-Class Mail service
- December 21, 2016 – when shipping with Priority Mail service
- December 23, 2016 – when using Priority Mail Express service
Remember – delivery date guarantees only apply to Priority Mail Express. So if you plan on using a different class, deposit your mail with the USPS as early as possible.
This is one time of the year that no one wants to be late!