It’s not even Halloween yet, but it doesn’t hurt to start your planning for those end-of-year holiday cards and packages going to or from military locations overseas.

Military postal officials and the U.S. Postal Service have released some suggested deadlines to make sure those goodies reach their destinations in time for Christmas. To get them there in time for Hanukkah, which starts on Dec. 12 this year, subtract 13 days from the deadlines.

The deadlines for various methods of shipping are the same for all the APO/FPO/DPO (diplomatic post office) ZIP codes, with the exception of some mail going to APO/FPO/DPO ZIP 093, which covers overseas contingency areas.

The deadlines:

  • USPS Retail Ground Mail (formerly known as Standard Post): Nov. 6.
  • Space Available Mail (SAM): Nov. 27.
  • Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL): Dec. 4.
  • First Class and Priority Mail (letters, cards and packages): Dec. 11 except for contingency ZIP 093, which is Dec. 4.
  • Priority Mail Express Military Service: Dec. 16 (note: not available for ZIP 093).
  • Domestic mail (not APO/FPO) to sailors on ships in port or on shore duty in the U.S.: First Class by Dec. 19, Priority Mail by Dec. 20, Priority Express Mail by Dec. 22.

You can get information about shipping to military locations overseas, including information about free shipping supplies, at the U.S. Postal Service Military and Diplomatic Mail web page. Those who ship Priority Mail Large Flat-Rate Boxes to an APO/FPO address receive a $2 discount.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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