November 15, 2019

Shipping to Service Members

No one wants to be far away from home around the holidays, but it’s part of the sacrifice our active duty service members make to serve their countries. If you have loved ones deployed to military bases in the U.S. or abroad, PostNet makes it easy to ship gifts to them to show your love and appreciation this holiday season. 

Even if you’re sending mail to a base on the other side of the world, you won’t pay the same as you normally would for a package going such a long distance. Because military bases and embassies are considered domestic destinations, the rates are much more affordable than standard international shipping.

Shipping to these destinations can seem complicated, but with knowledge of what to look out for, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Read on for our tips to help make your next military or diplomatic shipment easy.


Formatting Addresses

When you get the mailing address for your deployed loved one, be sure to copy it exactly — and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you at first glance. Shipping addresses for U.S. military bases and embassies are formatted completely differently than domestic addresses.

The first part of the address, what would be the street name and number in a domestic address, is the unit and box number. There may be some slight variations depending on what branch of the military service your recipient is a member of. For example, Air Force addresses are written with “PSC” instead of “Unit,” and Navy addresses should include the ship’s name if your recipient is at sea.

On the next line, in place of the city portion of the address, you’ll enter the United States Postal Service® acronym classifying the base type. Do not enter the name of the city where the base is located. Here’s what each acronym refers to:

  • APO (Army Post Office) is associated with Army or Air Force installations
  • FPO (Fleet Post Office) is associated with Navy or Coast Guard installations and ships
  • DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) is associated with U.S. diplomatic locations (embassies)

The other acronyms to know are the ones that specify what part of the world your package is going to. These are used in place of the “State” abbreviation in a domestic address. Again, do not list the state or country. The postal service breaks it down like this:

  • AA: Armed Forces Americas
  • AE: Armed Forces Europe
  • AP: Armed Forces Pacific

Finally, you’ll enter the ZIP code assigned to the base, in the same spot that you’d list a domestic ZIP code.

A properly formatted address should look something like this:

CTP John Doe

Unit 45013 Box 2666


APO AP 96338

Unsure if your address is correct? Don’t run the risk of your gift going undelivered! Bring your package to PostNet for assistance.


Dos and Don’ts

In addition to properly formatting your address, there are other factors that can help ensure that your package reaches your loved one without issue.

  • Do use the proper customs form. Even though military and diplomatic shipping is considered a domestic service, your shipment must still pass through customs of the country of destination, so a form is required. PostNet can help you with this step in the process!
  • Don’t ship restricted items. The military prohibits certain items from being shipped to bases, including cell phones, GPS devices, alcohol, prescription drugs, FM transmitters, and more. Additionally, your package will be subject to any restrictions imposed by the destination country. If you have any doubts, call PostNet to confirm whether the contents of your package are permitted.
  • Do rely on the professional packing experts at PostNet to securely pack your items to prepare them for their long journey!

[Learn more about international shipping restrictions.]

Holiday Deadlines

Shipping to military and diplomatic bases can take time. To ensure that your package reaches your loved one in time for the holiday, the U.S. Postal Service has shared these shipping deadlines for 2022:

  • Dec. 8: Priority Mail® and First-Class Mail® (ZIP code 093)
  • Dec. 11: Priority Mail and First-Class Mail (all other ZIP codes)
  • Dec. 18: Priority Mail Express® (not available to ZIP code 093)

Note that your deadline depends on your recipient’s ZIP code and the service you select. Faster shipping will cost more, so avoid procrastinating if you want to save money! These deadlines get packages delivered by Christmas Day on December 25. Subtract seven days to get them delivered in time for Hanukkah, which starts on December 18 in 2022. Add or subtract days as needed to ensure delivery by another date.

Military and diplomatic shipping may sound complicated, but PostNet is here to make it easy. Stop by your local center today to get your holiday gifts on their way to your deployed loved ones!


Send Related Posts

Back to Top
Find a Location