Your One-stop Resource for Military Shipping

  • What you need to know
  • Resources and tips
  • Free tools to create your shipping labels online at Shipthirfty.com

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Proper Addressing for APO, FPO, DPO's

  • Military shipping is treated as domestic shipping, even when someone is stationed across the world.
  • Special designations for city, state, and zip code identify troops without disclosing their location.
  • Only USPS can deliver packages to U.S. Military Bases for security reasons.
  • Mail addressed to "soldier" or "any service member" won't be delivered for security reasons.
When creating your labels on Shipthrifty.com, addressing is simple with easy fill-in-the-blanks.

Overseas military label with customs

Here are some examples of correctly formatted overseas addresses

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO)

SUSAN SMITH

UNIT 1111 BOX 222
DPO AE 09498
Army / Air Post Office (APO)

PFC WILLIAM MAVERICK

PSC 3 BOX 1234
APO AE 09021
Navy / Fleet Post Office (FPO)

SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH

USS Ronald Reagan
UNIT 1234 BOX 1111
FPO AP 96691

Note - It is not uncommon to see a Units name or ship name as one of the address fieldss

Stateside military addressing:

Service members also serve inside the U.S., and some can even be deployed to other states. Bases inside the U.S. can accept packages from any major shipping carrier. Labels look a little different depending on the carrier you select for shipping.

Restrictions

There are restrictions on the size of packages that can be sent, the items that can be sent, and individual bases can have their own specific restrictions. Base restrictions can even change from deployment to deployment.

General prohibited items:

  • Aerosols, alcohol, hand sanitizer & antibacterial cleaning supplies
  • Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, vape pens, & accessories
  • GPS tracking devices (cell phones, transmitter radios, etc..)
  • Offensive or pornographic images (including semi-nudity)
  • Bulk quantities of religious materials
  • Pork products and perishable items

Important things to note:

  • There may be box size restrictions
  • Coffee can sometimes be restricted (base specific)
  • Over-the-counter medicines can be restricted (base specific)
  • Sending cash or gift cards is risky (boxes can be opened & searched)
  • Lithium batteries can cause packages to be returned. Other kinds of batteries should be in their original packaging.
  • Sending restricted items can get a service member in trouble, and in some cases, they can even lose mail privileges.

Military Restricted Items Lookup

See individual carrier websites for more details about restricted items when shipping inside the U.S..

Box size and weight restrictions

Reminder: Bases can have additional box size restrictions so it's critical to check this with the Military Restricted Items Lookup above.

USPS - Overseas & Stateside

Max 70 Pounds

108 Inches Length & Girth

Other Carriers - Non APO, FPO, DPO

Max 150 Pounds

165 Inches Length & Girth

When creating your labels on Shipthrifty.com, you can quickly check restrictions in our tool or talk to a military shipping expert if you need help.

Customs & Tracking

Customs information is required on APO, FPO, and DPO shipments

When sending to military bases in different countries, you must disclose customs information.

All customs are is a list of all the items in your package, the quantity of each item, and the individual price of each item. This information is needed because different countries have different restrictions on what can be sent there, this lets them know what's inside your package.

2 Most common ways to disclose customs:

#1- Manual written forms at the post office

If you go to the Post Office, you'll need to fill out a form with all the addressing information and customs details for each box.

Then the postal clerk will type all the information into the computer while you wait. This can be very frustrating for you, the postal clerk, and other customers waiting in line.

sad

#2- Fill in the blanks online so they print on your label

If you create your labels online with Shipthrifty.com, you'll type the items in your package in the blanks with the quantity and the unit price.

The customs information will print right on your label. Drop off or pick up is super quick, and you can even skip waiting in line since your package is paid for.

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Customs on Shipthrifty.com

Delivery times vary

Packages typically take about 2 weeks to arrive. However, keep in mind that transit times vary depending on the address, mode of transportation, and base operational conditions.

We've seen packages going to the Middle East take as little as 7 days, and others that have gone to Africa take 6 weeks.

Package volume during holidays also affects delivery times.

Tip - Send your packages early if you want something to arrive by a particular date to have the best chances of them getting there in time.

Understanding status codes for USPS military tracking

Pre-shipment Status

  • Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item- The label has been created, but USPS hasn't scanned it into their system yet.

Acceptane Statuses

  • Accepted at USPS Origin Facility or Acceptance- The package was accepted and scanned at the sorting facility listed for the city, state, and zip code displayed.

Transit Statuses

  • Departed USPS Facility - The package just left the sorting facility identified by the city, state, and zip code in the tracking.
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Facility Chicago International Distribution Center - The package arrived to be sorted and go through a security check. At this point, the package is considered to be in the Military Post Office's (MPO) custody, and they will coordinate travel to APO, FPO, and DPO locations.
  • In Transit to the Next Facility - The package is going to the next USPS or MPO facility.
  • Unknown. But Arrived at Military Post Office - The package has made it to the base and may or may not be scanned again. Share the tracking number with the recipient so they can check with the MPO to locate the package.

Delivery Statuses

  • Arrived at Military Post Office - The package has arrived at the Military post office APO, FPO, or DPO location. The package is considered delivered if it does not receive additional scans.
  • Delivered to Agent for Final Delivery - The MPO delivered the package to the base or institution it was addressed to.
  • Delivered to Recipient by Agent- The MPO delivered the package to the recipient.

Forward and Return Statuses

  • Forwarded - the recipient has an active address forward, or the APO, FPO, or DPO location has forwarded the package.
  • Return to Sender - Reasons - Invalid or closed military designated unit or zip code, attempted not known, no such number, no mail receptacle, temporarily away, MLNA - unable to forward, undeliverable as addressed, refused, unclaimed, no such street, deceased, box closed, vacant.
Tracking statuses in Shipthrifty are color-coded to help you track packages visually.

If you have a package that appears to have arrived at the base and the recipient has not received it yet, it may be in the mailroom for processing. If you share the tracking number with the recipient, the Military Post Office staff can help locate the package.

Shipping Tips

Packaging your boxes:

  • Pack liquids & powders in plastic zip lock bags or containers.
  • Use quality boxes.
  • Don't ship air; fill the box all the way up, but don't stuff it full.
  • Take individual items out of bulky packaging.
  • Buy on sale & save items for future care packages.
  • Be aware of weather conditions when sending chocolates. They may melt.
  • Use plastic grocery bags, reusable items, or candy as filler.
  • Be mindful of basic insurance coverage limits.
  • Decorate your boxes for some added fun!

Items service members appreciate and love!

DRINKS & SAUCES FOOD & SNACKS HYGIENE & PERSONAL ITEMS GAMES & MISC.
Coffee Healthy snacks Shampoo Books (non religious)
Teas Dried fruits Conditioner Magazines (current)
Cocoa Nuts Soap Games
Apple cider packets Trail mix Body wash Card games
Sugar Beef jerky Shaving cream (non-aerosol) Puzzles
Stevia packets Granola bars Razors Note Pads
Nondairy creamer Protein bars Lotion Blank note cards
International coffee creamers (single serve) Sunflower Seeds Deodorant (stick is best) Adult coloring books
MIO Pumpkin Seeds Baby wipes Cards to send out (birthday, holiday, etc.)
Lemonade Chips(no canisters like Pringles) Body powder/Gold Bond Pens
Kool Aid Crackers Toothpaste Pencils (regular & colored)
Crystal Light Cookies Toothbrushes Music CD's
BBQ sauce Ramen noodles Dental floss Movies
Taco sauces Instant oatmeal Mouthwash (no alcohol) Balls (football, baseball, etc.)
Hot sauces Microwave mac & cheese Tissues Frisbees or small toys
Mayonnaise Microwave popcorn Lip balm with sunscreen Batteries (limited quantities)
Ketchup Peanut butter Sunscreen (SPF 50) Notes and reminders of home
Mustard Bagged Tuna Visine Hats
Slim jim's (Beef) Jelly Q-Tips T shirts (100% Cotton)
Life Savers, mint Feminine products Cotton socks (black or white)
Candy Shoe insoles Pillow cases
Gum Moleskin/Band-Aids Blankets
Wet Weather items Hand and foot warmers
Winter socks (military green, black – Meet Reg 670-1)
Gloves (light weight winter) military green, black – Meet Reg 670-1)
Sunglasses (Wiley X – Regulation only)

Savings Tips

Rates vary based on distance traveled, dimensions, box type, and weight

We've learned a thing or two about saving on shipping over the years. So here are some of our best tips for saving money using our free shipping tools on Shipthrifty.com.

Tip 1 - Pick boxes sized that don't add extra fees

When a box is larger or goes beyond a range that the carrier desires, they will sometimes charge an extra fee to discourage people from using that size box. This is called a surcharge.

Here's when USPS charges extra (It's possible to be charged multiple fees on a single package):

  • A $4 surcharge on packages longer than 22 inches but less than 30 inches
  • A $15.00 surcharge on packages exceeding 30 inches in length.
  • A $15.00 surcharge on packages measuring more than 2 cubic feet (3456 cubic inches).

A 12 x 12 x 12 box is 1 cubic foot, to give you a reference. A 16 x 12 x 12 box falls short of the dimensional fees.

Note: During the holiday's surcharges are added to compensate for the heavy shipping volume. USPS usually starts them in October, and they go through Christmas Day. Holiday surcharges are unavoidable.

Tip 2 - Don't assume a flat rate box is your best option

If your box is similar in dimension to a flat rate box and under 20 pounds, a flat rate box may cost more than a brown or generic box. ( A USPS Large Flat Rate box is 12.25 x 12 x 6).

Shipthrifty discounts APO/FPO Flat Rate boxes so you will pay less by creating labels on Shipthrifty.com

Tip 3 - Compare your "flat rate" options

A Regional Rate B box may be a good option if your package is under 20 pounds. It's a commercial box that is a bit smaller than a large flat rate box, and it is priced based on zones (distance traveled). It must be ordered online at USPS.com and paid for online because the local retail post office doesn't have access to them.

Tip 4 - Combine multiple smaller boxes into one larger box

If you're sending multiple smaller boxes to the same place, consider getting a larger box and combining the items to save money. You can find boxes at local home improvement or retail stores. They typically cost a couple of dollars.

Tip 5 - Switching a service or carrier can offer savings opportunities

Consider your timing and carrier. Priority services or expedited services can cost more than others, and carriers charge different rates for different services. There is a special, discounted service called media mail for published items.

When creating your labels on Shipthrifty.com, you can easily check different prices and edit any field to compare your different options.

Tip 6 - Never ship air

Using the right size box helps you get the most out of your shipping dollars. Larger boxes are great for fragile items needing extra padding, but you don't want to use a box that is too big for what you're shipping. You pay based on dimensions and weight. Finding fun fillers like socks or candy can help fill up extra space.

Free Shipping Tools

Military Shipping Just Got Way Easier

Shipthrifty is a web-based software that lets you create shipping labels online to save time, money, and hassles.

Easily send packages to military members inside the U.S. or bases worldwide.

  • Create shipping labels anywhere
  • Save addresses for future shipping
  • Get discounted rates with major carriers
  • Skip waiting in line with pre-paid, ship-ready labels
  • Eliminate handwritten customs forms

Whether you need to send one box or a bunch, you ship to friends and family, for your nonprofit or business; Shipthrifty is the best way to get the job done.

Create a Free Account

Military nonprofits, families, branches, and corporations have loved our shipping tools since 2018

Nonprofits and Groups

Transforming shipping

There is a way that is one hundred times faster and so much easier! Since 2018 we've been working with nonprofits and groups across the U.S. who send care packages to the troops. They all transformed their shipping process from a huge project to a simple, fast, & fun one!

They did it by switching to create their shipping labels online

But not all online shipping options are equal

While any online tool could drastically help your group save time and money on your care package shipping, we think it's time you check out the tools on Shipthrifty.com.

Whether you send one package yourself or hundreds with your group, our tools were built to serve the military community. We have powerful, easy-to-use tools that are 100% free, and our experts are here to help at any time.

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Reach out to our military shipping experts to see how they can help you and your group save time, money, and hassles on shipping.