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How Military Mail is Processed

Where's My Mail?


A common problem for many servicemembers stationed overseas, (and their dependents,) is their ability to shop online with ease. There are still online merchants who do not ship to APO/FPO addresses, even though they offer shipping options using USPS (United States Postal Service), which how military mail is delivered to soldiers overseas.

One of the most common shipping issues that we encounter is when a customer wants to ship to an APO or FPO, they mistakenly enter the country of destination (such as Korea or Iraq). APO (Army/Air Force Post Office) and FPO (Fleet Post Office or Federal Post Office) are not international addresses, but are considered United States addresses.

Here are a few tips that will help you understand the military mail process:

Army Post Office in Kirkuk, Iraq

 

How long will it take for mail to reach an APO/ MPO?

Listed below are the Department of Defense (DoD) mail transit times for delivering mail to overseas APO / FPO locations (delivery time begins with the time of acceptance):

o EUROPE / ATLANTIC (APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 090–092 and 094–099)

Express Mail Military Service .........................................3 Days

First-Class Mail / Priority Mail™ .................................7–9 Days

Package Services (*) ...............................................30–45 Days

o IRAQ / AFGHANISTAN / MIDDLE EAST (APO / FPO AE ZIP™ Codes beginning with 093)

Express Mail Military Service ................................Not Available

First-Class Mail / Priority Mail™ ...............................7–13 Days

Package Services (*) ...............................................20–24 Days

o JAPAN / KOREA / PACIFIC ISLANDS / FAR EAST (APO / FPO AP ZIP™ Codes beginning with 962–966)

Express Mail Military Service .........................................3 Days

First-Class Mail / Priority Mail™ .................................7–9 Days

Package Services (*) ...............................................30–45 Days

o CENTRAL AMERICA / SOUTH AMERICA / CARIBBEAN (APO / FPO AA ZIP™ Codes beginning with 340)

Express Mail Military Service ...............................Not Available

First-Class Mail / Priority Mail™ .................................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.

 

 

APO/FPO addresses are not international addresses

There is an assumption, that because a soldier resides in a foreign country, his mail goes through an international postal carrier. This is not so. Military mail goes through USPS. FedEx and UPS do not ship to APOs. However, this may be an option in the near future. Mail sent to APO/FPO addresses will go to a port in either California, New York, or Florida before it is transported to the overseas military installations.

APO/FPO addresses have a state

These addresses use the following state abbreviations: AE (Armed Forces Europe), AA (Armed Forces Americas), and AP (Armed Forces Pacific). Soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan use AE.

A Customs Form is Required

When shipping a package to an APO or FPO address, the shipper will be required to fill out a customs form. This can be obtained at your post office or online at the USPS website, where you can download and print the customs forms.

Some More Tips:

The price of Military Mail postage is the same as domestic postage. A First-Class® Mail stamp will also deliver a letter to a U.S.military service member located halfway around the world.

The United States Postal Service® processes APO (Air/Army Post Office) and FPO (Fleet Post Office) mail similar to domestic mail, with all military locations, regardless of where they may be located around the globe, being assigned a ZIP Code™, referred to as an APO or FPO number.

The Postal Service places APO/FPO mail on international commercial passenger service and international cargo service aircraft from various cities. When the plane lands overseas, the mail is tendered to the Military. The mail is then handled by a Military Postal Service representative and transported to the Military Post Office for distribution to the service member's unit for delivery to the recipient.

 

Delayed Military Mail Piece Contact Information

Transit times will vary depending on operational conditions and the unit of the addressee. Those in established bases should continue to receive regular service, while those in forward areas or engaged in operations may experience longer arrival times due to logistical constraints.

When it appears that the difficulty has occurred after the mail has left the jurisdiction of the United States Postal Service, the matter is referred to the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA), the Department of Defense liaison agency with the Postal Service that has overall responsibility for Postal operations at military locations overseas.

For help with these situations you can write to:

Deputy Director
Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA)
2461 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22331-0006

If you have a specific problem that you would like to discuss with the Military Postal Service Agency officials in the future, you may contact their customer service at 1-800-810-6098.

Military Mailing Restrictions

Before you send a letter or package to one of our military service members overseas, make sure you’re aware of the restrictions. Mail addressed to military and diplomatic post offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparation, and handling.

Although there are specific restrictions for each five-digit Military and Diplomatic Post Office ZIP Code (APO/FPO/DPO), generally, the following are prohibited in the region of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom:

Obscene articles (prints, paintings, cards, films, videotapes, etc) and horror comics. Any matter depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, or nonauthorized political materials. Bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith. Items for the personal use of the addressee are permissible. Pork or pork by-products.

Packages may not exceed 70 lbs. (Some zip codes have lower limits)

Packages may not exceed 130 inches in combined length and girth. (This means if you have a package that is 100" in length and 40" when you measure around it, you cannot send the item)

Firearms, alcohol, perishable foodstuffs and certain hazardous items also are restricted. Each zip code has a more detailed list of the restrictions for certain types of products.

For specific restrictions and mailing prices to an APO/FPO/DPO address, visit the USPS APO/FPO/DPO Guidelines Page. You can also call 1-800-ASK-USPS or consult your local Post Office™.

Military Addressing Tips

The Department of Defense has issued the following guidelines for addressing your mail to military and civilian personnel deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Use the service member’s full name. The Department of Defense cancelled the Any Service Member program so mail must be addressed to someone specific. Mail addresses to "any soldier" can not be accepted.

Include the unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address with the nine-digit ZIP Code™ (if one is assigned).

For Military Mail FAQ's or visit The Military Postal Service Agency website. 

Here are some examples:

SGT JOE SNUFFY
A Co., 1/37th INF BDE
TF CHICKENHAWK
APO AE 09381

CPT JOHN DOE
UNIT 2050 BOX 4190
APO AP 96278-2050

SGT ROBERT SMITH
PSC 802 BOX 74
APO AE 09499-0074

SEAMAN JOSEPH SMITH

USCGC HAMILTON
FPO AP 96667-3931

MSG JANE DOE

CMR 1250
APO AA 09045-1000

.

Another tip, if you are sending mail to an APO, the city is "APO", the state is "AE," "AP," or "AA," based on the soldier's location, and the country will ALWAYS be the U.S - If you put anything else, you risk losing your mail into the local country's mail system!

EXPRESS: Express Mail Military Service is available to selected military post offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to your APO/FPO/DPO of address.

PAL: Parcel Airlift Mail is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.

SAM: Space-Available Mail parcels are paid at Parcel Post postage rate of postage 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.

 

If we STILL haven't answered your question, here are a couple of additional resources for you:

MILITARY MAIL INQUIRY PAGE

To enter a general Military Mail Question, click HERE

http://www.usps.com