By Yonca Poyraz-Dogan
Navy Office of Information
Anytime is a good time to send your Sailor something from home and the holiday season is an especially good time to do that. Families and friends need to know some rules about sending holiday mail and gifts to Sailors, so their mail and packages are not lost or returned. Following a specific format and not to miss deadlines are musts. In addition, there is a restricted items check list.
All classes of mail addressed to Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses must contain the new Navy Standardized Address format, which includes ship or mobile unit number, (or PSC number for ashore FPOs), virtual or actual mail box number, and five-digit ZIP code to ensure delivery. Mail not addressed correctly could be returned to sender as undeliverable.
Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) is available from selected military post offices. If mailing to an FPO, Army Post office (APO) and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) address, check with your local post office to determine if PMEMS service is available and specific delivery service standards.
Space Available Mail (SAM) refers to parcels mailed to APO/FPO addresses at parcel post rates first transported domestically by surface, then to overseas destinations by air on a space available basis.
Plan Sending Your Mail Ahead of Deadlines
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), in cooperation with the U.S Postal Service, Military Postal Service Agency and Joint Military Postal Activity, have released mail-by dates for pre-Dec. 25 deliveries of holiday cards, letters and packages. You can refer to the information below for the deadlines.
For mail addressed to/from:
- APO/FPO/DPO AE zips 090-092 and 094-098 (except 093); AA zips 340; AP zips 962-966
- Nov. 27: Space Available Mail
- Dec. 11: First-Class and Priority Mail (letters, cards and packages)
- Dec. 17: Priority Mail Express Military Service
- APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093
- Priority Mail Express Military Service: N/a (Not available for 093 ZIPs)
- Nov. 27: Space Available Mail
- Dec. 4: First-Class and Priority Mail (letters, cards and packages)
- Domestic Mail (For ships in port and personnel on shore duty in the U.S. mailing to U.S. destinations – not including APO/FPO)
- Dec. 20: First-Class Mail and Priority Mail
- Dec. 22: Priority Express Mail
Additionally, international First-Class packages and Priority Mail addressed to Africa and Central and South America should be mailed no later than Dec. 1.
International First-Class packages and Priority Mail addressed to Asia/Pacific Rim, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Europe and the Middle East should be mailed no later than Dec. 8.
Be Aware of Mailing Restrictions for Some Items
You need to check with local civilian or military post offices for information regarding size restrictions and customs declaration form requirements. NAVSUP reminds that some items cannot be mailed, such as, alcohol, switchblade knives, controlled substances, etc. If in doubt, contact your local civilian or military post office.
Also make sure that articles are packaged properly for mailing and packages do not display markings related to any type of hazardous material, such as bleach, alcohol, or cleaning fluids. Parcels found by U.S. Postal Service with such markings or labels on the outside of the box will not be processed.
Smaller is Better
In previous years, we’ve asked our Facebook fans for some help to put together tips on how you can make the ultimate care package. They told us that the smaller the packages the better because of limited space to store things aboard ships. Some gift examples included personal items, such as, your Sailor’s favorite shampoo, new socks and underwear. Favorite items also included photographs, postcards, personal sized snack packs, hobby items and DVDs for movie nights.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.