One of the best ways to feel close to your loved one is to send them care packages and letters while they are deployed. Not only will this give you something to look forward to (putting together a package) it also will give them a “taste” of home.
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The following are some guidelines and FAQ for sending mail to a Service Member:
Mail to overseas posts and individual service members is processed through the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) and is routed through an APO (Army/Air Force Post Office) or an FPO (Fleet Post Office).
Mail addressed to one of these two locations is considered “domestic” mail for postage purposes and handling with limitations applied.
Some of the APO/FPO ZIP code locations have restrictions as to what can be mailed and may even required custom declaration forms to be attached to packages.
Care Package FAQ
Q. Can I send mail free to a person in the military?
A. No. The free mailing privilege only applies to military service personnel and designated civilians in specially designated areas with limited postal support. In other words, it is only free for those deployed personnel in designated overseas locations identified by The Department of Defense(DOD) and is only for first-class mail, not packages. This program is not for their loved ones, family, or friends back home.
Q. Does it cost more for mailing overseas to military service personnel?
A. Regular domestic postage rates apply for mailing overseas. There are no additional charges for mailing from the U.S. to overseas APO and FPO addresses.
Q. Are there size restrictions on a package I may wish to send?
A. At times, some military units may have additional restrictions imposed by the unit commanders, such as those on size and weight, to ensure logistics support can handle the mail along with other necessities. The maximum length of a package in any category is 72 inches. In addition, Military ZIP Code restrictions may change as military units move to different locations. All applicable restrictions for about 3,000 overseas military ZIP Codes are entered into the U.S. Postal Service computer terminals and published in the Postal Bulletin.
Q. Do you have military members addresses to send care packages to?
A. It depends on if my husband is currently deployed or not. The addresses I do have are not shared with the general public due to security reasons.
Q. What is not allowed to be included in care packages to deployed military?
A. See our prohibited items section.
Q. What Should I include in my care package to those members serving overseas?
A. See our care package ideas section.
Q. Do you have any packing tips I should follow?
A. Use plastic bags with zip-style closures for everything. They keep out sand and they keep out the rain. Resourceful Marines are re-using them for all sorts of things.
Quart size is great to keep their wallets and personal photos with them, in one of their many pockets, and they stay dry. If you’re shipping a liquid (shampoo, eye drops), or items that are likely to melt or drip (Chapstick, deodorants, chocolate) be sure to pop it into a tightly sealed plastic bag first. That will help keep the rest of the items from getting gooey or ruined, just in case. For more tips see our Care Package Tips Page.
Q. Where is a good place to get shipping supplies?
A. The best way is to use the postal services flat rate box. They are the perfect size (get the shoebox type one) and they provide the boxes and labels to you for free! You can put as much stuff as possible with unlimited weight (as long as the box stays the shape, in other words you can’t overstuff it so much that the box no longer fits together as it is supposed to) and only pay one flat fee!
You can order the boxes and labels as well as custom forms from the usps.com website. We have made it a little easier here is a list of what I use (all free):
Customs Forms (currently no longer available online to order)
Or you can order a Military Care Package Kit from the USPS:
Since Priority Mail® service supplies are the packaging of choice for families preparing care packages for service members overseas, the USPS® has created a “Mili-kit” based on the items most frequently requested by the military.
The kit contains:
Three (3) each of flat rate boxes O-FRB1 and O-FRB2
Two (2) each of Cube boxes OBOX7
Address labels – Label # 228 8 each
Address labels – Label # 106-A 1 each
Customs FORM 2976-A 8 EA.
Customs FORM 2976-E 8 EA.
The kit may be requested by calling 1-800-610-8734 (Packing Supply) and:
Choose your language (1 is English, 2 is Spanish).
Choose option 1 (it states it is for Express Mail® service, Priority Mail or Global Express Guaranteed®).
When you reach a live agent, request CAREKIT04.
Please allow 7-10 days for delivery.
Note: These are free supplies, but postage must still be affixed.
Do you have a question that should be added to the Care Package FAQ list? Comment below to ask and I’ll get it answered ASAP =)