Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas —
The United States Postal Service is expecting a double-digit increase in package volume this holiday season, so it's advisable to mail those cards and packages as early as possible.
Priority and first-class mail deadlines for ensuring package delivery to military members stationed or deployed overseas by Christmas Day are Dec. 3 for Air/Army Post Office and Fleet Post Office ZIP codes in the Middle East and Dec. 10 for all other APO and FPO ZIP codes. Domestic rates apply to all APO/FPO addresses.
"Mail early," Jeff Sanna, USPS sales and services associate, said. "The post office is expecting a 19 percent uptick in packages being mailed this holiday season because more people are shopping online and consumer confidence is higher."
Sanna, who works at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph postal facility, said the USPS is forecasting the delivery of up to 470 million packages during the holidays, so delivery days will be expanding.
"Carriers will be working seven days a week through Christmas Day in major markets and high-volume areas," he said.
The USPS advises special care in sending packages to APO and FPO addresses.
The service member's full name should be included in the address, along with the unit, APO/FPO and nine-digit ZIP code. A return address is also required.
Some items are prohibited, Sanna said.
"People can go online to www.usps.com to see what they can and can't send," he said.
Among the prohibited items listed on the USPS website are aerosols, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, explosives, fresh fruits and vegetables, and perfumes containing alcohol.
A variety of priority-mail boxes are available to consumers, with postal costs ranging from $5.95 to $17.90, he said. If a large box is sent to an APO/FPO address, a $2 discount is applied, reducing the postal cost to $15.90.
"All priority supplies are free until you mail them," Sanna said. "You can order supplies from the USPS website and they will be delivered free of charge to your doorstep, as long as you order a reasonable number of items."
The costs to deliver priority-mail boxes are not affected by weight, with one exception, Sanna said.
"It doesn't matter if the box weighs 1 ounce or 70 pounds," he said. "You cannot alter the original shape of the box or you'll be charged the full priority cost."