When it comes to shipping care packages to military addresses overseas, there’s really only one cost-effective way to do that (in my humble opinion, anyway): Priority Mail’s Flat Rate option.
Not only does the flat rate option nearly always trump (cost-wise and speed-wise) any other way to send a package, there is also a military discount when you ship a package to an APO/FPO/DPO address. While the discount is not a deep cut to the price of postage, I believe that any discount is worthwhile. After all, it certainly adds up over the length of a deployment.
But cost isn’t the only consideration when you’re sending packages across the country or across the world.
There are more reasons (and tricks!) and they’re all about making your life a little easier. Ready? Let’s go.
How to access the USPS discount on Priority Mail
The USPS offers Priority Mail services to APO/FPO/DPO addresses. Let’s break that down first:
- APO: An acronym for Army Post Office. Any addresses with APO in them are associated with Army or Air Force installations.
- FPO: An acronym for Fleet Post Office. Any addresses with FPO in them are associated with Navy installations and ships.
- DPO: An acronym for Diplomatic Post Office. Any addresses with DPO in them are associated with overseas United States embassies.
If you’re not sure what your address is, take a look at the third line of the address you’re sending to. It will look something like this:
CMDR Sally Jones
ABC 1234, Box 5678
FPO AE 09876-5432
Your address might include other addressing information. These are less common:
- PSC: An acronym that stands for Postal Service Center
- CMR: An acronym that stands for Community Mail Room
- UMR: An acronym that stands for Unit Mail Room (it might also be included in the address as “Unit”)
- RPO: An acronym that stands for Regional Post Office
- OMDC: An acronym that stands for Official Mail Distribution Center
- If you’re sending to someone on a Navy or Coast Guard ships and vessels, the ship’s name and hull number
The most important thing is to have the address exactly the way your deploying loved one has shared it with you. Don’t change things around.
If you’re not exactly sure what’s going on with the address you have, ask a Post Office clerk. They’ll be able to guide you through the process, specific to your circumstances.
Addresses that use an APO/FPO/DPO address receive a discount on shipping. The cost is a little bit below what you’d pay to send the same Priority Flat Rate package to a CONUS address. (Every dollar counts!) The pricing changes
Priority Mail Shipping Costs
You know the Priority Mail Flat Rate promise–“If it fits, it ships!” That’s still true when sending packages to APO/DPO/FPO addresses overseas. And that makes a huge difference. Instead of paying by pound, you’re paying by size. In the long run, that definitely matters to your wallet when you’re sending care packages every few weeks.
Remember that USPS Priority Mail pricing is not static. The prices you payed for care packages during a deployment two years ago will not be the prices you’ll pay for a deployment in a year. This can create a little bit of sticker-shock–especially if you don’t usually send packages when your loved one is not deployed. Make sure you’re factoring in shipping costs when you’re figuring out your care package budget for the next deployment.
Priority Options for Care Packages
The USPS’ Priority Mail suite of supplies and services pretty much leaves you with a ton of options for your mail needs. There are Priority envelopes (both flexible and cardboard) and boxes of various sizes, including shoeboxes, so you don’t have to waste space (and waste money).
Free Care Package Supplies
USPS boxes and supplies are free (seriously, free) to you. You can pick up certain boxes, customs forms, and labels, at most post offices. You don’t need to check out and you don’t need to have an explanation. You can seriously just pick them up and go. (Make sure they’re the Flat Rate boxes! There are also Priority Express options, which cost more money to ship.)
Free stuff shipped to you
If you don’t mind waiting a few days, you can order boxes and supplies in bulk for completely free from the USPS website. That’s where you’ll find all of the differently sized Priority Flat Rate boxes that you might not otherwise see at your local post office.
How to Get a Free Military Care Kit
Let’s keep adding to the free-stuff-a-palooza, shall we? The USPS also offers a free Military Care Kit that includes Priority Mail boxes, customs forms, labels, and Priority packing tape. You can order it online or by phone. Just call 1-800-610-8734 and request the Military Care Kit. You’ll receive it in the mail for free.
Ready for more care package savings tips? Read these:
- These 8 Companies Will Send Free Stuff to Troops
- 9 More Companies That Send Free Stuff to Deployed Troops
- 5 Ways to Save On Care Packages Without Sacrificing Quality
- 40 Ways to Save Money on Care Packages
- The Gigantic List of Free Care Packages for Deployed Service Members
- Here’s What Troops Really Want in a Care Package