Does the Post Office Really Offer Free Care Package Supplies?

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If I’ve gotten an email or message about it once, I’ve gotten them five hundred times:

“Dear Jo, I went to my post office and no one’s heard of the free Military Care Kit. What do I do?”

“This isn’t a thing anymore. Just wanted to let you know.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. The post office doesn’t give out free care package supplies.” 

But here’s the thing: the United States Postal System absolutely does give out free care package supplies.

Let me say that again for the people in the back: some USPS mail supplies are free.

In fact, USPS supplies are available for free in a few different ways. It all depends on what you want and where you make the request. (But honestly, it’s not hard at all! I promise.)  In fact, in many situations, you can get USPS supplies delivered for free, right to your door. (Score!)

Let’s dive in.

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What is the Military Care Kit?

USPS provides a Military Care Kit by request at no charge to you. (You don’t even pay handing fees, tax, or shipping costs.) In the kit are USPS mailing supplies– multiple boxes, custom forms, labels, and Priority packing tape. You can order the kit by going here or by calling 1-800-610-8734 and requesting it by name.

There are absolutely no strings attached and you’re able to order as many as you’d like over the course of forever. Because delivery takes a few weeks, if you have an upcoming deployment go ahead and order a kit or two right now. Keep them in a closet or in a craft room for later. You’ll be glad you had the foresight to do that now, then.

What free USPS supplies come in the Military Care Kit?

Once you order the free Military Care Kit, USPS will ship it and deliver it to your address at no cost to you. Here’s what you’ll get, per the USPS’ website:

  • 2 Priority Mail APO/FPO (12 in. x 12 in. x 5-1/2 in.) Flat Rate Boxes
  • 2 Priority Mail Medium, Top-Loading (11 in. x 8-1/2 in.x 5-1/2in.) Flat Rate Boxes
  • 2 Priority Mail Medium, Side-Loading (11-7/8 in.x 3-3/8 in. x 13-5/8 in.)Flat Rate Boxes
  • 1 Roll of Priority Mail tape
  • 6 Priority Mail address labels
  • 6 Customs Forms
  • 6 Customs Forms Envelopes

That’s an pretty amazing haul of free USPS supplies for the packing tape alone. (Can we take a minute to talk about how expensive packing tape is for no real reason?! Anyway…) It also helps you consolidate and maximize your time– you don’t have to worry about picking up all of the individual items at the post office (which, excluding the tape, are available at most post office locations) and you don’t have to pay (or scrounge) for boxes when you’re ready to make some care packages.

Does ordering free care package supplies from USPS really work?

Yes! It absolutely does. I’ve ordered these kits multiple times over the website and using the 1-800 number. They are currently available on the USPS’ official website, too.

I’ve also made numerous calls to the USPS toll-free call center to ask specifically if USPS supplies are free, including their military care package kits. I have been assured multiple times from multiple official USPS sources that yes, they are available and free.

I asked about free care package kits at the post office, but they didn’t know what I was talking about.

This is super important: USPS Military Care Kits are not available at your local post office. And I think that’s where the confusion happens for a lot of military spouses and significant others.

If you speak to someone at the post office who doesn’t know about the kit, that’s okay. It’s unlikely they’ll know what you’re talking about because they don’t have any on hand at the brick and mortar post office. The USPS care package kits are only available by ordering online or calling the 1-800 number.

You can pick up free Priority boxes and mailers as well as customs forms from your local post office. Most post offices have a variety of sizes of Priority boxes  and labels available in the lobby or at a kiosk somewhere nearby, so you’re able to take what you need. If you don’t see them in the lobby, check with an employee. They may have them behind the counter. There is no cost for Priority boxes.

You cannot get free USPS Priority packing tape from the post office, in person. That is only available through the Military Care Kit option, which will be mailed to you.

What other USPS supplies can I get for free?

The USPS website offers free Priority boxes in quantities of ten or 25 and will deliver directly to your house, also for free. Think about this option for care package parties, sharing with others, or stockpiling for a long deployment. I’m a big fan of keeping USPS supplies on hand so I can craft multiple boxes at once and don’t have to run to the post office or wait for delivery of more boxes.

If you’re looking for other free USPS supplies, you’re in luck. Customs forms, adhesive customs form pockets, and labels are available for order through USPS’ website. These products are meant to be used exclusively for Priority mail. These items are also available in bulk on the website as well and can be shipped directly to your house for free. But watch out: not everything in the USPS shop is free. You can make regular purchases through the website, so you want to keep an eye on what you’re putting in your shopping cart.

So, in conclusion…

Order Military Care Kits and bulk USPS Priority supplies directly online or through the 1-800 number and have them delivered to your house. Grab one or two USPS Priority boxes at a time directly from your local post office. Boom. Easy. And free.

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