Tips for Using the Military Postal System and Sending Packages Overseas

by Hank

I cannot stand the military postal system, and I wanted to share a few tips with you about how to make the system work as best as possible for you.  Now, I know that this is not a personal finance topic, but lost and delayed packages through the mail can cost you a lot of time and money.  Understanding how the system works can help especially when you are mailing things to our troops overseas.

Packaging Matters A Lot.  Packages and boxes that you are mailing your loved ones should be wrapped and protected as much as possible.  If you cannot drop the box out of a second story window without it breaking on the ground into a million people, then you did not package it and wrap it with enough bubble wrap.  You have to understand that your loved one’s box is pass off from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to a military postal worker who sadly enough does not care enough about your boxes and mail.

Do Not Buy Express Service.  All military mail sent overseas to one of the 453 military post offices in 93 countries is first routed through New York and New Jersey by the USPS and then handed off to members of the US military or contracted postal clerks.  A box marked express or priority mail will travel very fast to the NJ/NY mail gateway, and then it will screech to a halt.  Express is a waste of money, and the USPS will not be able to guarantee a speedy delivery date past New York.  The USPS cannot guarantee any specific delivery date to an overseas APO for that matter.

Address Marking Tips.  Make sure that your package is marked well.  Put an index card with the address inside the box the case it breaks open.  Tape over the “to” and “from” addresses with clear tape to prevent smudges.  Like US mail, the correct zip code is the most important thing, and do not put a country name on any APO address.  It is considered a US address and could slow the mail down if any country name other than US is on that package. 

I am also very cautious about what I write on the customs form that I fill out.  It is very sad but theft is a huge problem in the military postal service’s system.  And, popular companies like Dell, Apple, Zappos, and Amazon do not do our Servicemembers justice when they plaster their companies’ logos on their boxes.  It’s a bright neon flashing sign for theft!  Do you have any tips on mailing boxes overseas?

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