2017 Recommended Holiday Season Mailing Dates and Mailing Tips

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 2017 recommended holiday season mailing dates for postal customers assigned to the European theater are:

- USPS Retail Ground/Space Available Mail (SAM) – 27 November 2017

- First Class/Priority Mail – 11 December 2017

- Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) – 16 December 2017

These dates are for mail originating in Europe and destined to locations in the United States. Mail originating in the United States and sent to European APO/FPO/DPO addresses are recommended to use similar mailing dates.

“U.S. Air Forces Europe, Air Force Africa postal patrons should plan ahead and mail early to ensure letters, cards, and packages arrive to intended U.S. destinations in time for the holidays,” said Lionel Rivera, USAFE-AFAFRICA AIRPS Postal Operations Flight.

Customers can avoid long lines at the post office when they mail early and can take advantage of using the cheaper, although slower, space available mail service military post offices offer in Europe.

"USPS Retail Ground/SAM service takes longer to arrive at the end destination and moves via ground once it arrives in the states", said Mr. Rivera. "If you want faster service, consider using priority mail or priority mail express military service if available. It costs more but these classes of mail get preferred and or expedited service."

Most mail accepted at military post offices in Europe is flown to the United States on commercial aircraft. Once mail arrives stateside, depending on the service selected, it is transported based on the service paid for. Customers should keep in mind, packages transiting through the mail stream are handled numerous times, and therefore proper packaging is very important. The following USPS mailing tips are provided to help ensure packages arrive safely and undamaged:

The Box
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. If you’re reusing a box, cover up or mark-out any old labels and markings.

Cushioning
Place cushioning around your items. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding.

Sealing
Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with 2" wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape.

Size
The weight of your package cannot exceed 70 lbs. If you’re planning to use Priority Mail Express Military Service or Priority Mail services for faster delivery, length plus girth (distance around the thickest part of the package) cannot exceed 108". When you use USPS Retail Ground/ SAM, the total cannot exceed 130".

Correct Address
Using a complete and correct address is critical for timely delivery.

Customs Declaration Form
Customers can avoid waiting in line longer at post office finance windows if they complete an online customs declaration using the USPS website prior to presenting parcels and packages for mailing at the APO. Customers have several options available to them when completing required customs declarations using the USPS.com website:

Option 1: Customers can chose the USPS Click-N-Ship feature to establish an account, complete their customs declaration and pay for their mailing using one of several USPS approved credit cards.

Option 2: Customers can print a customs declaration at home on the USPS website without establishing an account and then pay at the postal finance window when presenting their parcels and packages for mailing.

Option 3: Customers can use the customer work station (if available) at the APO to go online and complete a customs declaration before presenting mail pieces at the postal finance window.

Contact your local installation postmaster for additional information on how mail is dispatched and received at your location, and for advice on the best service to use based on your mailing needs.