Shipping to Military Addresses: A Complete Guide on Sending Packages to US Military Addresses

Learn how to ship to military addresses anywhere in the world and the best ways to save money doing it
ship to military addresses
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Sending a care package or a letter is one of the best ways to show a loved one in the military that you’re thinking about them. If you’re wondering exactly how to ship to military addresses, it’s important to note that USPS is the only shipping carrier legally authorized to do so. This guide is all about teaching you how to ship to military addresses and how to save the most money doing it. Let’s get right to it!

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Does It Cost More Money to Ship to Military Addresses?

Nope! Believe it or not, USPS treats all military addresses the same as domestic mail—even if the destination is in a different country. This is due to a whole lot of collaboration between USPS and the US Military. Here’s how it works. First, USPS delivers mail and parcels to all the military bases throughout the United States. After that, the military delivers mail and parcels around the world. However, this process means that it can sometimes take longer for delivery than normal.

Do Packages to Military Addresses Ship for Cheaper?

If you want to ship for slightly cheaper rates than normal to military addresses, the process is super simple. First thing’s first: you’ll need to order the APO/FPO flat rate boxes on the USPS website. Once you place the order, your local letter carrier will drop them off at your address at no cost to you. Then, all you need to do is buy the corresponding Priority Mail APO/FPO Large Flat Rate label either using Click-N-Ship or the shipping software of your choice.

When shipping to a military address, USPS offers a discounted price of $20.40 on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. This price includes a $1.50 discount from the regular Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box at the Retail Rate. It’s the Postal Service’s way of saying “thank you” to our troops. However, there’s still a way to save even more money, which we get into at the bottom of this article.

How to Format Military Addresses

Whether you print a shipping label or write out all your address information, it’s important to follow the specific format for shipping to military addresses. We’ve outlined everything you need to include below:

  • The full name of the addressee
  • The unit and box number (if assigned)
  • The three-letter designator for the type of location (enter this in the “City” field)
    • APO is for Army & Air Force installations
    • FPO is for ships & Navy installations
    • DPO is for US Embassies overseas
  • The state of the addressee (enter this in the “State” field)
    • AA is for Armed Forces Americas
    • AE is for Armed Forces Europe, Armed Forces Middle East, or Armed Forces Africa
    • AP is for Armed Forces Pacific
  • The 5-digit zip code for the military unit (all military zip codes start with a 0 or 9)

Heads Up: Most Military Shipments Require Customs Forms

Even though USPS treats military addresses as domestic mail, most military shipments still require you to fill out a customs form. So don’t forget! Keep in mind that most shipping software solutions will automatically generate customs forms along with your shipping labels when you buy postage online.

Do I Need Customs Forms When Shipping to Military Addresses?

In the name of being succinct: yes. USPS requires you to fill out customs forms when shipping to military addresses. It doesn’t matter if you buy shipping labels with shipping software, or if you ship your package at the Post Office.

You also Need Customs Forms When Shipping From Military Addresses

In the case of military addresses, customs forms are required both ways. So, you’ll need to fill out a customs form if you’re shipping from military addresses, as well.

Technically, USPS treats these addresses as domestic destinations. As a result, a lot of shippers become confused as to why USPS requires customs forms for shipping to and from APO/DPO/FPO addresses. In the words of Bruce Hornsby (and the late Tupac Shakur), “That’s just the way it is!”

How Can I Get a Customs Form?

You can download customs forms off of the Postal Service’s website. However, if you use online shipping software to buy postage, the customs form may already be filled out for you when you type in your shipment information! On top of getting access to some of the deepest USPS discounts out there, that’s yet another reason why you should use shipping software…which we’re about to get into in the next section.

Save the Most Money on Your Labels With Online Shipping Software

If you didn’t know that you can use shipping software to purchase postage, we highly suggest giving it a try! In addition to printing postage labels with customs forms, shipping software solutions also let you get access to Commercial Pricing rates, which represent the deepest level of USPS postage discounts available. As a result, you’ll save a TON of money on any packages you ship to military addresses.

Some shipping software solutions out there even let you ship Priority Mail Cubic, which is a “secret” mail class that you won’t find at the Post Office. Priority Mail Cubic (or “Cubic,” for short) is the cheapest way to send parcels up to 20 pounds with USPS. Unlike other mail classes, the price you pay for cubic postage is based on volume, not weight. Whenever you send a care package to a loved one or friend in the military, always remember to ship it Cubic! You’ll save the most money that way.

Looking for the right shipping software for you?

To save the most money on USPS shipping labels, check out our guide:

Choose the Best Shipping Software

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