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Whether you’re running an ecommerce business or personally want to send a care package, you may occasionally have to ship your products to members of the armed forces.
Unlike normal shipping procedures, there are special rules for shipping products to people who live in army bases, naval bases, and other military locales.
What is APO shipping?
The Army Post Office (APO) handles shipping and delivery of mail for members of the US Army or Air Force. These packages are handled for domestic delivery (army or Air Force bases) and active duty deployed overseas.
There is also FPO (Fleet Post Office) for the Navy. And DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) for US diplomats.
APO, DPO, and FPO
The three main military post offices are the APO, DPO, and FPO for each branch of the military. Because each post office has its own unique requirements, it’s worth learning how they’re different.
APO: Army Post Office
The APO handles packages for members of the Army and Air Force. These packages can be sent to domestic bases in the US or to soldiers deployed overseas.
DPO: Diplomatic Post Office
The DPO handles packages for US diplomats. This includes ambassadors, translators, and more located in embassies or specific residential locations. DPO packages are almost always sent to international locations.
FPO: Fleet Post Office
The FPO handles packages for the Navy. Because Navy members are stationed on ships, their packages can take the longest to arrive.
How to address your APO packages in 5 steps
APO packages follow a specific format in order to be delivered. Unlike shipping products to non-military locations, you must include additional information so the package reaches the right location. Before you prepare your products for shipping, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Write the first and last name of the recipient
Be sure to use the recipient’s full legal name, as you must use the name they have on file with the military. If you think the name might be incorrect, try to get in contact with the individual to confirm their information.
2. Designate where it’s being sent
You’ll want to select the proper unit or type of address it’s going to from the following list:
- PSC (Postal Service Center)
- CMR (Community Mail Room)
- UMR (Unit Mail Room) or just Unit
- RPO (Regional Post Office)
- APO (Army Post Office)
- OMDC (Official Mail Distribution Center)
3. Find the state designator
This will either be AA, AE, or AP:
- AE is used for armed forces in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Canada.
- AP is for the Pacific.
- AA is the Americas, excluding Canada.
4. Find the exact address
Getting the address correct is crucial to ensure the package is delivered. Keep in mind the unit number, box number, and full name of the recipient are all correct. You don’t need to include the recipient’s rank in the shipping label.
5. Complete the address
The address should like the example below:
CPT John Doe Unit 45013 Box 2666 USAG J APO AP 96338
Do carriers send to military addresses?
Only USPS can deliver the actual packages to APO addresses. Although other shipping services such as FedEx and UPS send packages to other countries where military forces are concentrated, USPS is the only entity that can actually deliver them to APO, FPO, and DPO addresses due to governmental security reasons.
What can’t be shipped to APO addresses?
Because you’re shipping to the armed forces, there are a few types of packages that can’t be shipped to APO addresses. In addition to the usual shipping restrictions (e.g., sending guns, alcohol, drugs, etc.), there are a few additional items that can’t be sent:
- GPS hardware and software
- Mobile phones
- Family Radio Service (FRS) radios
- Cordless phones
- FM transmitters
- Bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith (items for the personal use of the addressee are allowed).
- Major appliances and oversized products
- Obscene articles
- Pork byproducts
Does your business ship to military addresses?
Both commercial and non-commercial shippers often need to ship to military addresses, but shipping to an APO address doesn’t need to be difficult. As a fulfillment company providing technology and fulfillment services to thousands of merchants of all sizes, ShipBob helps to make sure shipments get delivered to the right place.
Here’s how ShipBob does it:
The delivery address is the most important information on your package. Including all necessary information in the proper fields will ensure the carrier can successfully deliver the shipment to its intended destination.
If you or a customer entered an address incorrectly, you can edit it in the ShipBob dashboard up until the point that we’ve started fulfilling it. If there is an issue with the address used, ShipBob will let you know so you can update it.
Shipments must be addressed to a specific individual, and addressing to “Any Service Member” is not permitted. See examples from USPS for formatting military and diplomatic addresses here.
Claims filed for packages lost in transit
Delivery exceptions occur for a variety of reasons. For any reported lost and damaged packages, ShipBob files claims on behalf of its customers at no additional cost and every shipment shipped through ShipBob is covered up to USD $100 in retail merchandise value.
ShipBob automatically insures all packages up to USD $100 in order value. For orders valued over USD $100, you can also purchase additional insurance to make sure we can claim the full amount if something goes wrong in transit. Insurance for an order is assessed at 1.875% of the value indicated and added to the order’s invoice.
APO shipping may be a little more complicated than typical residential shipments, but you can make it work easily for your business. Members of the military often rely on these care packages for support and general well-being.
To learn more about how to make APO shipping, nationwide shipping, and even international shipping work for your business, contact the ShipBob team by clicking the button below.