By Cheryl Pellerin
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) - The recommended mailing deadline for sending economy-priced holiday packages to servicemembers in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world is Nov. 12, officials at the U.S. Postal Service say.
"Shipping holiday packages early helps ensure that they arrive in time for the holidays," Pranab Shah, vice president and managing director of global business at the Postal Service, said in a press release this week. "They are a great morale boost for those men and women serving their country in places far from home."
Other deadlines for arrival by Dec. 25 are Nov. 26 for space-available mail; Dec. 3 for parcel airlift mail; Dec. 10 for priority mail and first-class mail, letters and cards; and Dec. 18 for express mail military service.
Holiday packages and mail headed for Iraq and Afghanistan must be sent a week earlier than the deadlines above, Postal officials say. Express mail military service is not available to those destinations.
The Postal Service offers a discount on its largest priority-mail flat-rate box -– a 12-inch by 12-inch by 5.5-inch carton that can accommodate laptop computers, small conventional ovens, and military care packages.
Mail sent to overseas military addresses costs the same as domestic mail and the usual price for the large flat-rate box is $14.50. But for packages heading to APO/FPO addresses, the Postal Service charges $12.50 or $11.95 for those who print the priority-mail postage label online.
Priority-mail flat-rate boxes are free at any Post Office and can be ordered online at shop.usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online at the Postal Service website.
APO/FPO addresses usually require customs forms, Postal officials say, and each country has customs regulations that apply to all mail, including U.S. military mail, coming into the country.
Mail addressed to military and diplomatic post offices overseas is subject to restrictions in content, preparation and handling.
Each five-digit military and post office ZIP code [APO/FPO] has specific restrictions but the following are prohibited in the regions of Operation New Dawn in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan:
-- Horror comics and obscene articles like prints, paintings, cards, films and videotapes;
-- Anything depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, or unauthorized political materials;
-- Bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith, though items for personal use are permitted, and,
-- Pork or pork by-products.