Key Points:

  • A military address is a specialized address associated with an American Army, Air Force, or Navy installation
  • Military mail is treated as domestic mail by USPS
  • There are certain things that you can't ship with APO mail such as GPS hardware, mobile phones, or any political material

As a “superpower,” the US is often called on to send its military to different parts of the world. That means many families and friends are separated over long periods of deployment. So, naturally, appreciative friends, family, and citizens want to show their support with letters and care packages from home. This is when it’s important to know the appropriate use of a military address when sending mail to these overseas locations.

But, before we talk about how to properly address this type of mail, it’s important that we understand the difference between a regular address and a military one. In addition, you should know that only the United States Postal Service is authorized to send military mail overseas, so you won’t be able to use commercial carriers like FedEx or UPS.

Table of Contents

What Is a Military Address?

This is a specialized address associated with an American Army, Air Force, or Navy installation. In some cases, the APO shipping address may also be associated with a US embassy. There are several different types of addresses associated with the military and it’s important to know the differences between them.

Man receiving letters to his military address
  • APO: This acronym stands for “Army Post Office.” It is strictly used for Army and Air Force installations.
  • MPO: This refers to a  “Military Post Office” and provides postal services for military personnel.
  • FPO: This acronym indicates “Fleet Post Office” and is associated with Navy installations and ships.
  • DPO: This abbreviation specifies a “Diplomatic Post Office” and is assigned to US embassies overseas.

5 Important Steps for Writing These Addresses

Getting the correct military address format is important, especially with APO shipping. You’ll need to get it exactly right to ensure that the packages and letters you send to our troops don’t go missing in action. Below, you’ll find a practical step-by-step guide to writing these addresses correctly:

  1. Write out the full name of the service member - include their rank, if appropriate.
  2. Next, you should write the unit and box.
  3. Where you would normally write the city, you should enter the appropriate military postal code (i.e. APO/FPO/MPO/DPO)
  4. Instead of writing a state, use one of the following contractions:
    AE - for Armed Forces serving in Europe, Africa, the Middle East or Canada.
    AP - for Armed Forces in the Pacific
    AA - for Armed Forces in America (excluding Canada)
  5. Finally, you should provide the appropriate five-digit zip code.

Here’s an example of a correctly formatted APO shipping address:

CPT Daniel Wallace
Unit 2050 Box 4190
APO AP 96278

Take note that inclusion of the rank, rating, and grade is optional, but can be useful. If you’re sending a package, you’ll also need to include an accurately completed customs form.

USPS Shipments Received in Military Based

How Long Does Military Mail Take?

Military mail is treated as domestic mail by USPS. However, if you’re sending to an overseas MPO, FPO, DPO, or to an APO shipping address, your mail may still take a while to reach its recipient because it’s having to travel further than domestic mail would. Here are some estimated delivery times:

For Packages Going from Europe/the Atlantic to AE Addresses

Service Delivery Time
Priority Mail Express 3 Days
Priority Mail/First Class Package 7-9 Days
Parcel Select 30-45 Days

For Packages Going From Europe to Addresses in the Middle East

Service Delivery Time
Priority Mail Express No definite service time
Priority Mail/First Class Package 7-13 Days
Parcel Select 20-24 Days

For Packages Going from Japan/Korea/Pacific Islands/Asia to AP Addresses

Service Delivery Time
Priority Mail Express 3 Days
Priority Mail/First Class Package 7-9 Days
Parcel Select 30-45 Days

For Packages Being Shipped from Central America/South America/the Caribbean to AA Addresses

Service Delivery Time
Priority Mail Express No definite service time
Priority Mail/First Class Package 7-9 Days
Parcel Select 18-21 Days

How Much Does it Cost?

Now that you know how to correctly format an address for military mail and how long it’s going to take to get there, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost. You’ll be pleased to know that all mail being shipped to an APO military address is treated as domestic mail and is usually charged a little under normal domestic prices. For example:

  • Priority Mail large flat-rate box: RRP $17.90
  • Priority Mail large flat-rate box to military: $15.90
  • Priority Mail large flat-rate box to military booked online: $13.80
  • Letters: $0.50

Are There Any Restricted Items?

Whether you’re sending a package to an APO military address or a different designated military outpost, there are certain things that you won’t be able to include in response to the APO shipping restrictions. Here is a list of dangerous and restricted items that the USPS will not allow in military mail, including:

  • GPS hardware and software
  • Mobile phones
  • Cordless phones
  • FM transmitters
  • Family Radio Service (FRS) radios
  • Pork or pork by-products
  • Any political material
  • Any obscene material, including pornographic items
  • Bulk quantities of religious material that are contrary to the Islamic faith (items for personal use are okay)
  • Oversized products
  • Non-perishable goods

The USPS provides a lot of tips for military shipments, including detailed information about APO shipping restrictions, help with customs forms, and free pickups.

10 Things You Should Know About Shipping to a Military Address

You won’t want to make any mistakes when you’re sending military mail to an APO shipping address. To make sure your package gets to its destination, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Use sturdy boxes.
  2. Check for appropriate weight distribution within the box.
  3. Add cushioning materials to keep the items intact.
  4. You can order free Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat-Rate Boxes online.
  5. Free scheduled pickups are available for military packages.
  6. Make sure the box is free of any markings that could cause problems, confusion, or delivery to the wrong address.
  7. If you include personal hygiene products (lotions, deodorants, shampoo), enclose these in sealable plastic bags to contain any spillage.
  8. You can use USPS’s Click-n-Ship service.
  9. Packages should be less than 70lbs and smaller than 130 inches (length and girth combined).
  10. The Parcel Airlift Mail service provides air transport on a space-available basis for items under 30lbs and less than 60 inches (length and girth combined).

Give The Troops a Little Cheer

It can be hard to be away from home for extended periods, knowing you’re missing out on family milestones and big events with friends or missing creature comforts. If you have friends or relatives serving, sending them a letter or care package can go a long way in alleviating the difficulties of life on deployment. All you need is to make sure your mail has the correct military address format.

Easyship offers several USPS solutions, so sign up for an account to help meet your shipping needs, no matter where your packages are going.

Military Addresses FAQ

What does APO stand for in shipping?

APO stands for Army Post Office and is associated with Army or Air Force installations.

Does Amazon ship to APO?

Yes, Amazon ships to APO. Amazon can also ship most items to APO except cell phones and service, computers, standalone lithium batteries, lithium batteries packed separately with equipment, furniture, and outdoor living items.

Can you track APO packages?

No, APO addresses usually don’t offer tracking confirmation.