Tips for Shipping to the APO / FPO soldier

Posted on May 26, 2008. Filed under: eBay, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , |

For this Memorial Day we have chosen to write about shipping to the APO/FPO soldier since we have quite a bit of knowledge of that subject and we thought it would be a great way to honor our soldiers. 
Our business has extensive experience shipping packages to APO / FPO addresses.  Not only have we had many customers over the years that have overseas military addresses, we have our own soldier who has served in the Middle East for a total of 2 years.
If you are a business that does not currently ship to APO / FPO addresses, I hope these few tips will help you reconsider since it is really very easy to ship to our military soldiers serving overseas:
1. Priority mail service from the USPS is recommended as the shipping option as parcel post packages could take weeks or months to arrive.
2. If a package is valuable, insurance is strongly advised and if possible use a third-party insurance provider like U-Pic; the post office stamps insured packages which alerts handlers all along the way that the contents of the package are valuable.  Third-party insurance carriers do not have any such insured markings.
3. Be absolutely sure to package well.  The package could be roughly handled at all points along the way and there may be several planes or trucks where the package will get nicely jostled.
4. If you are thinking of adding something “extra” for the recipient on the other end, forgo things like chips, cookies, and especially chocolate.  Most soldiers have access to a PX where they can buy these things and the chips and cookies will crumble; the chocolate will melt.  Instead, include a nice handwritten note thanking the soldier for his/her service and be sure to make the note personal — such as current local news events (good news only!) or include a child’s drawing or letter.
5. Remember that often times loved ones in the States want to send items to their soldier abroad and those recipients’ addresses will not be confirmed with Paypal.  Use your judgement in deciding whether to ship, keeping in mind it is not likely that a U.S. soldier abroad would be participating in a fraudulent transaction.  
6. Most importantly, be sure to use a USPS customs form for the APO/FPO package so that the package is delivered in the most timely manner.  Consult your local post office if you are not sure which form to use.  And be sure NOT to list the contents in a manner that would attract unwanted attention.  For example, instead of listing the contents as “XBox Halo 3 videogame”, instead describe the items as “Personal Items”.  No need to tempt anyone along the way!
Packages sent to APO/FPO addresses could take a week or six weeks to arrive.  There are a lot of variables which determine delivery time.  And although the U.S. military does consider mail an important item to be delivered to the soldiers, there are often other items that take priority on supply planes and trucks.  Every APO/FPO soldier we have ever shipped to has been patient and understanding of the mail delays that are completely out of our control.  And we enjoy the nice email we always get when they notify us that they have received their package safely.   
Today and every day, we honor our soldier’s service and are thankful for the sacrifices made by our own soldier and others.

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7 Responses to “Tips for Shipping to the APO / FPO soldier”

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Great idea and a wonderful Memorial Day theme. I have often wondered why so many sellers refuse to ship APO/FPO and now I know, ignorance.

I ship to APO addresses all of the time. I even use MEDIA MAIL, which seems to arrive in the same amount of time as Priority Mail. Most APO shipments require the Big white customs forms. A good piece of news: the PO has a reduced rate for APO shipments when using the Large Flat Rate Priority Mail box. 🙂 Great post!

There are some stores that ship to APO and are having a promotion until July 4th if you ship to APO address you get $25 off rebate, you will have to pay for your order with cash using eBillme. eBillme lets you pay with cash from your online bank account.

Here are the stores: Crutchfield, TigerDirect, CompSource, Sonic Electronix, Action Village, Etronics,, PC Universe, Shoplet, and 4AllMemory

I guess I made a mistake in filling out the customs papers and listed the items as what they were, like i thought i was suppose to do. Now my son hasn’t gotten his package. It included items that were worth stealing. Do you think alot of packages get stolen because of the way we list on our customs papers? Or do I need to keep faith and assume it has just gotten misplaced and he will recieve it someday.

Kim, I would keep the faith. Sometimes packages seem to take FOREVER. Just when you give up hope, the package will probably turn up … trust me, been there!

Thanks for publishing this useful guide, however…
As one who has served on active duty, I take exception to item 4. Home made cookies are a very hot item and serve as a great boost for moral. They can be packaged to avoid being broken during shipment. It’s worth the effort; take it from one who knows.

I have shipped packages that took 8 days and currently 1 that has been over two weeks and not received yet. It just all depends. The custom form says to list specifics, but I just put ‘canned food’ ‘books’, general terms that cover it. Be aware that who you get at the post office matters too, I had shipped a 10lb package for $30 once and a 22lb package for $18 to the same address??? I think the two different people did it two different ways, so don’t be afraid to ask/tell what you want and DEFINITELY pay for the insurance and keep your purchase receipts of the items with the receipt from the post office, makes claiming easier. Also, my daughter just informed me that on the bases they LOVE COUPONS, manufacturers coupons are accepted up to six months after expiration date at the base stores, so if anyone out there has access to newspaper stashes, pull out some coupon flyers and send them along in your next package. If your recipient can’t use them the other ‘guys’ can, it’s a big thing ‘over there’ and helps them save some money.

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