APO shipping can seem confusing at first. However, although there are different procedures involved when shipping items to the armed forces, they are quite straightforward when you have the know-how.
And by the end of this guide, you will.
Today, we are going to look at the different types of APO shipping, how to do it, the address formats you need to follow, and a whole lot more.
What is APO shipping?
- APO stands for the Army Post Office.
- This is the organization that handles the shipping and delivery of mail for members of the US Army or Air Force.
- The APO manages the mail of force members based in the U.S (domestic delivery) and those deployed overseas.
DPO, and FPO
Alongside the APO there is the FPO (Fleet Post Office) for the Navy and the DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) for US diplomats. These are the three main military post offices.
FPO (Fleet Post Office)
The FPO manages the delivery of packages for the Navy. The fact Navy members are stationed on ships around the world makes the logistics of this more complicated than other military post offices.
Very often, FPO packages take the longest to arrive.
DPO (Diplomatic Post Office)
The DPO is in charge of delivering packages for US diplomats.
This includes a long list of personnel that can be stationed in embassies and other institutions around the world.
Ambassadors and all necessary diplomatic staff (administrators, translators, etc) will receive and send mail via the DPO.
How to Send APO/FPO/DPO Military Mail
APO Shipping Military Mail is how you can send mail items to members of the armed forces.
The APO handles both letters and packages. Interestingly, even where the final destination for the mail item is abroad, the APO handles all mail as domestic in terms of rates.
Military Mail Address Format
When addressing mail for APO shipping you should adhere to the following format.
1. Name of the recipient
As with any normal mail item the recipient’s name goes at the top. It is important that you use the full legal name that the military will have on file.
2. Unit or type of address
You will then need to put the unit code for the type of address the mail is being sent to. The list is as follows. If you don’t know this, you will have to contact the recipient to find out.
- PSC (Postal Service Center),
- CMR (Community Mail Room),
- UMR (Unit Mail Room),
- RPO (Regional Post Office),
- APO (Army Post Office)
- OMDC (Official Mail Distribution Center) number.
4. State Designator
Next, you have to add the state designator of the APO.
- 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.
You may also have information on the state-based distribution hub. There is no need to add this as part of the designator.
5. The Full Address
Now you can add the rest of the address details that you have for the APO shipment. This is normally in the form of a Zipcode.
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Notes for FPO & DPO Shipments
FPO & DPO shipments follow a similar format, however, there are some differences to be aware of.
For FPO addresses aboard a United States Navy or United States Coast Guard vessel, you should add the ship’s name and hull number as the main part of the address, (step 5 above).
When mailing to a DPO address, there is no need to add the street address of the embassy. You should not add the recipient’s job title either.
Military Mail Address Format Examples
An example of a correctly formatted APO Address:
An example of a correctly formatted FPO Address:
An example of a correctly formatted DPO Address:
For packages containing goods being sent to a foreign country, completed Customs Forms should be attached.
How to use an APO Shipping Address with Online Forms
What if you have to type an APO shipping address into an online form. This will happen if you order products online and they have to be delivered to an APO address.
Using the example address listed above, here is the format you would follow for an online form.
- Name: GEN Steven Baxter
- Address Line 1: Unit 1234, Box 9637
- City: APO
- State: AE
- Zipcode: 07654
APO Shipping Restrictions
There are some restrictions when sending APO and other military shipments.
Here is a list of items that should not be sent to APO addresses. There are also restrictions in terms of weight and size.
List of APO shipping restricted items & conditions
- Packages must be 70 lbs. or less
- Packages cannot exceed 130 in. combined length and girth.
- No items that are on the United States Postal Service restricted list.
- GPS hardware and software
- Mobile phones
- Cordless phones
- FM transmitters
- Perishable foods
- Pork byproducts
- Obscene articles
- Major appliances and oversized products
Do not send items that are restricted by the unit’s host country. There are also a small number of military destinations with further restrictions.
Which carriers send to military addresses?
There is only one carrier that can deliver packages to APO addresses and that is USPS. This is because USPS is the only entity that has governmental permission to do so. Security concerns are the overriding factor in this.
FedEx and UPS can send packages to other countries where military forces are concentrated, however, these will not go through the APO shipping process. The recipient would have to collect from the local hub of the relevant carrier or organize some other means of collection.
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Sending packages via APO shipping is not difficult. By following the simple formatting rules of the relevant military post office, (APO, FPO, or DPO) your mail item will arrive at its destination without error.
It is a good idea to confirm the details with the recipient before sending the item, however. Enter the address incorrectly and there can be a period of delay before the item is delivered.