The shipping news for holiday packages

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

ATLANTA -- Shopping for gifts is only part of holiday gift giving. Another key piece, particularly for people with out-of-town family and friends, is getting your gifts to the recipient on time. Whether you shop online or buy gifts and ship them yourself, here's your guide to getting it all there before Christmas.

Some information is subject to change, so check with each agency for up-to-date shipping news. United States Postal Service

In general, this is the most affordable shipping method. Save time by printing labels with postage online. You can buy shipping materials at your local post office. Below are some important dates to make sure your packages are delivered by Christmas. Visit for additional information.

Military Mail: The date for Standard Post service has passed. Ship by Dec. 3 for Parcel Air Lift Mail (air travel). All mail going to APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093 must be shipped by Dec. 3. First Class and Priority Mail going to all other military addresses must be shipped by Dec. 10. Priority Mail Express Military Service is available until Dec. 17 for selected military/diplomatic post offices. Check with your local post office to find out if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.

International Mail: Deadlines range from Dec. 2 (First Class & Priority Mail to Central & South America or Africa) through Dec. 19 for Global Express Guaranteed Service to Canada. For a full list or International dates visit the website. The cut-off dates listed by the Post Office do not take into account time needed for customs clearance and if you're shipping outside of major foreign cities, be sure to allow extra transit time.

Domestic Mail: Ship Standard Post by Dec. 14, First-Class Mail by Dec. 20, Priority Mail by Dec. 21 and Priority Mail Express by Dec. 23.


UPS Store employees are trained to assist with packing if you need help. Following are key ship-by dates provided by UPS for certain services. See for information on UPS Worldwide and other services.

Dec. 20: All UPS 2nd Day air sent today will be delivered on Dec. 24.

Dec. 21: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages for Dec. 24 delivery. All UPS Store locations will be open.

Dec. 23: Ship UPS Next Day Air for Dec. 24 delivery.

Dec. 24: Normal delivery of air, international and ground shipments. FedEx

You can manage your packages online, use FedEx one-rate shipping for domestic packages, and have office staff pack and ship everything for you. Check operating hours for FedEx locations in your area. Here are cut-off dates for packages to arrive in time for Christmas.


For FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground ship packages by Dec. 17 at a staffed FedEx location. Ship Federal Express Saver by Dec. 19. Fedex 2 Day and 2 Day AM must be shipped by Dec. 21 and ship by Dec. 23 if using FedEx Standard, Priority or First Overnight service for Dec. 24 arrival.


Ship FedEx International Economy by Dec. 18 and FedEx International Priority, First or Next Flight by Dec. 20 for shipments to Puerto Rico.

For shipping to Canada and Mexico, Ship FedEx International Ground by Dec. 13 (some exclusions apply). Send International Economy by Dec. 20, International Priority or First by Dec. 21 and Next Flight by Dec. 23.

For all other International destinations visit the website to get specific rates and transit times.

Online Shopping

Shipping deadlines vary depending on the retailer, but in general, when you're shopping online, you may have to place your order as early as Dec. 10 (or as late as Dec. 23) for delivery by Christmas. This year, Free Shipping Day -- a day designated for free shipping with guaranteed arrival by Christmas Eve and no purchase minimums -- is Dec. 18. About 450 retailers are participating so far. Visit for details.

You can get free shipping before Dec. 18 on many retailer websites, but the terms vary. After Dec. 18, you'll probably have to pay for delivery in time for Christmas.

Nedra Rhone writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. E-mail: nrhone(at)

Story Filed By Cox Newspapers

For Use By Clients of the New York Times News Service