Tips For Shipping a Package to Iraq or Afghanistan
For some items, need to ship it to your U.S. home first
Amazon.com and some other online retailers cannot ship electronics, cameras, computers and food to APO/FPO addresses. You need to have these items shipped to your home in the U.S. first, then take them to your U.S. Post Office where they can be shipped to the APO/FPO address. See Amazon.com Shipping Restrictions for more info.
Fill out the address correctly
You must address all mail to a specific soldier. You can no longer address mail to "Any Servicemember" or "Any Soldier" due to security concerns. Use the specific Army unit as the address, "APO" as the city and "AE" as the state. APO AE mail goes to New York first, where it is transferred to the Army Post Office system for air transport to Iraq.
See Filling Out an APO Address Correctly For Shipping.
Mail it early
Letters and packages take anywhere from as little as 7 days up to 21 days to arrive in Iraq or Afghanistan. Especially during the busy Christmas season, assume it will take 3 weeks to get there so plan accordingly. Same applies to important dates such as birthdays. Letters and cards less than 13 ounces are sent First Class Mail while everything more than 13 ounces is sent Priority Mail.
Use free USPS Flat Rate shipping materials
The U.S. Postal Service will send you free Flat Rate shipping boxes, Customs forms, Priority Mail labels and tape for sending packages to Iraq or Afghanistan. Call 1-800-610-8734, select option 1 (Express Mail, Priority Mail or Global Express) and ask the service agent for the Military Kit (or Mili-Kit). By using Flat Rate boxes, you can save substantially on postage. The local Post Office will also have these on hand if you want to pick them up locally.
List the soldier's address inside the package
This will ensure your package gets to the soldier in the event that the address on the box is unreadable or the box has been opened or is damaged.
You may also want to number your letters and packages to Iraq as they may not always be delivered in order, and to ensure that they all get to the soldier.
Check the size and weight
Use the proper Customs Form
Your package can't be more than 84 inches long or be more than 130 inches when you total up the length (the longest side) plus the girth (thickest portion), or weigh more than 70 lbs.
For all parcel packages, you need to fill out the proper Customs Form. Be sure and fill out the form accurately as all mail is x-ray scanned. Here are the regulations:
Letters and cards less than 16 ounces - no form needed
Packages less than 16 ounces and less than $400 value - Form 2976
All mail greater than 16 ounces - Form 2976-A with 2976-E mailer envelope
Under-report the value on the Customs Form
To discourage theft, which does happen occassionally in the APO mail system, underestimate the value of the merchandise listed on the Customs Form.
Always check "Gift" on the Customs Form
By checking "Gift" instead of "Merchandise" or other, potential duty import taxes can be avoided.