Shipping to an APO Address: How it Works

Are you trying to figure out how to ship something to an Air or Army Post Office (APO) address? Look no further! We can help make the process easier for you. This article will guide you through every step, and your letter or package will be on its way to a member of the armed forces.

Military bases typically do an excellent job getting packages to the right person. However, failing to follow certain guidelines may prevent your package from reaching its destination.

At Print Bind Ship, we’re experts on all things printing, shipping, fulfillment, and more. With over 60 years of experience helping people and brands create custom products and get them to where they need to be – we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of shipping to an APO address. Let’s get into the details!

What Is APO Shipping?

If you want to send a package to a member of the U.S. Army or Air Force, you must ship it to an APO address whether the person is stationed at a U.S. base or deployed overseas. 

Even though all APO addresses name the country as the United States, you’ll still need to fill out a customs form when shipping to APO address locations.

There are other codes for other military branches, such as the Navy’s FPO (Fleet Post Office) and U.S. Diplomats’ DPO (Diplomatic Post Office).

FPO delivers packages to ships, which is why they can take a while to get to the recipient, and DPO takes shipments to embassies or other foreign locations where ambassadors, translators and other U.S. diplomats work or reside.

How Does APO Shipping Work?

At the post office, you will be required to provide a Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note. Here’s what you need to put in each line:

Line 1: Service member’s name.

Line 2: Usually for a business name, which can be ignored. You may put in a Navy ship’s name in this section if you want, but it’s not required.

Line 3: Unit information.

Line 4: ZIP code goes in the postcode section. Enter the city (APO, FPO, DPO), too.

Line 5: Your state designator (AA, AE, AP). Don’t enter the country where the base is located.

Confused? Don’t be! This info will be covered in detail in a later section.

What Can’t Be Shipped to APO addresses?

The military will deny shipments containing obvious hazards like weapons and drugs. It will also reject shipments with:

  • GPS hardware or software
  • Oversized products like major appliances
  • Cell phones or cordless phones
  • CB radios or walkie talkies
  • Anything obscene, such as pornography or depictions of nudity
  • Unauthorized political materials
  • Pork and pork byproducts
  • Bulk amounts of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith — personal use items counter to the Islamic faith are allowable
  • FM transmitters

What Carriers Ship to APO Addresses?

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the only delivery service that can send packages to APO, FPO or DOP locations. Even if FedEx and UPS may ship to the country where the service member is stationed, they can’t deliver to APO addresses for security reasons.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Package to an APO Address?

It will only cost as much as a regular stamp if you’re sending a letter — even if it’s going to an overseas base. Packages also incur domestic shipping prices rather than international. Visit a USPS location for accurate pricing estimates.

5 Steps for Shipping to an APO Address

If plan to ship something to someone with an APO address, fill out the relevant information correctly and make sure any items included in your shipment do not fall under prohibited categories. Below are some guidelines on how to properly address your parcel.

Step 1: Write the Recipient’s Full Name

Fill out the service member’s name as it appears in military records. Include their rank if applicable.

Step 2: Designate Where it’s Being Sent

You’ll need the unit information, which might not make sense to you, but it will be clear to those handling the delivery of your package.

In the address, you’ll see the name of the base. Depending on where the person is stationed, you may or may not have that information. If you know, that’s where it goes in the address.

Just so you know, PSC stands for Postal Service Center. There are other designations, such as CMR (Community Mail Room), UMR (Unit Mail Room) and OMDC (Official Mail Distribution Center).

Step 3: Find the State Designator

Think of the APO, FPO and DPO as the city. Then, you have the state designator, AE, AP or AA. The numbers after are like the ZIP code. You don’t have to include a country.

What are the state designators? This can be confusing because these designators may tell the USPS which country to take the package to. This information tells the post office which U.S. city the shipment will get routed to before going overseas or being delivered domestically.

AP: Armed Forces Pacific. Mail destined for bases in the Pacific is routed through San Francisco.

AA: Armed Forces America. For the Americas, excluding Canada. Mail is routed through Miami.

AE: Armed Forces Europe — for Europe, Canada, Africa and the Middle East. Mail is routed through New York City. There used to be a specific AM for the Middle East, but that area is now covered through AE.

Step 4: Get the Exact Address

When it comes to sending a package, it’s essential that everything is in the correct order. From the address to the recipient’s name, if you don’t have the information in the right spot, the package may not reach its destination.

Step 5: Complete the Address

Here’s an example of what an APO address might look like:

CPT Steve Armyman

PSC 404 Box 92

Eglin AFB

APO, AA 12097-1201

Every piece of the address is present. This is a fictional address, but it gives you an idea of what it should look like. Run it past the service member to make sure it’s correct.

Trust Print Bind Ship to get Shipments to the Military

Sending packages to military members requires getting the address right, avoiding banned items and using the U.S. Postal Service. Is it a hassle? Yes. Can Print Bind Ship take care of that hassle for you? Yes, we’ll take care of getting that package sent through USPS.

Perhaps a military service member ordered your latest self-published novel. As long as we get the address, we’ll print the book, bind it, package it and ship it. We can also help with sending personalized products and just about anything you want to share to a friend or loved one at a military base. If you don’t want to wait in line at the post office again, it’s time to talk to Print Bind Ship!


What is the delivery lead time for military mail?

For locations in Europe, the Atlantic, and Asia, delivery lead time can be as short as three days. But it may take a week or more to deliver goods to Middle Eastern and Central American areas.

Is shipping to an APO international?

The USPS considers all shipments to APO addresses as domestic – including those located on international bases.

Can anyone ship to APO?

Packages destined for APO addresses can only be delivered by the United States Postal Service. This is because of security requirements. Even if a carrier ships to the same region or country, it won’t have the clearance to deliver your package where it needs to go.

Does UPS deliver to APO addresses?

Although major carriers like UPS provide delivery services to countries where military personnel are stationed, they cannot directly deliver packages to military bases.

How long does it take for a package to get to an APO address?

When shipping with USPS Priority Mail, it should take between 10 to 15 days for a package to reach its address. There are some rare cases where it can take longer, depending on the exact location you’re shipping to.