By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2003) -- The dates for mailing items to and from overseas locations in time for the holidays are fast approaching, and Military Postal Service Agency officials have suggestions for ensuring packages and letters arrive on time.
In fact, customers who mail early may save money and still have an on-time delivery, said Mark J. DeDomenic, chief of operations at the agency.
"As we get closer to Christmas, the mail volumes get higher, and therefore mail takes longer to be delivered,” he said.
The recommended mail deadlines for sending mail from the United Sates to all overseas military mailing addressees for the holidays are:
• Parcel post: Nov. 13
• Space-available mail: Nov. 28
• Parcel-airlift mail: Dec. 4
• Priority and first-class letters or cards: Dec. 11
DeDomenic said these dates can also be observed by customers sending mail from overseas locations to the United States.
Customs forms are required on all international mail, and shipments should be properly packaged before sending them overseas, DeDomenic said.
"Customers should always remember to ensure they package their parcels in strong boxes and use a lot of packing material," DeDomenic said. "Popcorn or newspaper makes for great packaging material."
He also suggested customers use a nylon-fiber reinforced tape to bundle up their packages.
"Keep in mind that packages going to military addresses overseas are handled many times and travel long distances. Therefore strong boxes and good internal packing is important," DeDomenic said.
While the United States has restrictions on mailing items such as poisons and weapons, other countries have their own restrictions for what can be mailed, DeDomenic said. Postal customers need to consider the length of the journey overseas and the final destination when considering what to send.
"I would advise customers to not mail perishable items and to ensure they do not mail things such as batteries, hazardous materials or weapons," DeDomenic said. "Items such as coffee or tobacco are restricted to certain locations. If there is any doubt as to the mailability of particular items, customers should always check with their local post office."
Because of security restrictions, mass-mailing operations such as Operation Dear Abby or the "Any Servicemember" mailing program are not being supported by the agency, DeDomenic said.
Postal agency officials encourage servicemembers to support the publicly available Web sites that allow the American public to write supportive letters to them.