U.S. Postal Service officials released a list of mailing deadlines and tips for the upcoming holiday season this month.
All standard post packages addressed to servicemembers with an APO/FPO address must be mailed by Nov. 12 to arrive by Christmas.
Packages should be mailed by Nov. 26 for Space Available Mail; Dec. 3 for Parcel Airlift Mail (and anything addressed to APO/FPO AE zip code 093); Dec. 10 for Priority Mail and First-Class Mail letters and cards; and Dec. 17 for Priority Mail Express Military Service.
Domestic mailing deadlines are Dec. 14 for standard post, Dec. 20 for First Class Mail, Dec. 21 for Priority Mail and Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express.
Community members should be aware that certain items cannot be shipped due to security concerns, according to Lisa Murray, sales service associate at the Fort Belvoir Main Post Office.
"They can't mail perfume, which is considered hazardous," she said. "Any kind of liquid or perishable things, they have to let us know about."
Lithium batteries must be mailed inside the original container, and they cannot be mailed overseas at all, Murray added.
The maximum weight per package is 70 pounds. If customers try to ship heavier items, like bicycles, they must break them down into smaller parts to be shipped, Murray said.
The most cost-effective way to mail items overseas through USPS is with a flat-rate box, Murray said. The cost to ship priority mail through USPS is $5.80 for up to one pound.
All items shipped overseas must have customs forms, and customers should list each separate item per package on the form, Murray said. Otherwise, customs may return the package.
USPS predicts that the busiest mailing day of the season will be Dec. 16, and the busiest delivery days will be Dec. 18 (for cards and letters) and Dec. 19 (for packages).
On average, USPS processes 528 million piece of mail a day, and expects to process 607 million pieces of mail on Dec. 16, according to a USPS press release.
The USPS estimates that 14.7 billion cards will be delivered from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, with 13.1 billion cards, letters and packages delivered between Nov. 28 and Dec. 24.
International mail addressed Africa, Asia/Pacific Rim, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico, Europe and the Middle East should be sent by Dec. 9 for First-Class Mail (Dec. 2 for Central and South America and Africa); Dec. 12 for Priority Mail International (Dec. 2 for Africa and Central and South America, Dec. 9 for Asia/Pacific Rim and Australia/New Zealand and Dec. 11 for Mexico); Dec. 14 for Priority Express International (Dec. 10 for Africa and Central and South America, and Dec. 16 for Canada); and Dec. 18 for Global Express Guaranteed (Dec. 16 for the Middle East, Australia/New Zealand and Asia/Pacific Rim, Dec. 17 for Africa and Dec. 19 for Canada).
Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are available at local post offices for free, or can be ordered online from www.usps.com. Postage, customs forms and labels are also available online.
USPS also offers a military discount on its largest Priority Mail APO/FPO flat rate box, which costs $14.85 -- two dollars less than domestic pricing -- when used to ship mail to an APO/FPO address.
The Main Post Office on Fort Belvoir is located at 5875 21st St. (next to the ID Card Office). The satellite post office is located at 9001 Gunston Rd.
Fort Belvoir's post offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information, call the Fort Belvoir Main Post Office at (703) 781-3281 or visit www.usps.com.