STUTTGART, Germany — Military customers are being urged to observe the holiday shipping deadlines set by Army post offices in Europe.

The deadlines are Nov. 18 for space-available mail, Dec. 2 for parcel-airlift mail and Dec. 9 for priority and first-class letter mail. Customers would be doing themselves a favor by meeting or beating the deadlines.

“Sometimes people wait until the last minute, and that’s when the mail takes a little longer to process,” said Cpl. Mark Woodfork of the Stuttgart-based 566th Postal Company. The mail starts to pile up the first week in November, he said.

Space-available and parcel airlift mail are different ways to send packages to the U.S. using air delivery on a space-available basis.

Woodfork said that customers should anticipate long lines at post offices during the holiday season.

“The best time to go is when we first open,” Woodfork said. “Don’t wait until lunchtime.”

He suggested using Styrofoam peanuts, foam rubber and paper when packing gifts that could shift inside a box.

“Boxes should be well taped-up or wrapped up so they don’t get ripped or busted,” Woodfork said.

Among items prohibited from shipment in military mail are weapons, alcohol, obscene articles, items containing nude, semi-nude and pornographic images, and unauthorized political materials.

Prohibited from shipment in some areas are bulk quantities of religious materials contrary to the Islamic faith (although items for the recipient’s personal use are allowed) and pork or pork by-products.

Individual locations may have additional restrictions based on a host nation’s wishes or logistical reasons, so senders are advised to check first.

Tips for sending holiday mail

The Defense Department issued the following tips for sending mail:

• Use a servicemember’s full name, with or without rank or rating. Mail must be addressed to someone specific.

• Include the unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address with the nine-digit ZIP Code.

• Do not write the country name the item is being sent to anywhere on the label.

• Include a return address. For packages, print on one side only with the recipient’s address in the lower right portion.

• Save time by using the USPS Click-N-Ship to print labels and postage, now available for APOs and FPOs. For information, visit:

• Use sturdy boxes when sending packages to deployed locations and keep in mind the extreme temperatures boxes will undergo.

• For reused boxes, cover all prior markings and labels with a heavy black marker.

• Remove batteries from electronics when shipping so the item can’t accidentally start.

• Seal boxes well with 2-inch-wide tape, preferably clear or brown packaging tape. Do not use cords or string that could get caught on sorting machinery.

• Put a card inside describing the contents and listing sender and recipient’s addresses in case a box rips open during shipping.

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