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Second Lt. Phillip Root, left, and Airman 1st Class Swan Melton, right, unload a bulk mail truck Tuesday at the Ramstein Air Base Northside post office. Mail volume at the post office doubles during the Christmas season, Root said.

Second Lt. Phillip Root, left, and Airman 1st Class Swan Melton, right, unload a bulk mail truck Tuesday at the Ramstein Air Base Northside post office. Mail volume at the post office doubles during the Christmas season, Root said. (Lisa Horn / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Christmas mail deadline is fast approaching and the Ramstein Air Base Northside post office has a few tips to get a package to its destination in time for the holiday.

The Northside post office has a normal volume of 16,000 pounds a year, a rate that doubles during the holiday season, Staff Sgt. Antywnn Jones said.

People wishing to ship items can help lighten the load at local post offices by shipping early and checking their mail on a daily basis. Shelves behind the counter at Northside were packed full of boxes this week, which is only a fraction of what the back room looks like during the holidays, said 2nd Lt. Phillip Root, officer in charge of postal operations.

“Right now, the [shelves] are looking pretty full, and we’ve got more mail coming today,” Root said. “Imagine with double the volume [at Christmas]; we just don’t have any place to put it.”

Customers who have seven packages or more to mail may also schedule an appointment with their local post office. Prewrapping boxes and filling out customs forms prior to reaching the counter will also move lines along, Jones added.

“Make sure that the package is well-packaged — no oily stains, no protruding wires, not a whole bunch of stamps on the outside,” Jones said.

Such items can make a box appear suspicious and may hold a package in customs, delaying delivery. Putting an excessive amount of postage on a package and dropping it in a U.S. mailbox could also make the box suspicious, Jones said.

“We ask patrons to come in [to the post office] and do it through our system,” he said.

Root said that although there is no official deadline for mailing packages and cards to servicemembers in the Mideast, it takes about two weeks for mail to reach the troops in the region. Those wanting to send packages and cards to the deployed troops should contact local postal officials to find out what items cannot be shipped by mail.

And the sooner a package is mailed, the better.

“The earlier you mail, the better off you’ll be,” Root said.

Holiday mailing deadlines from Europe to the United States

Nov. 20 — Space-available mail*

Dec. 4 — Parcel airlift**

Dec. 11 — Priority mail parcels

First-class letters and cards:

Dec. 18 — Express mail

Holiday mail deadlines from the United States to Europe:

For APO/FPO AE ZIP codes 090-099; APO/FPO AA 340; APO/FPO AP 962-966:

Nov. 13 — Parcel post

Nov. 28 — Space-available mail*

Dec. 11 — First-class and priority mail

Dec. 4 — Parcel airlift service**

*Space-available parcels are paid at parcel post rates and are transported first by surface domestically and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis. The maximum weight and size for packages are 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

**Parcel airlift provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for items that do not exceed 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined.


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