A Complete Guide to Shipping to APO/FPO Addresses in 2024

A Complete Guide to Shipping to APO/FPO Addresses in 2024

We recognize the importance of shipping to APO/FPO addresses and the unique challenges they present. We have developed a guide to help you efficiently ship to an FPO address.

Sending letters or packages to our troops stationed all over the world is a meaningful way to show love and support. However, shipping to military addresses, specifically FPO (Fleet Post Office) and APO (Army Post Office) addresses, requires some special considerations. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of shipping packages to US military ships and bases.

What is an APO and FPO address

Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses allow for mail delivery to U.S. military locations worldwide. Understanding the structure of these addresses is crucial for accurate delivery. Unlike standard shipments, APO/FPO mail follows a different procedure when shipping to a military address. It is crucial to provide a correctly formatted address to ensure successful delivery. Here are the steps to address FPO or APO mail correctly:

Step 1 - Write the Full Name and Rank

Write the full name of the service member and include their rank. For example, "CDR Bob Smith" indicates the rank of Commander. Can also be formatted, “CDR Smith, Bob.” Either format is acceptable.

Step 2 - Include the Ship or Unit Name

Include the ship or unit name in the company line. This helps in routing the mail accurately. For instance, "USS John Paul Jones” or “HSC-13”.

Step 3 - Include Unit and Box Number

Include the unit and assigned box number of the service member. This is required in routing the mail accurately. For instance, "Box 0402" specifies the box number. If you are uncertain of the specific box number, use: “Box 1.”

Step 4 - Enter 'APO' or 'FPO' as the City

"APO" or "FPO" should be used in the place of the city in a traditional address format. Use "APO" or "FPO" to indicate the military installation.

Step 5 - Use Military Postal Abbreviations

Instead of the state, use the following abbreviations:

  • AE: Used for Armed Forces Europe, the Middle East, and Canada.
  • AP: Used for Armed Forces Pacific.
  • AA: Used for Armed Forces Americas (excluding Canada).

These abbreviations are crucial for routing the mail within the military postal service.

Step 6 - Provide the ZIP+4 code

Include the appropriate zip code to complete the address. This ensures accurate routing of the mail to the APO address. 

The additional four digits in APO (Army Post Office) and FPO (Fleet Post Office) ZIP codes, often referred to as the ZIP+4 code, are not strictly necessary but can significantly enhance the mail sorting process, leading to faster and more accurate delivery of mail and packages to military locations. Here's why:

  1. Enhanced Sorting: The ZIP+4 code provides additional information about the destination of the package, helping the military mail system to sort mail more efficiently. It can indicate a more specific location within the larger APO/FPO address, such as a particular unit or department.

  2. Improved Accuracy: Using the ZIP+4 can reduce the chances of mail being misrouted within the military postal system, especially when names or other address components are common or unclear.

  3. Faster Delivery: While not always visible to the sender, the ZIP+4 can expedite the internal processing and delivery of mail once it reaches the military mail system, potentially resulting in quicker delivery times to the recipient.

Although the USPS and the military postal service can process and deliver mail without the ZIP+4, including it when you know the full address is considered a best practice for the reasons mentioned. If you're unsure of the ZIP+4 for a specific APO/FPO address, using the basic five-digit ZIP code will still get your mail delivered, albeit potentially not as quickly as with the full ZIP+4. Always ensure the rest of the address is as complete and accurate as possible, including the recipient's name, rank, and unit, to facilitate delivery.

Example of FPO Mail Address

FPO addresses are used for mail sent to Navy installations and ships. Here's an example of a correctly formatted FPO address to ensure your loved one receives their care package or letter:

  • PO1 John Doe (Name)
  • USS John Paul Jones (Company Line - optional/helpful)
  • Unit 100535 Box 3333 (Address Line 1)
  • Deck Division (Address Line 2 - optional)
  • FPO, AP 96667 (City, State, Zip)

This format ensures compliance with military mail guidelines.

Carriers that Ship to APO and FPO Locations

USPS is the only postal service that can deliver mail and packages to APO/FPO locations due to security restrictions. Other carriers like FedEx or UPS are not available for shipping to military addresses.

While FedEx and UPS do not deliver directly to APO/FPO addresses, they may offer services to send packages to a stateside USPS facility, which then forwards the package to the APO/FPO address.

*Complete the Customs Forms

To comply with international shipping regulations, you need to fill out the customs forms accurately. Here's what you should do:

  • Use the PS Form 2976-A to declare the contents, value, and weight of the package.
  • Provide detailed information about the items you are shipping, including their description, quantity, and value.
  • Sign and date the customs form.

*If you're shipping through a service, like Fleet Sheets, they may handle customs forms for you.

Delivery Times for Military Mail & Global APO/FPO Addresses

The delivery lead time for shipping to military/FPO addresses is anywhere between 3 to 45 business days and varies based on several factors. Plan ahead and allow for plenty of time, especially during peak mailing seasons. Here are some reasons why the delivery time may vary:

Military Supply Chain / Operational Schedules

The availability and schedules of military aircraft, replenishment ships, and operational commitments play a role in the delivery lead time. Delivery to certain locations may be less frequent, causing slight delays in the delivery process.

Weather Delays

Adverse weather conditions can impact the delivery of packages to military addresses. Severe weather events may result in delayed or rerouted shipments.

Delivery Destination

The distance and location of the military ship, base, or installation can affect the delivery time. Packages traveling to remote or overseas locations may require more transit time.

Sorting Process Delays

The sorting process within the military postal system may occasionally experience delays, resulting in extended delivery times.

Courier Service Tier

The chosen courier service tier can influence the delivery time. USPS Priority Mail offers faster delivery options, while Parcel Select provides a more affordable but slower shipping alternative.


Shipping to APO/FPO addresses requires attention to detail and adherence to specific guidelines. By following the correct addressing format, understanding shipping restrictions, and utilizing reliable couriers like USPS, we can ensure that your packages reach your loved ones in the US Armed Forces without any complications.


  • Dan Vogel


  • Jackie Cordell

    I would like to have this shipped to my son on his ship that is deployed but I don’t see here on address how to fill out for P.O. Box.

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