By JEFF ARNOLD
Arkansas News Bureau
FORT SMITH — With less than a month until Christmas, shipping deadlines for packages to men and women in the U.S. military serving abroad are quickly approaching.
Because United Parcel Service does not deliver packages to combat theaters, holiday shippers must rely on the U.S. Postal Service and Federal Express for those deliveries.
All three services provide shipping to U.S. military bases abroad, outside of combat areas.
The USPS has three significant deadlines for shipping to Iraq and Afghanistan to reach soldiers in time for Christmas: Saturday, Dec. 1 and Dec. 3.
Those wishing to send packages using Space Available Mail must ship packages no later than Saturday; Parcel Airlift Mail packages must go out no later than Dec. 1; and all first-class letters and cards must ship no later than Dec. 3, said Leisa Tolliver-Gay, USPS spokesperson.
Federal Express officers two services for shipping to Afghanistan and Iraq, FedEx International Economy and FedEx International Priority, said Federal Express spokesperson Sally Davenport.
The deadlines for international economy packages sent to Afghanistan is Dec. 16, while those shipped to Iraq must be sent no later than Dec. 14.
The deadlines for international priority packages is Dec. 16 for Iraq and Dec. 19 for Afghanistan.
Tyre Sperling, spokesperson for UPS, recommended people plan ahead when preparing to ship packages abroad, so they aren’t caught off-guard.
Sperling said shipping options, duties, taxes, customs fees and restrictions can differ by country, as do deadlines for international shipments, depending on the destination.
Complete price and shipping deadlines for domestic and international shipping are available online.
While mailing overseas requires planning ahead, those who wait until the last minute to ship within the continental United States do have options.
Federal Express offers same-day delivery on Christmas Day, while UPS will accept packages as late as Dec. 23 and the Postal Service Dec. 22, for delivery on Christmas Eve.