Understanding Military Shipping Labels: A Complete Guide for Care Packages

Last Updated: September 21, 2023By Tags: ,

Understanding Military Shipping Labels: A Complete Guide for Care Packages

Supporting our armed forces stationed overseas with a care package is a great way to show appreciation and maintain strong ties with them. Yet, the process of getting these packages delivered to military bases is not as straightforward as regular shipping. It entails understanding and correctly filling out military shipping labels, which play a significant role in the delivery process. This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process of completing military shipping labels and to help ensure that your care package arrives at its intended destination without hitches.

Understanding Military Addresses

When it comes to shipping care packages to military bases, APO, FPO, and DPO are three crucial acronyms you’ll encounter. 

– APO stands for Army Post Office and is used for Army or Air Force installations.

– FPO stands for Fleet Post Office and is for Navy installations and ships.

– DPO stands for Diplomatic Post Office and is used for U.S. embassies worldwide.

Each military address has a unique format that ensures your package gets to the right location. Below is a sample format:

[Service Member’s Full Name]

[Unit and Box number]

[APO, FPO, or DPO], [AA, AE, or AP] [ZIP Code]

The address components are defined as follows:

– AA, AE, AP: These stand for Armed Forces Americas, Armed Forces Europe, and Armed Forces Pacific, respectively. They replace the city name in a standard address.

– ZIP Code: The military post office zip codes range from 09000 to 96200 (APO AE), 96201 to 96600 (APO AP), and 34000 to 34099 (APO AA). 

The Importance of Military Shipping Labels

Military shipping labels are crucial as they help route your package from your location to the recipient’s military base, regardless of where in the world it may be. Understanding how to fill out these labels correctly will not only ensure that your package gets delivered but also speed up the shipping process by reducing any errors that might cause delays.

How to Fill Out a Military Shipping Label 

Filling out a military shipping label is not as daunting as it may initially appear. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Sender’s Information: Input your full name and return address in the appropriate fields. Ensure your address is accurate to avoid any problems should the package need to be returned.
  2. Recipient’s Information: Fill in the recipient’s full name, including rank if applicable, and their complete military address following the format explained earlier. You can use ShipThrifty’s Care Package Request form to securely collect Military addresses.
  3. Weight & Size: Input the weight and dimensions of your package. This information helps calculate shipping costs and plan logistics.
  4. Contents: Detailed description of the package contents is crucial for customs. This is particularly true for military shipments, as they may be subject to stricter inspection and regulations than civilian packages. Include information such as item names, quantities, and total value.
  5. Customs Forms (If Required): For overseas military bases, you may need to include customs forms (like PS 2976-R) along with your shipping label. Ensure to fill this out accurately as it will be used to assess if any duties or taxes are applicable. ShipThrifty’s bulk customs form tool and helpful resources help you do this quickly and easily.

Remember that it’s essential to ensure all the information on the label is accurate and legible. Any mistakes or discrepancies could lead to delays or even return of your package.

Advanced Options: Prepaid Military Shipping Labels

If you regularly send care packages to military addresses or want to save time and hassle, consider creating prepaid shipping labels. Online shipping platforms like ShipThrifty can help you generate prepaid shipping labels, offering convenience, time savings, and often discounted shipping rates.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure the smooth delivery of your care package, here are some common mistakes to avoid when filling out military shipping labels:

– Not using the service member’s full name

– Writing the country’s name in the address

– Incorrectly formatted or incomplete address

– Not providing a detailed content description 


Understanding military shipping labels is crucial when sending care packages to service members stationed overseas. With this guide, you should now be equipped with the knowledge needed to fill out these labels correctly. Just remember, accuracy is paramount. By taking the time to correctly fill out your shipping labels, you’re taking a significant step towards ensuring your package reaches its intended destination, bringing a piece of home to our service members abroad.

Remember, at ShipThrifty, we’re here to make the shipping process easier for you. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about shipping labels or need assistance with your shipping needs.

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