I figured I would make a guide on overseas shipping in case you were thinking of buying off ebay.co.uk or ebay.de... Or maybe you're curious on how APO/FPO shipping works to Military who are stationed abroad or deployed.
First off, APO/FPO shipping FAQ:<OL style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: decimal">
What is APO/FPO?
APO and FPO are psuedo "cities" made up by the USPS to designate mail for military members serving where the USPS does not operate to provide equivalent cost, benefits, and services that Americans enjoy in the lower-48.
What does APO/FPO stand for?
Ok, but what's the difference between APO and FPO?
What is AA, AE, and AP?
AA/AE/AP are psuedo "states" made up by the USPS to further designate where the mail needs to end up.
AA stands for Armed Forces Americas, AE stands for Armed Forces Europe, and AP stands for Armed Forces Pacific.
You can see any combonation of APO/FPO and AA/AE/AP.
Who operates the APO/FPO mail?
Both military and contractors handle the mail. There's actually specific military specialties for postal duty trained at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
The Army allocates some troops from each unit to attend postal school and do postal as an additional duty to their normal MOS (skill identifier F5) for their unit.
The Air Force and Navy have exclusive jobs for postal (AFSC 8M0X0 and Rating PC, respectively), and as such, they use one large post office per base instead of a mail room for each unit like the Army.
How much does it cost to ship APO/FPO?
SAME price as you would pay to ship something to your neighbor since the USPS only delivers the mail to the APO/FPO service center where it's handed off to the military. Once the military is involved, there is no cost. This also works vice-versa where the sender is APO and the destination is in the US (same price as sending something within the lower 48).
This is especially true when the military is the only handler. In that case, it's free to ship at a space-available, non-insured basis. This means like mail from APO to APO is free.
Try it out! Go to http://postcalc.usps.gov/
and try my zip code of 09009. Leave it at "United States (Domestic Mail)" because...
APO/FPO are considered part of the lower 48 to the USPS!
What's an APO/FPO service center?
They take/hand the mail from/to the USPS. There are 3 of them, each being strategically located to who they serve. The AA center is in Florida, AE center in New York, and the AP center is in California.
Are there any restrictions on shipping APO/FPO?<UL>
<OL style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: decimal">
YES! In addition to what you normally can't (OK aren't supposed
) put in a box, there's specific rules for different zip codes. You can look them up here: http://www.oconus.com/ZipCodes.asp
ANYTHING bigger than a normal letter MUST include a USPS Customs Form 2976-A (5 pages). You can do one of two things:
Take your box to the post office and ask for/grab this form and fill it out (holding up the line since you have to ask the clerk what parts you need to fill out).<DIV align=left>Fill out the form online here: <A target=_blank href="https://webapps.usps.com/customsforms/cp72sender_recipient_APO.jsp">https://webapps.usps.com/custom