If you plan on mailing Christmas cards and holiday gifts to your friends and loved ones this year, the 2016 holiday shipping deadlines for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, and UPS are just days away.
Getting your cards and packages to their destination in time for the Christmas holiday is a priority and if saving money is important, pay attention to the shipping cutoff dates below or you may end up forking over extra cash to pay for expedited delivery services. And if you plan to ship anything overseas, the international deadlines are even earlier.
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s holiday mailing deadlines for both domestic and international letters and packages for the USPS, FedEx, and UPS — unless you’re in tight with Santa Claus and his reindeer-driven delivery service.
According to ABC-7 Chicago, the Monday before Christmas is the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service — the mail volume that day triples to about 850 million pieces. Ship your packages before December 19 to avoid extra-long lines at your local post office.
If you are shipping holiday cards and packages via the U.S. Postal Service, the cutoff dates depend on whether the destination is within the United States. According to the official USPS website, domestic packages need to be shipped out by December 23 if you are using Priority Mail Express, but even earlier for standard as well as other expedited mail services.
- USPS Retail Ground – December 15
- First-Class Mail (cards and letters) — December 20
- Priority Mail — December 21
- Priority Mail Express — December 23
If you are shipping a Christmas gift or card internationally or to a Military base overseas, the deadlines are as follows:
- Priority Mail International — December 10
- Priority Mail Express International — December 15
- Global Express Guaranteed — December 20
United Parcel Service (UPS) holiday shipping deadlines vary depending on the shipping service and where the package is going. Find the deadlines below, followed by the Federal Express (FedEx) cutoff dates.
The Business Insider reported that UPS expects to ship 700 million packages in the days leading up to Christmas Eve — that’s 70 million more packages shipped than last year.
According to UPS, December 21 is the last day to ship all UPS 2nd Day Air packages to ensure Christmas Eve delivery. There is a December 23 deadline for all packages that are shipped via UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air service. If you are using UPS 2nd Day Air, make sure to mark off the option for Saturday delivery so it arrives by or on Christmas Eve, December 24.
Shipping a package overseas? Check out the UPS international holiday shipping schedule here.
FedEx also expects an increase in packages shipped during the holidays, with the Business Insider reporting that the international shipping company a 10 percent increase over the 325 million packages shipped during the 2015 holiday season.
According to the FedEx website, a $16 Saturday delivery fee will apply per package for anything that will be delivered on Christmas Eve (December 24) for the following services — FedEx First Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, and FedEx 2Day. The shipping deadline for these services is December 23.
There will be no delivery of FedEx SmartPost or Home Delivery packages on December 23, so plan ahead if you need a gift to arrive before Christmas. Use the FedEx Ground Service Maps to figure out transit times so that your package will be delivered the Friday before Christmas or earlier.
FedEx SameDay service allows urgent packages to be shipped and delivered on the same day, but the rates are steep. For the company’s international holiday cutoff dates, head over to the FedEx rates and transit page.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]