Tips for Sending Care Packages to the Military Overseas

Updated: March 30, 2021
In this Article

    The majority of military members like to receive a care package from family members back home. In order to be certain what is sent arrives securely to its intended individual here are some tips for sending and preparing a military care package.

    Check International and Country Specific Shipping Limitations

    Military Care Packages

    Photo by Staff Sgt. Angel Espinoza

    There are restrictions on what can be shipped and even more limitations by country.  The United States Postal Service offers a list of what these limitations are by country. Examples of items that cannot be shipped include illegal substances, alcohol, explosives, fireworks, and obscene material that may offend other service members.

    Seal Everything

    Individually seal everything in plastic bags with zip locks if possible to protect items from the elements such as rain or sand or even items within the package that may leak or melt.  As a bonus service members have many uses for these bags such as keeping personal photos or other items to keep them protected.  Be sure to keep like items together and other items separate, especially items that have strong odors. Service members have stated that the food inside the care package might taste soapy, for example, as the two products were sent with each other and not separately packaged. If there’s a probability of a product opening or spilling in transit, make certain it’s enclosed securely within a different bag.

    Secure the Contents

    Place stickers around the package prior to taping it to allow the service member to easily identify if the box was tampered with or opened while in transit. If you’re sending pricey products, check with your Post Office concerning the possibility of the pack being insured.

    Pack it tight but Don’t Over Stuff the Boxes

    You don’t want the contents to move or rattle but over stuffing the box might cause it to open while in transit.

    Select Sturdy Packaging

    The best packaging to use are the free USPS military care kits.  These kits include flat rate boxes, shipping labels, tape and the appropriate customs forms.

    Secure The Package

    Too much tape never hurts especially if you’re shipping to Afghanistan or Iraq.  Every seam of the package ought to be taped up well. Utilize the local paper as packing material as this might serve dual purposes. As you shake the pack, the contents shouldn’t move about.

    Provide Accurate Shipping Information

    Include the recipient’s unit, last and first name, title, DPO/FPO/APO, and full zip code.  The Post Office no longer delivers packages that are addressed ‘Any Service Member.’

    Provide 2 Shipping Labels

    Include a second shipping label inside the box just in case the exterior label becomes damaged and unreadable.

    Complete the Customs Forms

    Complete the computerized customs forms for any shipping overseas or outside the United States. The required form depends upon the value of products you are shipping as well as the service you are utilizing. Customs forms may be found at the U.S. Post Office website.

    Note: Beginning Aug. 13, 2020, the United States Postal Service no longer accepts handwritten customs declaration forms, 2976, 2976-A or 2976-B. Packages found with handwritten customs declaration forms after Aug. 13, will be returned to the sender.

    Include a List

    A list confirms with the soldier that everything you sent did indeed arrive.

    Missed the Shipping Deadline?

    Sometimes the overseas shipping deadline passes and creativity is needed. Send your solider a video eCard from JibJab. With JibJab you can insert pictures of your favorite solider, the kids and anyone else into funny and creative videos featuring them. Cost is $12 per year and there are videos for every holiday, birthday and much more so this gift can keep on giving. It’s very easy to use.

    Sample list of Items that Cannot be Shipped (not a complete list)

    • Aerosol Can Products (may explode during transit)
    • Alcohol
    • Animals
    • Carbonated Beverages
    • Firearms and Ammunition
    • Flammable Items
    • Fruits or vegetables
    • Live Plants
    • Obscene or offensive material
    • Pork Products
    • Pornography
    • Tobacco
    • Be aware of any cultural prohibitions e.g. pork products, cigarettes, etc.

    Suggested List of Items to Send Service Members:

    • AA-cell alkaline batteries
    • Aspirin
    • Baby powder
    • Baby wipes
    • Baseball caps
    • Batteries (all sizes)
    • Beef jerky/Slim Jims
    • Books
    • Breath mints
    • CDs
    • Condiments
    • Dental floss
    • Deodorant
    • Dry soup
    • DVDs
    • Electrolyte replacement drink mix
    • Eye drops/wash
    • Foot powder
    • Gameboy/PS2/DS games
    • Gum
    • Handheld games
    • Holiday or seasonal decorations
    • Hot Chocolate packets
    • International phone card
    • Kleenex
    • Laundry detergent
    • Lip balm
    • Lotion
    • Magazines
    • Mouthwash
    • MP3 players
    • Newspapers
    • Pen, paper, envelopes
    • Phone cards
    • Pillow
    • Playing cards
    • Popcorn
    • Portable CD players w/ headphones
    • Pre-paid Phone Card
    • Protein powders / protein bars
    • Q-tips
    • Seasoning Salt
    • Sheets / blankets
    • Socks
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Toilet paper
    • Toiletries
    • Toothpaste/toothbrush
    • T-Shirts

    Written by Team