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 – 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 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.
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)
Firearms and Ammunition
Fruits or vegetables
Obscene or offensive material
Be aware of any cultural prohibitions e.g. pork products, cigarettes, etc.
Suggested List of Items to Send Service Members:
AA-cell alkaline batteries
Batteries (all sizes)
Beef jerky/Slim Jims
Electrolyte replacement drink mix
Holiday or seasonal decorations
Hot Chocolate packets
International phone card
Pen, paper, envelopes
Portable CD players w/ headphones
Pre-paid Phone Card
Protein powders / protein bars
Sheets / blankets