2016 holiday shipping deadlines: Dates you need to know to ship gifts in time for Christmas

“I have a gazillion packages to mail,” said Nancy Golding, of Northwest D.C., on Monday. Golding was the first in line awaiting the USPS Friendship Station opening on what the Postal Service expects will be the busiest day for mailing holiday cards, letters and packages. (WTOP/Kristi King)
“I have a gazillion packages to mail,” said Nancy Golding, of Northwest D.C., on Monday. Golding was the first in line awaiting the USPS Friendship Station opening on what the Postal Service expects will be the busiest day for mailing holiday cards, letters and packages. (WTOP/Kristi King)
If you’re sending cards, letters or packages and want them to get there by Dec. 25, the U.S. Postal Service says you can send them as late as Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express (overnight shipping). It could cost you though. Rates start at $22.95. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)
If you’re shipping your packages using FedEx, the company says you can use FedEx SameDay City (Priority) and FedEx SameDay on Dec. 25 and it will reach its destination. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
With UPS, shipping through UPS Express Critical by Dec. 24 will ensure a Christmas Day delivery, the company says. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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“I have a gazillion packages to mail,” said Nancy Golding, of Northwest D.C., on Monday. Golding was the first in line awaiting the USPS Friendship Station opening on what the Postal Service expects will be the busiest day for mailing holiday cards, letters and packages. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — The holidays are coming up faster than you may think, and if you’re planning to send packages or cards, you’ll want to plan ahead.

Here are all the dates you need to know to get your gifts and goodies to your loved ones by Christmas.

U.S. Postal Service holiday shipping deadlines

The U.S. Postal Service has released their deadlines for holiday shipping for this year.

If you’re sending cards, letters or packages and want them to get there by Dec. 25, the U.S. Postal Service says you need to send them by:

  • Dec. 15 if you’re sending by USPS Retail Ground (formerly Standard Post). This is an option for larger packages (up to 70 pounds) and if you aren’t in a rush. Rates start at $6.75.
  • Dec. 19 for First-Class Mail for those holiday cards and very small packages weighing up to 13 ounces. Rates start at 47 cents.
  • Dec. 21 for Priority Mail (delivery in 1-3 days, depending on how far it’s going). Rates start at $6.45.
  • Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express (overnight shipping). Rates start at $22.95.

More information on international shipping is available on the Postal Service website.

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines

If you’re shipping your packages using FedEx, here are the last days to use the company’s various shipping service to make sure they arrive by Dec. 25.

  • Dec. 12: FedEx SmartPost (note that this option does not provide “day-definite” delivery; usually takes between two to seven business days to ship).
  • Dec. 16: FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground
  • Dec. 20: FedEx Express Saver
  • Dec. 21: FedEx 2 Day and 2 Day A.M.
  • Dec. 22: FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight
  • Dec. 23: FedEx SameDay City (Standard)
  • Dec. 25: FedEx SameDay City (Priority) and FedEx SameDay

Get specific rates and transit times on the FedEx website.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines

Prefer UPS? Here are the last days to ship using the company’s various services to make sure your packages arrive by Dec. 25:

  • Dec. 19 if you’re using UPS 3 Day Select
  • Dec. 20 if you ship with UPS 2nd Day Air
  • Dec. 22 using UPS Ground (depending on origin/destination); UPS 2nd Day Air (with Saturday delivery)
  • Dec. 23 if you use UPS Next Day Air Packages (with Saturday delivery)
  • Dec. 24 if you use UPS Express Critical

Get specific rates on the UPS website.

Dates for military mail

Planning to send a holiday care package or gifts to a loved one serving in the military? Here are all the dates you need to know. Keep in mind some dates have already passed.

Holiday dates for military mail
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Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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