Holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, UPS and FedEx

(Photo Getty Images)

If you want your holiday gift packages to reach loved ones by Christmas, here are essential shipping deadlines to keep in mind.

United States Post Office

For shipping through the U.S. Post Office, here are the recommended send by dates for expected delivery before Dec. 25.

Domestic Mail Class/Product Dates (excluding Alaska* & Hawaii**)

  • Dec. 15: USPS Retail Ground Service
  • Dec. 17: First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 17
  • Dec. 18: Priority Mail Service
  • Dec. 23: Priority Mail Express Service

For Alaska, Ground Service must be shipped by Dec. 2. First Class and Priority mail service by Dec. 18, and Priority Mail Express by Dec. 21.

For Hawaii, First Class and Priority Mail Service must be shipped by Dec. 17 and Priority Mail Express by Dec. 21. There is no Retail Ground service available. Actual delivery date may vary depending on origin and destination.

The Post Office also has a full list of holiday shipping deadlines for international and military mail.

Stephen Doherty, spokesman for the USPS, said USPS expects more than 12 billion letters, cards and parcels to be processed and shipped through the Post Office between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

“We’ve got everything in place. We do this every day,” Doherty said.

Last year saw a record number of holiday packages crisscrossing the country as the pandemic forced more people to order gifts online. Because of the volume, there were many complaints of slow service. Doherty admitted the Post Office wasn’t prepared.

“Last year was a wakeup call for us,” said Doherty. “The parcel volumes were far beyond what anyone expected.”

The Post Office is expecting to deliver 35% more daily packages during this holiday season than last year. Doherty said the Post Office is ready to meet the increased demand. USPS has hired  an extra 40,000 seasonal workers, and have added extra mail facilities and new equipment to handle additional packages.

Click here for a printable list of USPS holiday shipping deadlines (PDF).

UPS and FedEx

UPS and Fed Ex are gearing up for peak seasons as well.

UPS recommended holiday ship dates

  • Dec. 21: UPS 3 Day Select
  • Dec. 22: UPS 2nd Day Air Service
  • Dec. 23: UPS Next Day Air Service

Click here for UPS’ operation schedule during the holidays (PDF).

Fed Ex recommended holiday ship dates

  • Dec. 15: FedEx Ground for Contiguous U.S., Alaska and Hawaii
  • Dec. 24: FedEx Express Same Day ($$$)

Click here for a printable list of FedEx’s recommended holiday ship dates (PDF).

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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