2019 holiday shipping guide: The deadlines and shipping changes you need to know

If you’re planning to ship packages this holiday season, be prepared for some changes in where and how you can drop off items — and some quickly approaching deadlines.

You will no longer be able to take individually stamped packages that are more than half an inch thick and/or weigh more than 10 ounces and drop them off in blue U.S. Postal Service boxes, building mail chutes or post office mail slots. You’ll need to go to a retail counter or use a self-service kiosk to purchase a postage label. The Postal Service said the change is being made for safety reasons.

As for deadlines, for the most economical of options — USPS Retail Ground service — you have until Dec. 14 to get your package in the mail in order to see it delivered by Christmas.

For First-Class Mail service, including greeting cards, you can procrastinate a bit more — the deadline is Dec. 20. The deadline for Priority Mail service is Dec. 21. Shipping to military bases around the world have earlier deadlines. (See all the USPS deadlines below.)

If you plan to head to the post office, be warned. The Postal Service said starting the week of Dec. 9, customer traffic is expected to increase, with the week of the Dec. 16-22 predicted to be the busiest week for shipping, mailing and deliveries.

USPS shipping deadlines

Dec. 9 — APO/FPO/DPO (ZIP code 093 only) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail

Dec. 11 — APO/FPO/DPO (all other ZIP codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail services

Dec. 14 — USPS Retail Ground service

Dec. 18 — APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express service

Dec. 20 — First-Class Mail service (including greeting cards)

Dec. 20 — First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)

Dec. 21 — Priority Mail service

Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express service

See more details on the USPS website.

UPS shipping deadlines

UPS has also released a list of the recommended last days to ship packages to make sure they arrive by Christmas Eve.

Dec. 13 — Shipping via UPS Ground

Dec. 19 — UPS 3-Day Select

Dec. 20 — UPS 2nd Day Air

Dec. 23 — UPS Next Day Air

The above dates are for domestic shipping. You can see international shipping deadlines on the UPS website.


Here are the last days to ship packages via FedEx to ensure they reach their destination by Christmas.

Dec. 9 — FedEx SmartPost (some exceptions apply)

Dec. 16 — FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground

Dec. 19 — FedEx Express Saver

Dec. 20 — FedEx 2Day

Dec. 23 — FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx First Overnight

Dec. 25 — FedEx Same Day, SameDay City Priority, and SameDay City Direct

The above dates are for shipping within the U.S. See the FedEx website for international shipping options.

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