2020 holiday shipping guide: Deadlines for USPS, UPS and FedEx

Deadlines are approaching for anyone sending holiday cheer to their friends or loved ones — and owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 holiday season could be especially troublesome when it comes to on-time arrivals.

The major shipping services don’t actually have hard cutoffs for holiday packages — only recommended ship-by dates based on their estimates of shipping volume for November and December.

But with Black Friday around the corner and millions forgoing in-person gift giving due to the pandemic, retailers and carriers are preparing for an online shopping season that could overload couriers.

“We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ship-a-thon,” Brie Carere, chief marketing and communications officer at FedEx, told The Associated Press. “Like everything else in 2020, this is going to be an unprecedented peak season. We’ve actually seen three years of growth in e-commerce pulled forward. So we are expecting a ton of volume.”

Simply put, don’t procrastinate. Dates below are for domestic parcels only; be sure to check your preferred service’s website for any international or military shipping needs.

USPS shipping deadlines

Dec. 15 — USPS Retail Ground Service
Dec. 18 — First-Class Mail Service
Dec. 19 — Priority Mail Service
Dec. 23 — Priority Mail Express Service

Recommended shipping dates for military and overseas destinations are available online. Click here to add USPS holiday shipping dates to your personal calendar.


Dec. 15 — UPS Ground
Dec. 21 — UPS 3 Day Select
Dec. 22 — UPS 2nd Day Air
Dec. 23 — UPS Next Day Air

UPS is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. UPS Express Critical service is still available.


Dec. 9 — FedEx SmartPost (certain exceptions may apply)
Dec. 15 — FexEx Ground and Home Delivery
Dec. 21 — FedEx Express Saver
Dec. 22 — FedEx 2 Day
Dec. 23 — FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight and First Overnight
Dec. 25 — FedEx SameDay, SameDay City Priority and SameDay City Direct

For more services, including international shipping, see FedEx’s website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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