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Soldiers Overseas

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APO & FPO Addresses Explained

Posted on 7th Feb 2013 @ 2:50 AM

The USPS has a standard addressing scheme for all domestic mail. Many will recognize this as:

Street Number
City, State, ZIP
P.O. Box
City, State ZIP
Rural Delivery
City, State ZIP

In order for Military Mail to conform to this scheme, several things have been created. These are:

Three Military "States":
AA, which stands for Armed Forces (the) Americas
AE, which stands for Armed Forces Europe
AP, which stands for Armed Forces Pacific
  Three "City" equivalents:
APO, which stands for Army Post Office
FPO, which stands for Fleet Post Office
DPO, which stands for Diplomatic Post Office

Based on these, a typical Overseas Military Mail address looks like this:

Postal Service Center + Identifier
          or         Name
Postal Service Center + Identifier

Mail is sorted and travels through one of three outbound centers here in the States.

AA : Miami, FL
AE : New York, NY
AP : San Francisco, CA

Once the Military Mail arrives at the respective mail processing facility, it is further sorted by Postal Service Center, APO/FPO/DPO and ZIP code. After that, the USPS "hands it off" to their Military equivalent in a branch of the Armed Forces after transport via contract air carrier and delivery to the overseas APOs, FPOs, and APOs. For APOs and DPOs, either the Army or Air Force provides personnel. For FPOs, the Navy does the job.

At each APO, FPO, or DPO, there is an equivalent to "a-real-honest-to-goodness-Post Office" staffed by members of the respective branch of service. While the layout of each APO/FPO/DPO varies by location, suffice it to say they look and operate just like a "real" Post Office. In fact, they have to, since we are talking about U.S. Mail. Each APO/FPO/DPO address holder has a mail lock box in which their mail is slotted. Since parcels can't fit in these boxes, delivery or notification slips, just like "real" ones, are put in the boxes whenever a parcel arrives.

With the establishment of the Overseas Military Mail program, three Military States (AA,AE,AP) and three city equivalents (APO, FPO, DPO) were created, along with a specific set of ZIP codes for each Military State. Once these are understood, as well as the flow of packages to and through the mail processing facilities (located in Miami, New York, and San Francisco) which represent the Military States, it is easy to see how confusing all of this can be.

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