Following deadlines, observing rules key to smooth postal holiday season

Chris Wells, Rhine Ordnance Barracks postal clerk, processes holiday mail for a customer at the ROB postal operations center, Nov. 18.

Santa isn’t the only one delivering presents this holiday season. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz postal operations centers are assisting Santa by sending packages from Germany to areas around the world.

This year’s holiday postal deadlines for packages going to the United States are quickly approaching. The recommended mailing deadlines for packages going to the U.S. are:

  • Nov. 27 – Retail ground mail
  • Dec. 11 – First class letters and cards /Priority parcels
  • Dec. 18 – Express Mail

The deadline for packages coming from the U.S. to Germany are:

  • Dec. 11 – First class letters and cards /Priority parcels
  • Dec. 18 – Express Mail

To have a speedier trip at the post office, Scott Hamilton, garrison postal superintendent, said preparation is key before you arrive at the post office.

“It is important to come to the Post Office prepared when shipping your packages,” said Hamilton.

“Please fill out your customs paperwork at home online and bring a printed copy with you. Not having this form completed creates a backlog of customers trying to ship their packages and will slow you down.”

The post office is still looking for seasonal employees at Baumholder, Kleber, Landstuhl, and Sembach. Please contact your local post office for more information.

The U.S. Postal Service also has online services to prepay shipping costs.

“You can use Click-N-Ship or our sanctioned business partners and to pay for packages,” said Hamilton. “Coming to the finance window with the items pre-paid is a faster and easier process.”

Before packing your items, you must first make sure they follow all customs and Army post office regulations. Do not send or receive the following items:

  • Alcohol, coffee and tobacco products
  • Ammunition, firearms and fireworks
  • Counterfeit items
  • Kinder eggs
  • Medication (including over-the-counter, vitamins and nutritional supplements)
  • Plant products, for example items like mushrooms and onions
  • Poultry, meat and milk products and products containing their bi-products
  • Unconstitutional literature

“The most common incoming violation we see are packages containing supplements,” said Jesse Bond, U.S. Army customs inspector. “This includes protein powders, pre-workout products, dietary supplements, melatonin and natural nutritional supplements”

Dog and cat food containing poultry, meat or milk bi-products are also a violation of customs regulations.

“We often see people getting pet food sent to their APO,” said Bond. “These items, especially cat food, contain meat and poultry bi-products. This is the same for items like beef jerky and soups. Please tell the person sending you packages that you cannot receive items that have poultry, meat or milk or their bi-products.”

Coffee is a rationed item but regulation allows you to mail it to the U.S. under certain circumstances.

“Coffee is a rationed item and you cannot receive it through the APO in Germany,” said Bond. “You send coffee back if it was not purchased using your rations, so coffee you buy on the economy can be sent in packages going stateside.”

Per customs regulations, items sent to the U.S. valued at more than $100 are subject to duty and customs processing fees that only the recipient can pay.

A popular holiday gift are wooden nativity scenes. Customs regulations state that wooden items containing moss, bark, wood and untreated straw are restricted items that cannot be sent to the U.S.

“Nativity scenes that are made of finished wood, plastic or have straw that is lacquered or commercially cleaned are able to be sent,” said Bond. “Items that contain natural wood or moss can contain insects that are harmful to the American ecosystem.”

“We want people to have a smooth experience when sending and receiving packages,” said Hamilton. “Please make sure your packages meet all customs regulations and please have your customs form filled out before visiting the post office”