Shipping Deadlines: Mail Early for a Happy and Stress-Free Holiday Season

Get your gifts, cards and packages mailed early to make the most of the seasonal celebrations.

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Early does it, is the message from the U.S. Postal Service, FedEX and UPS, if you want your holiday gifts and cards arriving on time for Christmas.

"Timing is everything, especially when it comes to shipping holiday items," said the Postal Service in a statement.

They noted that the busiest time of the season for the USPS begins two weeks before Christmas, the Postal Service issued deadline dates for the holiday surge and urged customers to ship early for targeted arrive-by dates.

It’s expected that customer traffic at all Post Office locations will steadily increase during the holidays, according to a statement released by the company.

The week of Dec. 12 is anticipated to be the busiest mailing, shipping and delivery week of the season.

Whether shopping and shipping online or by in-store purchases, the key to getting ahead of the holiday surge is getting your packages, cards and gifts to your preferred shipping location as soon as you can.

Here are the major deadlines for the USPS, FedEx and UPS:

US Postal Service*

  • Dec. 17 — USPS retail ground service
  • Dec. 17 — First-class mail service (including greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17 — First-class packages
  • Dec. 19 — Priority Mail 
  • Dec. 22 — Priority Mail Express

*International and military deadlines are earlier; see the USPS website here, for a complete list.


  • December 12: Ground & freight economy
  • December 14: Ground & home delivery
  • December 20: Express Saver
  • December 21: 2Day & 2Day-AM
  • December 22: Overnight services
  • December 23: Same-day services

For more options including international dates, see the full FedEx list here.


  • December 20: 3-Day Select
  • December 21: 2nd day air services
  • December 22: Next-day air services
  • For ground shipping, UPS recommends checking the website for a quote.

For the full chart of UPS options, including international shipping, click here.

Dates noted are for domestic service only. Service hours may vary for Alaska and Hawaii in all cases. 

Visit each site for international deadlines and service hours during the holidays.

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