An APO address is used for military -- more specifically, Army or Air Force -- mail. If you want to send something to military personnel, then you will need to know where and how to send it. APO stands for Army/Air Post Office. Through the APO, US postal services are provided for Armed Forces personnel as well as Department of Defense civilians, including their family members.
Three Military Post Offices
There are three military post offices, and all of them adhere to regular USPS rules and federal laws. The "city" abbreviation APO is used for the Air Force and Army, the Fleet post office (or FPO), serves the Coast Guard and Marines while the DPO serves as a Diplomatic post office.
Three Military "States"
There are three "states" used in military mail, and each is dependent on where the recipient is physically located:
AA: Armed Forces Americas AE: Armed Forces Europe AP: Armed Forces Pacific
APO AA mail goes through Miami, APO AE mail goes through New York City and APO AP mail goes through San Francisco. Zip codes similar to these areas are used when sending mail.
How to Send Mail to an APO Address
Once you know the general format, it is easy to use an APO address. Overseas military mail conforms to the standards of US Mail procedures, and standard APO addresses look something like this:
Brady Smith Unit 3445 Box 147 APO, AP 96278-1479
Once you have the APO address listed on your package it is sent to its chosen military "state" facility. Then the mail is handed off to contracted air carriers to be taken to the base where it belongs.
How Recipients Receive Mail
Once the mail makes it overseas, there is a post office set up at each APO. Each APO address holder has a lock box in which they receive mail or notices of packages. These facilities work just like the post offices in the States; personnel can receive gifts, packages, letters and even Internet orders.
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