CHICAGO – Once you’ve picked the perfect presents for the special friends and loved ones on your list, your focus will shift to how to get those gifts delivered before Christmas day, especially if they live out of town.

Shipping your package early is always recommended. But hey, people are busy. Life gets hectic and that’s not always an option, which is why WGN News Now put together this list of important holiday shipping deadlines.

We looked at the country’s three largest shipping carriers, UPS, FedEX and the United States Postal Service (USPS) to get the deadlines you need to prepare for the busy holiday shipping rush.

Now before we get to those all important dates, here are a few essential facts to note about the package itself.

Prepping your package

Make sure your item fits perfectly in the box and is secure so it doesn’t get damaged. You may need to add bubble wrap, newspaper, foam or “peanuts” to the box to tighten the fit. 

Be sure to secure the box flaps with packaging tape to keep it from opening, and pull or scratch off old shipping labels if you’re reusing a box, plus cross out any other logos, or markings related to any type of hazardous materials with a marker.

Use a permanent marker when writing the address on the box, or log onto the carrier’s website and fill out the delivery information so you can print out a label yourself or have them print it for you.

Next you’ll need to take your package in to be weighed and then select which shipping service you’d like to use.


Now if you choose FedEx as the carrier to ship your gifts the deadline for their FedEx SameDay service is Friday Dec. 23 and the deadline for their Ground Economy service is Thursday Dec. 8. If you ship your package via its standard Ground Economy service, the deadline is Wednesday Dec. 14 and if you opt to use its Express Saver you’ll need to do it by Dec. 20. The deadline for 1-Day Freight is Thursday Dec. 22, the 2-Day Freight deadline is Wednesday Dec. 21, and the 3-Day Freight deadline is Tuesday Dec. 20.


If you opt to ship with UPS, they suggest you check their website for a deadline estimate for Ground service because it varies by location. However, the deadline to ship with its 3-Day Select service is Dec. 20, for 2-Day Air it’s Dec. 21 and you’re looking at a Dec. 22 deadline to ship a package via Next Day Air.

U.S. Postal Service

The Postal Service is giving a Dec. 17 deadline for mailing packages via ground and first-class mail service. The deadline for priority mail is Dec. 19 and if you’re really running late, you can ship your package on Dec. 23 via Priority Mail Express.

Military Mail

USPS also has special Military deadlines if you plan on shipping packages to someone serving overseas or domestically. The deadline for First-Class and Priority Mail to Armed Forces of Europe or the Pacific is Dec. 9th, with Dec. 16 as the deadline for Priority Express Mail. As for domestic military mail, the deadline for First-Class packages going to a U.S. address that is non-APO/FPO is Dec. 17, with the Priority Mail deadline set for Dec. 19 and the Priority Express deadline as Dec. 23.

Domestic Military Mail going to Alaska or Hawaii needs to be shipped by Dec. 17 for First-Class and Priority Mail, and Dec. 21 for Priority Express.  

If you plan to send holiday packages to an international destination, all three carriers do offer some form of service with the earliest deadline hitting on Dec. 6 and the latest on Dec. 23. You can see more on that below.

No matter which service you choose, keep in mind the package weight, delivery speed, shipping distance, package size and the shipping service you select will all determine the final delivery costs.

Christmas Shipping Deadlines

FEDEXfor delivery by Sunday, Dec. 25

FedEx SameDay- Friday, Dec. 23FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground – Wednesday, Dec. 14FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours – Thursday, Dec. 22FedEx 2Day – Wednesday, Dec. 21FedEx Express Saver & FedEx 3Day Freight – Tuesday, Dec. 20


FedEx International Next Flight – Friday Dec. 23 (to Canada, Mexico & Puerto Rico)FedEx International First – Thursday Dec. 22 (to Canada)FedEx International First – Wednesday Dec. 21 (to Mexico & Puerto Rico)FedEx International Priority – Saturday Dec. 17 (to Canada)FedEx International Priority – Wednesday Dec. 21 (to Mexico)FedEx International Economy – Friday Dec. 16 (to Canada)FedEx International Economy – Tuesday Dec. 20 (to Puerto Rico)FedEx International Connect Plus – Thursday Dec. 15 (to Canada)

UPSfor delivery by Saturday, Dec. 24:

Ground: see website for an estimate3-Day Select – Tuesday, Dec. 202nd Day Air – Wednesday, Dec. 21Next Day Air – Thursday, Dec. 22Worldwide Expedited – Dec. 19Worldwide Express services (to Canada) – Dec. 22Worldwide Express services (to Mexico) – Dec. 21

*There will be no UPS pickup or delivery service on Sunday Dec. 25 or Monday Dec. 26.


First-Class is for small items that weigh 13 oz or less, and these packages are usually delivered in 1-3 business days.

Priority Mail is for items weighing less than 70 pounds and packages will be delivered in 1-3 business days and USPS offers flat-rate options.

Priority Mail Express is for time-sensitive items and packages are usually delivered the next day or within 2 days.

USPS – for delivery before Sunday Dec. 25 (in continguous U.S.)

First-Class Mail – Saturday, Dec. 17Priority Mail – Monday, Dec. 19Priority Mail Express – Friday, Dec. 23


First-Class & Priority Mail International® Service – Dec. 6 (Asia/Pacific Rim, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Middle East)Nov. 29 (Africa, Central & South America)Priority Mail Express International® Service – Dec. 13 (Asia/Pacific Rim, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Middle East) Dec. 6 (Africa, Central & South America)Global Express Guaranteed® Service – Dec. 20 (Africa, Asia/Pacific Rim, Australia/New Zealand, Central & South America, Middle East)    Dec. 21 (Caribbean, Europe)                                                                  Dec. 22 (Canada, Mexico)


AE ZIPs 090-092    First-Class (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 16AE ZIP 093      First-Class (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Express Mail Military Service: NoneAE ZIP 094-099      First-Class (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 16AE ZIP 340      First-Class (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 16AP ZIPs 962 – 966      First-Class (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Mail: Dec. 9      Priority Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 16Domestic Military Mail (any U.S. address that is not an APO/FPO)     First-Class: Dec. 17      Priority Mail: Dec. 19      Priority Express: Dec. 23Domestic Military Mail to Alaska     First-Class: Dec. 17              Priority Mail: Dec. 17      Priority Express: Dec. 21Domestic Military Mail to Hawaii      First-Class: Dec. 17      Priority Mail: Dec. 17      Priority Express: Dec. 21

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