If you are shopping online for your Christmas gifts, there is one thing that you must be aware of: the various shipping companies including the United States Postal Service have a variety of deadlines that must be considered when placing your order and choosing your shipment options. Throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas, there are dates to keep in mind. Those dates change annually, thus the ones we have featured here are for 2012 only.
United States Postal Service
Priority mail must be sent out by Dec. 3 for Christmas arrival abroad. Eight days later the international express mail deadline kicks in. For military members, you have until Dec. 17 to ship mail and packages for Christmas arrival. Most remaining international shipping for Christmas arrival takes place on Dec. 19.
Parcel post packages can still get where they’re going on time if shipped by Dec. 14. First class mail can be sent as late as Dec. 20 and arrive no later than Christmas Eve. The deadline for priority mail this year is Dec. 21 and for express mail it is Dec. 22.
Private package delivery company FEDEX will get packages to your destination on or before Christmas when select deadlines are followed. FEDEX does not deliver mail, but they do send packages worldwide.
Within the United States, but not including Puerto Rico, home delivery and FedEx ground deadlines are on Dec. 17. Express Saver is Dec. 19, 2-Day is Dec. 20, and standard, priority and first overnight is Dec. 22. Same day service on Christmas Day is still available.
The United Parcel Service states that packages sent by UPS 2nd Day Air picked up on Dec. 20 will arrive on Dec. 24. Next Day Air packages picked up on Dec. 21 will also arrive on Dec. 24.
A pickup service for scheduled pickup account customers for air and international shipments if arranged in advance can be completed on Dec. 21 for delivery on Christmas Eve. On-Call Pickup and drop boxes are also available. UPS does not deliver packages on Christmas Day, but does offer express critical services for urgent packages.
Customers shopping online must realize that two things should be considered when buying a gift late and desiring shipment in time for Christmas.
1. The assumption is that the gift item or items you want are in stock. If not, you need to know if part or all of you order is being backordered. If some items are available now, can these be shipped on ahead to arrive in time for Christmas? You may be charged separate shipping to split your order, something that you will want to determine when placing your order.
2. You know that later shipping incurs much higher costs. The closer you get to a holiday, the more it will cost you to ship your items. Do not expect that the standard shipping charges found on your retailer’s website apply. Instead, you should be given some options on how to get you package delivered as quickly as possible for the lowest possible price. Keep in mind that your retailer may only deal with the USPS and one of the shipping companies, but perhaps not both.
Most online retailers post deadline information right online. You may a general cut off date for Christmas delivery along with expanded options for later shipment at a greater cost. Whatever option you choose, ask your retailer for shipment information so that you can track your order. The last thing you want is a package that has arrived at central processing near your home but is not deliverable due to the lateness of the day. In this case you may be able to pick up the package with your receipt in hand.