How to send mail to APO addresses

Service members stationed throughout the country and overseas appreciate receiving letters and care packages from family and friends. Spending every day focusing on military tasks, particularly in an unfamiliar country, can be lonely, making contact from family and friends extra special. There are proper steps to follow when addressing your letter or package to send to a military personnel member. Following these steps ensures your package will arrive safely to its destination. While addressing a letter to an APO address is different from sending to a regular mailing address, once you learn how to do it the process is simple.

Set your letter or package on your work surface. Position it so the side on which you will write the mailing address and return address is face up.

Write the rank and full name of the person you're sending the letter to in the centre of the letter.

Write the recipient's postal service centre and box number on the second line, beneath the rank and name. The military postal service centre is similar to a civilian U.S. post office and the box number is the same as that of a civilian's post office box number. Follow the example below, but replace the "A" with the service member's unit number and the "B" with the correct box number.

CPL Jane Smith Unit A Box B

Complete the APO address with three additional identifiers. The identifiers will serve to let both the civilian and military post offices know, first, which military post office to send the package to, and, next, the specific location of the recipient, by way of the military state and postcode.

Choose "APO" (Air/Army Post Office) or "FPO" (Fleet Post Office). The FPO serves mainly Navy personnel and other service members at sea, while the APO serves those stationed on land. Write APO or FPO at the beginning of the third line of the address.

Select "AA" for Armed Forces Americas, "AE" for Armed Forces Europe or "AP" for Armed Forces Pacific. Packages and letters are sent, accordingly, to these "military" states through Miami, New York and San Francisco. Write the appropriate military state code on the third line, after "APO".

Complete the third line with the postcode. Find the correct zip code by way of the U.S. post office or Army Post Office. Appropriate zip codes begin with 09 for New York, 34 for Miami and 96 for San Francisco.

Complete the third line of your APO address so it looks like this: APO, AE 09510 (replace the three identifiers with the appropriate identifiers for your letter's recipient).

Write your return address on the same side of the package as the mailing address, in the upper lefthand corner of the package.

Place the proper amount of postage in the upper righthand corner of the package. Ask a postal clerk to weigh your envelope or package to determine the correct amount of postage needed to send.


Use permanent ink when addressing your envelope or package. Pencil or washable marker may wash off in the rain, making your package undeliverable.


Mail sent to "Any Service Member" is no longer accepted by the military. Use the full name of a known military service member so your mail is not returned as undeliverable.

Things You'll Need

  • Letter or package
  • Permanent ink writing utensil
  • Postage
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.