• Project Title:
  • Military and Diplomatic Mail Service
  • Start Date:
  • Monday, November 5, 2018
  • Estimated Report Release Date:
  • June 2019

The Postal Service partners with the Department of Defense and the Department of State to deliver mail to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and their families either in the continental U.S. or outside.

The Postal Service’s ability to help facilitate high-quality mail service is crucial for supporting military and diplomatic operations and upholding the Postal Service’s brand and image. If you have experiences with military and/or diplomatic mail service, we would love to hear from you.

  • Overall, were your experiences positive or negative when using the Postal Service for military and/or diplomatic mail service?
  • In instances where you had negative experiences:

           - What types of mailings did they involve – e.g., domestic, international inbound (coming into the U.S), or international outbound (going out of the U.S.)?  
           - What issues caused the negative experiences – e.g., delayed mail, missing mail, or damaged mail, below expected customer service, or something else?

  • What things, if any, could the Postal Service do to enhance its military and/or diplomatic mail service?

Comments (233)

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  • anon

    Multiple other posters also brought up issues about loose-load boxes, and how they contribute to misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail. We are going to look at these issues as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    We are lucky to enjoy DPO services, in addition to the diplomatic pouch here at Embassy Jakarta. However, Jakarta’s DPO receives an excessive number of loose-load boxes, which should be bagged in the USPS processing facility. The high number of loose boxes cause problems with the Indonesian Customs officials. Please encourage the USPS processing center to ensure boxes being sent to DPOs that can fit in a bag are actually sent in bags, as opposed to loose, in order to reduce the high level of misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Erin, thanks for your posting, particularly your suggestion. As we are looking at misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail, we will include some questions regarding loose boxes as part of our audit work. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    At Embassy Jakarta our DPO receives a lot of loose boxes which should be bagged in the USPS processing facility. This cause problems with the Indonesian Customs officials and results in many, many damaged boxes. Please encourage the USPS processing center to ensure boxes being sent to DPOs that can fit in a bag are actually sent in bags (not loose), so as to reduce the high level of misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Thanks for the posting, and as we noted in our reply to the prior poster, we will be looking at these issues as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    When DPO mail runs smoothly it is great but when it doesn't it is a bottomless pit of "sorry, can't help you." I've been at post for 6 months and have had 4 packages misrouted. In every case the address was accurate and clear on the label. Packages routinely arrive badly damaged with items open or missing. The Click'n'Ship website is very buggy and trying to create the mandatory customs form is almost impossible. I've had several occasions where it was just impossible to send a package because I couldn't generate a customs form and the DPO office doesn't have paper copies. Every DPO office should have paper copies of required forms. Every DPO office should sell postage is postage is required. Every DPO office should have trained staff capable of responding to damaged package reports.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Thanks for your insights and suggestions, particularly related to DPO operations. We will be looking at delayed mail and Click-N-Ship as part of our review. A team member will be circling back to you for more information. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I am completely serious about this statement. I would quit the foreign service if I didn't have DPO/MPS. Embassy Jakarta's only problem has been handling as of late, the boxes have been getting beaten up more and more lately. Beat up boxes used to be the sole province of Wal-Mart, but now it looks like every vendor's boxes are getting smashed up.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    George, thanks for your note about the importance and value of DPO/MPS service. Other posters have also brought up issues about damaged boxes, and we are going to look at them as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Overall I'm just glad to get my mail here. That said, packages usually arrive quite damaged. Occasionally, torn open with items missing and then resealed. Once another persons package for a different DPO was repackaged inside my larger package. It isn't clear where the packages are being rough handled, but somewhere they are getting a beating.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    David, quite a few postings have brought up damaged mail issues, and we are looking into them as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Having served overseas in the military and now (since 2004) in the State department, I was surprised to see the quality of service decline within the last several months. increasingly, packages I receive are damaged, delayed after being misrouted, or simply have taken longer than usual to arrive at Post. Such delays have resulted in prescription medicine refills arriving after the current supply for a chronic condition have been exhausted, gifts (excluding Christmas) frequently arriving over a week late, and bills arrived almost after the pay due date. The lack of stamps being available and unreliability of Clik-n-Ship to process my credit card has paid shipping packages problematic.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Enrique, thanks for your insights, and sorry for the multitude of issues. We are looking into them as part of our review, and a team member will be circling back to you for more information. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Jakarta’s DPO receives an excessive number of loose-load boxes, which should be bagged in the USPS processing facility. The high number of loose boxes cause problems with the Indonesian Customs officials, causing multi-week-long delays in customs officials releasing mail to embassy personnel. Please encourage the USPS processing center to ensure boxes being sent to DPOs that can fit in a bag are actually sent in bags, as opposed to loose, in order to reduce the high level of misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    William, please see the prior reply, as it addresses the same issue. The Audit Team.

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Jakarta’s DPO receives an excessive number of loose-load boxes, which should be bagged in the USPS processing facility. The high number of loose boxes cause problems with the Indonesian Customs officials. Please encourage the USPS processing center to ensure boxes being sent to DPOs that can fit in a bag are actually sent in bags, as opposed to loose, in order to reduce the high level of misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Multiple other posters also brought up issues about loose-load boxes, and how they contribute to misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail. We are going to look at these issues as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    First and foremost, I love the USPS. Great value, dedicated employees. From Connecticut to Florida to Hawaii. It amazes me how much product is processed and delivered so quickly. I have limited experience here at the embassy in Indonesia but I would like to add the following statement: Jakarta’s DPO receives an excessive number of loose-load boxes, which should be bagged in the USPS processing facility. The high number of loose boxes cause problems with the Indonesian Customs officials. Please encourage the USPS processing center to ensure boxes being sent to DPOs that can fit in a bag are actually sent in bags, as opposed to loose, in order to reduce the high level of misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Joe, thanks for the posting and the appreciation of USPS. Multiple other posters also brought up issues about loose-load boxes, and how they contribute to misrouted, damaged, and delayed mail. We are going to look at these issues as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    DPO is better than Diplomatic Pouch but inferior to APO/FPO especially in allowable items shipped. Since inception of DPO's, more and more retailers are becoming less willing to ship to DPO's, I would suggest this is because of the increased amount of products pilfered during shipment and or the damage to vendor products during shipment requiring return. The issues of damage and pilferage in DPO's seems to be increasing over time. DPO's by far have a greater percentage of items that disappear, otherwise shown as shipped but never show up and packages that have been mishandled and damaged, arriving to customer like they were thrown out the side of a plane. Hands down, the best method of shipping I have had overseas in the Foreign Service was through the FPO and APO's. Compared to the diplomatic pouch the DPO is currently marginally better but is degrading in retailers willing to ship, service and reliability as measured over time.

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    Thanks for your insights, particularly the differences between the various service options. We are looking at the issues you raised during our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    My experience is positive for the most part but there have been occasions where I have ordered items that are allowed in DPO mail and they have arrived in boxes that have been crushed and even opened, re-taped, and repackaged. This wasn't a case of poor packaging but of not handling a properly-packaged item with care. I am very grateful for, and heavily depend upon the DPO system. Being able to order things we need abroad online that are simply not available at Post is more than a convenience-- for children with special needs/challenges or dietary restrictions, it is almost a requirement to be able to be posted abroad in certain countries. However, multiple times the mail was sent to the wrong country first and I had to wait an additional month for delivery to the right country. This is inconvenient when holidays are approaching. Additionally, why does DPO have to cover stamps and pay for letters home when FPO/APO gets it for free?

    Feb 12, 2019
  • anon

    AF&N Section Chief, thanks for your insights and for your appreciation of the DPO service. Many other commenters have posted on issues with damaged, misrouted, and delayed mail, and we are going to look at them as part of our review. While we are not covering DPO rates and fees as part of this project, we’ll keep it in mind for future audit work. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    My son is currently in the United States Airforce as an active duty Airman serving in Guam. At the age of 18 right after basic training, he was sent to Guam for his first assignment and will be there for two years. He left for Guam on 12-23-2017. This year was his first year away from family at Christmas time. It was a hard year for everyone, but especially him. His grandparents, his dad and I and his brothers all put together a really nice care package for him and sent it to him on 11/27/2018 to ensure he would have some presents to open on Christmas. I put a tracking number on the package and alerted my son it was on it's way. His job for the airforce is Air Transporation. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas our son said he worked at least 60 hour weeks flying all over delivering care packages to small islands, etc... near Guam to those in need for the holidays. Some days he said he woud be in flight for up to 16 hours. It was also a very busy time, because those solders with families also wanted to get home to see their families, so the airstrip where he works was very busy. I was alerted that his package arrived in Guam on Dec 19th and I sent my son a text to let him know. He was working nights then and didn't get to the post office until Dec 22nd. By then the post office had already sent the package pack because my son hadn't checked his mail for a month. What a stupid rule. He is busy delivering care packages to those in need all over the country and his "care package" gets sent back. At Christmas time when these soldiers and Airman are getting packages, maybe your post office workers could take a minute or two to find out if these folks are on the island and not send their package back. Now the package is lost and I haven't received it back, so who knows where it is now. And now I have to fill out a bunch of paperwork and maybe I'll get some of my money back. Or more than likely I wont. So disappointing. This is how your military folks are treated.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Michelle, thanks for the posting and I’m so very sorry for your bad experience. A team member will be circling back to you for more information. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Having served at posts that have DPOs and those that don't, I can say that having a DPO is absolutely essential to the morale of officers serving there. The inability to be able to mail things back to the U.S. bigger than a VHS tape (without DPO) is really awful, especially when you are serving far away from loved ones. And the limits of getting things through the personal pouch are really demoralizing. My experience with DPO has been mostly positive, but there have been occasions where I have ordered items that are allowed in DPO mail and they have arrived in boxes that have been crushed and even opened and repackaged. In one case, a plastic bottle holding a 90-day supply of medication was crushed, and the pills broke and spilled out everywhere. This wasn't a case of poor packaging but of not handling a properly-packaged item with care. Also, I have had lots of issues with Click-n-Ship not accepting my U.S. credit card. USPS really needs to fix this.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    PM, thanks for your insights. Many other commenters have also posted on issues with the mailing restrictions, damaged mail, Click-N-Ship, and we are going to look at them as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I am very grateful for, and heavily depend upon the DPO system. Being able to order things we need abroad online that are simply not available at Post is more than a convenience-- for children with special needs/challenges or dietary restrictions, it is almost a requirement to be able to be posted abroad in certain countries. There are two specific areas I see for improvement: the first being the challenge with sending OUTGOING mail from a DPO address to the United States. Using click and ship to fill out mandatory online customs forms and pay for shipping has been a horrendous and frustrating experience. The online customs form on click and ship regularly rejects my USAA credit card (which has our DPO address as my return address) requiring an actual overseas phone call and multiple emails to fix. In the end, I did not successfully mail a single Christmas gift home to my family in the US because our amazing mail room employees could not get click and ship to accept my USAA credit card and our pay/print machine was out of business. Similarly, I have wasted a lot of money being unable to return items sent via Amazon or online because of the challenges associated with trying to fill out click and ship. None of us at post fully understand why we cannot just fill out a paper customs form to put on packages, the way they are mailed TO us at a DPO address. The second issue I am not sure if the USPS is able to fix-- the strange restrictions on certain items that are noted as "unable to ship to DPO" when they are NOT restricted items. Often you will try to order a dried food good, non-liquid, non-electronic and be told that the item is restricted from shipping to a DPO location. Is there a way for USPS to educate online retailers (such as Amazon) about legitimate USPS restrictions. In conclusion: PLEASE GET RID OF CLICK AND SHIP. Thank you!

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Jill, many other commenters have also posted on issues with the mailing restrictions and Click-N-Ship, and we are going to look at them as part of our review. Thanks for your posting, the Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Embassy Kigali has been trying to get a DPO, and there is some sort of disconnect. In 2018 we had several airlines asking us for more business, but according to USPS not a single airline bid to carry DPO mail to/from Kigali. It made no sense. It has (so far) delayed our starting a DPO by one year. For DPOs, USPS needs to better explain how the bidding process works so we can give airlines a heads up.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Roger, thanks for your posting. While we are not looking at the bidding process as part of our review, we will consider it during our future work. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I am very grateful to have the DPO and pouch service, but many of my packages have been misrouted and taken months to arrive. I have also had a couple of packages shipped back to me months later instead of shipped to the recipient. Medication I was waiting for arrived one month late and there was nothing available locally to replace it.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Kirsten, thanks for your insights. Many other commenters have raised misrouted and delayed mail, and we are looking at this as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Overall my experiences with DPO have been extremely positive. My biggest complaint has been the inability to purchase postage at the DPO location. The USPS website it very buggy and cumbersome to use to purchase postage. And purchasing stamps is FAR too difficult.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Greg, thanks for your posting. While we are not looking at the ability to purchase postage as part of our review, we will consider it during our future work. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Being able to receive and send mail while serving overseas is a much appreciated benefit. I have benefited from this service for many years. However, I am not sure what changed lately that serious delays are becoming normal. Case in point, I had to return my POV license plates to the DMV in Florida once my vehicle was registered at Post. I mailed them through the DPO in October. The package (a large padded envelope) was delayed so much that it resulted in a suspended license for failing to return the plates. I had to then send statements, the tracking history from the USPS, and other paperwork to the DMV to request the driver's license be reinstated, using DHL/FEDEX at a much higher cost. I used the "lost package tracking" in the USPS site and am not sure what it really does as the only messages I started receiving very regularly was a clearly automated reply saying "your package has not been found yet but we are looking". I had forgotten about this when I got a word that the envelope finally arrived at the destination in late May, seven months later. I also mailed an envelope to MD with payments that could not be done on-line. Again, that envelope seemed to be lost and one month later I had to again use DHL/FEDEX to send new checks. The original envelope arrived at its destination little over two months after I had mailed it. Something has to improve in the handling of mail at the distribution hubs. Even with tracking numbers, seems to be that once packages arrive at these hubs any tracking simply stops and the tracking numbers become useless. I could give you other examples but bottom line, the distribution centers are sometimes the black holes of the DPO service.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    MRF, thanks for the detailed posting, and sorry for your multiple delayed mail issues. We are looking at them as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I am posted at an Embassy overseas (DPO), while my husband is deployed to Afghanistan (APO). So far, my experiences with getting items to the DPO have been fantastic, and for the most part, quicker than I had predicted. APO has been a different story - packages sometimes show up quickly, and sometimes take 4 times as long without notice. I mailed a letter that never made it (although a package has never been lost). A second letter was sent out about two weeks ago, so we will see what happens....you shouldn't have to worry that your mail might just not make it when using these services. From what I've witnessed and heard from others, letters seem to be much more unpredictable than packages.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Sofia, thanks for your insights on the service differences between DPOs and APOs. We are looking at delayed mail as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I have had significant amounts of mail (both flat mail and packages) misrouted in the last year, all international outbound, all misdirected despite proper addressing. This includes birthday and Christmas gifts which arrived too late for the respective events. One of the more significant problems is that package tracking reflects that the packages have been delivered once they arrive at the Chicago facility, and are untraceable after that. The U.S. retailers from whom I ordered the items have provided excellent customer service and after several weeks mark the packages lost and refund all charges; however, the items then routinely arrive months late, requiring additional complex transactions to pay for the items again. I also echo the comments about increasing numbers of retailers refusing to ship to DPO addresses (while continuing to ship to APO and FPO). For important items I use a private DPO forwarding service at my own expense, but USPS should explore modifications to the required documentation for DPO shipments to streamline the process and make it easier for vendors to ship items DPO.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Thanks for your suggestion regarding making it easier to ship to DPO. Many other commenters have also posted on this issue, as well as your misrouted mail concerns. We will be looking at both as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    The mail generally works very well; however, some vendors do not ship to DPO or do not accept credit cards unless the billing address is associated with a state, i.e. instead of accepting AE as the state.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Elizabeth, thanks for your insights, which echo that of many other posters. We will be looking at these vendor shipping issues part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I've had mostly good experiences with DPO mail. Most of the time, my packages arrive in Bahrain in less than 2 weeks. Ocassionally, packages are delayed because Chicago mis-routes to the wrong zip code in the Pacific, instead of my address in Bahrain. APO/FPO/DPO mail should be easier to track on the USPS website once it leaves Chicago. Sometimes vendors like Amazon or Newegg will not ship items to an APO/FPO/DPO address, or they charge extra for shipping, because they prefer to ship via other methods besides USPS mail. It would be better if the APO/FPO/DPO mail accepted shipments from UPS, Fedex, DHL and other carriers as well. When our DPO had to quit selling postage, many mail users complained about having to use the buggy Click N Ship website instead. Printing a label directly from Click N Ship almost NEVER works and trying to re-print the screwed up label is problematic. I suggest changing Click N Ship to always save mailing labels to a PDF file as the DEFAULT, and forget about trying to print from within the buggy Click N Ship label program.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Paul, thanks for detailed post, and sorry about those various issues. We are looking at delayed mail, misrouted mail, vendor shipping, and Click-N-Ship as part of our project. A team member will be circling back to you for more information. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Overall very positive experience; though I think some people are abusing it a lot by ordering massive amount of items. USPS could work with vendors to decrease the amount of packaging used.

    Feb 11, 2019
  • anon

    Thanks for the insights and suggestion. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    I agree with others that sometimes things get missent to other places, including a completely different continent than where we are located. Our Amazon packages get completely destroyed because the boxes are half empty and not padded well and the tape does not last a week in transit. The mailroom usually has to retape them for us and other customers. It's probably not all entirely DPO's fault, but the transit destroys them. I think we all wish we could get things faster but considering our locations I am thankful we are able to get things at all!

    Feb 10, 2019
  • anon

    DH, many other posters have echoed your concerns about missent and damaged mail. We are looking at these issues as part of our review. The Audit Team

    Feb 19, 2019
  • anon

    Many of us depend on the pouch for mail order prescriptions. Federal health insurance only allows 90-day prescriptions (I was denied any insurance “ex-patriot” overrides since I should be able to use mail delivery) and the pouch can sometimes take months. Combine that with the government shutdown when mail stopped, and that left me to find asthma medicine on the local economy. Recommend a dialogue with the federal health insurance groups to inform them of the worst possible scenario for delivery times (government shutdown is a way of life now), so they can update their policies as to how many prescriptions you can take overseas. Why do we make this so complicated?

    Feb 10, 2019

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