Specific USPS Question About DPO Addresses
January 19, 2021 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to send mail to a DPO address from outside the US?

Scenario: you live in, let's say, Japan. You want to send a piece of mail to someone with a US diplomatic address: this person lives outside the US in a diplomatic role, let's say in Italy.

Can you pop a letter or parcel in the mail with their DPO address? Would the mail be sent to the US and be re-routed to the diplomatic address, or can it only be mailed within the US?

The example address on the USPS site is

UNIT 8400 BOX 0000
DPO AE 09498-0048

Could you add USA to the bottom of the address and call it good?

I e-mailed the contact address for DPO queries on this page but haven't heard back.

Firsthand experience very much welcome.
posted by gursky to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Response by poster: Of course, literally 4 minutes after posting this I received a reply from the USPS! The answer is "make sure you put USA under the address". I hope that helps anyone else who ever needs this information.

Any DPO-mailing stories or tips welcome.
posted by gursky at 7:59 AM on January 19

According to Frank's Compulsive Guide to Postal Addresses (a site that I always welcome the opportunity to link to),
APO/FPO/DPO addresses can be used only from the USA or other areas served by the US Post Office, or from other APO/FPO/DPO addresses. Mail from elsewhere to these locations must be addressed through the town, city, and country in which the military or diplomatic installation is located, e.g.:
Embassy of the United States of America
2 Avenue de Mohamed El Fassi

(That is the address given by the embassy, but it should have postal code.) You can always refer to the USPS Postal Bulletin (see References below) published every two weeks to see if APO/FPO/DPO zip codes are valid and refer to the restrictions or limitations on certain articles and sizes of articles that could be prohibited.
On edit: Well, maybe Frank got it wrong. I'll look for further corroboration.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:02 AM on January 19

Best answer: They’re both correct. The USPS response clarified that if the mail is to be sent through DPO, it must enter the United Stated postal system and then be routed to the relevant DPO facility to be sent to the embassy. By adding “USA” to the address, the letter will go through the sender’s local mail to the US and enter the USPS system. This will require whatever international postage one would need to send mail to the US from your international location.

Frank is saying that if one needs to send mail to a US embassy without routing it through the US to go through USPS, it must be sent to the embassy’s physical address. USPS is the only direct entry point into the DPO system.

What route to take depends on how good your local mail service in the sending and receiving countries are, and how urgent or time-sensitive this is. I will note in most cases, embassy mail rooms are much more used to distributing personal mail that arrived through the DPO system, vs that which is sent to an embassy’s physical address.
posted by exutima at 8:27 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I only speak for sending to APO addresses (which are similar) - it is fine it may just take a time as it has to go to a sorting office in the US and the on to the recipient.
posted by Megami at 9:47 AM on January 19

IIRC, DPO, much like FPO or APO, are address aliases, not actual addresses, a bit like a PO BOX. Therefore, only USPS would know where to send it (probably onto a Federal processing site to be forwarded to whatever the actual address is), which makes both correct.

If you are outside the US, you can either force the package to reach the US, then have USPS send it BACK OUT of the US to whichever the embassy physical location is... or you can find out which embassy is and use your local mail system (or courier system) to send stuff there directly.
posted by kschang at 10:07 AM on January 19

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