UPS, FedEx, USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines Draw Near

USPS said the week of Dec. 13 will be its busiest of the holiday mailing and shipping season. (montego666/Getty Images)

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Santa can’t offer online tracking on his gift deliveries.

Thankfully, a few of his big helpers — FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service and UPS — do, along with overnight delivery and other assurances for your holiday gifts.

The nation’s three largest package carriers released their 2021 holiday shipping deadlines in October, which are the recommended last days to ship gifts. The dates are almost identical to 2019 and 2020 deadlines.

Retailers’ shipping deadlines for online orders vary, and many stores will offer curbside and in-store pickup through Christmas Eve.

In a statement Dec. 13, USPS said this week is expected to be the busiest of the holiday mailing and shipping season, with nearly 2.3 billion pieces of mail, including greeting cards and packages, expected to be processed and delivered.

“Now is the time to mail your holiday greetings and packages to make sure they reach their intended destination in time for holiday gatherings and celebrations,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement.

Packages move along a conveyor belt while being sorted for delivery at the FedEx regional hub at Los Angeles International Airport Dec. 7. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Dec. 15 is the last day for ground delivery with FedEx and USPS. UPS recommends using its website to get an estimate.

Deadlines for the three major carriers:


The following are the recommended last days for shipping gifts domestically for Dec. 24 delivery. Ground: Check the UPS website for a quote. 3-Day Select: Tuesday, Dec. 21. 2nd Day Air: Wednesday, Dec. 22. Next Day Air: Thursday, Dec. 23.

Note: UPS says its service guarantee is suspended on most packages until further notice, but it is has made some “operational adjustments,” which include extending delivery commitment times for UPS Next Day Air from 10:30 a.m. to noon.


The following are the last days to ship gifts within the U.S. FedEx Home Delivery, FedEx Ground: Wednesday, Dec. 15. FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight: Tuesday, Dec. 21. FedEx 2Day: Wednesday, Dec. 22. FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours: Thursday, Dec. 23. FedEx SameDay: Friday, Dec. 24.


USPS notes that most shipping deadlines are not a guarantee and the dates are for estimated delivery before Dec. 25. Here are the recommended “send-by dates for expected delivery” before Dec. 25 in the 48 contiguous states. Retail Ground: Wednesday, Dec. 15. First-Class Mail: Friday, Dec. 17. Priority Mail: Saturday, Dec. 18. Priority Mail Express: Thursday, Dec. 23.

UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp. rank No. 1 and 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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