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Published: Dec 02, 2021 4 min read
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Holiday shipping deadlines are fast approaching, and if there was ever a year to get a head start on sending packages so delivery is ensured by Dec. 24, it’s 2021.

“This year, all prior experiences go out the window,” Alla Valente, Senior Analyst at Forrester, told Money in an email.

FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service have all released their final shipping deadlines for delivery ahead of the holidays, but Valente notes that the risk of delays on packages sent ahead of those deadlines is still “quite high.”

It's not just your own boxes that might be delayed. Major retailers are also bracing for shipping slowdowns this season, so it's a good idea to order any must-have items on your holiday shopping list as soon as possible.

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All the shipping problems are the result of a number of factors including a snarled global supply chain, which is causing delays at manufacturers and ports, and an ongoing labor shortage that’s making it difficult for retailers and shippers to hire enough help for the holiday season. “Failing to factor for delays and still expecting on-time delivery is in itself, nothing short of a Christmas Miracle,” Valente said.

Here are the final deadlines for the major U.S. shipping options. Just remember: The safest bet is to build a little extra time into your plans to be sure every package makes it under the tree in time.

USPS deadlines

These are the shipping deadlines the U.S. Postal Service recommends in the contiguous U.S. for delivery by Christmas:

  • Ground service: Dec. 15
  • First-Class mail: Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail: Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail Express: Dec. 23

For more information and for deadlines for mail to Alaska and Hawaii and international mail, visit the USPS website.

FedEx deadlines

For delivery by Christmas, FedEx recommends shipping domestic packages by these deadlines:

  • FedEx Ground or Freight (Economy): Dec. 9
  • FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery: Dec. 15.
  • 3Day Freight Service and Express Saver service: Dec. 21
  • Two-day shipping: Dec. 22
  • Overnight service: Dec. 23
  • Same-day service: Dec. 24

You can find the full FedEx holiday schedule, including international deadlines, here.

UPS deadlines

Use these deadlines for delivery by Dec. 24 if you're planning to ship domestic packages via UPS:

  • 3-Day Select shipping: Dec. 21
  • 2nd Day Air service: Dec. 22
  • Next-Day Air service: Dec. 23

You can also check the UPS website to calculate the deadline to ship packages via regular ground service, since the timing will vary depending on your location and your package’s destination.

For shipping deadlines to Canada and Mexico, check out UPS’s full holiday schedule.

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With reporting by Mallika Mitra.

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