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Consumer Reports: Holiday shipping deadlines for 2018

Plan ahead to make sure your gifts arrive on time

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If you want all of your holiday gifts to arrive on time this year, you'd better finish your gift shopping soon.

Hanukkah starts on Sunday Dec. 2, which means your gifts should probably be at the U.S. Post Office by now if you want guaranteed delivery by First Class mail service, according to experts at Consumer Reports.

And for Christmas gift-givers, don't be fooled into thinking that Dec. 25 means you have a big cushion. Most major retailers -- and package shippers -- anticipate online shopping will be off the charts this year and place a tremendous strain on package delivery systems this holiday season. 

To ensure your holiday gifts arrive on time, check out the year-end gift-shipping deadline information compiled by Consumer Reports below for FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

And don't forget about Free Shipping Day. Hundreds of online merchants will participate on Dec. 14, offering hundreds of items that will arrive by Christmas Eve.

FedEx

For shipping within the U.S.:

  • Dec. 10: Last day to ship via FedEx SmartPost
  • Dec. 17 : Last day to ship via FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery 
  • Dec. 19: Last day to ship via FedEx Express Saver
  • Dec. 20: Last day to ship via FedEx 2Day and FedEx 2Day A.M.
  • Dec. 21:  Last day to ship via FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, and FedEx First Overnight
  • Dec. 25: Last day to ship via FedEx SameDay City Direct, FedEx SameDay City Priority, and FedEx SameDay

Shipping deadlines for packages headed to Puerto Rico and Canada, Mexico, and other international destinations vary. See the Last Days to Ship page for more information.

MORE: Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central

UPS

For shipping within the U.S.:

  • Dec. 18: Last day to ship UPS 3 Day Select for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24
  • Dec. 19: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24
  • Dec. 20: Last day to ship UPS 2nd Day Air packages for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24
  • Dec. 21: Last day to ship UPS Next Day Air for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24. Note: These packages must be processed and labeled for Saturday Delivery, which isn’t available to all ZIP codes.

In addition to the Saturday Delivery restrictions as noted previously, UPS also warns that some packages and services may require an additional day of transit time. For a more complete assessment of how long it will take for your gift to arrive, check UPS' online shipping time and cost calculator.

For international shipping deadlines and other holiday-related information, such as pick-up and delivery schedules, see the Holiday Shipping with UPS website.

U.S. Postal Service

For mail and package shipping within the continental U.S.:

  • Dec. 14: Last day to send packages Retail Ground
  • Dec. 20: Last day to send packages First Class Mail
  • Dec. 20 Last day to send packages Priority Mail
  • Dec. 22: Last day to send packages Priority Mail Express

For mail and package shipping to Alaska & Hawaii:

  • Dec. 20: Last day to send packages via First Class Mail and Priority Mail services
  • Dec. 22: Last day to send packages via Priority Mail Express

The deadline for shipping packages internationally, including to overseas military bases, varies based on the destination and type of delivery service.

For more information, visit the Holiday Shipping Deadlines section of U.S. Postal Service website.