We just got another APO question e-mailed this week–very timely with with Veteran’s Day coming up–so it made sense to bring back this article from 2018.
If you’re deployed in the military, you’re intimately familiar with the strengths and limitations of APO/FPO addresses. You get international shipping at domestic rates, provided you use USPS, adhere to additional regulations–and your e-commerce retailer even wants to get involved with special shipments and customs forms.
At Flatbike, we’ve shipped to APO, FPO, APO forwarding service, and even general delivery for someone touring in an RV with no permanent address. We understand deployments. And a CHANGE bike just may be the best way to ship any bike overseas–folding or not.
APO/FPO: The rules
For a package to ship to an APO/FPO address, it needs to either be under 108 linear inches (for Priority Mail) or 130 inches (for Parcel Select). Priority Mail takes up to three weeks to arrive; Parcel Select takes 6-8 weeks (but according to an expert I talked to, larger packages have a higher delivery success rate).
All packages must also be accompanied by a #2976 customs form.
Shipping a CHANGE bike vs. any other bike
All CHANGE full-size folding bikes ship in a box that’s 35″ x 15″ x 30″. By USPS calculations, that’s 35″ length plus a girth of 90″, for a total of 125″ linear inches–well within the limits for Parcel Select.
For non-folding full-size bikes, there is literally no standard bike box size. Bike shipping box sizes depend on the bike manufacturer, and may or may not fit under 130 inches. And the smaller the box it’s packed into, the more re-assembly you’ll need to do at your destination, including both wheels and fork.
Not for CHANGE bikes. For re-assembly, CHANGE bikes require you to re-attach the handlebar to the stem with four bolts. Everything else (front wheel, seat post, pedals) is just quick release that can be done in seconds. The most time-consuming task might be simply removing the protective foam pads!
Beyond APO: Forwarding services
When you’re deployed, there’s nothing like someone stateside looking out for you. That’s where APO forwarding companies like ShipitAPO and APObox come in. They give their military subscribers a physical mailing address that can be used with any mailing service. So even if your e-commerce merchant ships everything by FedEx or UPS, you can get it to your APO address (as long as it’s less than 130″).
And there’s more. That lower delivery success rate for smaller boxes? That’s often due to small packages that proudly display their contents as an irresistible new iPhone or laptop computer, prime for the taking. How to protect against that in transit to another country?
I talked about this with John Couch, manager at ShipitAPO. His company actually stealth-wraps enticing packages so they are less prone to theft, offers lithium battery compliance services, and more. After nearly 20 years in the business of serving active duty military, they’ve seen it all (including, amazingly, “Can you ship a puppy to Japan?”)
Your next bike? Or just the pedals and stem?
And if you already have a full-size bike but need to flatten it more for tighter storage, check our our line of folding stems and pop-off pedals.
Thanks for your service!
Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.