Updated Dec 13, 2022 - Economy

Time is running out to ship gifts with UPS, FedEx and USPS

Illustration of a Christmas tree made from packages, complete with string lights and a glowing star. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The race to ship Christmas gifts — or order them for delivery — is on with most holiday shipping deadlines earlier than last year.

The big picture: Deadlines from shipping retailers and USPS are the recommended last days to ship gifts in order to have expected delivery before Christmas, but delays can still happen.

  • After the recommended dates, consumers should expect to pay extra for expedited delivery.

What they’re saying: “Delivery reliability has improved since holiday season '21 and '20, but consumers should still give themselves as much buffer as possible to ensure shipments arrive on time,” Robert Gilbreath, ShipStation general manager, told Axios.

Yes, but: Christmas falling on a Sunday and Christmas Eve on a Saturday is one reason most of the shipping cutoffs are a day earlier than in 2021.

  • The holiday being on a Sunday means UPS and the U.S. Postal Service won't deliver on Monday, Dec. 26.

Christmas 2022 shipping deadline dates

Here are the deadlines for the nation’s three largest carriers:

Wednesday, Dec. 14: FedEx Ground

Saturday, Dec. 17: USPS Retail Ground and First-Class Mail

Monday, Dec. 19: USPS Priority Mail

Tuesday, Dec. 20: UPS 3-Day Select, FedEx Express Saver and FedEx 3Day Freight

Wednesday, Dec. 21: UPS 2nd Day Air and FedEx 2Day

Thursday, Dec. 22: UPS Next Day Air, FedEx 1Day Freight and FedEx Extra Hours

Friday, Dec. 23: FedEx SameDay and USPS Priority Mail Express

UPS Christmas shipping deadlines

UPS said these are the recommended last days to ship for Dec. 24 delivery:

  • UPS Ground: Check the UPS website for time estimates.
  • UPS 3-Day Select: Tuesday, Dec. 20
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: Wednesday, Dec. 21
  • UPS Next Day Air: Thursday, Dec. 22

Note: UPS Express Critical service will be available on Dec. 26.

FedEx deadlines for Christmas

FedEx said the following are the 2022 shipping deadlines for holiday packages:

  • FedEx Ground: Wednesday, Dec. 14
  • FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight: Tuesday, Dec. 20
  • FedEx 2Day: Wednesday, Dec. 21
  • FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours: Thursday, Dec. 22
  • FedEx SameDay: Friday, Dec. 23

Between the lines: FedEx said with an optional Saturday delivery surcharge of $16 per package, the “last day to ship can be extended by an additional day to 12/23 for FedEx First Overnight and FedEx Priority Overnight and to 12/22 for FedEx 2Day.”

  • FedEx is open the Monday after Christmas for some of its services, including ground delivery.

USPS Christmas deadlines 2022

The Postal Service lists the following “recommended send-by dates for expected delivery before December 25” on its website:

  • Retail Ground and First-Class Mail: Saturday, Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail: Monday, Dec. 19
  • Priority Mail Express: Friday, Dec. 23
  • Alaska and Hawaii shipping dates: Dec. 17 for first class and priority; Dec. 21 for Priority Mail Express

Free shipping deadlines vary by store

Retailer online shopping cutoff dates for delivery by Christmas vary. But time is running out to get free shipping.

  • Many retailers also offer on-demand delivery with extended time to order.
  • In-store and curbside pickup are other options for getting last-minute gifts.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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