Christmas shipping deadlines 2021: Time running out to ship gifts with UPS, FedEx, UPS

Kelly Tyko
USA TODAY

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 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 week 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.

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“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.

Last day for ground shipping before Christmas

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

Shipping deadlines for Christmas 2021

The following are the deadlines for the three major carriers.

UPS Christmas shipping deadlines

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 but that starting Oct. 18 and until further notice, it is has made some "operational adjustments," which includes extending delivery commitment times for UPS Next Day Air from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

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UPS Package handler Amanda Eversole moved boxes to delivery vans at the Louisville hub on Dec. 6, which is considered the peak shipping day of the year.

FedEx deadlines for Christmas

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 Christmas deadlines 2021

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

Note: Ground shipping deadline to Alaska was Dec. 2, First-Class and the Priority deadline is Dec. 18, and Priority Mail Express is Dec. 21. For Hawaii, Dec. 17 is the deadline for First-Class and Priority Mail, and Dec. 21 is the deadline for Priority Mail Express.

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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group