14 FAM 740


(CT:LOG-276;   10-1-2019)
(Office of Origin:  A/LM)

14 FAM 741  POLICY FOR handling PERSONAL items

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. It is Department policy to provide effective and efficient delivery and transportation service to personnel at posts abroad through the proper use of internal mail, the United States Postal Service (USPS), commercial transportation companies, international mail, and foreign postal services; see 14 FAM 715, Definitions, for Item and Mail.

b. Two principles underlie Department regulations on handling personal mail:

(1)  Personal mail is prohibited in the Department’s internal mail and messenger system; and

(2)  Affixing official postage to personal mail is prohibited by law.  Use of envelopes and labels intended for official postage on personal mail is prohibited by 18 U.S.C. 1719, which reads as follows:

"Whoever makes use of any official envelope, label, or endorsement authorized by law, to avoid the payment of postage or registry fee on his private letter, packet, package, or other matter in the mail, shall be fined under this title."

c.  Addressing and postage for personal mail:

(1)  All personal mail must show complete and valid return and delivery addresses;

(2)  For instructions on how to address personal mail to employees at posts abroad, see 14 FAM 742.2-1;

(3)  All personal mail must have sufficient postage affixed to it.  Current USPS postal rate charts are available from the USPS Postal Explorer website.  The USPS will not accept mail without postage and appropriate customs forms (if applicable).  Unstamped letter mail will be returned to the sender;

(4)  For pouch transmission, unstamped parcels and returned merchandise will be held by A/LM/PMP/DPM or post until the sender makes arrangements to provide the necessary postage.  If no action is taken within 15 working days, the item will either be returned to the sender or disposed of as appropriate; and

(5)  Items are not considered mail until accepted and postmarked by USPS.  All domestic mail with U.S. postage stamps affixed abroad, that is included in the diplomatic pouch to be mailed in the United States, will be introduced into the USPS by DPM at the State Department SA-32 annex building.

14 FAM 742  Transportation of PERSONAL Items

14 FAM 742.1  Personal Items Received at Department Facilities

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. Receipt of personal mail from USPS or foreign postal systems:

(1)  Mail addressed to Washington metro area official addresses and domestic offices:

(a)    Employees and contractors are prohibited from receiving personal mail using their official address; and

(b)    The Department will receive personal mail for temporary duty (TDY) personnel assigned as rovers to posts abroad who have a compelling need to use the Department as their mailing address.  The bureau official mail manager (OMM) must provide the names and posts of these rovers to the mail center manager to avoid refusal of personal mail; and

(2)  Mail addressed to posts abroad:  The post OMM should publish post policy as to whether or not personal mail received in the post mail room will be delivered through post's internal messenger system.

b. Receipt of personal items via commercial transportation companies:

(1)  Personal items delivered by commercial transportation companies to Department mail operations centers (HST, SA-44, SA-1) will not be accepted;

(2)  Personal items delivered by commercial transportation companies to State annexes in the Washington metropolitan area or to domestic offices will not be accepted;

(3)  At posts abroad, the post OMM must establish procedures for receipt and delivery of personal items from commercial transportation companies; and

(4)  Personal items delivered to SA-32 will be pouched and shipped abroad.

14 FAM 742.2  Personal Items Sent from a Domestic Address to Employee Abroad

14 FAM 742.2-1  General Policies for Sending Personal Items to Employees Abroad

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. Personal items must be sent through the USPS with appropriate postage or with a commercial transportation company, prepaid shipping label affixed.

b. Personal items must be addressed appropriately depending on the category of the post (see 14 FAH-4 H-113 for a description of post categories and 14 FAH-4 Exhibit H-113 for a listing of posts by category):

(1)  Personal mail for employees at category A posts must be addressed to the appropriate military post office (MPS) address;

(2)  Personal mail for employees at category B posts must be addressed to the appropriate diplomatic pouch address using the apartment number (if assigned) and ZIP code 20189-xxxx, where xxxx is the post-specific ZIP+4 code listed on the DPM website.  There can be no mention of title, office symbol, or U.S. Department of State in personal mail addressing.  For example:

      JOHN DOE

      2010 ABIDJAN PL APT 5 (if assigned)

      DULLES, VA  20189-2010

(3)  Personal mail for employees at category C posts must be addressed to the appropriate diplomatic post office (DPO) address;

(4)  Personal mail for employees at category D posts must be addressed to the appropriate international mail address; and

(5)  Personal mail for employees at category E posts must be addressed to the appropriate USPS address or domestic address of the servicing border city.

14 FAM 742.2-2  Specific Policies for Sending Personal Items through the Diplomatic Pouch

(CT:LOG-276;   10-1-2019)

a. Personal items intended for employees abroad may not be sent through the Department's internal mail and messenger service (IMMS) in a postage-free messenger envelope or be hand-delivered to the Department's unclassified pouch facility at SA-32.  Personal items destined for dispatch through diplomatic pouch must be delivered SA-32 by USPS or a commercial carrier.

b. The Department does not authorize the use of diplomatic pouch to transmit personal mail to employees assigned to a category A, C, D, or E post.  Exception:  The personal pouch address may be used if a sender will not deliver to an A, C, or D address (restrictions or transportation fee may apply).

c.  The weight/size limit for personal items by pouch to category B posts is either a single or combined piece volume of 6 cubic feet or more per pouch dispatch to the same addressee or household:

(1)  All items must fit into a diplomatic pouch bag to be eligible.  The sender and/or recipient are responsible for ensuring compliance with size limits and for paying with personal funds for the return of any item too large for a pouch bag, if any such fees are charged by the carrier; and

(2)  Items with a single or combined volume of more than 6 cubic feet or a combined weight of more than 250 pounds are classified as a bulk shipment upon which transportation costs must be paid by the addressee or sender; see 14 FAM 723.3 regarding bulk shipments.

d. The Department abides by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations that require all parcels boarding aircraft to be X-rayed at the DPM/U facility.  Parcels that contain prohibited items will be returned to the sender and the addressee will be informed by email; see 14 FAM Exhibit 723.2 for a list of prohibited items.

e. USPS Registered, Insured and some extra and additional services are restricted by the U.S. Postal service (USPS) when mail is dispatched by diplomatic pouch to the 20189 ZIP Code (refer to the USPS website).  In some instances, postal clerks do not know the regulations and will accept Extra and Additional services mail.  When this mail reaches the Washington, DC post office, it is usually returned by the USPS marked "Service Not Available."  If these items arrive at the Department's unclassified pouch facility, they will be accepted and pouched with no liability to the Department.

f.  Personal contents are limited to authorized users as described in 14 FAM 724 and the following situations:

(1)  Authorized users at category B posts may use the unclassified pouch to receive personal letters, flats and merchandise parcels.  Using the pouch to receive merchandise is at the risk of the authorized user and vendor/sender.  Authorized users must ensure that all correspondents are aware of size and weight limitations.  In general, parcels must:

(a)    Not exceed 48" in length.  Please use the Shipping Wizard on the DPM website;

(b)    Fit in a pouch bag;

(c)    Weigh no more than 70 pounds per piece;

(d)    Meet and conform to restrictions imposed by the host country or the transporting airline.  Please see the DPM website for the latest prohibited items restrictions; and

(e)    Not contain any prohibited item(s);

(2)  Authorized users at category B posts may send out, through unclassified pouch, letter mail, flats, and parcels no larger in size than 7” x 4” x 1” (the size of a video cassette box) and weighing no more than two pounds per sender per shipment.  U.S. Customs documents may be required for letters, flats, or parcels depending on the contents and destinations.  Post management may limit the frequency of outgoing personal mail if dictated by budgetary or other concerns;

(3)  Authorized users at category B posts may return items to the United States that were purchased during the current tour.  These parcels must have either a funded Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) label or appropriate U.S. postage for mailing between the Department and final destination; be marked that they contain merchandise described above and are being returned to the United States; and be addressed to a manufacturing or retail outlet.  These items will then be entered into commercial channels at SA-32; and

(4)  Authorized users at all posts may use the unclassified pouch to receive reasonable quantities of prescription medicines and to send and receive prescription eyeglasses and orthopedic devices.  Containers must be clearly marked (e.g., "Prescription Medicine," "Eyeglasses," "Orthopedic Device," etc.).  To send an item from post, the sender must affix sufficient postage to send the item forward through USPS facilities.

14 FAM 742.3  Personal Items Sent from Overseas Employee to Overseas Employee

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

See 14 FAM Exhibit 742.3 for a chart of the required method of transmitting personal items from one category of post abroad to another.  For pouch transmission, note specific policies in 14 FAM 742.2-2 and prohibitions in 14 FAM 723.2.

14 FAM 742.4  Personal Items Sent by Overseas Employee to Self

14 FAM 742.4-1  Prohibitions Against Shipping Household Effects (HHE) and Unaccompanied Baggage (UAB) by Pouch or Mail

(CT:LOG-235;   11-16-2017)

a. An employee (or anyone acting on the employee’s behalf) may not use the diplomatic pouch to ship HHE or UAB to a post abroad or to a domestic address; see 14 FAM 610 for regulations on shipping HHE and UAB.

    NOTE:  Funds appropriated for transportation of diplomatic pouch differ from funds appropriated for transportation of household effects and unaccompanied baggage.  The use of the diplomatic pouch to ship HHE and UAB violates appropriation law.  In addition, the cost of transportation by diplomatic pouch exceeds the cost of transportation by normal shipping methods, and 14 FAM 515 requires employees to exercise good judgment in the costs they incur for all official transportation expenses, i.e., send items as if they were personally liable for payments.

b. If the pouch control officer (PCO) at DPM/U or at post identifies items being entered into the diplomatic pouch as HHE or UAB, the PCO must intercept the items and hold them pending receipt of funding to pay for pouch transportation.

c.  An employee (or anyone acting on employee's behalf) may not use the military postal service (MPS) or the diplomatic post office (DPO) to ship any HHE or UAB to a post abroad or to a domestic address; see 14 FAH-5.

14 FAM 742.4-2  Shipping Consumables by Pouch or Mail

(CT:LOG-244;   03-27-2018)

a. The Office of Allowances (A/OPR/ALS) designates certain posts as eligible to receive consumables.  See 14 FAM 613.6 for regulations regarding shipping consumables to post and A/OPR/ALS for a list of consumables posts.

b. Limited quantities of unprohibited foodstuffs may be transported through the diplomatic pouch.  The PCO will request funding for quantities that qualify for bulk shipment; see 14 FAM 723.3 for bulk shipments and 14 FAM 723.2 for prohibited items.

c.  Authorized personnel may use the military postal service (MPS) or the diplomatic post office (DPO) to ship or receive limited quantities of unprohibited foodstuffs, not to exceed the bulk shipment limit; see 14 FAM 761.4-3, paragraph b.

14 FAM 742.4-3  Prohibition Against Shipping Items for Resale or Personal Business Use

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

Authorized pouch users may not use the diplomatic pouch, MPS, or DPO to ship or mail items for resale or personal business use.

14 FAM 742.5  Personal Items Sent from Overseas Employee to Domestic Address

14 FAM 742.5-1  Mailing Personal Items to the United States

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

a. For employees at A, C, D, and E posts, items must be mailed through the USPS (including MPS and DPO if available) or international mail or shipped through commercial transportation companies with appropriate charges paid out of personal funds.

b. For category B posts per 14 FAM 742.2-2, subparagraph f(2), the weight/size limit for personal mail from posts to the United States is no more than 2 lbs. per sender per shipment and no larger than 7" x 4" x 1" (the size of a VHS tape), except for items sent through the Homeward Bound Mail Service (see 14 FAM 745).  Appropriate domestic postage, from the point of entry (SA-32) to the destination, must be applied by the sender before placing the item in the pouch.

14 FAM 742.5-2  Customs Duties on Items Acquired Abroad

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

a. Compliance with customs laws is the responsibility of the individual mailer.  Mail control officers must assist mailers to ensure the appropriate customs declaration form is attached to items presented for mailing.

b. All international and domestic (APO/FPO/DPO) mail originating outside the Customs Territory of the United States (CTUS) and addressed for delivery to a point within the CTUS is subject to customs examination by U.S. Customs officials at the respective U.S. gateway, per USPS International Mail Manual, Section 7.

14 FAM 743  ABUSE OF restrictions on personal Items

(CT:LOG-59;   05-06-2009)

a. Suspected abuse or misuse of official mail and messenger services must be reported to the Department or bureau OMM, who is authorized to open and inspect items before they are entered into the USPS or after delivery from the USPS.  Mail will be endorsed to indicate inspection.

b. Bureau official mail managers (OMM) should contact the Department OMM for guidance on penalties.

14 FAM 744  personal Items for transferred employees

14 FAM 744.1  Directory Service

(CT:LOG-235;   11-16-2017)

a. Directory service involves the search of Department databases (such as the email Global Address List or hard-copy telephone directory) for an employee's current address.  The Department's mail operations centers provide directory service for employees.

b. The Department cannot distribute items of mail that are insufficiently addressed.  Mail that qualifies for return to sender via USPS will be returned.  Mail that is unable to be returned to sender will be forwarded to the USPS mail recovery centers.

c.  Personal items delivered by commercial carrier that cannot be returned to sender will be turned over to building security guards (see 14 FAH-1 H-727.2).  At the end of a 30-day holding period, DS personnel will list each item to be disposed of on Form DS-1882, Domestic Property Excess (see 14 FAH-1 H-727.2), and fax that form to A/LM/PMP/PM to coordinate pick-up of the property.

14 FAM 744.2  Forwarding Personal Mail

(CT:LOG-235;   11-16-2017)

a. The Department does not forward bulk rate mail addressed to "Resident," "Occupant," etc.

b. Category B posts will forward, by pouch, personal letters and merchandise parcels received by pouch for employees transferred to other posts, provided the new post of assignment is clearly indicated on the item and the notation "Employee Transferred" is added.  Post funds this forwarding except that the employee funds additional postage if needed; see 14 FAH-4 H-255.4 for procedures.  Catalogs will not be forwarded.

c.  Category A and C posts are governed by USPS rules for forwarding mail.

d. Correspondence by posts with catalog companies to correct mailing lists is considered official business after the departure of the employee.

e. Official mail should not be forwarded but should be delivered to the employee's successor or office; see 14 FAM 735.1.

14 FAM 744.3  Change of Address

14 FAM 744.3-1  For Personal Items

(CT:LOG-235;   11-16-2017)

a. Bureau executive offices (domestic) and post management (abroad) must include change-of-address notification in their check-out procedures.

b. The employee is responsible for ensuring that the following entities are informed of address changes:

(1)  Personal correspondents, magazine subscriptions, catalogs, etc.;

(2)  Domestic:  Inform section's office management specialist and bureau's EX/HR office (Form DS-924, Foreign Service Personnel Mailing Address Slip, required);

(3)  Abroad:  Inform post mail room and human resources officer (HRO) (Form DS-924, Foreign Service Personnel Mailing Address Slip, required);

(4)  Employee Service Center (ESC):  Mail forwarding is provided for all Foreign Service employees based on information provided to the ESC by the employee.  To use the ESC to hold or forward your mail, complete Form DS-924, Foreign Service Personnel Mailing Address Slip, before departing to or from post, to indicate that your new address is the ESC.  If mail is forwarded to ESC per your instructions, the ESC will forward to another address or hold.  Indicate how you want your mail handled by going to its website, click on Locator and Emergency Information, and follow the instructions.  The ESC cannot accept boxes and there is no secure storage within the ESC.

c.  For additional change of address assistance for personnel utilizing the MPS (APO/FPO addresses), consult your military postal officer and/or USPS; for DPOs, see 14 FAH-5 H-112 and/or access the DPM website; and for pouch-only posts, see 14 FAM 744.4.

d. See 14 FAH-4 H-255.4 for procedures on handling mail for transferred employees

14 FAM 744.3-2  Online at Pouch-Only Posts

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. Pouch-only post personnel can now change their addresses through USPS at the time of transfer provided that post management has assigned each employee/family an apartment number.  This service allows the USPS system to intercept and redirect letter-mail only automatically.  NOTE:  Since USPS does not automatically redirect parcels, domestically or abroad, customers must advise family, friends, and vendors of their new address to avoid parcels from being returned to sender.  To access the form electronically, go to USPS and select Change of Address.

b. USPS treats each post like an “apartment building/complex” with up to 99 apartments (one per household).  The +4 of the ZIP code will perform double duty as the building number.  By utilizing apartment numbers, the USPS will be able to identify each customer and redirect mail to your new address:

    Example:  Addis Ababa currently has the address of 2030 Addis Ababa Pl, Dulles, VA  20189-2030.  The new address with an apartment number assigned by post management would appear as:



DULLES VA  20189-2030

c.  The procedures for large posts will vary slightly since only 99 “apartments” can be associated with a 9 digit ZIP code.  Since DPM plans to use apartment 99 to facilitate future requirements, posts may only use 1 to 98.  For posts requiring more than 98 “apartments”, you must use a different building/+4 ZIP code and begin the apartment count sequence all over again from 1 to 98.  In essence, the new building number/+4 indicates a new apartment building.  The +4 ZIP codes for any additional “buildings” required (different +4 ZIP codes) have already been added to the USPS system.  Additional ZIP codes for affected posts have been listed on the DPM website.

    Example:  Since Addis Ababa has more than 99 people assigned to post, it requires a new building number (which is also the +4 of the Zip Code).  The following example depicts apartment 5 in building number (2031) to match the new +4 add on to the Zip Code (2031).



DULLES VA  20189-2031

d. Post management will need to keep a record of which apartment number has been assigned to each customer.  This can be accomplished via a spreadsheet (see DPM website for examples).  Post management must also:

(1)  Provide current employees with their apartment numbers so that they can begin the process of changing their address;

(2)  Ensure newly assigned employees are provided an apartment number prior to their arrival, e.g., via TMTHREE;

(3)  Ask employees to notify their correspondents of the new address (the apartment number +4 ZIP code).  Only after mail begins to arrive at post with the apartment number +4 ZIP code can the customer notify USPS of their complete address online.  In other words, USPS can only recognize the “From” address once it has been put into the system.  The next time an employee transfers, a change of address can be submitted online to USPS for a smooth transition of mail; and

(4)  Ensure that customers with the same surnames are not assigned to the same apartment numbers, e.g., when Smith in Apartment 5 transfers, do not assign another Smith to Apartment 5 for at least 3 years (in the same building/complex).

14 FAM 744.4  Personal Mail During Emergency Evacuations

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. During an emergency evacuation of a post, the employee must provide a forwarding address to post management prior to departure.  The forwarding address must be included in the telegram from post authorizing evacuation.  Diplomatic pouch mail will be processed according to the type of evacuation orders the employee is issued:

(1)  Authorized departure from post:  All mail will be forwarded to post.  The post will then forward the mail to the address provided by the employee;

(2)  Ordered evacuation from post:  All mail will be forwarded by the Department to the address specified in the evacuation telegram;

(3)  Closed post:  All mail will be sorted by bureau personnel and mailed to the forwarding address specified in the evacuation telegram.

      NOTE:  Mail can only be forwarded to either a domestic address or other post (via pouch).  Mail that requires a customs form (unless one was previously attached) cannot be forwarded to an APO/FPO/DPO location from the pouch facility (SA-32).

b. In an emergency evacuation, employees should immediately contact all of their correspondents (especially financial institutions, such as credit card companies, banks, credit unions, etc.) to ask them to change the address as soon as possible.

c.  In emergencies, personnel at posts using MPS facilities must advise correspondents immediately of a change of address.  The Department has no control over mail sent via the MPS military channel.

d. In emergencies, personnel at posts using a diplomatic post office (DPO) address must fill out a change of address request at USPS and advise correspondents to immediately use the new address.  DPO mail moves completely within the USPS system, whereas pouch-only-post mail is sent from senders and is then routed thru SA-32, where it is then placed into and/or removed from UNCLAS pouch bags.  In the event the post must be closed for an extended period, DPO can work with USPS to have all mail redirected from the USPS gateway to SA-32 for forwarding action.


(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

a. Homeward Bound Mail Service (HBMS) is a private mail service to the United States that is available only at posts without MPS/DPO facilities (category B post participation is voluntary).  Post employee associations must run this service on a voluntary basis at no cost to the U.S. Government and must obtain approval from A/OPR/CR before implementing HBMS.

b. This service is available only to U.S. citizen personnel who meet the following criteria:

(1)  U.S. Government employees and their dependents;

(2)  Personal-service contractors recruited from outside the host country and their dependents; and

(3)  TDY personnel with official orders who meet the criteria in subparagraphs b(1) or b(2) of this section.

c.  Customers participate in this service at their own risk.  Neither the employee association nor the embassy can accept responsibility for items once they have left the premises.

d. Insured, registered, or certified mail is not available.

e. For HBMS procedures, see 14 FAH-4 H-226.


14 FAM Exhibit 742.3  
Lateral Personal Mail

(CT:LOG-183;   01-23-2015)

Post Category to:

Category A
and C

Category B

Category D

Category E






Category A or C


Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by pouch to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

International mail.


Category B

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by pouch to Washington with appropriate postage and DPO address.

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by pouch to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by pouch to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by pouch to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

Category D

International mail.

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by international mail to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

International mail.

International mail.

Category E

Express courier, truck, or air, as appropriate to border city, then into USPS.

Direct pouch if available.  Otherwise, by USPS/ express/ truck/air to Washington with onward pouch address on item.

International mail.

USPS, express courier, truck, or air, as appropriate.