Sending a Letter or Package to Costa Rica

Sending a Letter or Package to Costa Rica is becoming more common.

Sending a Letter or Package to Costa Rica is becoming more common.

With email and attachments nowadays sending a message to Costa Rica is just the push of a few keys. However, the other day I had to send four tutorial DVDs to a account in Santa Ana.  I guess you can say I was a little skeptical. The last time (many years ago) I sent a package it arrived in about 60 days and cost an arm and a leg, not including the hassle of dealing with a lost item that I still believe went to Mexico first via snail mail. Oh well … life goes on.

However, times have changes, and proud to say, sending packages and or letters to Costa Rica has become very easy and reasonable.

Many who live in Costa Rica order stuff via eBay and other online retailers and receive packages from family, relatives, and friends all the time. One of the things NOT to do is waste your money on these 3rd party mail forwarding service as their costs can be about twice of what is normally is AND some go as far as telling you there is a mandatory customs fees that make sending even the simplest of things VERY expensive. This is BS!, well at lease to a point and it depends on what you are sending.

For example, if you are sending, lets say, $500 worth of electronics, you will get nailed, since Costa Rica’s import tax is about double of what the cost of the luxury item is. Bulk shipment of electronics (like 10 ipods) are looked upon as luxury/retail items.

If you are so lucky and know a business in Costa Rica who receives items/mail all the time from the US  have set up bonded courier services that deliver to Costa Rica daily. Many are based in Miami. However, it can be expensive; a 10lb package may cost you $50-$100 … not including if the items qualified for import tax.

But getting back to that cool DVD (with a few copies of that awesome wave you caught at Witch’s Rock) you want to send to your friend – you can send 2-5 DVD’s via United States Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail International. It will usually arrive in 5-7 days from the U.S. to a Post Office Box in Costa Rica (Apartado de la Correos de Costa Rica).

The USPS Priority Mail International flat rate for envelope will hold up to 4lbs (which is a lot) and the cost is  around $15.00, plus insurance. If the items are worth something, be sure to insure the contents and declare the items if they are worth anything to customs. The US Postal Service will help you on this. Personally, I would stay away from sending anything that may or may not be a luxury item. Why take the chance of it getting it flagged in customs.  Always obtain a tracking number just in-case it gets ‘sidetracked’ in a “Black Hole.”

I would also recommend, if you want to send the items in your own package, simply take it down to your local post office without sealing and the clerk will assist you in finding the least expensive method of shipping and filling out the simple forms.

And last (MOST IMPORTANT)  make sure whomever you are sending to has a VERY good Costa Rica mailing address or PO Box,  otherwise it will bounce around in a Black Hole.

Oh yes, my account got the DVDs in six days!

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  1. James Bergquist says:

    I need to get a copy in English of myCIMA Hospital , San Jose,S.A. How do I go about getting this?  HOw do I go about getting a copy of my bill?

  2. Iris Jacobson says:

    Yes you can track a package in the States and in Costa Rica, if it arrives in Costa Rica. I sent a package on Oct. 12 from Oregon. It left LA on Oct. 19 and today,Nov. 15,  nobody knows where it is. It shows that it is in transit, but in transit where? In what part of the world is the packet? Costa Rica is not that far from LA. Is it going by mule?

  3. can you track a package once it arrives in CR?  I sent it USPS and they told me they can track it as far as Miami then it is in the hands of CR post office.  Mailed it 8 weeks ago. Other packages have been received there. Just don't know if I have any way of finding out where this one is.

    • admin says:

      Sending a package is a crap shoot. I have had packages take 60+ days and I have had some take as little as 7 days. Sorry you can not track a package once it leaves the US.

    • Carlos says:

      Yes you can. USPS and Correos de Costa Rica have and information agreement. In order to track your item inside Costa Rica you have to use the tracking number USPS gave you and track it using Correos de Costa Rica website:

  4. Cassiopeia says:

    Well i mail packages to costa rica and some arrive and others no. You have to put the town first the particular area and descriptions like two story blue house ( casa azul de dos plantas ) and ask the person you are shipping to to read you off the number of the house on electric bill. This helps your chances and i noticed the things i did not insurr were more likely to arrive.

  5. Hey Jo,

    I used to live in Cartago, Cartago’s postal code is 07050. If you want to write a letter AND you have a house number it should look like:

    Calle X, Casa #27
    San Rafael, Cartago, 07050
    Costa Rica

    Try to get a close landmark, like “Across the street from Banco Nacional”, that usually helps, just make sure it’s close enough and be descriptive as, even though street numbers EXIST, they are not used.

    Calle X, Casa #27
    (Frente al Banco Nacional)
    San Rafael, Cartago, 07050
    Costa Rica

    If you have them get a PO box it’s even easier, and it only costs a few bucks a year, it saves the last mile and the address would look like:

    Apt. Postal. #123
    Cartago, 07050, Costa Rica

  6. There is no such thing as a zip code per se here in Costa Rica. I have no idea what 30701 is, but this is probably why you keep get letters back that are undeliverable. Also, we don’t have house numbers, there are a limited number of streets/avenues that are actually numbered in the San Jose area, and very few locations within CR actually deliver to homes. More common is an APDO# which is within the local post office. The person rents a box and has to pick up their mail in person. Hope this helps.

  7. I have relatives living in Cartago. There’s a section of Cartago called San Rafeal – Oreamuno. Every time I send a card or letter, it comes back reading “NOT DELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED.” It’s very frustrating. I just received an email from one of the relatives there to address mail to a particular Avenue # and a particular Street #. I’m guessing the Street # is the # on the house. I’m thinking the zip code for Cartago is 30701 but I could be wrong or don’t they even use zip codes in Costa Rica? I mail cards and letters all over the world and none come back except Costa Rica.

  8. This is a helpful post…but like was stated above…do not expect all items to arrive in one piece, or at all. It’s not just a black hole because it gets lost, many things get stolen once they arrive in costa rica…even things that you don’t see as very valuable. from letters, to small gifts inside an envelope, to boxes within larger boxes…be careful what you ship, and beware the possible loss of these things. one company i am finding very useful if you have a lot to ship is Barquero. they ship from many places in the US…i think the minimum price is $120 for an 18x18x24″…but they do it by size of package, not by weight, and they take it from door to door, so you dont have to worry about it being handled by non-officials outside of the company.

  9. Thanks, very helpful. I just went to DHL to ship an 8 pound package from Los Angeles to Limon, CR and the cost was $287, so I went to FedEx- even more $387. So just going to split it up into two 4 pound enveplopes for $15 each by USPS.

  10. Phoebe says:

    Thanks, this was exactly what I needed!

  11. not helpfull at all!

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