Getting Mail in Costa Rica

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Some people say that the mail system in Costa Rica will surprise you.  You will be sitting outside on a beautiful afternoon and a guy riding an under-powered motor cycle shows up with your mail from another country.  Others say, good luck if anything ever shows up.

One important question that most people have is how do I get my mail delivered reliability after I move to another country, in our case Costa Rica.

In an age where lots of things are done online, there is still the need to deliver ATM, credit cards and often times medication.  Pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from shipping medicine to a foreign country, but they can ship to a forwarding company.  There are important deliveries, and there is no way that I want these traveling through the standard mail system of a foreign country.

In Costa Rica, exact street addresses generally don't exist and are usually referenced by a noteworthy landmark such as "the green house, 100 meters north of the third mango tree".  One person recently had an issue when one of the mango trees was cut down.

The best way to get reliable mail service is to use a mail forwarding service in your home country. We chose US Global Mail.  You get a physical street address in a state of your choice.  For a nominal monthly fee, they will collect your mail and then upload photos of the envelopes.  You then go online and select which ones you want delivered.  Those that you don't want will get shredded.  At your direction, they will even open up letters, scan the pages and email them to you for an small additional fee.  You then select how often you want them delivered via DHL, Fed-Ex or UPS.

DHL and Fed-Ex are the most reliable in Costa Rica.  I prefer DHL because their main business focus is international delivery and I have used DHL several times in Costa Rica with good results.

US Global Mail will also receive and consolidate retail shipments from suppliers such as Amazon and Walmart.  You will be responsible for the Costa Rican 13% VAT, import fees and shipping charges, which can add up, depending on the item.

I recommend setting this service up a few months in advance of your departure to make sure that there is enough time to get everything transferred and try the service out.  As a test case, have them deliver to your home address before you leave the country and then once you depart, set up the forwarding address.

On the Costa Rica end, it is best to set up a PO box in one of the main cities.  For us it is in Tamarindo.  This will ensure timely and reliable deliveries from DHL or Fed-Ex.

It costs a little bit of money for the service and the PO box but in return you will get peace of mind....and mail.

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