Mail Service to Atenas is Pretty Darn Good


One of the things a lot of US citizens take for granted – that they shouldn’t – is the United States Postal Service.

Just about anything can be mailed – and delivered six days a week. Sometimes right to your front door. Hell’s Bells, even heroin has been delivered by friendly mail carriers. delivery service is legendary. I read someplace that their goal is to use the mail service to guarantee same day, overnight or one day delivery – anyplace in the U.S.

People who move to Costa Rica are always curious about the mail delivery.  No matter how hard we try to eliminate the need for any mail from the U.S. to Costa Rica, sometimes it’s necessary.

Many expats choose to pay a high fee to have mail shipped to a remailer service in the U.S. They look over your stuff, scan what they think is important, and email it. You may also choose to have them forward mail in a box every week or so. They promise to guide your mail through customs so that it arrives in a timely manner.

I’m talking about regular old mail… not shopping… cards and letters and personal packages…

We’ve found the Costa Rica postal service and the Atenas post office quite reliable and fairly efficient. A letter or package takes about ten days to arrive from the midwest or Florida.

BUT – the packages must weigh less than four pounds and should NOT look like it came from a store.  Letters or large envelopes seem to sail right through.

The best illustration of how the system works is the package Nancy mailed to a friend April for a special occasion. Nancy mailed in plenty of time, but it didn’t arrive and it didn’t arrive and all  hope was lost that it would EVER be delivered.

Then one day it showed up in the Atena’s post office. Despite having the correct address, somebody in the U.S. marked it as “unknown” street number and marked it Return To Sender.

And the package made it BACK intact – round trip took about five weeks.

We don’t kvetch much about the Costa Rica postal service. We’ve had our hassles before we learned that you can’t just ship “stuff” into the country willy-nilly.

My friend John says anything with the logo on the box WILL be delayed and opened by customs and delayed and rerouted to a postal center near San Jose so they can assess a duty on the goods shipped in.

pillpocketsOthers have reported trouble getting anything that looks like medicine or medical supplies stopped by customs. My favorite story is via Tom who told about trying to explain to a postal/customs official that “pill pockets”  have nothing to do with medicine. (They are yummy treats designed to make giving pills to pets easier.)

Basically the postal service in Costa Rica functions to deliver important documents and letters. Our mail from the Social Security arrives without a hitch.

Junk mail is practically unknown in Costa Rica.

Thank you Jesus. (Hey-sus)

So send those cards and letters folks, just allow ten days delivery.

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