Going Postal in Costa Rica...


One of the biggest challenges facing newcomers to Costa Rica is how to receive mail.  As you have probably learned, Costa Rica does not have street addresses to where mail (or even ambulances) can be sent.  Yes, there are post offices (Correos de Costa Rica) but there are no mail carriers, so to speak. 

It has also been reported that sending anything through the Costa Rican mail system not only takes a long time to reach its destination, but is not terribly secure.  It has been reported that any parcels whose cash value may be greater than $1.00, gives off a particular scent, for which nefarious mail handlers (with a keen sense of smell) can easily detect.  But I digress...

Frandy's Recommendation For Dealing With Mail...

If you plan on moving to Costa Rica, we would strongly recommend eliminating the need to receive any mail.  To accomplish that you need to plan ahead by doing the following:

  • Establish a North American mail forwarding address with a friend or relative.  In our case, our son who lives in Pennsylvania was awarded that distinction.

  • Notify postal authorities to FORWARD all your mail to that NEW LOCATION except for the obvious junk mail advertising.

  • Notify anybody with which you have any financial dealings (includes credit card companies, banks and your financial planner) of your NEW North American address.  Request that all future statements be delivered to you electronically.

  • Cancel all magazine subscriptions.


As a final step, when our mail arrives in Pennsylvania, my son is instructed to toss all junk mail, especially those whose envelopes read FINAL NOTICE!  (just kidding). 

We then validate the remaining mail via a SKYPE call. 

Any mail which appears important is scanned and sent to us directly through SKYPE'S file transfer process.


If You Must Receive Mail...

There may be situations where you will have a need to receive mail here in Costa Rica.  There are growing number of companies that specialize in mail forwarding.  These companies supply you with a fixed mailing address, usually in Miami, to which you can have your mail sent.  These companies will collect your mail, notify you of it's availability, delete unwanted mail and forward the balance to you in Costa Rica.   If you are purchasing products from North America, you will be liable for any "duty" on your purchases, before you take receipt of the items.  In some cases (e.g. personal electronics), the tariff can be quite steep.

Another solution is to secure a Post Office Box at your local Correos de Costa Rica.  Good luck.  Sometimes they are available and sometimes they are not.  In our case, we have been waiting since February 2010 for a box.  Friends of ours tell us that there is a 3 year wait for a box to become available.  Well, just for the hell of it, Fran and I walked into the local Correos de Costa Rica here in Playas del Coco.  We chatted a bit with the man behind the counter and then asked him about the availability of a PO Box.  Fran put on her "pathetic" face.  Minutes later, we were asked for a copy of our passport and within 10 minutes we got our key.  I'm not sure what had just happened but the bottom line is we were at the right place at the right time with a bureaucrat who was in the right mood.  Pura vida.


Andy or Fran Browne

Box 126-5019

Guanacaste, Carrillo, Sardinal, Playa Hermosa

50503 Costa Rica C.A.



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