Optional - If you have rental property in the US and receive tax or other important notifications at that address, AND if you have someone reliable that will forward those things to you, it might be a good idea to keep that address active. If you only receive incidental mail at that address and you rent a Costa Rica post office box, then you can notify friends, relatives, and businesses of the address change and have them send those items to you at that new address.
A popular second option is to subscribe to one of the many commercial forwarding services available. Those services will provide a US address for you to use and will forward any mail and packages they receive at that address to you in Costa Rica.
For more information on receiving mail and utilizing forwarding services, see the FAQ #28.
There are two ways expats can receive surface mail (letters and packages) in Costa Rica:
1) The Costa Rica postal system (Correos) is a modern and reliable service for delivering mail into, within, and out of Costa Rica. All communities of significant size and population have a Correos postal facility. Most offices have small mail boxes in their facilities which can be rented very reasonably (by the year) to receive mail from overseas or inside Costa Rica.
Using the Correos can, however, create difficulties when receiving an international shipment of packages, both from commercial outlets (like Amazon) or private individuals. Each inbound shipment will need to be processed through Costa Rica Customs so that import duties can be collected. Payment of these duties and retrieving the package can be an expensive, involved, and complicated process with the Correos, requiring the recipient to travel to a central location, which may be an inconvenient distance away from their home.
Sending outbound mail and packages from Costa Rica is a simple, easy process via the Correos. Mail tracking, which functions worldwide, is available. Postal fees are reasonable and the service is efficient.
2) There are multiple commercial mail forwarding services available. These forwarding services have offices throughout the country where your mail will be delivered and retained until you pick it up. Forwarding services are generally reliable, though mail may be delayed a few days before arriving in Costa Rica.
These services can be faster and more convenient than sending items through the Costa Rican Correos, however they can be more expensive; the forwarding services charge by the weight of the item. Forwarding service companies are generally more convenient for receiving packages which are sent from outside Costa Rica because they have their own dedicated Customs Agent, which can make the importation process smoother and faster. Mail forwarding companies are also set up to process the import (Customs) requirements and duties efficiently, and will notify you of the package’s arrival and processing by email, collect all import duty and forwarding charges via your credit card account, and deliver the package to you at the office you have designated for your deliveries.
See FAQ #22. regarding additional requirements for importing medications.
Before deciding on which service to use, investigate where their offices are located and which one will be convenient for you to use.
Note: Forwarding services CANNOT accept outbound letter mail or packages – the Costa Rica Correos (national postal system) is the only resource for sending outbound mail.
ARCR can assist MEMBERS in establishing an account with a mail forwarding service. The service includes translation services and a personal escort to the appropriate locations to complete the process. (Transportation costs are not included.)