Last week, we got a box of new clothes sent by the Willow Family. They have a tall son, too. There is a dearth of tall boy clothes here due to the dearth of tall ticos. Our new friends shipped to our private mail service, and receiving the box was $72 on our end: $38 duty and $34 of the private mail service’s charges. My friends were appalled. From our point of view, the cost was still cheaper than having to actually BUY new clothes. And the boys love them. Nice when your boys love clothes!!!

But I understand their dismay… and thought others may be interested in the sticky details of deciding how to get your Stuff here once YOU are here.

When a box is mailed to any private mail service (Jetbox, Starbox, Aerocasillas, there are several now) from the U.S., it costs the sender RELATIVELY little and the CR receiver more, because customs definitely opens the box and if it’s dutiable, you pay the tab. Then the private service adds their handling and then tax and service charge on top of everything (yes, tax on the duty). Highway robbery? Maybe, but safer (so they say) and faster (so they say). We use our private mail service for legal stuff that needs a signed delivery receipt, whether coming or going.

When mailing to our apartado (our po box here), it costs the sender in the states more and us nothing, unless it gets opened by customs and they deem it dutiable. Even still, we don’t pay tax on the duty and all the private service charges. Plus, apparently, things that get shipped to an apartado are rarely opened by customs and are usually safe in arriving.

Mom ships me my Amazon books, $30-$40 on her end (yes, I pay her back, I’m a good daughter.) Mom just shipped me a box of books and some vitamins to the apartado, so we will see if it gets opened, if it gets here, and what my charges are. Jan in AZ ships me Triscuits to my apartado – $34 or so for 6 or 7 boxes of Triscuits and a few various paperbacks… Mary in Key West ships me books, cards, little trinkets and same thing: they’ve always gotten here. Never opened. We’ll see.

The bottom line is that everything shipped has to be evaluated for risk of theft and value. A box of videos, we have sent to the private carrier. Things of relatively little value, we use the apartado. Although, a neighbor just posted a very positive review of our local apartado and the correo system here in general:

"I think a lot of the negative reputation of the Correo is a holdover from the past, when it was richly deserved. If I remember correctly, in approx. 1995, the entire correo system was revamped which resulted in the dismissal of about 600 employees for theft (whole bags were found in private homes)! Since then, we have had no trouble at all."

  —  Paul, no longer going Postal in Escazú

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