San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Getting the Goods Out: Tips on Shipping

So your friend left a pair of Birkenstocks at your house before returning to London. Or maybe you want to send that hammock you bought in Guanacaste to your mother-in-law in Miami. Or maybe it’s a letter to your spurned lover that must arrive in Toronto as soon as possible. We all have our reasons for sending something from Costa Rica to an address outside the country, and for different needs there exist different options.

First and foremost, however, readers should be aware that many countries restrict what types of items can be sent across their borders, and should look into this beforehand. The United States, for example, has special regulations for shipping goods such as coffee, liquor, fruit and other foods, medications and drugs. For shipping these items to the United States, see the Web site for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at

The best-known international courier services are those offered by DHL, UPS and FedEx. These companies can handle a wide variety of shipping orders, large or small, and have extensive specialized services to meet individual shipping and tracking needs. Though they offer efficient, high-speed, door-to-door shipping of documents and packages, their services can be on the expensive side.

DHL, for example, can ship from Costa Rica to the U.S. city of Miami in 24 hours, and anywhere else in the United States in 48 hours. To Europe, DHL can get your package or letter there in three to four days.

Shipping through DHL can be done by first calling the company’s Costa Rican call center – open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. – at 209-6000. There, operators will answer questions and quote prices.

The Tico Times used the call center to get the price for two examples: sending a four-kilogram box of books and a letter.

For next-day delivery to the U.S. city of Seattle, the four-kilogram box would cost $123.30, and the letter would cost $40.66. To send that same box to Miami would cost $82.93, and the letter $19.12. Jumping across the Atlantic, the cost of shipping the box to London, England, would run $198.66, and the letter $68.68.

DHL also provides an array of other services, such as online tracking and shipping and printable Customs forms, the details of which can be found on its Costa Rica-specific Web site,

Jet Box (253-5400), a smaller, Costa Rica based company that still has a global reach, also offers courier service, with personalized pricing, according to Marcela Flores, head of the services department. “We try to offer very personal service,” Flores told The Tico Times.

According to Flores, regular senders can set up contracts for $3-8 per kilogram to the United States, for example, which is their most common destination.

The pricing depends on volume, location and how regularly they ship. In addition, she added, if a person regularly ships small items and wants to ship a large item, the company will offer a special price.

Another shipping company with membership-based rates is Star Box (289-9393), which offers memberships for as low as $2.50 a month, General Manager Nicole Gamboa told The Tico Times. With that membership, clients have the right to send a certain weight of goods per month. The per-kilo cost of the goods depends on the membership, she added.

Aerocasillas focuses mainly on shipping items into Costa Rica (see separate article); however, it does ship mail and documents to the United States through Miami, Florida. For larger items, such as a sofa, for example, there are freight companies such as Ship Costa Rica ( and SG Global Costa Rica (258-0018,

Shipping our hypothetical sofa through SG Global, which specializes in shipping freight by volume, such as when moving all of one’s belongings, would run approximately $450-500, according to Leonor Baute, who deals with customer service and imports for SG Global. Baute explained that the shipping time from Costa Rica to the west or east coast of the United States is approximately 12 days, and only six days to Miami. To ship to Europe – Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, for example – shipping time is around 15 days.



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