San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

What’s the Best Way to Send Items to Costa Rica?

I would like to get information about sending items such as clothing, etc. to Costa Rica from California, hopefully the best, least expensive way.

Gretel Gonzales

Whittier, California, USA

All packages sent here must include a list of items and their value. In addition, all goods brought into Costa Rica are subject to import taxes and Customs handling charges, which can make shipping to Costa Rica somewhat complicated.

However, every person in Costa Rica (whether tourist, citizen or foreign resident) is entitled to a tax-free shipment of up to $500 (including shipping, insurance and handling fees) every six months.

When sending items from the United States to Costa Rica, it should be noted that some things, such as fertilizers, food and medicine, are among a list of restricted items. The above items, for example, must be approved by Costa Rica’s Public Health Ministry (www.ministerio, 223-0333) before they will be allowed to enter the country. Some shipping companies will obtain the permits for you.

For a more detailed list of shipping requirements for Costa Rica, you might check with a shipping company representative, the U.S. Postal Service or Costa Rica’s Customs Administration (, click on Dirección General de Aduanas, 233, 6797, 440-0275).

Roberto Carvajal, a representative of courier company Aerocasillas, told The Tico Times that to import used clothing into Costa Rica, the clothing must be fumigated in the United States and a certificate of the fumigation must be included in the package. The package will be inspected by Customs here and possibly re-fumigated if agents decide to do so, he explained.

(Clothing brought in luggage on commercial flights, however, does not face any of these requirements.)

The Tico Times asked around with several shipping companies to compare the cost of sending a package weighing 25 pounds and measuring 40 inches long by 20 inches wide by 10 inches tall.

Shipping this hypothetical package from the United States to Costa Rica with the U.S. Postal Service, for example, runs from $55 (Economy Parcel Post, 4-6 weeks) to $507 (Global Express Guaranteed Non-Document Service, 1-3 days). For more information, see the U.S. Postal Service’s Web site,

To ship it with FedEx ( com), the least expensive option available is $395. Aerocasillas (208-4848, is one of several shipping companies that bring items to Costa Rica from its mail center in Miami, Florida (so the package would have to be sent there first). Carvajal quoted $104 for the 25-pound package. Jet Box (281-3208,, which also ships packages from Miami, has two types of shipping contracts: one where you pay a monthly fee (minimum of $15) for discounted shipping, or where you pay per shipment. To send without the monthly contract, the price would be $129, and with the monthly payments, it would be $103.

Aeromarine (442-7200, quoted the cheapest price, with a special rate of $32.32, plus taxes. According to spokesman Marlin Brenes, if the package doesn’t qualify for the tax exoneration, clothing is taxed at 30% of its value – declared by the sender before shipping and included with the list of items.

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