Twenty years ago, waiting for a package to arrive in Costa Rica from abroad could take weeks or even months. To add insult to injury, packages sent through the postal service were easily lost amid piles of shipments. As the country saw more residents and visitors from North America, however, demand increased for a better way of having documents and goods delivered on a more efficient schedule.
Enter Aerocasillas (208-4848, www.aerocasillas.com), the first mail service in Costa Rica to offer mailboxes and physical addresses in Miami for its customers here, according to Johana Gabourel, marketing manager for Aerocasillas. Now, Gabourel said, Aerocasillas can deliver a letter to Costa Rica from the United States in 10 days or less, depending on the service you choose.
“It’s an easy and secure solution for bringing things here from the United States,” Gabourel said.
Since the service was introduced, plenty of other mailing services have picked up the practice. Companies such as Aeromarine (442-7200, www.aeromarine.net), Air Mail Costa Rica (239-5775, www.airmailcr.com), Jet Box (253-5400, www.jetbox.com), Mail Boxes Etc. (291-4761, www.mbecr.com) and Star Box (289-9393) all rent post office boxes with physical addresses in Miami.
This service has become invaluable to Ticos as well. The popularity of Internet shopping has been increasing globally since the 1990s, Gabourel said, and offering a physical address in Miami for shipping to Costa Rica has greatly facilitated the delivering process for Costa Ricans who shop online. According to Gabourel, 80% of the 16,000 Aerocasillas customers who rent mailboxes and physical addresses in Miami are Ticos.
Foreign-based Internet companies will not deliver packages across their borders for several reasons. It can cost them extra to send packages internationally, and dealing with another country’s Customs office can be a headache with which not many of them are willing to deal.With an address in Miami, Gabourel pointed out, you can get around this.
Different companies offer different kinds of accounts for this service. Jet Box charges a one-time fee of $25 to rent a mailbox and physical address and then charges for packages by the kilogram, according to Jet Box marketing representative Gabriela Apuy. The price per-kilo varies depending on package size; as an example, receiving a one-kilo package costs $10 and a 10-kilo package costs $60.
Aerocasillas offers different accounts based on how often you plan to use its services. If you plan on bringing something in only once every few months, you can pay an annual membership fee of $20, but the cost of a package per kilogram will be higher by anywhere from a few dollars to much more, depending on size.
The accounts that require monthly fees are called Gold, Platinum and Diamond accounts, and the fees range from $12 to $75. Diamond account members can have a 10-kilo package delivered to Costa Rica for $43, while for those with a basic annual account the cost would be $58.50. Additional kilograms would cost the basic member $3.50 each, and the Diamond member just $2.25, according to the Aerocasillas Web site. Many of these companies will also deal with Costa Rican Customs and add up the cost of taxes, which vary by product, for you.
To find Customs online, go to www.hacienda.go.cr and click on the link “Dirección General de Aduanas,” found on the far right column of the page.