San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Granny’s Waiting: Shipping Gifts via Courier

Deep down, you know that Grandmother is waiting with bated breath back in Omaha, Nebraska, for a trinket to remind her that you still think about her and care.

You pick up a carving at a local souvenir shop, probably of a toucan or another gaudily colored tropical bird, and you think, “She would love to put this on her mantle next to her collection of porcelain kittens.”

Granny is waiting. And she’s not getting any younger. But a second thought stays your hand as you approach the register: “How in the world am I going to get this to her? I’m never going back to Nebraska, and Gran is way too old to make it to Costa Rica…”

Costa Rica’s international mailing systems, long fodder for punch lines, face an increasing volume of traffic as the global economy and easier transportation push Costa Ricans to far corners of the globe and more foreigners within the borders of the country.

The days of lost packages and calendar-changing wait times are long over as a competitive shipping market works to facilitate international communication and commerce.

The services are reliably up and running, but cost efficiency remains a major concern.

What then, are the real options shippers have in choosing where to entrust their precious possessions and tourist trinkets?

The gold standard in international delivery is the three-headed monster comprised of FedEx, UPS and DHL. For the sake of this exercise, we are going to assume that you really owe Grandma and have purchased a five-kilogram toucan megalith. We will add the qualifier that said carved colossus was an incredible steal at ¢25,000 (about $49).

FedEx, which offers several delivery options, would charge you ¢92,057 (about $180) to send the statue to Omaha from San José using its International Priority service.

It would likely land in corn country the following business day.

UPS advertises four different options on its time and cost calculator. The first three are UPS Worldwide Express Plus, UPS Worldwide Express and UPS Express Saver.

To send the five-kilogram package using the Plus service, it would run you approximately ¢101,331 ($198). Express service for the same package would cost ¢83,719 ($164), while the Saver option dips the total to ¢82,084 ($160). All of these deliveries would arrive the next day.

If thriftiness is your mantra, and Grandma is in no hurry, you can use the UPS Worldwide Expedited service, which would deliver in three business days for ¢77,993 ($153).

DHL, the third overlord of the parcel pantheon estimates that, using normal service, the delivery would cost ¢89,503 ($175) and would take two business days to touch down.

If you decide you want to veer slightly off the beaten path, Colibrí Express would send out the statue for ¢103,168 ($202). The package would reach Omaha in three business days.

If these options are too expensive and you instead opt to expedite a half-kilo, novellength letter explaining why you missed Christmas (and need money), FedEx offers two services that deliver the next business day to the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The cost would be ¢38,058 ($74) for International First or ¢22,550 ($44) via International Priority, its most popular service. For those looking to deliver elsewhere, International Priority typically reaches Europe by 10:30 a.m. the second day.

UPS would charge ¢21,637 ($42) for Worldwide Express service or ¢21,199 ($41) for Express Saver delivery. Depending on which drop-off time you make, delivery would take a day or two.Worldwide Express delivers before 10:30 a.m., whereas Express Saver delivers after 10:30. This is probably not a deal-breaking distinction for Granny, but for businesses, it can make all the difference in the world.

DHL would get your letter to Omaha for ¢32,131 ($63) in the same two-business-day span as the abandoned toucan.

Colibrí Express would drop your letter at Nana’s retirement home in three days for a total of ¢42,160 ($83).

You can check FedEx prices in English at using the “Get FedEx Rates and Transit Times” option under the shipping menu. You can also prepare packages for shipment if you create an account. To reach FedEx by phone, call 800-GO-FEDEX (800-463-3339).

UPS offers rate information in English at; select “Calculate Time and Cost” under the “Shipping” menu. Log in and prepare shipments in the convenience of your own home (or the nearest Internet café). You can reach UPS Costa Rica by telephone at 2290-2828.

DHL’s site also boasts a shipping time calculator online. Go to and click on the “Transit Time Quote” option under the “eShipping” menu. You can also fill out forms and schedule pickups online. DHL’s main number in Costa Rica is 2209-0000.

To reach Colibrí Express, call 2291-2472.


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