Sending and receiving packages in Colombia

Hello,

As an expat, there are inevitably certain items you might want or need from back home, and around the holiday period, many people like to send gift packages.

How easy is it to send and receive packages in Colombia?

Is the public postal system efficient?

Do people tend to prefer using private shipping services? Which ones?

How do the costs of the private shipping services compare?

How long does it take generally to receive packages from abroad in Colombia?

Do you have to pay taxes on items received by mail from abroad?

Are packages delivered right to your doorstep, or do you usually have to go collect them somewhere?

Thank you for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

Priscilla :

How easy is it to send and receive packages in Colombia?

Is the public postal system efficient?

Do people tend to prefer using private shipping services? Which ones?

Efficient?  No.  Unreliable is more like it.

Savvy Expats in Colombia know that a private service such as DHL, ServiEntrega or US Global Mail is essential if the package must get through.

The following is based on my personal experience and many anecdotal posts by other Expats online.

A package sent through the public mails in Colombia:  if sent with no postal code indicated, it won't be delivered even if the address is otherwise correct.  Looks like it might have meds or valuable product inside the package?  An underpaid postal worker will probably take it home.

cccmedia

It's far worse in Colombia than other countries where I have received packages, including Ecuador and Peru.

In those other countries, there may be long wait times and delays.  There may be tariffs to pay.

But at least there is an excellent chance the package will be delivered.

When I attempted to get my USA bank to send me a replacement card for a Visa card that was expiring, the bank kept sending new cards to the fancy hotel in Medellín where I was staying.  The reception desk never received my cards.

----

You will likely pay at least fifty bucks to arrange for a package sent between the USA and Colombia. 

Do we prefer to pay DHL or US Global mail that amount?  It's not a question of preference.  It's what you have to do if a document, health product or other important article needs to get to you in Colombia.

cccmedia

I can't offer comprehensive answers to all of your questions because I've only sent or received small business envelope size packages and always through the postal system.

FedEx and other services that deliver to Colombia, while faster, are prohibitively expenses for routine letters. A USPS letter from the U.S. can cost only a few dollars where the private delivery services are north of $50 for the same size envelope.

I have sent and received a few letter size envelopes from and to the U.S. using the Colombian postal system. It can take quite a while, up to two months to arrive in my experience. I did once receive a letter in 12 days. Home delivery by the Colombian postal system, at least in Cali, has been by an individual. Recently I've seen neighbors getting mail delivered by an individual on a bicycle and wearing what looks like an official Colombian postal system shirt.

At least one letter from the U.S., a Christmas card, never arrived.

I have no information about customs or taxes since I've never received anything that required this.

I strongly suggest that if you have a high value time sensitive letter or package sent or received you better stick with a private service.

Overall I'm not dissatisfied with the Colombian postal system. It has a lot of growing pains. Just don't expect it to be fast.

There is no public postal service in Colombia.
Everything will go through a private partner of whoever you choose as the shipping agent.
Sending packages from Canada to Colombia, I will say my experience as been :
1) DO NOT use Fedex/UPS, their prices are absurd, as in 200$+ for a can of maple syrup.
2) Canada Post will deliver, for about a quarter of Fedex prices (yes, that's still 50$ for a 10$ can of syrup, I hope you like her very much)...but you gotta be patient about it (6 to 8 weeks, don't believe what they say)

Make sure the address you write on the package follows colombian nomenclature and you will have to lookup the postal code for the city yourself, as it is mandatory but nobody seems to know what it is.

MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE : make sure to have the recipient phone number on there, colombian addresses get tricky but they will call for directions if they can, so make sure someone will answer that phone call.

Better tip : don't send anything here, it might be cheaper to just buy your loved one a ticket to come see you.

NilsGelBel :

There is no public postal service in Colombia.
Better tip : don't send anything here, it might be cheaper to just buy your loved one a ticket to come see you.

Not quite correct - the public postal service in Colombia is 4-72:

https://www.4-72.com.co/

Its delivery service is not great, to be true.  But you MUST use the postal code for each area, the código postal, if you want your package or correspondence to have any chance of arriving at its destination.  You can find the postal code using this tool here, to either enter an address or more useful, zoom in on the map until you see the 6-digit postal code for an area:

http://visor.codigopostal.gov.co/472/visor/

As far as sending items to Colombia - there are many forwarding services in the US that pretty reliably deliver to various areas in Colombia, as well as delivery services inside Colombia offered by private companies.  Do a search for
colombia envios
...to see many inside Colombia as well as outside.
To see more delivery services in English do searches for
colombia send package      and
send package to colombia from miami

That Last comment made me laugh. I love this forum.

I had one package sent to me last Christmas..... never arrived!
I sent one package home from Manizales to San Diego, weight less than 5 Kg.  It was 6 weeks and several emails and phone calls before one pro working for fedex went the extra mile to get my package out of customs and delivered.  The cost?  $211 US

It has been my experience of more than 30 years sending items to Colombia that the private shippng companies are far better than the regular post office, also less expensive and delivered to your door steps.  They charge you by the pound, depending where you live. Normally is about a dollar to 1.40 /pound..   Large boxes may be charge by the size ht*lenght*dept..  they usually take about 5 days to a week again depending where you're sending from.. Ex: from Miami to Colombia takes abiut 4 to 5 days and average price is 1.20 a pound.  Plus sur-charges of what you say that is inside the box, so you will pay custom taxes about 20% of the declared item.

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