Sending and receiving packages in Spain

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 Spain?

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 Spain?

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

Hello Priscilla
I have found over 10 years the public postal system to be efficient and reliable in sending and receiving all items. I buy a lot on ebay and rarely have a problem. If it’s a parcel it’s delivered to the door.

Postal services here are extremely reliable - both inbound/outbound. I usually get/send things from the US and there has been situations were parcels have taken anywhere from 4 to 15 days - regular mail, no special delivery! If you plan to buy clothing from the US you maybe subject to import tariffs (aranceles de aduana not tarifas). I recall writing the wrong address and it got returned to Spain w/o any problems, just took like a month or so. It also works quite well within the EU and to/from Canada.

Don't know about other regions, but if you're planning to send a parcel to LatAm there are other alternatives and couriers. In this given case if you happen to use conventional mail services your package will probably disappear at its destination.

Is the public postal system efficient? 
YES

Do people tend to prefer using private shipping services? Which ones?
I HAVE USED COREOS AND HAVE BEEN HAPPY WITH IT

How do the costs of the private shipping services compare?
IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE NUBER OF PACKAGES YOU SEND WHICH IS THE BEST OPTION. DON'T ASSUME!

Do you have to pay taxes on items received by mail from abroad?
SOMETIMES YES SOMETIMES NO. DON'T ASSUME. BEPREPAIRED FOR SURPRISES.

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

Correos, the state post office generally works fine as do the majority of the carriers. At times there are problems with the private carriers because the drivers are overworked/lazy/stupid and they can't be bothered to find your address so they send you a message saying they can't find you/you weren't in when they called etc., etc which puts the onus on you to chase up the lost package.

There is however a big proviso. It depends on your address. If you have a street and a number there won't be any problem but if you live in a rural area things can change dramatically. We only live 200 metres up a track, off a main road and in a designated village but the number of carriers who could not deliver was legion. I would get frequent calls along the line of, "We're in the village but we can't find you - come now or we will return the package. It's OK if you are at home but it can  cause real problems if you are not. If you're in a rural area use a friend with a real address and most of the carriers have designated pick up points - local shops or businesses whilst Amazon have lockers all over the place.

I've found that for sending parcels it's a lot better to take them to the office of the carriers or to the Post Office unless you spend all your time at home. It's an unbreakable law that if you run out to the shop that's when the carrier will call. I did some work for a secret shopper type setup a few years ago and the carriers coming to collect parcels at a specific time was really fraught.

Just to clarify, if I order something from eBay or receive a package from USA, and I’m not home to receive it, will the correo leave me a notice so I can pick it up?

On two occasions when I was not at home when a private company tried to deliver packages. On both occasions they called me on my mobile to say they had my package and on both occasions they came to where I was and gave me the packages.   

Not saying that will always happen.

PS  QUOTE  will Correo leave me a notice so I can pick it up?
That is the normal procedure,  you can collect after 24 hours have expired.

Thanks Johncar.

It looks from the responses that most people have been happy with their shipments. We haven't been so lucky. Our problem has been with customs. It is very difficult to receive a "care" package of items from family in the US. You may get a form from customs asking for contents and value along with receipts, which you probably won't have. In our case we returned the form with a list of the contents and approximate values and saying that they were gifts. The package was ultimately returned to the sender. So if we need any items from home we ask our visitors or local friends returning from the US  to bring them for us.

In theory, yes...but if you're expecting a package stay on top of it yourself!
For most of the past five years I've been living in Spain, I've had no issue receiving a notice, but I did have an unfortunate situation recently in which my parents had sent me a surprise package, I wasn't home to receive it the day they tried to deliver it, and no one left a notice. Because I was not expecting the package and my parents didn't want to ask me about it until it was far later than they knew I should have received it, by the time I went to correos to inquire it was too late. They told me the package had been waiting at the post office for its designated 15 days but was then 'sent back to the shipper,' This was two months ago, though, with no sight of the package in the US so it seems like it's now just lost in the system.

Just a note. I also normally have good luck with correos. The one exception is on certified mail to the US. In this case, if time isn't an issue, it might be better to either mail by normal mail or to use a private carrier, which is very expensive. A few years ago, I sent a siged legal document that was time sensitive by certified international express. It arrived at it's destination about 2 weeks late. Correos got it to NY from Alicante in less than a day, but it sat in NY at least a week. Apparently, getting signatures or customs was the problem. This year we sent a package with no certification around Xmas and it took at least two weeks to arrive at its destination in Houston, but again I think the problem was in the US.

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