Complete Guide to Ecuador Travel & Relocation (GringosAbroad)

How To Send and Receive Mail in Ecuador

This is a guest post by an American expat living in Cuenca since 2007. 

How can I receive and send mail in Ecuador?

In the States, and I suppose in many other “developed” countries, receiving mail is a simple matter of walking to the curb and checking the mail box.

Every house has a mailbox and a street address where one can receive mail and packages. In the States we take home delivery of mail and packages for granted, but here in Ecuador you will be hard pressed to find a house with a mailbox.  They do exist but they are the exception rather than the rule.

We have lived in four different houses since moving to Ecuador and none of them had an official street address, house number or mailbox.  Also, I’ve yet to see a uniformed postal, UPS or FedEx employee making home deliveries here.

So, in the absence of home addresses and mailboxes, how does one go about sending and receiving mail and packages here, especially mail or goods from other countries?

send-mail-ecuador

How We Send and Receive Mail

In order to receive regular mail from the U.S., we rent a P.O. Box in the main post office in down town Cuenca.  It costs $25.00 per year.

To send a letter regular mail from Ecuador to the States it cost about $1.00. It cost about the same to receive regular mail from the U.S. If you need to mail important documents to other countries from Ecuador, you can send them via registered mail and it costs about $15.00 and the documents usually arrive at their destination within a week.

Sending and receiving regular mail is not that big of a deal. We have found the Ecuadorian mail system to be efficient and reliable.  We check our p.o. box about twice a month and have even started to receive junk mail in it in addition to the occasional letter or card from family members in the States.

Can you receive packages from other countries?

We have ordered items from online retailers in the States and have had mixed results receiving the packages in Ecuador.   A couple of years ago we ordered some school books for our kids from a popular online book seller and were told that they did offer international shipping to Ecuador. However, the books never arrived and the company did not offer any way to track the package. So, for a while it seemed that the only safe way for us to receive goods or packages from the States was to have them sent to the address of friends in the U.S. and then make arrangements to have the package forwarded to Ecuador via UPS, DHL or some other international shipping company.  The problem is that the packages have to pass through customs and there are fees that have to be paid in addition to the international shipping charges.  Therefore, receiving packages this way is not 100% reliable or hassle free.

Club Correos is a relatively new way to receive packages in Ecuador.

An article by

Bryan is a journalist, photographer, expat and dad. He writes for Gringos Abroad (Ecuador travel & living) and Blogger Abroad (run an online business abroad). He also enjoys living in Southern Ecuador (South America) with his wife and daughter. Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn. Work with Bryan & Dena

More about: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

{ 41 comments… add one }

  • Susan October 4, 2014, 5:55 pm

    There is some mail delivery to the door in Ecuador. I was totally amazed, but a friend mailed a small package to me from Canada when I was living in Salinas. I was in one of the highrises right on the Malecon, and she addressed it to me at the name of the building, Malecon, Salinas, Ecuador.

    When she told me she had sent it to that address, I assumed I would never see it, but about two months later, it was delivered to the doorman at my building! It was just sent regular parcel post from Canada.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines October 5, 2014, 11:01 am

      Yes, you’re right. Some of the towers and many of the businesses receive mail at their locations. But it isn’t common.

      Reply
  • Joycelyn smith August 29, 2014, 11:57 am

    I just paid 250 dollars to have a package delived to me from Ecuador how long does it take to receive it to the USA and do it still ship on holidays

    Reply
  • Carole Walter March 1, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Once you hear from Miami that you have a package, but that you have to pay for it first before they can send it to your mailbox in Cuenca, how do you do that? You say nothing about how to pay for your mail with PayPal. I have mail being held in Miami in my Locker Box there, but they will not release it to send to me because they have received no payment for it.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines March 1, 2014, 4:19 pm

      You can log into your account and pay for it there. There will be a button to pay via PayPal for that specific shipment.

      Reply
  • Sonia February 27, 2014, 10:23 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    What service do you recommend, to send to send a package to Washington state at the best price… Have been looking at UPS and FedEx but I’m not sure what’s the best costly option.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines March 1, 2014, 7:37 am

      I’ve only sent small packages out of Ecuador and we’ve had good success with DHL. I would recommend either DHL or FedEx. UPS uses agents (which usually increases costs and decreases service).

      Reply
      • William Wright March 1, 2014, 8:54 am

        Mi amiga in Quito has successfully sent two small packages via the service Correos. They both arrived to me in the States by USPS. However, the irony of the stamps ‘Jorge the turtle’ on the packages was not lost upon me. ………… I have made use of USPS for 3 packages to her. All have arrived. All took months not weeks. Months. I will be mailing Christmas package soon :-) Good luck!

        Reply
  • katie January 9, 2014, 10:43 pm

    hi i am currently trying to divorce my husband who is from ecuador and currently living there with his “new wife”. he continues to tell me that he does not have a house address and the only way to send the papers is through Delgado Travel which is in New Jersey and i am in Tennessee. If i were to send them either express or registered where would i send them? would i just put his name and general lcoation (i.e. azogues, canar, ecuador) and maybe his phone number. PLEASE help me. i have been trying to get this divorce since 2003 and now my “lawyer” is giving me a hard time. please email me if you can. thank you very much

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 10, 2014, 12:50 pm

      You can send FedEx, UPS or DHL shipments to their offices for pickup. Just include their phone number so they can call the recipient when it arrives. We’ve had best success with FedEx and DHL. Or you can mail packages to the post office.

      Reply
  • Ryan December 11, 2013, 4:28 am

    Hello, I just wanted to thank you for the basic information. I have sent many letters to Ecuador and have had mixed results. I have mailed simple letters to post cards and legal documents. My son was born in Quito after his mother returned to Ecuador to visit her family and decided never to return to the USA. After many years of dead end situations, I am finding myself having to write “attempt letters” via certified mail to show that the responding person is either A.) Not able to get certified mail or is not receiving my letters B.) Not responding to certified mail or official court documents.

    I think it really depends on the support system and situations involving your business in Ecuador. I have been there twice as a tourist and compared to the simplistic and almost certain business practices that I have come to depend on in the states, Ecuador proves to be impossible to count on for any sort of Government services or Legal protection. In a country where you are a US. Citizen, the support structure you have and the unique situation you are in is pretty much all the protection and accountability you might find.

    I am very glad good people post basic information like this for me to read or follow up with from time to time.

    Blessings and best wishes to you and your family,

    Ryan Sellars
    Minnesota USA

    Reply
  • Kathy October 20, 2013, 8:31 am

    I am interested in moving to Ecuador. When there I will be wanting to ship packages to the states. Is the states we have flat rate boxes- perhaps you are familiar? I am wondering how difficult it is to ship smaller boxes, and what the cots may be, as well as how long it takes for items to arrive in the states, Info on any of these 3 items is greatly appreciated. I realize costs will vary, but the shipping time and the actual success of shipping are both key factors for me. THANKS!

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines October 20, 2013, 2:01 pm

      We have only shipped the occasional items out of Ecuador. General post is expensive and based on weight/volume. I shipped two packages a few months ago and they have yet to arrive. I think they may never make it. If you are thinking about post for a business – I suggest you consider a courier service instead.

      Reply
  • William Wright August 10, 2013, 6:14 pm

    I must admit. I feel a bit discouraged at the idea of sending a simple gift to a lovely friend in Quito. I was given the ‘address’. It was a paragraph long! I will rethink my efforts. Thank you for the information. William

    Reply
  • Frank Barnes July 27, 2013, 9:27 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    My wife and I are researching moving to Ecuador and I’ve got a question on the Postal System there in regard to sending letters (9in x 13in) envelopes weighing from about 4 oz to 20 oz. We have an internet business where we print items that customers order and mail them to them. You have shown representative costs for cards and I guess standard letters but I was wondering what the costs might be for our larger envelopes. These are not legal documents or anything like that. We don’t need or want to use any of the Fedex type services as they are too costly for our needs. Any info postal pricing would be appreciated, I assume estimated delivery times to the US are 10 – 14 days. Thanks in advance.
    Frank

    PS We are looking forward to an exploratory visit down there soon.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines July 29, 2013, 7:38 am

      I don’t have a pricing schedule – but you can check their site and contact them if the pricing isn’t there.

      Reply
  • LINDA June 27, 2013, 3:46 pm

    hello i have a letter to sent to Ecuador Manabi Guillen and i can’t find the zip code. Please help
    Linda De

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines July 1, 2013, 9:53 am

      There are no zip codes (at least none in use) in Ecuador.

      Reply
  • R May 2, 2013, 5:51 am

    Hello Bryan
    Do you know it there are still no “casillas” available at the postoffice?
    Or are there any available again?
    Muchas Gracias
    R

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines May 2, 2013, 6:43 am

      I didn’t know that there was a shortage.

      Reply
      • R May 2, 2013, 8:14 am

        Hello Bryan
        I was sure that I read somewhere that Cuenca’s potoffice is running out of po boxes…now I found the link…
        I hope I can copy it here: http://www.captivatingcuenca.com/post-office-box-rental-requirements.html

        “Update in December 2012: The Cuenca post office ran out of boxes a few months ago. If you must have one, hang out there for a while and ask some of the expats who come by if you can share theirs.”

        Maybe somebody knows more (we are not yet) in Cuenca.
        Many Thanks
        R

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines May 2, 2013, 8:46 am

          Okay. We have had our box for more than 3 years so I’m out of touch. If you have a physical address you can ship courier packages to your house/apartment.

          Reply
          • R May 4, 2013, 5:27 am

            Hello Bryan
            Thank you, we were just concerned because we read somewhere that if you rent in a street that has no house numbers (s/n sin numero) then the postman will not find us ;-) I guess we should only rent in the house/apartment has an correct street number.
            R

          • Bryan Haines May 4, 2013, 9:18 am

            It is a valid concern. If you can’t get mail delivered to your address, you can have things couriered and they’ll call you to come pick it up when it arrives at their Cuenca office. We’ve done this many times.

  • Kim February 2, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Hi guys, I have been looking into mail forwarding services. I am from Canada. There does not seem to be much offer for us and I don’t really want a US mail forwarding services because then maybe the taxman will think that I live in the states. I won’t have any family left back in Canada. Would you have any suggestions? I won’t have much mail beside the annual income tax ritual. I am looking more at a scan and forward service.

    As a side note, TD Canada Trust has since last fall direct transfer to TD USA, it is like a normal transfer between your bank accounts. The two banks are now ”like” the same unlike RBC USA and RBC Canada. Just thought I would mention it.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines February 3, 2013, 6:57 am

      I haven’t heard of mail forwarding services in Canada – hopefully another reader will be able to help. It would make sense that it exists because of how many Canadians spend winters abroad (down south).

      Good to hear that TD now offers a good alternative for US banking.

      Reply
  • Dave R December 3, 2012, 1:30 pm

    Wondering if anyone has any recent experiences on having electronics sent from the US, and what kind of fees might be charged on the Ecuadorian side?

    Cheers.

    Reply
  • Lawrence Paulus July 27, 2012, 11:12 am

    what is the cheapest to mail a package from the U>S> to Cuenca Ecuador

    Reply
  • Dave July 20, 2011, 12:21 pm

    Alternately you may want to consider a USA based mail forwarding service.
    Look at my website http://www.posthost.biz for mailbox rental prices, forwarding can be done internationally through the mail or via DHL

    Reply
  • Thomas June 4, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Funny (not) everytime I mail to the U.S. I am charge $2, Post Card or Letter…
    (and I trade Tokens with others – So far, Someone is Stealing them as I do not get them & when I mail them OUT, they go missing) So much for Customs & Postal.

    Reply
  • David Marshall February 15, 2011, 12:59 pm

    This message is for Brian rather than Doug. I am trying to decide whether we need to keep a Canadian postal address for any reason. Can you shed any light on that issue?

    PS I have set up the banking with RBC USA as you have suggested. My local branch had not thought of that as a potential solution so I was very happy for your help and they learned something. Regards, David.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines February 16, 2011, 9:55 am

      Hi David, we kept a Canadian PO Box and my parents check it every week or two. The catch about living abroad, is that for income tax / banking / online purchases you’ll need an address in Canada. I’m sure you could work around it, but for us the $110 per year is well worth it.

      Glad to hear that the banking system has worked out good for you. Its working like a charm for us here. By the way, we recently started using checks drawn on the RBC USA account to deposit into our Ecuadorian accounts – and its working great!

      All the best on your planning!

      Bryan

      Reply
      • David Marshall February 16, 2011, 12:53 pm

        Why would the government of Canada require us to have a Cdn address if we are seeking non-resident status for tax purposes? Regards, Dave.

        Reply
        • Bryan Haines February 16, 2011, 5:55 pm

          Its not a requirement – its just more convenient for us. Where can the government (or any other office or business) send mail without an address? Of course, you could just have it forwarded to family or friends. It really depends on how much mail you might get and how important it is.

          Reply
  • David Marshall January 6, 2011, 12:08 pm

    Hi Brian, Doug mentioned that he was using a Miami forwarding service as well. Could we get a bit more information with regard to the threshold weight that triggers the very high charges. Regards, Dave.

    Reply
  • Tom January 5, 2011, 12:36 pm

    Is a letter out-going charged different than a Post Card?

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 5, 2011, 1:39 pm

      Hi Tom – it would seem – wouldn't it? Honestly, I'm not sure – we don't mail very often. We have a new system for commenting – which is why Doug isn't replying. Hopefully he'll be online with the new system in the next couple of days (my fault – not his).

      I'll get back to you.

      Bryan

      Reply
    • Doug January 5, 2011, 9:36 pm

      Tom, we recently sent a letter regular mail from Cuenca to the States and it cost us about $1.00 to send. Recently we received a card from Georgia and the postage on the envelope was .98 cents.

      Reply
  • Becca January 4, 2011, 9:04 pm

    Many people use what are called Buzomes (I don't know if it is spelled with an s or a z). The company receives items in Miami and then send them to Ecuador via airmail. We know people that use them all the time for packages and have been very happy with the service and from what I know the packages always reach them (keep in mind they still have to meet Ecuador's standard for weight, if you go over you get charged an arm and a leg, and there are things they won't ship, such as perfumes). Mailing post cards is also extremely expensive at $2 PER CARD! But yes, overall, mail here is nothing like in the US! You don't even mail thank you cards. Instead, you hand deliver them…

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines January 4, 2011, 9:32 pm

      Hi Becca – we've heard the same but I haven't used it. Its funny, but Doug (author of this post) has another post on a system from the post office ready to publish on Friday. It sounds like what your talking about.

      And for local mail – its so true. We haven't mailed anything within the country since we've lived here (almost a year and a half now). And we rarely mail outside of the country.

      Bryan

      Reply

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