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How To Avoid Problems With Club Correos (9 Lessons Learned)

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

problems-club-correosClub Correos is a mail forwarding program offered by the Ecuadorian Post Office and we’ve come to depend on it for many products.

It is very popular among expats and Ecuadorians because it is easy to get products from the US. There are items that either aren’t available in Ecuador or are just too expensive here.

In this post, I breakdown 9 things you can do to avoid problems with your Club Correos shipments. But first:

Why Use Club Correos? 

There are two benefits to using Club Correos over direct shipping to Ecuador.

  1. Reduced Shipping Costs: Because of bulk shipping thousands of packages, the freight costs are very low.
  2. No Customs Paperwork: If your package is under $400 and weighs less than 4kg then you pay no duties or taxes. And they handle all of the paperwork and customs clearance. At least that’s the idea.

How Club Correos Works

amazon-com When you sign-up (econcargoecuador.net, just $11.20 per year) you get an address and a mailbox number in Miami. When buying online (most often via Amazon.com) you just ship your packages to your Miami address, making sure that your mailbox number is on the label. They then forward it on to Ecuador and to the address registered with them. We wrote about Club Correos a few years ago.

Our Club Correos Experience

club-correos-problems

We’ve been using  Club Correos for many years. And we’ve received more than 70 packages from the United States. We’ve bought everything from clothes and sunglasses to cameras (Canon SX280 and GoPro) and hard-drives. We even ordered a humidifier (to help with Cuenca’s dry air), a water filter and a bike trainer.

We’ve ordered goods from Canada and shipped them to our address in Miami. When we placed the order, we ensured that they included an invoice and that it was addressed properly. The package arrived without any trouble.

We’ve had packages arrive as fast as 10 calendar days – with the average being around 2 – 2.5 weeks. We have never lost a package or had anything take over four weeks to arrive.

That is, until now.

Two Problem Packages and Some Lessons Learned

A few months ago, we had trouble with two packages at the same time. One was a box of a number of small things: stainless coffee mugs, food and vitamins. The other was a small envelope with 3 pieces of makeup.

For the box with the small things, we were told that it didn’t meet the rules and we would have to ship it back to the US. The weight wasn’t anywhere near the 4kg limit and the value was very low. It seems that someone in the shipping department at Amazon grabbed a big box and started filling it with the little pieces. Even though it would have been less than half full, they shipped it anyway. From their perspective, this didn’t matter. The shipping is free for customers so the box size isn’t important. That is, unless you are having it forwarded to another country.

When it arrived, the boxed was listed at a cubed weight of just over 16kg. Now it is possible that the vitamins we had in the box were also a problem, but they flagged the shipment as overweight. According to the cubed weight, it was more than 4 times over the limit.

So I went to the post office and paid to ship it out of Ecuador. Because the box was so big, this cost almost $100. In the notification email, I was warned that if I didn’t ship it out of the country, I would be fined more than $2000. All of a sudden, $100 didn’t seem so expensive.

The other package with the makeup had a value of $20 and weighed less than 1lb. I was told that we could receive the package if we did one of two things.

  1. Provide a certificate from the Ministry of Public Health stating that we have the right to import this product.
  2. Provide a sworn oath stating that we will never, ever order this product again.

The first choice wasn’t really an option. This is for companies wanting to commercially import the product. We just wanted a couple of units. So we went to a notary and swore that we would never buy this item again. We presented it and a few days later they told us that the package had been rejected and it needed to be shipped out of the country anyway. Back to the post office again – we paid to ship the product to my parents place in Canada. This was back in July.

I was waiting to write this post until the packages arrived safely in Canada – but they still haven’t. More than four months have gone by and we don’t know where the boxes are. The postal service is “looking into it”.

9 Ways To Avoid Problems with Club Correos

While there is no way to avoid all problems, these tips should help avoid many of them. If you read Spanish, you can read all the current rules here.

  1. Enter Your Miami Address Properly: Include your mailbox number in the “Name” field. For example, Bryan Haines, EC10687952. I’ve heard from many expats that they can’t get the address entered correctly. In the “Address Line1” enter the physical location: 7824 NW 71 ST If you don’t include your mailbox number in the name field, it may get dropped by the vendors system and the package won’t arrive. If it does, they won’t know who to assign it to.
  2. Don’t Order Used Goods: A few days ago, I heard from a distraught Canadian mother who sent a care package to her daughter who is teaching English on the coast. The box included new and used clothes, along with used books, etc. The postal service told her that the package was rejected and that the goods would be donated to charity. I think by refusing used goods it simplifies importation by assuming that everything is new and thus subject to duties. Without a commercial invoice, it is almost impossible to assign duty/tax value. There are two opportunities to bring in used goods: 1) as personal effects when you enter the country or 2) as part of a “menaje de casa” or house hold goods for your permanent move to Ecuador. A shipment of used goods constitutes an import of those items into the country. (Thanks to Jakob for clarifying this in his comment.)
  3. No Cell Phones: This is a popular one. We did order one before the law changed – and it cost just 25% of the price here. There is an attraction to order a good phone for much less. But it will be confiscated. Also, cordless phones with DECT technology (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecomunications) are prohibited.
  4. Nothing in Bulk: The guidelines state that if you order more than three similar articles it could be considered as a commercial import and this would require supporting documents.
  5. No Clothing Without Tags: Clothing without tags is considered used and will be seized / confiscated by Customs.
  6. Read the Rules: There are weight and value limits. These are easy. They call it 4X4. That is packages up to 4 kg and US$400 of value enter the country without paying taxes or duties. There are other rules that you must know. Vitamins can raise flags and makeup can be rejected.
  7. Don’t Order Too Many Small Items at Once: As mentioned above, too many small articles run the risk of ending up in a big box – that could be cubed and then rejected. Best to space them out over time.
  8. Don’t Order These (Obviously) Restricted Items: explosive articles, animals, jewelry, firearms, ceramics, glass, fuel, explosives, cell phones, used parts, money, checks or credit cards. There are other items that require prior approval. Check Aduanas del Ecuador for more info. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list.)
  9. Names Must Match (Update March 10, 2014): Correos del Ecuador announced last week that effective March 5, 2014 packages must have a) the same name as the owner of the mailbox in Miami, and b) the invoice attached which matches the contents of the box. Packages where the name doesn’t match may be subject to delays and/or may not be delivered at at.

The Glitches Are Still Cheaper Than Flights to Miami

We continue to use the service – and we’re very happy with it. The problems that we’ve had are mostly our fault. I should have check the fine print – and used better judgement when ordering.

What has been your experience with Club Correos? Share your tips and/or problems below.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

75 comments… add one
  • Lewi Blake Jun 1, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Is it still possible if you want to order something over 4kg or $400 but you just have to pay tax on it, or they dont let you at all.
    If you can, how/where do you pay the tax?

    Thanks

  • marr Oct 2, 2016, 11:17 am

    Such a valuable article, thanks so much. We have just opened our Ec PO box and would love to sign up for this. I have only found spanish : ( ..any way you might suggest…english pages?? please and thanks.
    Marr

  • Michael Silbergleid Jul 4, 2016, 3:11 pm

    It appears that all the links to Club Correos are not active. Has the system been replaced or just no longer available?

  • chemfreemom Jul 11, 2015, 10:10 pm

    Is there any problem when a friend or relative orders the item in the US and ships you a box of their own? Say, like as a Christmas gift? Do all the Dames fees, rules, and problems apply as if you order directly from a company yourself? And, should your friend send it via Federal Express or is there a better way?
    Thanks!

  • James Cope Feb 16, 2015, 9:26 am

    Is it true that they eliminated Club Correos? That’s what I heard on the Ecuador Times.

  • German Oct 28, 2014, 2:24 am

    Is some telephone company in Ecuador that will work and compatible with cellular phones from Verizon in US like my brand new unlocked cell Samsung Galaxy III with (CDMA)system instead (GSM)which is the system for Claro and Movistar in Ecuador
    tks

  • German Oct 28, 2014, 1:59 am

    I want to bring to Ecuador a brand new unlocked Samsung cell phone that is compatible only with Verizon system in USA.
    I understand that Movistar and Claro are GSM compatible only I wonder if the other third telephone company from the ecuadorian government would be compatible with Verizon system GSMA
    Thanks for your help

  • Camilo Oct 2, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Hello Bryan
    I’ve read your comments. We are a freight forwarding company to Ecuador now specializing in small packages. We are like a small UPS, as you know there are companies given this services, in Ecuador are called “courier companies” I offer you our services, give us a try.
    Regards

  • Kris Sep 30, 2014, 11:46 am

    I am also having problems with Club Corroes. I ordered twice in the same day from the same company because I had forgot something…..so no problem they were both small. I paid for them separately in Miami and when they got here they would not give me them because they said it was a pattern and I was an importer. The only thing that I had ordered before was mens vitamins and that was 1 1/2 years ago!! They said I needed a “health registration” but they won’t tell me how or where to get one. Then they said the packages were over weight ONLY because they put them together!! I thought I could pay for the over weight?? They tell me to use a contact form and then give me a link that does not work. One person says one thing and another says something else. I went to sign a paper to send them back and they sent me away saying I did not need to and when I told the local mail place they said yes I have to got back and sign. Last I told them if they were not going to help me they could just throw my packages away and I would not use Corroes mail again. These packages were paid for in Miami before these new rules so should have had no problem. I wish they had a BBB here, maybe I could get a straight answer. Thanks for letting me vent and anyone with suggestions let me know.
    Kris

    • Bryan Haines Sep 30, 2014, 12:06 pm

      From what I’ve seen, there is no solution – expect losing your stuff and more money.

      According to the law, they can fine you if you don’t ship the rejected shipment out of the country. For the shipment that they questioned of ours, we paid almost $100 to ship it out of Ecuador. They never sent it (tracking number showed it stayed in GYE) and after 8 months of their calls / emails, they refunded me $80 total (to cover value of the goods and the freight. I felt like I had been robbed.

      I don’t know where the weak link is but if a package gets flagged, it seems like it is a lost cause.

  • Celeste Price Apr 10, 2014, 9:07 am

    I have used Club Correos for about 2 years and it always seems a bit of a struggle to get my packages, although I have ultimately always received them. Until now. I have about $100 worth of vitamins stuck in Miami that I have now paid way too much for…and in the end, was able to purchase them here in Banos, Ecuador! Here’s why I will never use Club Correos again:
    1. They will NEVER email you to let you know your shipment has arrived in Miami.
    2. They no longer email me back AT ALL if I have an issue.
    3. I read/speak Spanish and in my 30s, but you’d have to be a rocket scientist to understand their website.
    4. The rules have changed and you must now upload an invoice. Good luck figuring out how to do that.
    5. I have paid the fees, figured out how to upload the invoice, and done all neccessary to receive my package. Still no package and no communication with me to explain what the hold-up is. It’s been over a month now.
    6. Mostly gringos use this service, so why is the site not in English and more gringo-friendly?!

    Lesson: If you like stress, headaches, and nightmares, use Club Correos!

    Celeste
    Tena, Ecuador

    • Bryan Haines Apr 18, 2014, 12:11 pm

      We have had good success with their service. A few packages have gone sideways but without the service we would have either gone without a certain item or paid a lot more for it.

      Their site is actually pretty easy to use. When they first switched to the new site it took a few minutes to figure it out – but now it works smoothly. I think you are mistaken about who uses this service. Their main customers are Spanish speaking Ecuadorians. We are in Ecuador after all. When we go to pick up packages there is seldom one foreigner in the lineup of sometimes 6-8 Ecuadorians. The Ecuadorian government knows how to do business – if it needed to be in English it would be. Gringos must learn to speak Spanish if they are going to make Ecuador their home.

  • lisa Apr 5, 2014, 9:50 pm

    does this service charge by item? or straight up a fee once a year

    • Bryan Haines Apr 6, 2014, 10:20 am

      There is an annual fee and a per shipment fee. The per shipment fee depends on the weight and value of the package.

  • Hank Dolmatch Mar 14, 2014, 10:49 pm

    I used the Club Correos program to import some earplugs for personal use last November. Since I couldn’t
    figure out how to upload an invoice to the Club or its sister company Econcargo website(s), I had to personally visit the Quito headquarters of the Club where a friendly bi-lingual representative did the necessary computer work in my presence (the package arrived at my apartment one week later). However, even though I was trying to take notes and am a former newspaper and television journalist, I was unable to follow what he was doing online in a way that I hoped I could later duplicate at home. Basically, I resigned myself to having to return to his office
    for my next shipment so he could again help me process the shipping.
    At the end of November, I ordered about a dozen products from Amazon, including some vitamins and dry pasta that turned out to be prohibido. As about 75 percent of my order was shipped in one box including restricted and acceptable items, that whole box was held by Econocargo in Miami. The other 25 percent is also at Econcargo/
    Miami (March 2014) pending my figuring out how to get it to Ecuador. The larger box may have to be sent back to
    Amazon (unless it turns out to be economically unfeasible to do so) but Econcargo has been slow in providing me the required paperwork to do this. Amazon emailed me saying I should request that the shipper (Econcargo)
    send Amazon a fax showing that I did not receive the box, but Econcargo refused to do it that way.
    Along the way, I went back to the Quito office of Club Correos about six weeks ago but the same friendly
    representative was unable to help me expedite the main box. I have been emailing him in recent weeks in an
    attempt to get the 25 percent of my total order that is in packages not containing prohibited items (three packages) forwarded to me in Quito. This is still in process.
    The representative has stressed to me not to order more than about three items that would arrive at the same time as a strategy to avoid interference by Ecuadorian customs.
    As far as I am able to determine, the Club Correos/Econcargo website(s) are user unfriendly, specifically in their not making it understandable to the layman how to upload the required invoice(s). If a gringosabroad
    correspondent can help simplify this uploading procedure, I think he or she would be making a positive
    contribution to the discussion.

  • Paul Fine Mar 14, 2014, 11:32 am

    My experience has been mostly positive, similar to yours. Read the fine print to avoid problems. If you are over 65 years old and receive a discount on airfare, fly to Miami for shopping, bring back an iPhone and iPad for resale, sell here for below the retail price here and that will pay for your flight. It may end up costing a little but for major shopping well worth it. That’s what the locals do especially for Xmas shopping. You can bring back over 100 lbs including your carryon. The savings alone on something like a Kitchen Aid Mixer will cover your plane ticket. That’s what I am doing next month.

    Paul

  • Jeff Feb 12, 2014, 4:49 pm

    It’s getting a lot harder with the clamp down on imports to bring in stuff. Now (as of Jan 2014) you are supposedly only allowed to bring in up to 4 kg or $400 worth of goods per year per PERSON. It used to be that this 4×4 program was per SHIPMENT, with no limit on shipments. With the effort to implement import substitution, bringing anything in is now a bigger headache than ever. Be ready to pay duties, a lot of them.

    • Melita Vega Feb 13, 2014, 4:24 pm

      Please, please say it isn’t so! I feel like crying…

    • Bryan Haines Feb 14, 2014, 6:38 am

      Do you have a source for this change? I haven’t heard this before.

      • Erin Poirier Jul 30, 2015, 3:11 pm

        I read about this law change in an Facebook Ecuador Group. I work online and I need to order products from the States for personal use. I was hoping to use Club Correos for my health supplements and vitamins. I am beginning to think this is not an option due to the restrictions on products and also $400 cap. Any new information on this would be appreciated.

  • Clay Bodine Dec 19, 2013, 6:31 pm

    I lost my wallet and with it my credit cards, ATM cards, etc. I’m having the replacements sent to my son in Chicago. What’s the best way for him to get them to me in Cuenca? Is Club Correos an option?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 19, 2013, 11:05 pm

      No, this is only for new, commercial products with an invoice. I would send them by FedEx.

  • Sid Cullingham Dec 18, 2013, 4:59 pm

    It appears from the comments, I was very fortunate and had a great experience with Club Correos with my first shipment. I did not understand all the rules at first. I had a box of used clothes sent without an invoice of any type. Club Carreos opened the box, inventoried the items, priced them and created a invoice from Ebay! I had it in 7 days. I wonder why the USPS website does not list the same restricted items, such as prescription meds, used clothes etc ? In addition, I know I saw the Club Correos site in English one time. I can not find it again. Thanks guys. This is a great site.

  • Karen@Trans-Americas Journey Dec 13, 2013, 10:20 am

    I’ve read the comments regarding items that cannot be shipped from the US into Ecuador and I just want to confirm something: is it possible to ship a new cellphone (nexus 5) from the US into Ecuador using any shipping service at all? Or do we have to wait and hope and pray we can find someone flying down from the US to Ecuador who would be willing to bring the phone to us? Thanks for any insights. Karen.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 13, 2013, 10:59 am

      According to the law, you cannot import a cell phone into Ecuador. The exception is with personal baggage on a flight. They will confiscate it.

    • Jakob Dec 13, 2013, 11:20 am

      As indicated don’t ship it or you will lose it. When you fly in you are allowed one used and one new cell phone in your luggage per person.

      • Bryan Haines Dec 13, 2013, 11:26 am

        Some friends recently reentered Ecuador – they had 4 used phones and one new. The customs office confiscated one of the used phones because they said the limit is one used phone per person and one new phone per family.

  • Bear Mills Dec 10, 2013, 9:09 am

    Thanks for your insights. I’ve posted a link to your article on my blog.

  • Stewart Nov 19, 2013, 8:55 pm

    Good article Bryan and many good responses. Ive only scanned them and need to try the mentioned websites.
    Unfortunately, our experiences with Club Correos in general have not been good. It went from a lost package in miami because they categorized it wrong to bought software that was lost to a year later trying them again and getting our package fine in 10 days . . . but we got charged in taxes the value of the items (2 giant kongs for 2 dogs).

    We opt to use friends and relatives and ourselves when traveling in and out of Ecuador. Sometimes when thats not available we go with DHL, but still Aduana finds a way to get their money.

    Good luck.

  • Robert Nov 19, 2013, 6:54 am

    I was wondering if anyone had experience with the mail-management/shipping company “US Global Mail” at http://www.usglobalmail.com/mail-services-for/overseas-retirees/.

  • robert Nov 18, 2013, 11:26 am

    Sorry about not using the ‘Reply’ button for my comment of a few moments ago, Bryan.

    Robert

  • robert Nov 18, 2013, 11:24 am

    Aw, c’mon, Bryan…think of all the money you’ll save me if it doesn’t work. 🙂

  • robert Nov 18, 2013, 9:27 am

    Hello…and thanks for all the insights and suggestions.

    To help clarify the matter of shipping “used” items, is it possible, given the comments below, that it would be acceptable to ship, for example, used computer parts to Ecuador (via eBay or Amazon) as long as the seller included a ‘commercial’ invoice? Or, failing that, might it work if the seller were an actual eBay ‘store’ and, even though the item being shipped was used, it was accompanied by that store’s professional-looking, commercial invoice?

    Thanks!

    • Bryan Haines Nov 18, 2013, 10:57 am

      Great question – I don’t know. It seems like it might work, but I don’t want to be the first person to try it. 🙂

    • Jakob Nov 18, 2013, 1:45 pm

      I think a lot of the items fall under the $400/4kg rule if they come with a commercial invoice which would then go through without any duties whatsoever. You just have to know then which item classes are generally excluded.

      • Robert Nov 19, 2013, 6:59 am

        Jakob, is it your opinion that it’s quite possible that such ‘used’ computer accessories, purchased from a seller on eBay in the U.S., might well make it through Ecuadorian Customs provided they are accompanied by the eBay vendor’s ‘commercial’-appearing invoice…and that the only exceptions to such a practice would be those items which are not permitted/shippable under ANY circumstances?

        Thanks.

  • Jeff Schinsky Nov 17, 2013, 8:38 am

    You mentioned DECT wireless phones weren’t allowed. Do you know if it’s okay to use Magic Jack there, and if so, if there is a particular type of phone I might want to purchase to be able to use Magic Jack?

    • Bryan Haines Nov 17, 2013, 8:28 pm

      Yes – lots of expats use magic jack here. You can buy lots of phones here – it is just the importation that is banned.

      • Geoffrey Levens Nov 17, 2013, 8:33 pm

        Can we get Magic Jack shipped to Ecuador or do you really need to carry it over or have someone else do so for you?

      • Jakob Nov 18, 2013, 2:20 am

        I have brought 4 different DECT phones from the US and Canada into Ecuador on 3 different flights, no problem. They work perfectly well in Ecuador. I have also brought in several Blackberrys, no problem. The problem starts when you ship through a courier or exceed the quotas when packing your suitcase.

  • Jo Anna Kloster Nov 16, 2013, 1:02 pm

    If/when we move to Cuenca…how do I get my clothing and other items need to start my life there? I would like to take my pans/pots that enable me to cook well (heavy French dutch ovens). Also….I contacted Vitacost.com from whom I purchase vitamins, food items, toiletries, cosmetics. They said they ship to Eduador. Do you know if this is true? What size boxes are we talking about….that are ok to ship? Do people just move to Cuenca with the clothes on their back and whatever they can fit into (?how many?) suitcases??

    • Bryan Haines Nov 18, 2013, 6:37 am

      Some expats just move with some luggage (like us) and others ship containers with their household goods. The rules for household goods are different than just shipping random boxes of used stuff. I don’t know the process, because we haven’t done it, but your lawyer or another expat can explain it.

      • chemfreemom Jul 11, 2015, 10:04 pm

        Who is your lawyer, and have you heard of a lawyer named Sara Chaca, at ecuadorvisas.com, and if so, is she reliable and trustworthy? She said she’d get us visas, help us find a hotel, apartment, and eventually a house, open a bank account and start a business, etc for $1500 for both me and my son. Half up front and the other half when we have the visas. Has anyone used her services?

  • Joel Kaplan Nov 15, 2013, 10:06 pm

    I have used Transexpress for about 2 years. It seems to work about the same as you are describing Club Correos. We pay about $12 a year for the box and are charged by the pound for the forwarding. Initially they handed off the packages to Ecuador’s postal system for delivery. They would end up at our PO Box in Cotacachi without the usual $5 handling fee. Earlier this year, Transexpress changed delivery services to LAAR courier service. This is a private service similar to UPS or FedEx. While Transexpress announced the change, they didn’t inform us that LAAR can’t deliver to the post office, but they will deliver directly to an address. After getting several calls from LAAR that we had to pick up our packages at their office in Otavalo (which really annoyed me), they informed me they would deliver to my home. Like a lot of homes in this area, we don’t have a coherent address and you just have to know where the house is. I finally gave them the address of a friends business in town and they accept the packages for me. No mas problemas. As for the used item issue, I had a portable hard drive I had left in the States sent to me. Since it didn’t have a commercial invoice, it was held. I simply sent a note stating it was personal property being returned. With that, it came through no problem. The only must for a package coming through is it must have a commercial invoice. If a vendor doesn’t include it, you can send a copy via their website. So far we’ve received all 15 packages we’ve ordered.

  • Melita Vega Nov 15, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Excellent post! I’ve only been using Club Correos for about two years since returning to Ecuador, and have since been able to successfully order clothing, facial creams and, most recently, die cast airplane models (which were classified as toys). However, I was just about to order some makeup off the MAC website, and was startled to hear the makeup you ordered was rejected. May I ask what type of makeup it was? (being a makeup fanatic, this really bums me out)

    • Bryan Haines Nov 18, 2013, 6:57 am

      It isn’t consistent. Dena ordered four units of the same brand (different color) a few weeks earlier and they came in okay. But this item Maybelline New York Mineral Power Powder Foundation, Nude, 0.28 Ounce was rejected… Who knows why?

      • Jakob Nov 18, 2013, 1:35 pm

        Each item in an international transaction and shipment comes with what Ecuadorian customs calls “partida arancelaria”. On there you can find the HS code of the goods among others. Now, there are a lot of sloppy mistakes on the part of the shippers which are not necessarily caught by customs employees. There are also wrong re-classifications on the part of customs professionals. Sometimes, bad English contributes. For example, I have seen customs professionals classify the English term “body wash” as cream, while the correct classification would be soap, and argue about it. That’s not the same in terms of “partida arancelaria”, and therefore legally not the same. With packages that come with mixed goods (say ladies’ garments and bed sheets) they have their problems, too, because they only want to apply one code to the entire shipment. In my experience they tend to classify the entire package with the code of the item in the package that pays the most customs duty with all the associated consequences.

  • Jane Nov 15, 2013, 3:41 pm

    I’ve been shipping items from Chicago to my friend in Ecuador through a travel agency/courier. I am interested in using Club Correo because of the convenience of ordering on Amazon and not having to physically take everything to the courier, however my friend does not have a mailing address in Ecuador. He lives in a somewhat rural area and picks up my shipments from an agent in Machala. Any idea how I could use Club Correo without him having a mailing address there?

    • Bryan Haines Nov 15, 2013, 4:30 pm

      I’ve heard that many expats just pick the packages up at the post office. We have a PO box in Cuenca and ship items to that number – works great. Maybe he can open a box at the post office in Machala?

    • Caro Hamilton Nov 15, 2013, 6:02 pm

      Club Correo’s website says that you can ship used items via their service. My advice: DON’T do this. I shipped 13 boxes of used books, clothes and kitchen items from the U.S. in June 2012, all carefully weighed. 5 boxes arrived just fine. 7 boxes landed in customs in Guayaquil all on the same day so customs considered them “one shipment” which consolidated is over 4 kilos. Hence the shipment was “overweight” and prohibido. They also informed me that “used clothes and shoes” are “prohibido” and would be given to charity. They were willing to separate the clothing and shoes from the books and cooking utensils and I could pay duty on the latter and receive it. The glitch was that I needed to sign a document allowing them to make the separation, and that same document said I agreed to pay the resulting duty. How much is the duty? They wouldn’t know til they separated the goods! So we were at an impasse of e-mails for 4 months. Finally I gave up and just abandoned my 7 boxes. Then I was told by a friend who has a shipping company that I’d better settle this before they decided to charge me for “storage.” I went to the Club Correos office here in Cuenca in January 2013. They agreed to send me all 7 boxes with all their contents for $680 in duty. When I said I would have abandon them as I didn’t have that kind of money, they said then there would be a fine of over $3,000. I called my lawyer. I paid her $100 to contact them. Then they told me I could get my boxes and all their contents for $300. I agreed, and when I went to pick them up, the total charge that I paid was $133. All the clothes and shoes and books and kitchen utensils were there, nothing missing. Go figure! I have used Club Correos to order books from Amazon and sheets from JC Penneys with no problem, but I prefer now to do suitcase runs.

      • Bryan Haines Nov 15, 2013, 7:26 pm

        I’ve never seen in print that used items can be shipped. I have seen the opposite – and this seems to be the case, as your experience shows.

        Sorry to hear about the hard time you had – but seems to have worked out okay in the end.

  • Walter Friese Nov 15, 2013, 2:24 pm

    I list me address – Correo central de Cuenca – I do not live that far from there and I get my things quicker. They do not mind holding for you.

  • Terrydarc Nov 15, 2013, 1:46 pm

    Do you have any experience with the other service(s) that will ship to Ecuador? Transexpress seems to offer the same service.

    Thanks for the info on what is not allowed – I assume when one signs up for CC that you get a list of items that are not allowed but it’s nice to see it written out, clearly and in English. CC seems like an extremely handy thing to know about and to have available.

    One other thing about taking stuff to Ecuador is how much you can take with you on the plane and how much the airlines is going to nick you if you decide to take something else. I think that depends upon the individual airline and maybe even the time of year: Easter, Christmas, New Years, e.g. Airline shipment can be expensive but may be cheaper than container or part of a container. It may also be cheaper than buying in Ecuador.

    Here’s a suggestion for a post to your blog: comparative prices for household good in US and Ecuador. Given that merchants in Ecuador (that I have found) don’t post prices online, so exploring from the US is not going to yield an answer. Feet on the ground, might, though. Do you have any opinion or info on comparable large household items and technology prices? Thanks!

    • Jakob Nov 15, 2013, 7:18 pm

      Actually, it is possible to investigate online. I use mercadolibre.com.ec to compare, the eBay of Ecuador. It has a section for pretty much everything and you quickly get an idea about how much related items cost in Ecuador.

      • Terrydarc Nov 15, 2013, 9:09 pm

        I had no idea there even WAS an ebay Ecuador. Thanks for the tip! I’m off to check it out. -td

  • Rob Hallton Nov 15, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Hi Bryan and Dena,

    What a practical and thorough article–thanks! (I’m not sure if my last attempt to post this comment was successful so, if this is a duplicate…sorry.

    Am I correct, then, that if I had an older computer or printer for which new parts were no longer available (because of product age) and I thus had to order replacement, used parts via eBay of Amazon, there is no legal way to ship them to Ecuador through Club Correos or its counterparts?

    Thanks again.

    Regards,
    Rob

    • Bryan Haines Nov 15, 2013, 3:22 pm

      You could bring them in your luggage but you can’t ship them to Ecuador.

  • Joyce Uzcategui Nov 15, 2013, 12:50 pm

    You give very helpful information, thanks. I found the article on how to send and receive mail helpful because I had been wondering about that.

  • Jakob Nov 15, 2013, 11:42 am

    Bryan… We have some acquaintances in customs and often when the package gets rejected or the recipient refuses to pay the duty the items somehow end up in the private possession of some of the customs employees. Just guessing where your packages might be now. But then, you paid to have them shipped back, so that would be very in your face.
    The restriction on used goods is basically market protection. People in North America dispose of things that would still be perfectly usable in Ecuador. The fear is that there would be an uncontrolled flood of used items from North America, for example used cars, destroying the local market. The price difference between a used Chevy Aveo in the US and in Ecuador gives you an idea of where prices would go. The reasoning is that people would stop buying new from local businesses. Government revenue would be affected as well through lost taxes and tariffs (you can declare a used item as low as you want since it’s used and the attached value is often unclear… works well with Europe) and external trade would be harder to balance. Ecuador is very protective of its market.

    Cheers.
    Jakob

    • Bryan Haines Nov 15, 2013, 3:49 pm

      We were kind of afraid of that. They told me they would trace it – they even called yesterday to ask if they could email me a response. That is a little weird because until their call yesterday, all correspondence has been by email.

      Oh well, I hope something will turn up. Of course, I’ve spent more on shipping than the goods were even worth.

    • Melita Vega Nov 16, 2013, 9:17 am

      Indeed! Ecuador isn’t the only one protective of its market. Fellow Canucks may recall the “turkey incident” from a few years ago when hundreds of southern Ontarians, fed up with prices of turkey for Thanksgiving, crossed the border in droves to purchase 20lb turkeys at the local Walmart in Niagara Falls, NY, for $20. When the Canadian government got wind of it, they quickly slapped a 300% tax on all turkeys flowing into the country to protect the local turkey farmers. Similar protection measures are in place for the dairy industry, which has been described by many as a “cartel” that receives production quotas and is shielded with a tariff wall that forces Canadians to pay inflated prices for products like milk, cheese, and eggs.

      • Jakob Nov 18, 2013, 2:12 am

        Which is why I prefer reserving flights from Detroit or Buffalo as opposed to Toronto, because I always go grocery shopping before crossing back into Canada. There is still a fair amount of merchandize that is half the price in the US. Charging Canadians more has tradition.

    • Terrydarc Nov 17, 2013, 7:55 pm

      That difference of price between a Chevy Aveo in North America and Ecuador would be money flowing out of Ecuador and into North American (or whatever pockets). It’s market protection which is almost religious dogma for a “very bad thing” in the US but maybe works pretty well in Ecuador.

      There would surely be a lot more cars on the roads if Ecuador opened its doors to used vehicles or allowed expats to bring in their own vehicles. I just wish it were a bit more open.

  • Mark Brown Nov 15, 2013, 11:34 am

    My wife and I use Club Correos twice a month, on average. We also had a complete order that had to be shipped back to the U.S. The process and cost is a lesson well learned. We have also learned the following:

    1. Many retailers and shippers will ship multiple items in an order at different times and from different warehouses. This adds to the amount of work the buyer must do on the EconCargo website with the pre-alerts, etc. We’ve had as many as four different shipments on a single order from Walmart due to orders being shipped from different warehouses. THIS ALSO ADDS CONSIDERABLE EXPENSE IN SHIPMENTS FROM MIAMI TO ECUADOR as each package is subject to a separate shipping fee.

    2. Using Club Correos requires the consumer to do some work. The consumer CANNOT simply place an order online and wait for it to arrive. The consumer MUST follow the required steps as outlined on the EconCargo website. Otherwise, their order will NOT be processed in Miami. The consumer must monitor the EconCargo website (and not rely on email notifications) for the current status of an order and comply with any action needed.

    3. While the EconCargo website is not difficult to use, it is NOT intuitive. The consumer needs to learn how to use the website.

    By and large, we have found Club Correos to be dependable and efficient. We receive nearly all orders within two weeks (and never more than three weeks) after we place an order with the retailer.

  • Geoffrey Levens Nov 15, 2013, 11:26 am

    Great info to have. Thank you. Curious if you know why “vitamins may be flagged” and what that means in practice. I take several things regularly that are not available in Ecuador and was planning to order them soon (for the 1st time)…

    Thank you!

    • Bryan Haines Nov 15, 2013, 3:20 pm

      We have friends whose vitamin shipments get rejected sometimes and approved others – for the exact same items.

      • mb Jul 16, 2015, 6:07 pm

        Is there a problem with bringing vitamins in you suitcase? Is there a limit as long as they are sorted?

  • Bob Nov 15, 2013, 10:52 am

    Have used Club Correos for 3 years. Used to be really great. Since they changed all their website and format it has been a complete nightare of unsuraountable problems–to numerous to mention. If there were another method as cheap I would certainly use it. I would recommend it only to masochists,

    • Geoffrey Levens Nov 15, 2013, 3:25 pm

      So no idea of reasons, yes? I do know folks here who have stuff shipped from iHerb.com w/ no issues at all. They used Puntamio I think instead of Club Correa, pretty much same deal, just different people doing the business.

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What Other Expats Are Buying (Before Moving to Ecuador)


Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
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