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?
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.