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The ins and outs of living in Puerto Rico

USPS in Puerto Rico

Just in case you wonder what type of mail service we have, USPS in Puerto Rico is the same United States Postal Service you know and love. The prices for delivery service are the same as if you were delivering to any US state. Whether it is priority mail, express mail or parcel post, the USPS in Puerto Rico works and looks like the USPS in the United States.

Click here to find a USPS office in Puerto Rico.

There are a few minor differences though, mainly in the address and in the actual delivery process. Let me explain.

The common US address format is the following:

Name

Address Line 1

City, State, Zip Code

In Puerto Rico, the usual format is the following:

Name

Address Line 1 (Used for Urbanization Name)

Address Line 2 (House number and street name)

City, State (PR), Zip Code (5-digit zip code is ok but 9 is better i.e. 00000-0000)

This format though can change in areas where there are no urbanizations, in which case the format would be:

Name

Street Name, kilometer mark in that street. (i.e. Carretera 681 km 6.2)

Barrio or Sector (i.e. Sector Palomas)

City, State, Zip Code

Since Puerto Rico is so densely populated and so many things need to be shipped into and out of the island, mail time may take a day or two longer than what you are used to. This however is mostly for incoming packages.

During peak shipping times, expect the mail to slow down significantly. I have sent mail to Puerto Rico from the US during the Holidays, and express mail (which is normally overnight mail) took 3 full days. I still had to pay as if it were overnight since the priority mail service would have taken much longer.

Also,when I pay for the tracking service, I notice that more often than not, the package I mailed to Puerto Rico actually arrived in a timely manner, but once in Puerto Rico it took days to be delivered. There are a few factors that may be contributing to this delay, consider the following:

1. Simply the volume of packages to be delivered. Like I said, there are simply LOTS of things that have to be shipped in when you live in an island.

2. The mail delivery person has to go through the same street TWICE! You see, when I lived in the states, I saw that the neighborhoods had one side of the street with mailboxes and no mailboxes on the other side of the street, usually where cars parked so they would not disturb the delivery of mail. Well, that’s not the case in Puerto Rico. There are mailboxes in front of every house, which means that the mail delivery car has to drive on one side of the street and then down that same street to deliver the mail on the other side of the street, on top of that, there are cars parked on both sides of the street and often in front of the mailboxes, so the mail carrier has to stop, get out of the car, put the mail in the mailbox and then back into the car. This actually consumes a lot of time.

Having said this, I must admit that even though sometimes the mail is not received when hoped or expected,more often than not is actually delivered in a relatively timely manner, especially when you consider everything that they have to do to deliver your mail at the price that is done.

The USPS in Puerto Rico is actually very reliable and is by far the most affordable mail and box delivery service. It is also worth mentioning that just about every USPS office has bilingual staff, so you should be able to go and talk to anyone in the counter at the post office and speak in English.

So just to summarize, USPS in Puerto Rico works just like it does in the US., make sure you write the urbanization name when mailing something to Puerto Rico, and you should receive the mail with no problem.

Click here for information about UPS in Puerto Rico.

Click here for information about FedEx in Puerto Rico.

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17 Comments

  1. Usps , airport luggage’s become bad hadled and items received with dameges. That’s the reason many sellers not want to ship to Puerto Rico. How can this information can be informed to the USPS supervisor and Airport baggage manager?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      I suppose one could contact USPS directly. But that seems like a cheap excuse to not ship items to PR, I’ve been using USPS for many years and only have had very few problems, and none really in the past 3 years or so. But if that’s the reason, I’d be willing to pay a small insurance fee just in case whatever it ships breaks in transit.

  2. I need to do an address change, I was told I had to do it online. Having problem finding where online I need to go to make this change.

  3. When receiving items from other countries, like China or Panama, do packages arrive at a state destination before they get to Puerto Rico?

    Should the address then be:

    Name
    Address Line 1 (Used for Urbanization Name)
    Address Line 2 (House number and street name)
    City, State (PR), Zip Code (5-digit zip code is ok but 9 is better i.e. 00000-0000)
    Country

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Antonio,

      Yes, I do believe international shipping stops in the US at some point before making it to PR. You can put the country in the last line of the address but I don’t know how much of a necessity it is since I don’t always write it and I’ve gotten shipments from other countries just fine, however, it will not hurt to put the country. Just make sure you write “United States” as the country and NOT Puerto Rico. It does take a long time to ship from other countries, so don’t be alarmed if it takes 3 or 4 weeks.

    • If is from China it makes a stop un Los Angeles or New York before going to Puerto Rico ..

  4. What about USPS rates out of Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland? Aren’t they the same as shipping to Puerto Rico? I have a customer who is telling me Puerto Rican rates are higher through USPS. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Jay-Webmaster

      I’ve heard that as well but I’ve not had that experience. I’ve mailed things from the US state to state using USPS and it has been the same as when I ship to and from PR. However I have heard of people saying that it costs them more sometimes.

      I generally use flat rate boxes anyway but when I don’t it still has been the same price. You can go to their website and check, pretend your’e going to mail something and enter a US zip code and then try again using a PR zip code and check the difference in price (if any).

      When it does become higher is when other companies charge more just for the sake of charging more. I’ve had to email companies screenshots of my screen showing me that the rate to ship something to PR is the same as another state. Sometimes they agree to ship, sometimes they simply won’t. If your customer is saying that I would test him/her. Go to usps.com and enter the dimensions and weight of the parcel then enter to/from different locations and see if the rate changes.

      Hope this helps.

  5. I’m to send a package and the address I received was( I changed the numbers for privacy) the address below But they wrote in all on one line so I wrote it out like this. Do you think it’s correct in the is format. I tried contacting them but can’t get a hold of them before I send it out.
    2190 calle 4
    LA providencia
    Toa Alta PR 00953

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Well the package should get there but the address should’ve read:

      La Providencia
      2190 Calle 4
      Toa Alta PR 00953-xxxx (the last 4 in the zip are very helpful but not required)

      Take Care!

  6. I purchased something Sat/2-7-16 from a merchant in PR: the merchant emailed Tue/2-9-16 stating he’d sent it 3-day Priority Mail, & it should arrive by Fri/2-12-16. Didn’t exactly go that way…obviously we both underestimated the amount of time involved when shipping something from PR to the continental US; lol. What’s really interesting is that over a week later, I’m not entirely sure my item has even left PR yet—tracking says it went from Salinas to San Juan to Catano; & that’s the last location shown…just wondering how many offices it has to pass through in PR to actually make it *off* the island? 🙂 Thx!

    • Jay-Webmaster

      The thing with USPS is that it normally doesn’t update the tracking info until it is scanned again closer to its destination. So it may have left Cataño (which normally is the last stop before it leaves) but it will not be scanned until it arrives at the post office in wherever you sent it to.

      However, it normally is timely so a 3 day service will normally be 3 or 4 business days. I find it odd that it took that long.

  7. Don’t blame Amazon or most of the other businesses. Blame UPS and FedEx, since their rates to PR, HI and AK are jacked up because it’s not connected to the lower 48. I use USPS whenever I can going to these locations, but even then the rates are still significantly more than staying in the lower 48. My business only charges the excess over the regular shipping rates without extra profit on my end.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Is anyone blaming any businesses for their rates? I know Costco charges a bit more for delivery to PR precisely charging only the price difference. Many places do that, it’s customary to do so. Most people prefer USPS for the cheaper rates.

  8. I know that the USPS is the same in PR as the mainland US- but this is what drives me nuts- I have a subscription to some trade magazines, and even though it is costing them the same- my ‘subscription’ rate has been jacked by about $35/year-same thing with shipping. I’ve encountered some places in the US that increase the shipping for a package by as much as an extra $35 per package.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Yes, I understand. To this day I am still confused as to why is it that they do that. There are several things that a few business people have explained to me.

      1) The company may consider Puerto Rico as “international” and they have a different price for international locations.

      2) If it is not readily available in PR it costs more, just because they can charge more for it.

      3) Everything in PR costs more and they have to remain “competitive”. You have no idea how many times I have seen the price of something go up just because the price of something else went up, even if it means no increase in their overhead, just simply more profit margin. Recently, the tax for gasoline went up roughly 16 cents per gallon (I know), since I actually get the gas from a location that does not pay tax I thought that my gasoline would be now seem even cheaper than everywhere else. I was very wrong, they hiked up the price anyway, still staying 2 or 3 cents below the local average but they increased their price about 15 cents per gallon, increasing their profit margin that much because they pay no taxes, so their gasoline did not get affected by the tax hike.

      So I understand, it drives me bonkers too, worst part is when you see that some things won’t even ship here for no good reason, sometimes you see something advertised as “free shipping” and when you are about to check out you see that to PR they charge shipping, and sometimes that shipping is pretty outrageous. Unfortunately that’s the way it is.

      A particular agency in the local government (DACO) which is there to protect the consumer, is or was in the process of filing a law suit against Amazon and other big companies for treating PR differently and charging more. Not sure how that’s going but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

      Thank You for your comments!

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