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.
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:
Address Line 1
City, State, Zip Code
In Puerto Rico, the usual format is the following:
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:
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.