Sending/Receiving Mail and Packages in Spain – Spain Expat (2024)

Los Correos, Digital Mail Services, and Shipping Options for Expats in Spain

How to receive and send packages and mail to/from home, particularly for the USA and Canada. Shares the generally negative experiences with the postal service in Spain and how to avoid these problems in the future.

...if you're expecting a parcel from home, double or triple the normal expected time, although it should eventually arrive."

Sending Mail

Regular mail works pretty much the same in Spain as it does at home. You put a letter in an envelope, address it in the same way (return address at the top left and addressee in the middle), then stick a stamp on it and put it in the mailbox. You generally buy stamps at the post office (Los Correos), tobacco shops (tabac), or paper shops (papelerias).

Some helpful vocabulary:

Correo - mail
Sobre - envelope
Sello - stamp
Dirección de correo - mailing address
Devolución - return
Rastrear - to track

Receiving Mail

Some apartments I've lived in don't actually have a mailbox, and instead the mail is collectively dumped on a small table near the building entrance. Not a great system, frankly. One apartment I lived in did have a mailbox with key access. For receiving standard mail in Spain there isn't a lot to cover here, it's straight forward.

Receiving mail from back home while you're living in Spain

When I moved to Spain one of the nagging problems I had was dealing with mail from home. Of course I had forwarded everything to a family member, at least initially. Eventually this became tiresome and challenging for everyone. I suppose some people just cut off all ties and leave no forwarding address, but I was in no way doing so at the time.

Fastforward 15 years and now we have virtual mailboxes and online mail handling services!

Got a business to manage back home? Set up a virtual business address and save on your registered agent fees.
Need to receive important government and tax notices while you're in Spain? Forward everything to your new virtual mailing address to stay on top of your taxes and never miss a stimulus cheque.
Need to get a package shipped to you in Spain but they don't offer shipping outside of your home country? Ship it to your mail service address and then have them ship it to you in Spain (yes, they'll do this for about $5 plus the cost of shipping it to your home in Spain).

There are a number of options out there, especially if you're coming from the US. For Canadians and Brits, there are only a couple of online services where you can receive mail and have it forwarded, and worse, their features lists are pretty bare compared to the leading international mail handling service… which is indisputably Anytime Mailboxand Earthclass Mail.

Yes, we will make a small fee if you get yourself a virtual mailbox via this article, but, outside of the U.S., there are simply no better options. Period.

Sending/Receiving Mail and Packages in Spain –Spain Expat (3)

If you want to start your own virtual mailbox service either in Spain or your home country, you'll probably need one of these, from Quadient

Anytime Mailbox

Not only does Anytime Mailbox allow you to setup virtual addresses and receive mail across the UK, Canada and the US, but they even support a virtual address in Spain (Valencia to be exact)! This is ideal for those of us who spend only 6 months of the year in Spain or have multiple homes and need to receive mail in a timely manner while elsewhere. They even have an app (with some room for improvement) allowing you to manage your received mail, trash it, forward it, etc.

Prices for Anytime vary between $10-$20 per month, including a monthly allotment of letters opened and scanned depending on your subscription.

Earthclass Mail

Earthclass Mailis a US-only virtual mailbox service that starts at $19/mon and offers only a single point of mail receipt in Beaverton OR for individuals or a virtual address presence for businesses ($39/mon)in almost any state. What I like about Earthclass is that because it's socentralized, you are going to get more features and a much nicer app experience (currently their app has 4.4 stars in the App Store).

Receiving packages from home

If you have a virtual mailbox, you can receive packages and then have them forwarded on to your address in Spain using the shipment method of your choice. This is ideal once you know the best shipping company for your region(s).

USA: Mail from the USA generally takes about 7-10 days (although recently I received a package after only 4 days). For express delivery from the USA, don’t use FedEx – they don’t have offices here, so they pass it on to MRW, who can take 3 days just within Spain! Using the regular post office’s Priority/Express mail is cheaper and faster. Another alternative is UPS (phone: 900 10 24 10)—they got a document from Sevilla to Manhattan (door-to-door) in 23 hours. Some further research in the Facebook Group suggests DHL is considered the most reliable and quickest way to ship packages between the US and Spain.

Canada: I’ve had few packages sent without problems. Customs have held packages for weeks, sometimes threatening to send it home or destroy it, only to complete the delivery later anyway. One of the packages sent to me was returned to the sender, utterly shredded and destroyed having fallen victim to customs’ curiousity over one package of gummy bears. The contents were worth hundreds of dollars and there was ultimately no compensation. Beware.

Also, do not send vitamins, although prescription drugs seem to cross the borders without difficulty. If you can buy it in Spain: do so. Shipping charges, at least across the Atlantic, can be horrific. Ultimately, expect problems in either direction; if you're expecting a parcel from home, double or triple the normal expected time, although it should eventually arrive. Don't send anything important home using the regular Spanish mail system Los Correos. Things seem to get lost quite often. If you do, ensure it's certificado for the extra 5€ or so. Try UPS or the Priority/Express mail. Fragiles and breakables: the Spanish Correos do not offer any type of fragile handling service, so you either package up your breakable materials to the nth degree and risk it, or send it via UPS, DHL or another private courier.

More expat quotes about Spanish Customs – Aduanas

Some useful quotes about other expats' experiences with Los Correos and Aduanas:

“Sending anything from the US will be held at customs for ransom. Minimum charge is 75€ for the inspection plus 25% of the value of anything they allow in and confiscation of anything they don't. Don't send care packages to Spain. Not worth it!!”

“I sent a box of cookies, candy and a couple sticks of pepperoni to my partner in Spain. Letters and a puzzle and t shirt too. The post office lady put ‘food’ instead of candy and cookies like I said. He got a call from dhl today saying they need a letter with what’s in it and that there are no animal products. But there is pepperoni. Has anyone had this before? If he says there is pepperoni will they send the whole box back to the states or take out the pepperoni? I thought you could send store bought pepperoni to Europe.”

Historically there have been lots of discussions on our forums about sending and receiving mail and packages to and from Spain. Here are a few useful threads (feel free to jump in with your own questions):

  • About Amazon shipping to Spain - Amazon Free Delivery to Spain!
  • Private postboxes and mail woes - Is the post reliable?
  • Locating a lost package - Locating a lost package—Help!
  • Informative note about using eBay and Spanish Customs - eBay and Spanish Customs

Receiving Gifts and Amazon Deliveries in Spain

We use very successfully in Spain. Yet, there are many products that aren't available through and it becomes tempting to purchase from or, and indeed Amazon is pretty good at shipping across the channel and across the Atlantic without things getting lost or charging exorbitant shipping fees. I'm surprised just how many sellers offer international shipping too.

The better news is that is shipping packages at speeds rivaling the US in some places. Our neighbour recently furnished nearly his whole apartment via online shopping, including a television and his kitchen utensils, etc from I purchased some kick-ass frying pans (the ones at the ferreteria are not good) from and they literally arrived in less than 24 hours. That's impressive.

When Amazon delivers, they're usually doing so through a local partner delivery company, so it's highly unlikely that our experience reflected in the prior paragraph is universal. The local delivery company for us in Granada was great however, buzzing our doorbell and huffing up 4 flights of stairs to deliver our package. That's great service! Muchas gracias!


Try the Spain Expat Facebook page or comment below (you'll need to be signed in)

Comments on Sending/Receiving Mail and Packages in Spain

Citibox on 19 Sep, 2009 In my experience post from Spain to the UK is reliable up to a point. I sent a present to a niece and if got trapped in the UK sorting office for two months. Post inwards to Spain does not work, everyone knows that. Couriers can be expensive but gets around this problem and is the only reliable way of sending and receiving parcels in Spain because it excludes Correos and costs less than Royal Mail or Correos.
ashr on 26 Oct, 2009 I just received a package from my sister -in-law in the usa. Craft stuff, streamers, paper etc for Halloween party. Total Cost at Target 100$.Shipping 130$. Customs Tarrif? 200 Euros!!!!What the hell, and now they don't want to release it because the "candy" is "food". It would be cheaper just to fly to US and bring things back on my own.
marcus.sherwin25 on 28 Jan, 2010 I'm due to recieve a parcel from new york here in spain. When it was posted i was told it would take a week however over 15 days later and still nothing. Can anyone tell me if a parcel gets stopped by customs how long should it be before i would hear from them? Or also where or who to contact about lost post? I have been to the local post office but they have told me they cant find out anything as theres no tracking number on it.
Citibox on 04 Feb, 2010 One of our customers eventually received his credit card posted from New York. It was the third one sent so the previous two had to be cancelled. It was posted on 11 December 2009 and arrived on 12 January 2010.Another customer has just imported baby clothes from Florida. The Spanish Customs charged ?370 (Euros) on a shipment costing $1150(USD)because they add the cost of the FedEx shipment to the cost of the clothes, then they add duty, then they add IVA to the whole amount. On top of the cost of the clothes she paid 25% shipment and 31% tax.For advice to marcus.sherwin25, if there is a customs bill, your postman will try and collect from you in cash. However, non-registered post means that they will steal the parcel and you won't see it. US mail can be sent to the Citibox UK Address in Spain from where it will be brought by truck (avoiding Correos) to your local Citibox for collection.
Marta on 11 May, 2010 I tried to send a package to my daughter, after 4 weeks in Spanish customs, it was sent back home and has been in New York in customs for over 2 weeks. I live in Seattle! I sent mm's, chohulala hot sauce, clothes, OTC allergy meds, 2 prescription meds, a camera for my daughters computer so we can skype together. After spending hours on the phone and computer with USPS and reading various web sites, I think I sent a bunch of stuff that didn't have a hope of reaching her. Why don't they just keep/toss out, what isn't OK to send and then let the rest through? I really want to send another package but I can't figure out what I can and can't send. I saw somewhere I need to have the clothes certified sterile?? What does that mean, these are my daughters previously worn clothes. Anyone out there to help me???
Citibox on 16 Aug, 2010 Hi Marta, We ship plenty of suitcases to and from the USA with used (and dirty) clothing. The problem you had with Spanish customs is the sweets (foodstuffs) and medicines. One way around this is to ship to a third party country within the EU from which there are no barriers to entry into Spain. Citibox provides a UK address from which there is a regular weekly courier delivery to Spain. We even have a customer in Germany that uses this method to get around restrictions on imports of Ayurvedic medicines from India.
Citibox on 16 Aug, 2010 Oh, and by the way FedEx Spain to / from East Coast USA is now a nest-day service.
Craig fa*gan on 24 Aug, 2010 Whenever I need to send a package or mail back to the UK, I use ASM Marbella. The company?s part of IMX and it?s really efficient. They deliver all over the world and they?re really cheap. I?ve never had anything broken or delivered late. They speak spanish and english as well so nothing gets lost in translation! I?d really recommend these guys!
S H on 13 Oct, 2010 I have been waiting for 3 weeks for a package that my dad had sent me. It says its in Madrid and I have called, sent e-mails and also sent a fax and yet they have not answered any nor told me when I should be expecting my package. Any suggestions on how to contact them or when I should get my package? Its nothing that should be bad, just clothes and a camera is all.
Citibox on 16 Oct, 2010 Hi SH,You haven't told me the carrier. If it is FedEx, call 902-100-871 and press 2 for a service in English. If it is Correos, I can't help. But any other courier in which we probably got an account, I can help then. Just give me the tracking number and the company and I will try and sort it out for you (we do this all the time for our customers and often help third parties).Best wishes.Edmund - you can contact me direct through
goatherd on 28 Oct, 2010 Personally, I have been using and found them to be generally very efficient and at low cost. Average time from UK to Spain is around 3-4 days for 10kg Package costing less than 20 euros.
Citibox on 07 Jan, 2011 I have no experience of Voovit, but what I know is that they charge ?70 for a single 30kg box!
frescotours on 14 Jan, 2011 I just received a Christmas package from the USA valued at $150 USD and have to pay 50? to get it out of customs, 25? in IVA and another 25? for the 3rd party accredited by Correos (Speedtrans Internacional) to get it out of customs. What a shame!!As of July 2010, here's the law:SHIPMENTS SUBJECT TO CUSTOMS PROCEDURESAccording to current legal regulations, the import of shipments from countries outside the European Union shall require a SAD (Customs declaration document) and shall pay VAT in the following cases: 1. Shipments where the sender or recipient is a company, provided that the value of the merchandise exceeds ?22. 2. Shipments where the sender and the recipient are individuals, provided that a commercial transaction is involved or the value of the shipment exceeds ?45More details see:
frescotours on 17 Feb, 2011 After my last experience with customs and trying to get package from a non-EU sender, I got another one without a problem that was sent via: To Go!
nic.sola on 05 Apr, 2011 I URGENTLY need advice for sending about 10 boxes of my belongings from Barcelona, Spain to Sydney, Australia. Time is not a problem - as long as they arrive and the cheapest way possible.Thank you.
JenniferMc on 08 Apr, 2011 We live in Barcelona and someone is trying to send us a gift from the U.S (Boston). We received a notice from customs in Madrid saying that we either have to go in person to fill out paperwork to get our gift or we have to pay a third party to go and do this for us. This seems crazy and like a huge rip off. Is there any other way to receive goods from the US or do we have to pay someone to fill out this paperwork for us? All of the fees are more than the gift is worth - will they send the gift back to the sender if we don't pay? This would be the preferable option.Thanks!
Citibox on 12 Apr, 2011 We live in Barcelona and someone is trying to send us a gift from the U.S (Boston). We received a notice from customs in Madrid saying that we either have to go in person to fill out paperwork to get our gift or we have to pay a third party to go and do this for us. This seems crazy and like a huge rip off.Is there any other way to receive goods from the US or do we have to pay someone to fill out this paperwork for us?All of the fees are more than the gift is worth - will they send the gift back to the sender if we don't pay? This would be the preferable option.Thanks!You need to contact Ignacio on who will collect it from Customs for you and send it to Barcelona.
Grenville East on 08 Jul, 2011 Hi all, Just joined to day!I have been waiting for a package from the USA (sent to me by USPS) since the 28/05/2011, it is held at Madrid Customs, the Customs want me to fill in number 3 on the form they sent me plus they need my passport number,proof of purchase, price and details of the Item (Sony e-book reader)this i have done 3 times, still no e-book.Does any body have a telephone number for the Customs in Madrid i cant seem to find one.PS.I am back in England now, will be back in Spain late September.Thanks,Grenville.
morath1954 on 20 Sep, 2011 HI, What is the definitive up-to-date answer on mailing prescription drugs to Spain from the US? - for personal use by my daughter in Granada. The US Post Office reports no restrictions; fed ex says all prescription drugs will be confiscated by authorities. An acquaintance suggested included signed letters from physicians to be included to help things thru.Anybody know the real answer? Would it be better to mail to my other daughter in the Netherlands, and thence to Spain?Thanks.
Add a comment

Sign-up to post a comment

Sending/Receiving Mail and Packages in Spain – Spain Expat (2024)


Why do I have to pay to receive a package in Spain? ›

Imported goods may be subject to different taxes and customs duties depending on their content, value and other legally considered factors. These amounts must be paid by the shipment's recipient in order to collect the packages pending customs clearance.

Does Poste Restante still exist in Spain? ›

Spain. Mail can also be received at Spanish Post Offices. There is normally no charge for the service. Poste Restante letters should be addressed Lista de Correos, followed by the address of the post office (including the postcode, town and province).

Can you still send parcels to Spain? ›

Your parcel delivery to Spain can be made in just 1 working day, whether it's destined for Barcelona, Madrid or any other location. Want to know how to send a parcel to Spain? It's as easy as walk, click or call. Get a quote and simply choose from our three options to book your parcel delivery.

How long does a parcel take to clear customs in Spain? ›

The time needed to clear the shipment may vary, depending on particular cases. In general it will be 2 - 4 calendar days unless the goods need to undergo a special inspection, in which case processing could be delayed depending on the type of inspection that the goods require (between 8 and 15 days).

Do I have to pay customs for package from USA to Spain? ›

Spanish customs values shipments at C.I.F. (cost, insurance, and freight) prices. For U.S. products, the tariff rate averages three to five percent. A registered customs agent must clear all shipments through customs. Usually, total costs to clear customs are between 20 to 30 percent of the shipment's C.I.F.

Do you have to pay import tax from USA to Spain? ›

Import duty and taxes are due for goods imported to Spain from outside of the European Union - whether by a private individual or a corporate entity. Spain is party to the European Union's Common Customs Tariff, therefore preferential rates apply to imports from countries which the EU has signed agreements with.

Who delivers La Poste in USA? ›

Shipping services with La Poste

For parcel delivery, clients can choose between Colissimo and Chronopost, the two carriers responsible for all of La Poste's parcel shipping services. Both Colissimo and Chronopost are part of the DPD Group.

What is poste restante for parcels? ›

Our Poste Restante service

Poste Restante is a service for travelers who don't have a permanent address in a location but still wish to receive mail. We can help you set it up and choose where to collect your post from.

How does mail work in Spain? ›

To send a letter you need to put it in an envelope, stick on a stamp, and write the recipient and sender information. You can buy both the envelopes and the stamps in a tobacco shop (estanco in in Spanish) or the post office. If you are sending a normal letter, there's no need to go to the post office.

Can you ship to Spain from USA? ›

Shipping to Spain from the USA will require a customs declaration form, detailing the contents of your package, the intended use and the value. This is all included in our booking process so all you need to do is print the competed documents and attach them to your package.

What items Cannot be shipped to Spain? ›

Spanish regulations ban the import of illicit narcotics and drugs. There are also very restrictive regulations for imports of explosives, firearms, defense equipment and material, tobacco, and gambling material.

Can I order something from Amazon and have it shipped to Spain? ›

Whether you're furnishing your new home, exploring the local cuisine, or simply shopping for everyday items, Amazon has got you covered. So, go ahead and embrace the convenience of Amazon Spain delivery, and let it enhance your expat experience in this beautiful country.

Does customs check every package? ›

Customs will carry out random checks on packages to ensure the contents and the value of the goods has been declared accurately and there's nothing you can do to avoid this. Backlogs are also common and if this happens all you can do is wait.

Why is my package being held in customs in Spain? ›

'Held at Customs' means the package you are sending to the destination country is held by the officials of the importer country's customs office. These government bodies hold the packages until they ensure that only permissible items cross their border and the taxes (Duties & Excise) are paid for the import.

Do you have to pay to receive a parcel in Spain? ›

The most common problem that people face, especially when receiving a package from back home is that every package that goes through Spanish customs can be subject to fees. The Spanish government will tax anything they deem valuable and might even reserve the right to open and inspect your package.

Why do I have to pay for a package that was sent to me? ›

The only way the USPS charges to deliver a package is if its COD (Collect on Delivery). They give you the OPTION of paying if the sender paid insufficient postage for the item OR if you have a mail forward in effect and the item was mailed at less than First Class Postage.

Do you have to pay to receive international package? ›

If your goods were shipped through the International Postal Service, you will need to pay the mail carrier and/or go to your local post office to pay any duty and processing fees owed when your package arrives at that post office.

How much are customs fees in Spain? ›

The import tax charged on a shipment will be 21% on the full value of your items. For example, if the declared value of your items is 100 EUR, in order for the recipient to receive a package, an additional amount of 21.00 EUR in taxes will be required to be paid to the destination countries government.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated:

Views: 6273

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.