Missing stuff from home that you’d like to order on Amazon? Want to send some awesome Andean gifts to your friends back home? Go for it! But just know how to do it right.
There are a few options for sending and receiving mail. Choose amongst Serpost, the Peruvian national postal system, or DHL in Cusco. The national postal system is reasonably efficient (though surprisingly expensive), and of course, DHL is probably the most secure system, but expect to pay much more.
As with most mail services, prices vary greatly depending on the destination (specifically local, national or international) and the size and weight of the letter or parcel.
You can find a full list of prices for mail in Peru at the Serpost website. According to Trip Savvy, international tariffs are divided into first and second-class (postcards/letters/small packages) and first and second-class packages (encomiendas). You can pay more for added security and tracking, but to give you a general idea: to send a postcard or letter (1 g to 20 g) from Peru to the USA or Europe, expect to pay from US$2.70 to $3.00 (S/.8 to S/.10 soles). Prices rise rapidly with added weight, with the classification changing from “small package” to “package” once you pass 2000 g (at which point you’ll probably be paying in excess of US$40).
Postcards and letters should take just over two weeks or so to arrive to most international destinations, and second-class parcels will likely take around 30 days. That being said, it’s certainly not an exact science – prepare for delays!
Some items are harder to receive than others. For example, clothing and cosmetics. If you are ordering anything from a shop abroad, you may have to pay a hefty duty at customs, and your items may even be turned away at customs if they are valued over $100.
In terms of cosmetics, you are allowed to receive up to 4 jars or bottles of cosmetics, creams, shampoos, etc. If there’s more than that, you may not get them at all, or you may find that items have been removed to make the total you get four.
Tip: ask the sender to write ‘gift’ on your package, and ensure they state the value of the package is under $100!
Receiving Mail in Peru
Here in the Valley, most people don’t even have an address, but don’t worry – you can use a lista de correos postal address to get mail in Peru. Your mail will be sent to and held at a Serpost office of your choice, where it will await collection. Your post should be addressed as follows:
Your NAME (surname in capitals)
Lista de Correos
City or Town in Peru
Lista de Correos
Your letter or package will be delivered to the main post office in the town nearest you. As with most countries, you will need to show your passport in order to collect your mail; the name on the letter or package must match the name on your passport.
How Reliable is the Peruvian Postal Service?
Letters and packages can and do go missing, but the Peruvian postal system is generally reliable. In my experience, the success rate is probably about 75%, and around half of that missing 25% is down to stuff being stuck at customs because of duty fees needing to be paid, or ‘incorrect’ items were being sent (i.e. too many creams, as mentioned above. Additionally, nail polish, perfume, medicines, vitamins and food supplements are heavily restricted and may not make it past customs).
Do you have any experiences with Serpost you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments section below!