PACKAGES & FREIGHT - LCLLESS THAN CONTAINER LOAD
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Whether you are moving a few pallets of household goods, importing some building materials or just getting some new towels we can import it via our Freight Forwarding services.
The overall process
You send your package or other cargo to our Florida warehouse
It can be sent by the online retailer, delivered by a carrier or dropped off by you, a vendor or a friend.
We send you an email confirming we received it
You provide us with the package documentation (receipts and/or inventory),
We ship your package to Costa Rica, file the declarations and pay the taxes.
We bill you and you pay us
We either deliver it to you or make it available for pickup at our Uvita warehouse.
We do not accept ad hoc shipping so we require that all customers register for the service first. You must sign up using the GET STARTED page. Once we receive your signup we will give you a call to make sure all of your questions are answered and discuss the process and caveats. If you feel as though this service will work for you we send you our receiving address.
After you have the address you can begin shipping at will, subject to the restrictions. We strongly recommend that you always consult the CALCULATOR before shipping anything. You can have your packages++ delivered to us any way you choose including by an online vendor like Amazon. Getting your package to us is entirely your responsibility. We are not involved until the package is delivered into our custody. Regardless of how you choose to do that, all packages must be addressed to you personally, at the street address that we provided you. Getting your package to us is solely your responsibility, absent prior agreement otherwise.
Once we have physical possession of your package our responsibility begins. We send you an email within 2 business days confirming that we have your package. In that email is a description of the item (what we think is in it), weight, volume and the tracking number. The tracking number is important because that is the only proof-positive way to identify a package. If Amazon sends you two packages with “clothes” the only way you’ll know which one has the pants and which one has the shirt is by comparing tracking numbers. This is important because we need you to submit the correct receipts and/or inventories for each package. In each email there is a unique link, associated with that particular package only. When you open that link you are presented with a short form. The form is completed for you but you need to add the receipts and/or inventory for that exact package. This is the last you will hear from us until the package is released by Customs (Aduanas) in Costa Rica.
When Aduanas releases the cargo we send you a bill, one for each package. The bill is due upon receipt. When the bill is paid you pick up your package(s) at our warehouse or, if you are not in the Bahia Ballena area, we will have it delivered to your door or the nearest Correos office.
Costa Rica taxes and tracks every item imported into Costa Rica. If you are ordering some new queen sheets from Amazon we must declare those, every single item, and we must declare a value. If it is new Aduanas requires an invoice to document the value. If it is used they will accept a ‘owner declared’ value. Typically, garage sale prices are submitted for used items. If your package is delivered to us directly from the vendor then the invoice is the inventory since that is exactly what is in the box. If the package is a “repack”, i.e. it is being packed by someone other than the vendor, then we need an inventory listing every item in the package. If they are new items then we need a receipt for them also. If they are used the value must be declared on the inventory.
Everything is done electronically. Aduanas requires that we submit all declarations and support documents electronically. We prepare all declaration documentation while the package is in Florida so we cannot let a package leave Florida until we have the electronic receipts/inventories. There are charges to retrieve the package and photocopy the receipts, and it usually results in delays of a week or more.
HEALTH, BEAUTY & FOODS
We are so very happy to again import your favorite HEALTH & BEAUTY AIDS, FOOD, ESSENTIAL OILS and a variety of other controlled items.
All controlled items
must be for personal use only
must be in commercially labeled packaging only,
can ONLY be shipped by air.
declared value cannot exceed $700 per package
are still NOT permitted in your personal belongings destined for ocean shipping. (A pallet or crate cannot be shipped by air.)
Our CALCULATOR page has been updated to provide air cargo pricing, up to 10 lbs. Please call for estimates above 10 lbs. You should always use the calculator before shipping. Know your costs.
Air shipping is weight sensitive. For that reason you may find that certain items, while permitted (e.g. cat litter), may be too heavy to be cost effective.
None of our lists are exhaustive. If you can't find it on our lists or have questions about something you plan to ship. Please ask first.
What can we ship now?
A complete list is impossible to compile but following is a partial list of popular items that we are now able to import (restrictions apply).
Ointments and salves,
Makeup, powders & perfumes,
Lotions and creams
Soaps, Shampoos and conditioners,
Detergents and softeners
Cat food, dog food, cat litter
As always, if you are unsure just ask.
KNOW YOUR COSTS BEFORE YOU SHIP
We pride ourselves on transparency. To that end we have provided a Calculator to estimate your shipping costs. Please use this before shipping any package. If you have a package with dimensions or weight outside the scope of the calculator we will be happy to provide you with an estimate. This calculator is the same calculator we use for billing. The billed weight and dimension will be those reported to us by the receiving facility.
This discussion provides packing thoughts and suggestions as they relate most specifically to freight forwarding. If you haven't already you should also check out the Packing Guidelines on the MOVING TO COSTA RICA page, for an overarching discussion of packing as it relates to any shipping to Costa Rica.
Keep packages to a manageable size and weight. Single strength cardboard boxes should be kept under 30 lbs if possible.
heavy and extra large packages are difficult to handle, and as a consequence are often set down hard by handlers. Keep them to a size you are personally comfortable handling.
while a cardboard box twice as big may hold double the volume it does NOT hold double the weight. In fact it may actually hold less weight.
remember, heavy boxes will always end up on the bottom of the stack. Pack accordingly
most damage to package contents occurs prior to our receiving the package. Pack for sometimes rough handling by the carrier (e.g. UPS, FedEx, USPS)
most damage to contents result from other contents in the same package not being properly secured. For example a stone statue can cause a lot of damage to other contents if improperly secured inside the package. Another example might be a stack of bowls packed atop a stack of plates. The inertial weight of those bowl can be many times the actual weight when the package is set down hard.
The maximum outside dimensions will be used in the pricing calculations. If the box balloons outward that becomes the billed dimension.
Cardboard boxes are meant for containment and not for structural support.
Cardboard boxes can easily loose their 'stiffness' in the Costa Rican climate, and quickly turn into cardboard bags.
With other boxes stacked on top it is your contents that will end up carrying that weight from above. Some plastic totes work pretty well but others are only marginally better than cardboard and collapse more easily than you might think. Boxes and totes can be structurally reinforced with sticks in the corners and/or the center.
Weight from above can be more evenly distributed upon the contents by putting a thin piece of plywood on top of the contents before closing it up
Boxes can be fortified against impact somewhat with additional layers of cardboard on the bottom, top and sides
Pack fragile items, each carefully protected in their own box. Those can then be packed inside the shipping box.
If boxes must be heavily packed then use proper packaging
if you have many boxes consider palletizing them with the heavy boxes at the bottom.
by palletizing the boxes you all but eliminate individual package handling. Packages within a pallet suffer less damage than packages moved by hand.
Bubble wrap provides cushioning only. By itself it does not provide protection against most other types of damage.
Don't wait until the last minute. Be aware that packages arriving at the last minute may not be received into inventory in time to make the load, particularly if there is any problem with the addressing.
If you have pallets or large amounts of cargo to be shipped to Florida we can refer you to a freight broker that we highly recommend. Alternatively, if you prefer we can make all of those arrangements for you.
FREIGHT FORWARDING FAQs
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHIP?
Presently air cargo leaves weekly and ocean cargo every other week. Vehicles and Full Container Loads are shipped on demand.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
We have spent years trying to get everything down to a regular schedule. It has proven nearly impossible. Here is what we can tell you; Air Cargo is taking about 2.5 weeks from the time we receive it . Ocean cargo is taking about 2 weeks more. These can vary by as much as a week under normal circumstances and and could be extended up to many weeks under unusual circumstances such as national strikes, disasters, Hacienda audits and blunders by Aduanas.
WHAT ARE THE TAXES AND DUTIES ON MY ITEM?
Costa Rica has categorized almost every possible product using a system of nearly 20,000 categories and classifications. For any given item we must sort through those to arrive at one of 10,677 tax classifications, each of which dictates some combination of 11 different taxes that can be applied. The tax classifications can be divided by characteristics as seemingly minor as country of manufacture, color or some performance capacity or another. While the final tax rate can range from as little as 1% to 165% the vast majority fall into one of three relatively narrow ranges. We refer to those groups as "import value categories". The great majority of items will fall into the Medium range, with many fewer falling into the low and high range. We suggest that you use the Medium category as the "expected case" scenario with the low and high categories representing best and worst case scenarios respectively.
Also it should be noted that the above derived tax rate is applied to the CIF value. That is the sum of the 'Cost', 'Insurance' and 'Freight'. This formulation is used by most countries in the world, not just Costa Rica.
ARE MY USED, PERSONAL BELONGINGS ALSO TAXED?
Yes. Used items are taxed at the same rate as new items but, of course, the value of a used item is much lower than its new counterpart; i.e. 30% of $100 is a lot less than 30% of $500.
WHY CAN'T I SHIP USED CLOTHES?
The reasons are two fold: 1) Costa Rica subjects used clothes to the same declaration rules as new. That means we must provide, among other attributes, style, size, manufacturer, country of origin, fabric blend and color data in the declaration. Besides being very time intensive that requires careful examination of each garment, the required data is not even available on many used items. Customers generally refuse to do that and the cost of paying an import broker to do it would be prohibitive. Absent that data the clothing would be confiscated. 2) The Ministerio de Salud requires that all used garments be fumigated before they can be released by customs. This requires that the garments be separated from the rest of the load and a fumigation service hired to remove them to a remote facility. While the garments are out for fumigation the other cargo must remain in the bonded warehouse racking up expensive storage fees. It is cheaper and easier to bring them in your airline luggage.
SHOULD I SHIP MULTIPLE PACKAGES FROM E.G. AMAZON OR REPACK EVERYTHINBG IN SINGLE BOX?
Repacking can save some money but it really depends on size, weight and contents as to whether it makes financial sense. If you have somebody in Ft Lauderdale repacking and dropping it off at our warehouse it makes more sense than if you are having to pay UPS to reship it cross country from e.g. California to Florida. Keep in mind, air shipping is more expensive than ocean. Since some items can only be shipped by air..... like food, meds, supplements, beauty aids, etc..... repacking those with e.g. car parts would force the heavy car parts to go by air, costing you a great deal more than not repacking, where each would normally go the best route. In the end we recommend that you use the CALCULATOR to test the various scenarios that are available to you.
MUST EVERY ITEM BE BOXED?
No, it can be stand alone, e.g. a folded wheelchair or a bicycle. If it can be easily damaged it is highly recommended that it at least be wrapped in cardboard if not padding or wood framing. If it has parts that can snag or move (e.g. bicycle pedals) it is best that it be broken down or shrink-wrapped at least. Similar items should be bundled together, e.g. garden tools. Please remember that everything will be given the care typical of a forklift.
IS THERE A MINIMUM OR MAXIMUM SIZE?
There is no lower limit. At the upper end we are limited only by what will fit into a container. As a practical matter however, an item should not be bigger or heavier than a forklift can handle. You should contact us first before shipping any exceptionally large cargo to ensure special handling arrangements are available. Larger items must be crated in a way that permits other things to be stacked on top, sometimes even other pallets. If it is not then you may be billed for the volume to the ceiling of the container; 8 ft.
I AM SENDING/DROPPING OFF SEVERAL BOXES. MUST I PALLETIZE THEM?
It is not necessary to palletize your boxes but depending on the cargo it might be advisable. If you have many boxes or have particularly heavy cargo then getting it to our warehouse is usually less costly on pallets via a freight service rather than individually via a package service. Boxes received individually will be billed individually. If they arrive on a pallet then the whole pallet is treated as a single trackable unit. On the flip side, the billed dimensions of the pallet are based on the maximum dimensions (including the pallet) in each direction, so care should be taken to make the pallet a neat cube and minimize voids and overhangs. If you want to transport packages yourself and palletize them on site, pallets and shrinkwrap are available at the receiving dock for a small charge.
CAN I SHIP MY RIDING LAWN MOWER?