Sending/Receiving Mail and Packages in Spain

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

Posted by The Expatriator

Information on sending packages and mail home, particularly to the USA and Canada. Shares the generally negative experiences with the postal service in Spain and how to avoid these problems in the future.

Remember that stores with the big brown-and-yellow “tabaco” signs are estancos, and all estancos sell stamps (same price as the post office). Los Correos is the name for the Spanish mail system.

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.

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.

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. 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 or another private courier.

More about the post in Spain

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):

Last updated 25 01 2012

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Citibox said:

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 said:

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 said:

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 said:

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.

Citibox said:

Please understand that ordinary homeopathic medicines are treated as drugs coming into Spain and confiscated. Where possible, do not send anything direct to Spain from outside the EU. From 2 March 2010 there is a new customs law charging IVA (VAT)on anything over ?22 and duty as well on anything over ?150 coming into Spain see here

Marta said:

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???

garethck said:

There's been a big change to the import procedure, which seems to have happened since May 2010. I have had some guitars shipped from the USA over the last year and was used to having to go to the local warehouse in Bilbao & paying duties there.

Not perfect, but manageable. Now, all ex-EU packages stay in Madrid & unless you happen to live there you have to pay some 3rd-party company called SpeedTrans to release it. With extra fees the percentage has risen from c.20% to 35+.

I repeatedly asked for confirmation after promptly paying the fees. Nothing till after more than 2 weeks later I got a phone call demanding the fees I have already paid. It took 4 days for the guitar to get to Madrid from Virginia. Another 4 weeks to claw it from customs & still not here.

There's a golden opportunity for any service that can circumvent this. A way to reduce the balance of trade deficit in Spain, perhaps? In a word, hopeless.

Citibox said:

Hi Garethck.

The change happened 2nd March this year (see my post below). If you import through FedEx they will deliver to you but they will not hand over the goods until you pay in cash for the IVA and import duty.

Note that in assessing these taxes, they add on the cost of the courier. Therefore if you import through you will pay less in taxes, get a hefty discount on the courier cost and get delivery to your door.

Citibox said:

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 said:

Oh, and by the way FedEx Spain to / from East Coast USA is now a nest-day service.

Craig Fagan said:

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 said:

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 said:

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 said:

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.

Tyler_D said:

Does anyone have any experience of using for shipping to Spain?

I am considering using them.

Citibox said:

I have no experience of Voovit, but what I know is that they charge ?70 for a single 30kg box!

frescotours's avatar frescotours said:

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:


According 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 ?45

More details see:


frescotours's avatar frescotours said:

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:

Way To Go!

nic.sola said:

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 said:

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.



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