The Peruvian postal service, known as SerPost, has a bad reputation among some of its customers for unnecessary delays, inconvenient pickup, and even the occasional lost package. That said, many people use SerPost for a wide variety of parcel deliveries without ever having a problem. In our own experience, despite its shaky reputation, receiving or sending packages and mail within Peru and to most international locations usually goes off without a hitch. That is – if you’re in central neighborhoods in Lima, or other major urbs throughout the country.
When receiving mail, smaller packages and envelopes will usually be delivered directly to the address. Anything larger than shoebox size (or if there’s a suspected high priced item inside) will require customer pick up from the local SerPost office. You’ll receive a postcard to advise you when the package arrives. At pick-up, you’ll need to show a DNI, passport or Carné de Extranjería, and will be required to pay the custom fees, if any. They might also open the package in front of you to verify the contents.
When sending mail out, you will have the option send it registered airmail. Letters to the US, Canada and Europe typically take from 2 to 3 weeks, packages may take longer. When sending letters of packages, be prepared to go to the post office (no mailboxes here) and to show identification when you purchase your postage. This is to control three illegal exports: cocaine, pre-columbian relics, and counterfeit currency.
SerPost also offers other services, such as postal money orders (national and international), general delivery service and post office boxes. They have offices all over the country. To find the closest to you, simply go to their main web page and click on Red de Oficinas to use the search form. They also recently launched an App that allows it users to track their packages, calculate service costs, and verify offices locations around the nation. You can download the app here.
Instead of depending on SerPost to receive mail, some expats use mail forwarding services. Most of these services will collect your mail in your home country, and ship it to you at predetermined intervals. Other services scan your correspondence, which you can access by email, or by logging into your account from a computer or smartphone. You can even trash and recycle junk mail, deposit checks and download important documents to save offline. The following companies have been used and recommended by members of our forum:
Of course, there are also the standard parcel services available. These are generally reliable, but they are relatively expensive. Some forum members frequently have voiced problems with customs charges when receiving products using these services. The main courier companies servicing Peru are:
Because of the delays and risks of Serpost, and the high charges of the private couriers, many foreigners living in Peru learn to rely on another time-tested method: finding someone in your personal network who is traveling abroad and who can ferry your correspondence or goods. A caveat here is that if you decide to offer this favor to someone else, also be certain to receive the package or envelopes open, since you will be legally responsible for anything you take across an international border.
We’d like to hear from you.. Have you had good, or not so good experience with the Peruvian post office, let us know about it in our forum topic: Peruvian post office / UPS / DHL