Correos de Nicaragua = Snail Mail in Nicaragua
It seems complicated at first but very simple once you understand the international and developing country components involved!
It’s always so exiting to get the notice – You’ve Got Mail! Receiving international mail in Nicaragua is quite straight forward once you understand a few basic factors:
A) International Mail – this means there are at least 2 immigration check points. The departure check point and arrivals check point of each country.
B) ‘Developing’ Country – many developing countries or countries with limited economies around the world have similar rules in terms of import taxes/duties. Import taxes/duties is one of the main sources of income for developing countries.
This means there are controls in place for the package from the departing country and the arrival country. Please check with your departing country for reasons why packages might get stopped (usually not an issue – but every country has specific rules one must abide by) before departing the country of origin. Entry to the destination country is a completely different story.
Upon entry to Nicaragua, the central Correos de Nicaragua location in the capital city of Managua is the main check point for all mailed packages. Here an agent reads the description of the contents of the package and decides if they must provide instructions to Customs for a more thorough check and bill for taxes/duties. This governmental department will then provide details on taxes due for importing items into Nicaragua and retain the package at Customs or allow the package to continue its course to its final destination.
Here is a 2 min video of the process for receiving an international package in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua https://youtu.be/5iVFwbQnsuc
Entry to Nicaragua for your package will be easy as long as your package is not included in one of the following 3 catergories:
1) MEDICINES – all medicines coming into Nicaragua must be approved by MINSA the National Ministry of Health. This process can take many weeks depending on the classification of medicine being imported. The import tax is a whole other issue that is impossible to foresee. In essence, if it’s medicine you need, bring it with you, on your person and be ready to provide a doctors note upon entry to the country.
2) ELECTRONICS – almost all electronics are taxed upon entry to Nicaragua and those that have any GPS or telecommunications capabilities require permits from the national Telecommunications office AKA ENITEL. Importing cell phones or laptops via mail is a big mistake – the paper work involved and the amount of running around required to get stamps and signatures required and the cost of import duties to release the item is not worth the time nor effort involved in importing the items yourselves. In essence, always bring your personal use electronics with you when you travel and make sure they are out of the original packaging. This will ensure it is for your personal use and if taxed it will be considerably less. Items should be funny in case you get checked upon entry to the country. All this being said, Nicaragua has also come leaps and bounds over the past decade as there are many options here when it comes to electronics, albeit more expensive than you’ll likely find in your home country.
3) BULK – 4 items or more of anything is considered intent to commercialize. I didn’t pull this number out of the sky! This is what I’ve been told repeatedly when dealing with customs upon arrival. This commercialization tax is strictly imposed and you will be asked for paper work for your registered business selling imported items. That is right! Business registration paperwork. So, what ever you do, don’t do what I did: I went crazy on Zappos and bought 5 pairs of shoes (all different styles, all my size) and got nailed for 80% import tax on the all the shoes! My bad, it was a learning experience. It essence, I didn’t know about the commercialization import taxes being applied even for items of personal use. Never did it again to say the least. So learn from my experience and try to make sure all the items you mail yourself look used and not new!
Import taxes start at about the normal sales tax rate, being 15%. In Nicaragua general sales tax is 15%. This is also known as IVA. It is common for import taxes to begin at 15% of the Nicaraguan Estimate Value of an item and the import tax can be as much as 80% depending on how the item is classified by Customs.
Also important to mention that concerning Taxes, the Nicaraguan Estimate value of an item is not the same and your home Countries estimate value! So your import tax will be hard to calculate on your own. It is a bit of a guessing game for all of us and even the Import companies give estimates and not firm quotes.
Some Correos de Nicaragua office’s have PO Boxes. The cost of the PO Box depends on the size. The contract is usually annualized, meaning they require at least one year upfront.
All that said, my big recommendation is to ensure you add a Local phone number to your home address when shipping something to Nicaragua. This way, the attendant in Correos de Nicaragua can text or call you when the package arrives in your local correos de Nicaragua Office.
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