While there are millions of good things about Spain, the Spanish postal service, or Correos, usually isn’t one of them. Known as being slow, inefficient and often misplacing or irrepairably damaging letters and packages, getting mail delivered on time in Spain can be a bit of a nightmare. That’s why, if you’re in Spain for any length of time, you must know how to get around the slowness or you could be weeks before your mail arrives. If it arrives at all.
Don’t Send Large Packages – Unless you’re willing to wait months for a package to be delivered to you, or arrive where you sent it, don’t even bother sending large packages. They simply won’t arrive on time and, even if they do, will have been ripped apart by Spanish customs looking for contraband. Divvy up anything you’re sending into smaller packages or padded envelopes. It will cost you more in postage, but you’ve a lot more chance of things actually arriving. Eventually, that is.
Visit the Post Office in the Morning – If you have to ship a letter or package, or pick one up, go to the post office in the morning. Opening hours for Spanish post offices are notoriously pathetic, with most opening at 9am and closing by 2:30pm Monday through Friday, and only from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Of course, Spanish post offices are supposed to be open longer hours in line with EU policy, and in large cities like Madrid and Barcelona they often are, but they’ve been promising thatwill happen all over Spain for years and, in many areas of Spain, it hasn’t happened yet.
Don’t Send or Receive Food Stuffs – For some bizarre reason, Spanish customs hate getting packages that include food. Even innocuous items like a packet of candy or a box of cookies can hold up your package for weeks, or cause Spanish customs to completely annihilate its contents. There’s also little restitution in Spain, at the post office, so if they destroy your package because of a packet of peanuts, you won’t get much if any money in damages.
The best thing to do is avoid sending food and tell friends and relatives not to send it to you in Spain either.
Get a Post Office Box (Apartado de Correos) – It might cost you extra money, but it’s well worth paying for a post office box. After all, even if your mail has actually arrived at the post office, it still might take another two to three days before it’s delivered to your apartment or house. Pay the post office box fee and you can pick it up at the post office the day it arrives.
Tip the Post Office Staff at Christmas – One huge way to ensure you have less problems with your mail is to tip the post office staff at Christmas. While tips aren’t expected, you can guarantee if you are nice to the people at the post office, who you deal with on a regular basis, and that includes a nice Christmast tip (plus we drop off a box of cookies or a cake too!), that will help you out for the rest of the year too. We even find, occasionally, if there’s a huge queue, one of our favorite post office clerks will wave us to the front of the line. We kid you not.
Spain’s postal service has improved in recent years. Just be aware, it has a long way to go before it gets to the standard of most other European countries. So plan accordingly.
If you need information on Spain’s Correos, or Post Office, check out their website.