How does it work to Get Stuff Shipped to you in Costa Rica when you shop online?
Welcome back to Part II of How to Get Stuff Shipped to You in Costa Rica. This is an expat interview I recently conducted with Jerry and Lowell, owners of a Costa Rica shipping company, Get It Here Jerry.
If you missed Part I, you can check that story here. It gives you the background on the father and son expat team who own and operate Get It Here Jerry including:
• Their collective professional backgrounds
• How they discovered (and fell in love with) South Pacific Costa Rica
• How Get It Here Jerry – their shipping company – was born, and
• A bit about what expat life in South Pacific Costa Rica is like.
So, let’s proceed!
What’s the Market Like in South Pacific Costa Rica for Shipping Services?
According to Jerry, the market is hot in South Pacific Costa Rica because we’re far from civilization – meaning we don’t have conveniences like PriceSmart (Costa Rica’s equivalent to Costco or Sam’s Club), Wal-Mart and big furniture stores.
Generally, if an expat living in Costa Ballena wants to find new things, they have to travel four hours to San Jose, spend at least $100 in gas round-trip and then trek all over the capital city looking. And that doesn’t include hotel and food bills, which for most people, are necessary.
“If you’re particular about wanting something specific for your new home, then we offer a service that will be of interest to you.” Jerry opines.
How does the Pricing on Shipping to Costa Rica work?
“Our constraint for shipping to Costa Rica is space; whatever will fit into a container, we can bring. No matter what something weighs, we can pretty much bring.” Meaning – in layman’s language, the cost to you – the client – is determined by volume or the space your item takes up on the container.
For large stuff or bulky stuff – like furniture, a system like Get It Here Jerry often is not price effective for the client. For example, if you pay $1000 for your fancy couch, you’re going to pay another $1000 to get it down here. If your furniture can be broken down into multiple boxes, then it may make sense because that may take up less space, which means it costs less.
“So, what type of things DO make sense for someone choosing your shipping service, in your experience?” I asked.
For convenience type products, like a nice skillet, stainless steel cookware, good fans, bedding, towels, light furniture that breaks down into boxes, etc., Get It Here Jerry is a reasonable solution (and relatively affordable).
They also offer a ½ cubic foot box with a set fee. This is ideal for small stuff. For example, if all you need is a swimsuit or a set of silverware or et cetera, then that’s a service that makes much more sense than spending the money to drive to San Jose (with gas, hotel, food costs, etc.).
Example –half a cubic foot is about the size of a standard shoe box. You can ship that size for a flat fee of $12.50 plus a $2.00 insurance fee.
“Otherwise, it’s $11.50/ cubic foot, plus a fixed fee on every package of $6 + $2 for insurance, which includes all taxes and delivery to Uvita,” according to Lowell.
“We get our low rates” Jerry explains, “by averaging everything together, and everybody wins.”
He explained that the person bringing down a large volume of their personal household effects with low declared value gain the cost advantages of a shared container — they don’t have to pay for an entire container themselves — whereas the person shipping a power washer or a new computer from Amazon gains the advantage of averaging their high tax value with the low value household effects.” Yes, that would seem to be a win-win.
“So, I can ship anything of any value and get those benefits?” I asked.
“Our averaging model, of course, must assume that everything falls within certain bounds,” Jerry answered. “For that reason, we must charge a small additional amount for taxes when a customer’s declaration exceeds $2,000. (Note that that’s the current limit and could change.)”
“People frequently ask me what are the best things to import”, Lowell interjected. “Given our price structure, the things that really pay to import are high value items in small packages. For example, a high quality ceiling fan that costs $500 in the States and $1,000 in Costa Rica costs about $30 to import.” That is a large savings all right. “You have to be careful to be smart with your shipping dollars.”
Lowell continued. “For example, You can ship down a $1,500 barbeque grill or a $300 barbeque grill, but either way, it’s going to cost you the same because the grill pretty much takes up the same amount of space, no matter what the price tag is. So, make sure your import dollars work for you and buy one that is going to last.” (Especially true for the salt-water eroding climate in South Pacific Costa Rica!)
(It’s not an accident that Lowell chose to use a barbeque grill for this example. In the family hardware store, he was the resident barbeque expert and boasts that he regularly sold Webers 20 to 1 over any other brand because of their durability and value.) . 😛
Insuring Your Shipment to Costa Rica – IMPORTANT!
“We insure everything for a minimum of $100,” said Lowell. “That’s what the $2.00 insurance gets you – $100 of insurance. And you can buy more if you want it for larger value items.”
How Does It Work – Getting Something Shipped to Costa Rica
The simple process normally looks something like this:
• Someone orders on Amazon or ships their own boxes of personal goods.
• They send the order or the packing list (if personal goods) to the Get It Here Jerry warehouse address in Florida.
• The warehouse then notifies the customer by email that they have received the package.
• The customer is responsible to send a copy of the receipt for the order to Get It Here Jerry via email.
• On average, every five to six weeks, Get It Here Jerry loads a container in Florida with everyone’s orders.
• An email from Get It Here Jerry is sent to the customer of what they owe for shipping once the container has been loaded. (This is an all-inclusive bill, including shipping costs, Customs fees and any taxes of the goods, which is due before the container is unloaded in Costa Rica.)
• Then, the container is loaded onto a boat to Costa Rica.
• Get It here Jerry ushers the container through Customs once it reaches Costa Rica, and pay taxes on the goods.
• Once it clears Customs, the container/shipment is brought to Uvita in South Pacific Costa Rica.
• The customer is notified of date and time of when they can pick up their goods.
Get It Here Jerry provides delivery services (all over the country), and long-term and short-term storage at their warehouse in Uvita. They also allow the client to designate someone else to pick up their order if the client happens to be traveling or out of town (with advance notification in writing).
These guys work all over the country – not just in Uvita, South Pacific Costa Rica, where they live and have their storage facility. They also deliver on certain scheduled days for every shipment to San Isidro (Perez Zeledon) and the Quepos/Manuel Antonio market in Central Pacific Costa Rica.
Bottom line, anyone from within Costa Rica can order with Get It Here Jerry, and their order can be shipped to them once it’s here in Uvita for an added fee.
A Common Quandry for New Expats Moving to Costa Rica – Ship or Buy New?
This is another common question I get asked all the time, and with good reason. I posed it to Lowell and Jerry for their thoughts on the matter.
“It might not pay to ship that used microwave from Kansas to Florida when Amazon will deliver a new one directly to our warehouse for free. Overall, our best advice is to come live here for six to eight months and THEN decide what you need to ship,” Jerry replied. “You may determine that what you think you want/need is not what you will ACTUALLY need.”
I concur 100%. Tropical living is so different from anywhere else!
“We do our best to inform and educate people about our service, so that they can make the best decisions for themselves. We try hard to be fully transparent. We hate surprises and we assume our customers do too.”
These guys are good businessmen.
How to Sign Up for Shipping Services in Costa Rica
To Sign up:
1. Go to their website at: www.GetItHereJerry.com
2. Click the Get Started page here.
3. Read the page, and then click the button to fill out their required form.
4. Once you submit the form, Jerry will respond with a phone call to walk you through the entire shipping process including the risks, their limits of liability, packing considerations and all the things the other carriers don’t tell you but you need to know.
5. After you have spoken with Jerry on the phone, then and only then, will a shipping address in Florida be provided to you for your orders.
Jerry notes, “We don’t do Ad Hoc shipping!” So, take note. You must be registered with them, and they must approve you. You can’t just send something to them without speaking to them and getting registered.
Building A Home and Want to Ship Construction Materials to Costa Rica?
You may be in luck! Get It Here Jerry has just launched a new process for offering this level of service to expats that are building a home in South Pacific Costa Rica.
How does it work?
Order your household contractor materials and/or décor and/or furniture or household effects/goods and send them to Get It Here Jerry in Florida. They will store your items for you until you need them. Goods can be picked up at your discretion by providing a key to your construction professional or by appointment at their Uvita, South Pacific Costa Rica warehouse. Nifty, huh?
What Items are Prohibited from Being Shipping into Costa Rica?
Glad you asked – there are quite a few! For example, you cannot ship in any sort of food or pharmaceutical items AT ALL including any health and beauty items like skin care. Sorry, ladies. Yes, I know this stinks. What this means is that if you – like me – use a skin care brand that is not available in Costa Rica, you’ll end up carrying multiple containers back with you in your personal luggage when you fly back and forth from wherever your home country is.
Tires are another item that cannot be brought into Costa Rica, along with any kind of pressurized items, nor weapons or anything flammable.
Vehicles are also an item unto themselves. While Jerry says they don’t import vehicles themselves, they are happy to help you make sense of the differing stories you will read online and point you to the professionals with a proven track record in shipping cars to Costa Rica so that they can help you.
And, there’s much more in the What We Can’t Do page on their website. Be sure to read this list and study it BEFORE you have anything shipped.
Remember, your goods are opened and inspected BOTH before they leave the United States / Florida loading point, AND when they arrive in Costa Rica by Customs. Get It Here Jerry is a legitimate company operating under the license and guidance of a fully registered and authorized Costa Rican licensed consolidator.
Whew, have you learned anything yet? This shipping stuff to Costa Rica is intense.
There’s more to come…
Again, for brevity, we’re going to give you some time to soak it all in and we’ll be back next week with some more recommendations from Lowell and Jerry about expat living based on their own experiences here in South Pacific Costa Rica and some hard examples of shipping stuff to Costa Rica.
See you next week!
For more about JuliAnne Murphy and Costa Rica expat living, visit:
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