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Receiving a package in Uruguay

There seems to be some confusion on the newest developments with the changed restrictions regarding receiving packages here in Uruguay. The information we were receiving at the post office was not very clear and they themselves seemed ill-informed. Then we were heard rumors that the whole restriction had been cancelled all together. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, revisions have been made and package restrictions are once again being enforced. The regulations¬†have gone through many changes over the past couple of years and have caused many people massive headaches and frustrations. Apparently in early 2014, local shop keepers were complaining about unfair competition with internet sales. The complaint that taxes weren’t being paid on the goods purchased abroad was quickly brought to the governments attention and they gladly imposed restrictions. I don’t understand this complaint because a 60% import tax on internet purchases has been in full effect for a while now. These regulations now prevent us from receiving more than 4 ‘gifts’ tax free. In addition we now have to pay Uruguay “administrative fees” to receive our package.

A tedious system of preregistering your anticipated packages was set up but most people in Uruguay (and post office workers) were uninformed of its details. As of last September, 60,000 packages had piled up because of receivers not filling out the forms and claiming their packages. These were therefore considered ‘abandoned and sent back to the sender, as a result of not being claimed within 30 days. Thankfully, post office personnel have finally put their heads together and will now inform the receiver by mail when they have received a foreign package. ¬†You are now allowed to receive 4 packages of up to 20 kg. in weight and valued up to US$200 duty-free each year, as long as they are sent by Express Mail. (all of your receiving history will be recorded through the post office website through which you fill out your package information) The previous rule let you receive 5 packages per year, BUT the value of US$ 200 INCLUDED postage and insurance. Now, the cost for postage and insurance is no longer included in the value–only the value of the goods. These changes took effect on January 1, 2016.

Up until now, it was only feasible to purchase a good for a very low value (because of high postage costs) to have it qualify for one of the 5 packages/year exclusion. Now you get one less package but the value of goods can be much higher because you no longer need to employ the service of a despachantes de aduana (customs officer) for goods valued over $100.

Here is what you as the receiver must do when you get a letter informing you of a package arrived to Uruguay:

1. Go to the indicated web page and fill in
a. the date of arrival
b. your name
c. cedula number
d. how it was paid for
e. last 4 digits of the credit card used for purchase. (if its not a gift)
f. your address
g. description of the goods

If you declare your purchase or gift prior to its arrival in Uruguay, you will be required to pay an administrative cost of US$ 1.50 plus 5% of the tax paid.

If you register your package after its arrived in Uruguay: You must pay US$ 5.00 plus 5% of the tax paid if you make the statement before 10 days of issuance of notification of retention, or US$ 10.00 plus 5% of the tax paid if it is between day 11 and 30 of issuance of notification.