Cuenca offers some excellent shopping but some things are just not available here or not available at a reasonable price. You might struggle to find a big and tall sweater size, shoes bigger than Ecuadorian size 46, your favorite brand of Jockey shorts, meds, and supplements that cost 5X more here, Poptarts, Venezuelan beaver cheese, etc. You get the idea… your list will differ and most of us have one. Many find the solution in a number of shipping services that will deliver those items from the U.S.
This article provides some of the more popular shipping services that can deliver your US goods to Cuenca.
Amazon, Walmart.com, Walgreens, and many other online shopping sites combined with the shipping services in this article make shopping almost as easy from Cuenca as they do from Pittsburgh. Many services maintain a US address (often Florida) to receive your items from the shopping sites. Then they ship or bring it to Cuenca. Some even assemble multiple orders into one box or suitcase. When your goodies arrive, you can have them delivered to you or pick them up.
There were too many options to include of them in this Roundup, so I am sharing my research on a representative list.
And if you are a bit concerned about reliability and cost, you can breathe easily as shopping this way has become routine and generally quite reliable. You can always find an expat complaining about their own personal “horror story” but our research suggests that these are a tiny percentage of the total number of orders delivered here.
If you want your orders delivered, some choices include AP Shipping, Tiendamia, Servicios Postales, CanadaPost, USAValet, or Laar Courier.
If you prefer picking up your shipment, consider these: DHL, FedEx, USPS (aligned with FedEx), or Jimmy’s Xpress.
Expat Envoy and Servientrega offer a choice of delivery or pick-up.
Independent: “Mule” is the unflattering term for individual couriers who offer you either delivery or pick-up depending upon where you live.
Next, we deliver the goods on these services…
Cuenca Home Delivery
Looking for door-to-door service? Check out some of these good options.
AP Shipping – www.APShipping.us
AP Shipping’s slogan is “Where customer service is a priority, communication is the key and transparency a must.”
AP offers a very detailed order form on its website. You may also send a list by email of the items you purchased. Your AP order can include items purchased at several US shopping sites. You send your items to their Florida address where they will be consolidated and repackaged into one order. If you need the original shipping containers, see the website for additional charges. And AP will search, buy, pick up, and ship for you from shopping sites using their own credit card. You will receive a quote first. They maintain accounts at Costco, Amazon Prime, Walmart Plus, and others.
The minimum charge per pound is $10.00. An item over 8 pounds will cost you $9.00 per pound, and an item over 1 foot in any direction will cost $12.00 per pound. A letter under one pound is also $10.00. The Servientrega fee for local delivery is additional. (see Servientrega described below).
Custom regulations allow AP to accept only 3 vitamins of the same kind per household per trip. Any excess will be held over until their next trip.
Cynthia has used seven different services over 25 years and now recommends AP Shipping to friends which she personally uses frequently.
She says placing an order is very easy using email and their website. She describes her experience as being pretty efficient though, she occasionally has to call to get a cutoff date for delivery at their depot to get something in their next shipment. With email, she receives responses within 24 hours and they offer support in English and Spanish. She finds it easy to determine the final costs using the websites and can get quotes for special items.” When ordering goods from more than one source, shipments are consolidated into one package. Servientrega makes the last leg of the journey within Ecuador. Cynthia found the whole procedure very easy, noting that. AP Shipping communicated with her at every step.
Tiendamia – https://tiendamia.com/ec/
This service is unlike the others in that it is its own shopping site with door-to-door shipping and delivery included with the order (similar to Amazon.com in the US.). Ted and many others have found it very easy to use. One wrinkle is that Tiendamia’s website is in Spanish, so Ted used Google Translate to complete his order. One can set their browser to translate it automatically without cutting and pasting it onto the Google Translate page.
How to Order
Tiendamia makes shipping easy because they take care of the total process, including local delivery. Their app is available on both computers and phones. This South American drop shipping company ships products for purchasers using Amazon, eBay, and Macy’s.
In the middle of their screen, click on the store, find the product you want, and add it to your shopping cart. Note that they take care of all customs. Finally, you select your payment method. Use the Help Center for all your questions. Your shipment will be sent to Tiendamia’s Florida address and then to Ecuador. This includes delivery in Cuenca or elsewhere in Ecuador by Servientrega and takes about 12 days.
Tiendamia is a very popular site and easy to use, but some reviews tend to the negative. The longevity and popularity of the site suggest it is a safe site to use. Clothing, footwear, electronics, watches, glasses, sports, books, and many other things available in the U.S. are available through Tiendamia.com.
Here is an important tip about pricing. As you move through an order on tiendamia.com, item prices can initially show very high but are often not final. Step through the order screens until just before you reach the submission screen. Frequently, the price is lowered to the same price or just a few dollars more than on the source shopping site like Amazon or Walmart. Consider that those few extra bucks not only cover your item, but shipping costs to your door in Cuenca plus any applicable import taxes.
Canada Post – https://www.canadapost-postescanada.ca/
Mailing from Canada is similar to mailing from the United States. First, check with your merchant to determine if they will ship via CanadaPost.
CanadaPost offers five categories of mail (details).
USAValet – https://www.USAValet.net
This shipping service operates in Ecuador with English-speaking delivery staff who know Cuenca well. The website is in English or Spanish, and like other similar services, they use a Florida depot address for North American orders.
Contact them before making a purchase. Their phone number is +593 99 931 8080. They will confirm the Florida address and quote you a shipping price. Before your order arrives, they will send you an invoice with the amount owed. Payment in Cuenca is with cash only, elsewhere in Ecuador, you will need to send payment to their bank account.
There are special instructions for Cuenca delivery. You must write your name and any order information on an envelope. Put your cash in the envelope and seal it. Give this to the delivery man. He will not open the envelope but only deliver it to the service office. He does not give change, so you must use your exact amount of cash. USA Valet does not accept credit cards or checks.
The process is the same for letters. This charge is $5.00.
LaarCourier – https://www.LaarCourier.com
This courier serves all of Ecuador and uses UPS for shipments sent to their Florida address. They will also deliver packages and documents originating in Ecuador to all cities in the country. Their website offers a quote form to make your shipping easy. The site is in both Spanish and English for your convenience. You may reach them by phone at (02) 3960000 or by email at [email protected]. They maintain offices in Quito and Guayaquil. They deliver throughout Ecuador.
Servicios Postales Internacionales Andinos – SPIA On The Horizon
Ecuador’s postal system shut down four years ago as a cost-cutting move. A new system called Servicios Postales is not yet operational as far as we can tell. It will use the old post office buildings and will operate as a private company rather than a branch of the government. According to the government minister Francisco Jiménez, the new service “will not provide all the functions of the old post office but will concentrate on fast, efficient delivery of larger, trackable packages, [and] will offer domestic letter and document delivery as well.” This new postal system will offer two levels of delivery: basic service without tracking for $2.10 per item under two kilos; and Express shipping with tracking beginning at $30.00 per package.
SPIA will deliver to and from Canada and the United States. Other countries accepted into the new system for you to use include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, and Panama.
Watch for updates that are not currently evident about how and when to access the new service in Cuenca. At the moment, their website does not provide that information and merely requests that you contact them for details.
If you are ok with picking up your package in Cuenca, below are some options for you.
Jimmy’s Xpress Service – JimmysXpress.com
Jimmy’s operates in Cuenca. His address is Mariano Cueva 870 y Simón Bolivar; you must call first to tell them you want to use them and get pricing. Ask for them their mailing address and to contact you when your order arrives in Cuenca. Their phone number is +593 7 283-9160 or +593 096 969 8154. You may also write them at [email protected]. Their website is in Spanish.
DHL – https://locator.dhl.com/
This is the granddaddy of international shipping. DHL began in 1969 and is today the world’s leading logistics company. They serve individuals as well as businesses. You may pick up your orders shipped here at their offices at Alfonso Cordero 3-53 in the El Vergel neighborhood. Another office is at Mariscal Sucre 6-74 y Borrero. Contact customer service first to create an outbound package request. The phone number for the Mariscal Sucre office is (877) 777-5763. You can go to their offices in person for ordering items from the U.S. The service has the reputation of being expensive though reputable.
FedEx – https://www.fedex.com/global/choose-location.html
Fedex ships internationally and is linked in the US with the US Postal Service. They characterize themselves this way: ”For your import, export, or domestic needs, heavy or lightweight, urgent or less time-sensitive, FedEx has the solutions and the reliability you can count on.” Be sure your order with the merchant includes your local phone number. The FedEx tracking system will alert you when your package arrives. Their Cuenca offices are at Av. Gil Ramírez Dávalos 1-156 y El Pedregal. Be aware that their website says Temporarily Closed. This is referring to a second office no longer operating.
I have used this service with great success. Their local customer service was superb. There was a slight problem with my order, but their customer service individual kept on top of the tracking. She gave me her direct phone number and kept me informed over the weekend. She informed me when the item had arrived.
USPS.com – https://www.usps.com/international/
The United States Post Office offers Global Express Guaranteed®, Priority Mail Express International®, and Priority Mail International®. These services include tracking and some insurance. First, you will need to check with your merchant to determine if they will ship via USPS. USPS will use FedEx to deliver your package.
You may choose one of these services based on cost and speed of delivery. Here’s comparison and other information.
UPS – https://www.ups.com/ec/en/Home.page
“Details are critical. Ease is a priority. And dependability is key.”
Unfortunately, their motto doesn’t fit in Cuenca. According to their website, there is no longer a drop-off or pickup location in Cuenca.
Delivery or Pick-up
These services offer you a choice of ways to receive your package.
Servientrega – https://www.servientrega.com
Servientrega is an international delivery service for packages and documents/letters. Their website is in Spanish with limited English translation. Fees are $5.00 for packages and $1.00-$3.00 for envelopes. You may go to their logistics center to pick up your order. Their phone number is +593 7-373-2000. See the website for local pickup locations.
Servientrega global shopping/shipping arm works for U.S. purchases https://www.globalbox.com.ec/ as well as local delivery service. Their green trucks are a common sight in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador. They serve both personal and business addresses and they make it easy to move things from place to place within the country too.
Servientrega does the last leg of the trip for shipments to your door from Tiendamia.com once they land in Ecuador.
Expat Envoy- www.ExpatEnvoy.com
This personalized service offers two-way shipping. You can have anything shipped to a Florida address where it will be held until picked up by the owner of this service. He travels from Cuenca to Florida most months to retrieve all the packages and mail that have arrived there. He then brings it back to Cuenca. Allow 8-9 days for this transport. Since this service operates with commercial airlines, any items prohibited by law or for resale will not ship.
Alert owner Harrison Paul via the website or at [email protected] that you are sending an order to the Florida address. You must contact him with any detailed instructions. You may use this service for both letters and packages going in either direction. Letters and packages going to the United States must have pre-paid USPS postage. Check the website for mailing dates.
The charge for a standard letter is $5.00. Oversized letters such as manila and priority envelopes cost $10.00. Package charges are $7.50 per half a pound. All package orders require a $20.00 flat fee in addition to the weight charge. There is no charge for sending a letter to the US.
Once your item arrives in Cuenca, you will receive an invoice with the total charge. Payment is by cash only. If you wish to use PayPal, you need to contact the service first. You have the option of picking up your order or having it delivered. This charge is $5.00 min.
Any item(s) whose volumetric weight exceeds its actual weight will be billed. There is a handy calculator on the website for you to estimate the charge.
High-priced items are subject to prior approval and will have a separate charge. This service will not transport computers, laptops, tablets, or gaming consoles. You must contact the service first about ordering medications. Each medication must include a prescription. Supplements and vitamins are not considered medication, but they are limited to 2 or 3 per item.
The website provides answers to most questions. I have used this service successfully several times for both letters and packages. The only caution is to clarify the charge for local delivery.
Ecuador Mule Shipping
Many people travel to and from Ecuador frequently, some even on a set schedule. These people are called mules, meaning their service might be less regular than others. However, it can be more economical. Find many of them on the Facebook group Ecuador Mule Forum with over 4,000 members. They have recently created a set of new rules to keep everyone honest and reduce unhelpful chatter.
Mules usually operate by posting their travel schedules to and from Ecuador. When you place an order outside Ecuador, send it to the mule’s address in North America. He or she will bring it to Ecuador and arrange with you for delivery or pick-up. A reverse process can also be used to send an item from Ecuador.
The most convenient method is to select a mule in your community. This system works as well with letters as it does with documents. The mule will quote you a fee for the service. If this person is not in your community, an additional delivery fee may be added.
The potential drawback of using any service can show up when your shipment goes through Ecuadorian Customs. Make sure you understand the carrier’s abilities to navigate customs and your respective responsibility. Things have occasionally gotten stuck there and having a service that knows how to get them through can make all the difference.
Our Experience with Mules
We can attest to the excellent service provided to me by a Cuenca mule Jorge Gavilanes, his WhatsApp number is +593 98 739 0191. I had a US Election ballot I wanted to be delivered. I walked over to Jorge’s office, handed him the letter, and he took it to Miami and dropped it in a US Postal mailbox. The fee was $10.00. Jorge travels to and from Miami frequently. I can recommend his service. Other YapaTree contributors have used Jorge for several years with success as well.
Friend Ravi’s experience was with mule Karolina Agnieszka, Whatsapp number is +593962561877. He is a Canadian without a US mailing address. He had Karolina purchase for him. She sent him a screenshot of the order, and he sent the money to her bank account in Ecuador. As she lived in Quito, he had an additional fee to have the order sent to Cuenca. Karolina added that fee to his total order and arranged the delivery. He knew the size and weight of the order and did not have to deal with customs. Ravi had no problems with his order. He recommends Karolina for her excellent service.
Rick Snyder, YapaTree contributor, also confidently recommends Sebastian Donoso, Whatsapp number +593994150643, a local equestrian business owner and frequent traveler. YapaTree Editor, Jason Scott, is happy to vouch for Alexander Yepez who has gone above and beyond several times. Only caveat with Alexander is that he is based in Quito so you’ll need to use Servientrega or similar for the last leg to Cuenca.
Share your favorites and your experience in the comments below. We know there are many more than 3 good independents.
Don’t let international shipping scare you and miss out on your favorite U.S. peanut butter or slippers. You can easily, reliably, and economically get what you want to be sent to Ecuador with the help of the services we described, except for the new Ecuadorian Postal Service which is yet to be explained.
The websites are easy to use, especially those with shopping carts. Those without websites are generally very responsive. Some will offer you an order form to list what you want. Others operate by WhatsApp or email. All of them offer email or phone assistance with an order for processing your shipment.
Remember the convenience of home delivery or simple pick-up is now part of some services, just like in the U.S. Lastly, you do not have to speak Spanish as most of these operate in English and Spanish.
Okay, I admit I am one of the disgruntled Gringos who has complaints about two of the services you have listed. I gave each more than 2 chances to get it right, then I moved on. When I found Karolina Agnieszka, I just quit looking. She is the best.
Now, I do have to say that when I order books in bulk, I do use TMA Logistics because they can handle bulk and weight without taking up someone’s suitcase. Anything else, it is Karolina all the way.