How to Ship Products to Puerto Rico

Between 2016 and 2017, ecommerce sales in Puerto Rico increased by 13%, rising from $112 million to $127 million. The growing importance of online sales in Puerto Rico means that ecommerce companies should learn more about providing services to people living on the island. However, many ecommerce stores aren’t sure whether they should use domestic or international shipping when sending products to customers in Puerto Rico.

The following guide will teach you how to correctly ship items to Puerto Rico so that you can provide excellent services and increase your sales.

Is shipping to Puerto Rico considered international shipping?

Confusion regarding whether to use domestic or international shipping comes from Puerto Rico’s relationship to the United States. Currently, Puerto Rico is considered an unincorporated territory of the US. This means that the USPS considers Puerto Rico to be domestic shipping, but some private carriers (like FedEx or UPS) consider Puerto Rico to be international.

USPS considers Puerto Rico to be domestic shipping, but FedEx and UPS consider it to be international.

Since Puerto Rico isn’t a state, residents cannot vote in presidential elections. Because of this, many people believe that the island is a foreign country. In reality, it shares close ties to the US and benefits from federal services, including the United States Postal Service.

How to Correctly Ship Packages to Puerto Rico

The United States Postal Service (USPS) does serve Puerto Rico, which means that you should use domestic shipping when sending products to customers on the island. However, shipping items to Puerto Rico is slightly different than shipping products to customers in the states. Make sure you know the proper method so that your customers will receive their packages on time.

Use English as the Default Language

Most residents of Puerto Rico speak Spanish as their primary language. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 95% of Puerto Ricans speak a language other than English at home.

Despite the prominence of Spanish, you should use English as your default language when shipping to Puerto Rico. That doesn’t mean that you should translate the names of streets—the names don’t change regardless of which language you use. It does mean, however, that you should use “PO Box” instead of its Spanish equivalent.

You should also use “W” as an abbreviation for “west” even though Spanish speakers use the word “opeste.” Other directional words begin with the same letters as their English equivalents. For instance, “Norte” and “North” both begin with “N.” Knowing this will make it easier to write your address labels correctly.

Follow the Correct Address Format

Using the correct addressing standards for Puerto Rico will help ensure that your customers get their packages as soon as possible.

When taking orders from people in Puerto Rico, make sure you leave a space for them to include their urbanization names. The urbanization name describes an area of the city, similar to the way people who live in Manhattan often designate which neighborhood (Upper West Side, Midtown, Tribeca, etc.) they live in.

Formatting for addresses that include an urbanization name looks like this:

  Name of Recipient

   Urbanization Name

   House Number, Street Name, and Apartment Number

   City, State, and ZIP+4 Code

Here’s an example of what an address to someone in San Juan should look like:

  Mrs. Maria Suarez

   URB Las Gladiolas

   150 Calle A Apt 14

   San Juan PR 00926-3232

If your customer does not include a URB, then leave that part out of the address. Ideally, though, you should include that information since it could help your package arrive faster.

Not all areas of Puerto Rico use street names, which some mainland Americans can find confusing. When a street name is unavailable, use the following address format:

   Name of Recipient

   House Number and Urbanization Name

   City, State, and ZIP+4 Code

In this instance, your address label should say something like:

  Mrs. Maria Suarez

   1234 URB Los Olmos

   Ponce PR 00731-1235

The Cost of Shipping to Puerto Rico

As long as you use USPS, shipments to Puerto Rico cost the same as shipments to any other part of the US. You don’t even have to include a customs form.

If you use USPS, shipping to Puerto Rico costs the same as shipments made to any other part of the U.S., and you don't need a customs form.

If you use a private shipping company like UPS or FedEx, then you can expect to spend more money on shipments to Puerto Rico. These companies also charge higher prices for sending items to Alaska and Hawaii. This is done because it takes significantly more effort to deliver packages to areas that aren’t connected to the lower 48 states. Puerto Rico, for instance, is about 1,000 miles away from Miami, FL—the closest city in the lower 48 states.

The Bottom Line

Selling products to people and businesses in Puerto Rico can help you attract more customers. As long as you learn how to address your packages properly, you shouldn’t have any difficulties meeting your new customers’ needs.