Mexican mail


MEXICO’S MAIL SERVICE works fine, but plenty of people don’t trust it.

This distrust is a holdover from the old days when lots of stuff did not work too efficiently, but Mexican times they are a’changing, amigos.

A few months ago, there was a post on a Yahoo forum populated primarily with Gringos who live near my mountaintop. A fellow was asking if anyone was driving to the United States who would be willing to carry a letter to be dropped into a U.S. mailbox.

I responded that the fellow could simply drop the letter into a local mailbox, and it would be delivered with no problem. Thousands of Mexicans do it every day, I pointed out, and I have been doing it for 14 years. I know of just one lost letter in all that time.

That’s pretty good, and as good or better than the U.S. Mail.

The forum moderator emailed me. It seems I was deemed inadequately nice. Then the fellow who had posted the initial question emailed me, also unhappy. How could I suggest such a ridiculous thing? The letter he wanted toted contained a check!

He had not mentioned that detail previously.

People still write checks in 2014? And drop them into snail mail? I haven’t written a check in years. PayPal and other aspects of cyberspace move money beautifully.

I admit that sending checks in the Mexican mail likely is not the best idea, although I imagine most would arrive at their destination intact. I have received a couple of checks from above the Rio Bravo in the Mexican mail with no problem.

Better to use PayPal or a credit card.

During the presidency of Felipe Calderón, the mail service was upgraded. The employees reportedly got a salary increase, and a new garish color scheme was slapped on uniforms and post office walls.

My downtown post office box* has served me very well for over a decade. It costs about 23 bucks a year. The postmaster is a chubby, young fellow named Mario who smiles a lot. I never knew anyone in my post office in Houston.

I also rent a mailbox in Miami, a forwarding service that I use solely to express mail a new credit card to me every few years. It also gives me an address above the Rio Bravo for that same credit card. Some online purchases require a U.S.-addressed credit card.

But 99 percent of my mail comes and goes through Correos de México, which works great. The next time you need to mail something here, drop it into a mailbox, for Pete’s sake.

Then wait the typical two weeks.

If you want speed and/or more assurances, register it or use MexPost, the express arm of the Mexican mail. You get a tracking number to follow its travels via the internet.

I’ll be going to the post office today to mail my Form 1040 to Barry’s outpost in Austin. It will cost me about 20 bucks, and it will get there in about three days. Barry owes me a $700 refund, and I hope he still has that much in the till.

The refund will be delivered electronically, not by check.

* * * *

* I highly recommend a box instead of having mail sent directly to your home.

33 thoughts on “Mexican mail

  1. I agree with you on this one. I use the Correos de Mexico frequently to mail things to Canada.

    It is cheap and works fine, but is not fast. It takes on average 4 weeks for a package to get to Canada. Part of the slowness is that from here our mail goes to our state capitol and then from there to Mexico City. I always send by registered mail and everything has always arrived.

    The tracking number only tracks my stuff to Mexico City and then tells me it has been put in the bag for Canada. Once that happens I can only wait until they receive it in Canada. It cannot track it internationally, only nationally.


    1. Brenda: What prompted this item was a post on that same Yahoo forum a few days ago. Some guy who lives among the faint-hearted Gringos around Lake Chapala is planning to move to my town. (I wish they would not do that, but that’s another issue.) Apparently, they have some private mail service available there (as they do in San Miguel, more faint-hearted Gringos) that mules mail down from above the border. He was asking on the forum what people do to get mail here.

      Again, I bravely ventured into the forum to point out that the Mexican mail service works just fine. This morning, I see that some other local Gringo said I was off-base, and that the Mexican mail was not to be trusted. People actually believe that, and they do so because they do not use the Mexican mail … because it is unreliable. It’s one of those vicious circles.

      They know what they know, and what they know is erroneous.

      Having received great service for 14 years, I know without a doubt that the system works fine. I do recommend a PO box, however, which reduces any potential risk of loss due to not bouncing around town on the back of a motorbike.

      Glad to hear our Mexican postal system works well in Sonora too. Not surprised at that, however.


  2. Ha. I had more letters lost in the USA than that. Once people get an idea in their heads, it’s hard to get it out. I sent some letters to Hungary that never made it, either, So it looks like the Mexican mail system is slow, but reliable. Hope you get your refund.


    1. Hi, John: You are quite correct. An idea firmly attached to an aging mind, and most of us down here are aged, is difficult to dislodge, no matter how huge the error.

      Yes, the primary (about the only) drawback to our mail system is that it’s pokey. But that’s no big thing. If you want to get an idea somewhere fast, use email. If you want to get money somewhere fast, go electronic. I rarely mail anything. My experience with the Mexican mail system is almost exclusively incoming, and it comes in just great.

      I hope I get my tax refund too. Your boy Barry might give it to someone more deserving. It’s only fair.


      1. Let’s hope that the NSA did not forward all the bad things you have said about him, or you may never see your $700. I’m surprised you have not been audited or designated as an enemy of the homeland, or something like that… 🙂


  3. I love the Mexican mail service. Just like Telmex, it’s light years from what it was in the days of yore. I’ve received my snail mail delivered right to my gate ever since I moved here, and I’ve never used a mail forwarding service. The one time I decided to get a Mexican P.O. box, just to simplify the address, the postmaster told me that it was a waste of money, since the number of magazines I receive would mean that they’d just have to go to the back room to retrieve them and that I was better off with home delivery. Who was I to argue with him?


    1. Ms. Shoes: Who are you to argue with him indeed. Better to get home delivery in your case. I subscribe to only one magazine, National Review, which comes to my Kindle, so no magazine clutter in my PO box.


  4. On several occasions, F has commented to me substantially what you have written above, namely that the Mexican Postal Service is light years ahead of the bad old days, and generally quite reliable now. Of course he didn’t mention slow, as he doesn’t have any expectations colored by Gringo first class letters going coast-to-coast in three or four days.

    I’m also personally a little puzzled by the slowness too. The slower the delivery, the more mail is sitting in the system at any given time. So by delivering mail faster, postal services can save on capital expense and keep their facilities smaller. I’m sure this fact will some day drive the Mexican authorities to speed up their system.

    Until then, I’m in total agreement with you. If you’re in a rush, use an electronic means of sending money or ideas.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the water company still refuses to auto-draft our checking account.


    1. Kim: The slowness is baffling. What do they do? Put the mail into a drawer somewhere and let it sit for days on end to ferment? It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in a Mexican post office to see what they are actually doing.

      Interestingly, many times I have seen huge mail bags being dragged out of my post office and tossed into a cab, so they use taxis for part of the route. In my town, I imagine that’s to send the mail the 40 minutes to the state capital.


      1. My guess as to why it’s slow is that they probably use some kind of “batching” system for the mail so they can send out full bags/trucks/etc. So they let the mail accumulate until they get a batch and that’s probably why it’s slow. That said, I don’t find that a particularly satisfying explanation either. There must be a fair bit of mail going between larger cities in Mexico, and also between those cities and the USA. You’d think they’d have some kind of a reasonable batch every day, or at least three times a week. And as you note, the willingness to use cabs and motorcycles suggests the batch size isn’t all that big.

        So I guess we both remain baffled.


    1. Interesting. I did not know that. I send mail almost never. Other than things having to do with the IRS, like today, I can think of almost nothing that I send out. I do get quite a bit of incoming, however.

      I did send a registered letter to the director general of HSBC to his office in Mexico City recently. It got there pretty fast, and he addressed “my concerns” pretty fast too. I discovered many years ago that paper letters to people in high places work miracles. Email just does not have the same impact. That will work even more in the future, I think, as email becomes even more prevalent, and paper letters even less. Personal paper letters really stand out these days.

      They are excellent for whining.


      1. When I lived in your fair region, HSBC refused to send my statement to a PO Box.

        I once had some papers needed from a bank in Canada sent to the colonial city in your area. I had them sent FedEx (cost $30) and also mailed. The package from FedEx arrived 28 days later, the other one arrived in my PO Box one day later. Now Canada is phasing out home delivery, which is no surprise because no new home deliveries have been added (new housing developments) since the 1980s.


        1. Kris: I used Banamex here exclusively for over 10 years. At first, they also gave me the song and dance that they could not send to my PO box. However, I pressed them on it, and it turns that they can, and they have done so for years now.

          Lots of things in Mexico can be done when they say it cannot. You just have to push, I have found. I once bought a pair of pants in the Liverpool department store in Mexico City. For some reason, I changed my mind and returned them the following day and asked for a refund. I was told that was impossible, only a store credit was possible. I said, repeatedly, of course it’s possible. The clerk finally went for a manager and it was possible. I got my money, but the manager was not nice about it. Tough luck, I say.

          I once returned something to Home Depot in my state capital. I had lost the receipt. That’s usually a major obstacle here. I was told it could not be returned without the receipt. When the person in the “customer service” grew weary of my insisting that it could be returned without the receipt … it was returned without the receipt, and I got a refund.

          As for my HSBC statement, I can download it right off my account page on their website. Piece of cake.

          There is no residential mail delivery in my woebegone neighborhood, and that can present problems.

          I am surprised that FedEx took 28 days to get something to you here. The mail drop I rent in Miami sends my credit card renewals via DHL, and it arrives here in three days. Real good service.


  5. In 2012, I had an identity theft problem with my Social Security deposits that were being sent to my American bank. The solution of the Social Security Administration, until I got my benefits sent to a Mexican Bank, was to reimburse me by mailing me the missing money via the Mexican mail. Social Security still owes me for four missing months of benefits that never arrived.

    The checks that were mailed to me in Mexico were all cashed, presumably by employees of Correos de México. I’m still gaining back the weight I lost in 2012.


    1. Andres: Yes, it’s wise not to put checks in the mail system here. How they spot checks is a mystery. The couple of checks that have been sent to me over the years were sent without advising me beforehand. Anyone who mentions mailing me a check is immediately told to find another method, and there are always other methods.

      Glad to hear you’re gaining your weight back.

      For years I had my SS sent to my BanamexUSA account in Los Angeles. No problem. I switched to my HSBC account here about a year ago. The transition was seamless. I have good karma, I guess.


      1. About ten years ago, I sent a Thank You card to a helpful gringa realtor in Yucatan. Enclosed a $20 bill (you can see where this is going). Later I inquired about the card during a phone call. Yes, received the card, but no Jackson. Hmm – perhaps I was mistaken, and didn’t enclose the cash. Tried again. Card received, no cash. Finally, I deposited into a U.S. bank account of hers. The amusing cultural aspect of this to me is the fact that the mysteriously detected cash (are all greeting card envelopes inspected?) is deftly extracted, envelope resealed, and the card is delivered instead of simply being discarded following the harvest. Because that would be, well, no muy educado.


        1. Stan: How this works baffles me. An amigo who lives near me had a couple of months of SS checks stolen and cashed. But they were sent, stupidly, in the regular envelope with the little plastic window showing full well what was inside. Easy to see how that was spotted. Not so easy to see how it was cashed, especially with a obviously non-Mexican name and the oft-suspicious nature of Mexicans.

          But how they detect checks in plain envelopes is a mystery. And it certainly is not 100 percent. I have received checks from above the border in the mail with no problem. I know others who have sent and received checks with no problem.

          But I think it’s not too wise to send checks in the mail here. There are better options to move money these days.


  6. When my daughter was traveling the world (just out of high school), I was living in Mazatlán. She mailed me from many different countries. All she had was the street name and the name of my friend in Colonia Olympica, no house number. Every letter she wrote, plus a number of packages she sent, got delivered. Can’t do much better than that.


    1. Bob: Another splendid testimony to the efficiency of the Mexican postal system. Anyone who says it’s unreliable, especially nowadays, simply does not use the Mexican postal system. They’re just repeating myth and rumor.


  7. I’ve had good results using Mexican P. O. Boxes, home delivery, and General Delivery.

    At one time in San Miguel de Allende a certain ice cream store served as a drop off point for northbound mail. The bonus was that the ice cream was very good.

    I’ve used the Lista de Correos (General Delivery) service in various areas of Mexico. My American broker sent mail from England to Mexico with an approximately ten day delivery time. The funny thing was that my broker representative thought that Lista de Correos was actually my wife.


  8. Mail service in the old days?

    On one afternoon in 1979 a letter was sent from a private home in Dallas, Texas, suburb, and delivered to my home address in Guadalajara the very next afternoon.


  9. We just got a Christmas card from my sister-in-law in Wisconsin. February 25, 2014, two months after Christmas. It was mailed December 11, 2013. Of course, I hadn’t checked our P.O. box in about a week.

    Don Cuevas


  10. As you know, I regularly bang the drum for the Mexican postal service. Babs and I have even sent checks to one another between Melaque and San Miguel de Allende.

    My incoming experience has been a bit different than Our Friend in Red Shoes. My outgoing mail is noticeably slower than my incoming. And I think batching is one cause. My pal the postmaster told me that I mail far more letters than anyone in town. And that is not very much. I suspect the bag goes out when it is full.

    But slow is not really a concern for me. I simply schedule mailing cards a couple of weeks in advance. And they all get where they need to be.

    I saw both message board exchanges. Like you, I was astounded that anyone could believe that nonsense. But you know how it is. Those 1 million Americans living in Mexico cannot possibly trust the Mexican mail service — not after 7 million Americans were murdered in Mexico last year.


    1. Good ones, Steve.

      (For those of you who don’t quite get Steve’s last paragraph, that a million Gringos live in Mexico and many other millions are murdered are common myths.)


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