The holidays are a chaotic time at post offices in Spain, and for anyone who has lived in Spain long enough, it’s a time when lines are long, prices for shipping are sky-high and the inevitable holiday cheer package gets stuck in customs.
While it’s enough to make you go full-on Grinch at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, you can usually get your packages back, though you’ll usually have to fork over VAT, or duty, tax. Read on, brave soul:
I followed your advice on your Sending and Receiving Packages post. But my stuff got held up in customs anyway. Now what?
Well, you aren’t the first. Due to terrorism (and we don’t just mean the homegrown politicians-trying-to-keep-the-budget-on-track-by-charging-study-abroad-kids sort), Barajas Airport’s customs staff have been working overtime to inspect packages due to threats.
If your package gets stuck, you can file a reclamación with Correos in Madrid. You will receive a notificación de aviso through snail mail with a tracking number and instructions for how to reclaim your package, which will be released from customs but you will be responsible for any delivery fees.
You have two weeks to gather and submit documents, or risk your package being returned to sender. In other words, Elvis and your package have left the building.
Point your browser to ADTPostales, the customs division of Correos. Click on the tab labeled aportación de documentos, where you’ll be asked to write in your international shipping number, plus your personal email. Create an account on the following page by clicking ‘registrarse.’
Enter your email twice, followed by your NIE. Note that passports are not accepted. Then, repeat your tracking number and choose a password of eight characters.
First, you must fill out the Datos de Envío by writing your name, contact number, NIE, address and a brief description of what the package contains. It’s not necessary to write down the value.
Then, click on the Documentos tab and upload the following:
- a copy of your NIE (passports are not accepted)
- the notificación de aviso filled out and dated
- proof of purchase or document that claims the items’s value
Should you not have any receipts, download and fill out a declaración jurada de valor, which can be found on the ADTPostales website. Note that a value over 0,20 must be declared, or your proof will not be accepted.
Once your documentation has been received by ADT, you will receive a notification from Correos about the status of your package within 72 hours.
My documents were accepted. Now what?
Congratulations! The hard part is done. Correos will drop by your house within five days to attempt to deliver your package, but be forewarned that you will likely have to pay a customs tax upon delivery. If you are not home at the time of delivery, you can pick up your package at the Correos office listed on the back of the form within 15 days, so long as you bring proof of identity.
I live in Madrid. Can I pick up the package myself?
Yes. Once you have declared the items and paid their value, you can stop by customs at Barajas airport. Call ahead to see if you have to pay on delivery, or to inquire about the status of your package.
I didn’t meet Correos’s deadline. Will my package be sent back?
In theory, yes. Ask the package’s sender to call the company as a head’s up and be sure to follow the package’s tracking number. Correos does not take responsibility for packages once they’ve left Barajas on a plane out, so it’s best to be in contact with DHL, UPS or your country’s postal service.
While we know how nice it is to get receive a package from home, as long-term expats, we’ve learned to be wary of having our families and friends send us anything in the mail beyond cards! Consider using Amazon for purchases in Europe, fork over the money at Taste of America or Costco, or ask politely for a bank transfer – we promise it will save you headaches!