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A stroll through Santurce, Puerto Rico

Moving and Shipping
to Puerto Rico

Prepping to move out of state to Puerto Rico? Here’s your task list and important details to consider when making the move.

Find the Right Neighborhood

Puerto Rico has great neighborhoods throughout the island, we recommend you do your research and visit to find the right vibe for you and your family. Looking for city life? Take a look at Condado and Old San Juan. Laidback beach lifestyle? Rincon and Dorado. Lucky you, we’ve summed up our member’s go-to neighborhoods in this article.

Get a Local Address and Virtual Mailbox

If you are unsure of where you will be living, taking your time to find the right place, or renting for the time being, we recommend signing up for a virtual office at Piloto 151. 

You can do it even before moving to Puerto Rico. Use our address for incorporation and government documents, registered agent purposes, opening up a local bank account, and receiving business and personal postal mail. In fact, our virtual mailbox allows you to see a picture of each piece of mail you receive and we’ll do all the mail handling for you, from forwarding it to the address of your choice to opening and scanning. Learn why it’s better than a P.O. Box.

Open a Bank Account

The largest bank in Puerto Rico is Banco Popular, which has many ATMs and physical branches throughout the island. You could also check out Oriental Bank and First Bank.

To open a personal account, you will need two types of ID and proof of your Puerto Rican address. Some banks require your Social Security card.

Ship Your Items to Puerto Rico

After you’ve found a place to call home or signed up for an address in Puerto Rico, you can ship your belongings there. The good news is that major couriers offer shipping services to Puerto Rico and you won’t need to fill out customs paperwork most of the time. In fact, it’s not very different from shipping to any contiguous U.S. state. You just need to plan for different transit schedules and provide some additional documentation.

However, shipments may be subject to a sales tax based on the value of the goods (noted on the commercial invoice). Shipments must be declared and released by the Puerto Rico Tax Department before they can be delivered.

Couriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx are great shipping agents. But, which to choose?

Consider the courier, weight and dimensions of your package, and the delivery time. Expedited delivery options are more costly as they ship faster than standard or ground shipping, which comes at a cheaper price with a longer delivery time. Different couriers will also have different rates for the same package weight and dimensions.

  • Small packages: USPS is the most reasonable and cost-effective for small packages under 70 pounds. Shipments to Puerto Rico cost the same as shipments to any other part of the US.
  • Medium-sized packages: UPS and FedEx work great for packages between 70 and 150 pounds.
  • Fast but more expensive: FedEx usually delivers faster, but, as they consider Puerto Rico an international location, the option will be more expensive.
  • Cheaper but slower: Not in a hurry? UPS is your best bet.

Despite the fact that The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the country or state in the address section will vary depending on the shipping agent. If you are using USPS, make sure to list the state as P.R. However, UPS or FedEx, enter PR as the state and the country.

Consider Freight Shipping to Puerto Rico

Most U.S. businesses ship goods to Puerto Rico, but some items do not ship to the island (especially perishables).

UPS and FedEx offer freight shipping services. Here are other companies that offer freight shipping:

Excise Tax (Arbitrios) 

Excise tax charges 4% on shipping things to Puerto Rico, such as vehicles. This number is determined based on the vehicles’ worth in Puerto Rico.

The excise tax is not included in the cost of your car shipment. You pay it directly by filling out an Official Excise Tax Document and paying the excise tax at Hacienda Centro de Servicios, 2 Avenida Juan Ponce de León, San Juan, 00917. When you get there, you will likely need cash to pay. Puerto Rico uses the US dollar as currency, so there is no need to worry about having to exchange your money first.

Also, the determination of the tax is made when your car arrives which is after the point at which you have paid the particular auto transport company.

You can calculate the tax here. You will need to enter your vehicle’s VIN number or enter the make, model, and year. The fee you will be expected to pay is “Estimated Arbitration” or, in Spanish “Arbitrio Estimado.”

Getting Your Local Driver’s License

If you are moving to Puerto Rico from the United States, you will need to get a local driver’s license. A U.S. license is not valid on the island, but it can be easy and quick for a licensed U.S. citizen. We’ve detailed the process here.

Transfer Your Car Title

When you send a vehicle from the United States to Puerto Rico, it is necessary to register your car title through the Department of Public Works (CESCO). This document certifies who is the registered owner of the vehicle.

You should begin the process of gathering your documents before moving to Puerto Rico. Here’s a guide with the steps to transfer your car title.

If you are moving to Puerto Rico for business, check out our article on relocating your business and moving to Puerto Rico in 8 easy steps. 


About Piloto 151

Piloto 151 is the destination for virtual offices, flexible workspaces, and private office space. With coworking spaces in the heart of San Juan, Puerto Rico, our spaces have been designed to inspire creativity, cultivate connections, and celebrate wins. 

Let us help you prepare your business for landing in paradise, from incorporating your business, getting a physical business address, and virtual mailbox services to permitting and certification under Puerto Rico’s world-class tax incentives, including Act 60. Contact us to get started.