Mail Boxes, Etc.
Private post office
Downtown, Av. Xpuhil, behind Mercado 28, next to Checandole. About $35 monthly for mail and messages. PHONE 887-49-18 FAX 87-49-13 OWNERS Mr. & Mrs. Bonilla. Fluent English
An outpost of the American company, Mail Boxes, Etc., offers most of the same services, including post boxes, package wrapping, fax transmission and reception, and telephone message service. This is the quickest and easiest place to send MexPost (equivalent of the US Postal Service's Express Mail), which you can pay for with your credit card.
One of the great advantages of having a Mail Boxes Etc. box is that you get an American address with it as well, enabling you to qualify for the absurdly low first-time promotional rates. It is also the best way to get further information from advertisers, many of whom do not answer requests from Mexico. This is also the easiest way to order merchandise from the United States by mail, as Mail Boxes Etc. has its own customs broker in Tijuana, which takes care of all the frequently tedious details.
Downtown, near Mercado 28, Sunyaxchen and Tankah. 40 cents for an airmail letter to the USA.
You can mail your letters and post cards from most hotel reception desks. Stamps are available wherever post cards are sold. There are also mail boxes in most hotels, in front of the Fama store on Av. Tulum, at Plaza Mexico (downtown, on Av. Tulum) and in Plaza Caracol and other shopping centers. Mail takes about ten days to get to the United States. Packages can be sent from the Post Office, just as in the United States, but the fees are generally higher. Most stores will take care of all shipping details for you.
If you are here for less than a month, don't expect to receive mail easily. Mail from the United States gets here in anywhere from ten days to three weeks, depending upon the origin and class of service. An occasional letter will arrive in three days, another take as long as six weeks. Packages arrive in about thirty days, but can take longer if they get stuck in Customs at the border or in Mexico City.
The fastest way to send anything to Cancun by mail is by United States Postal Service Express Mail, which costs $10.50 and usually arrives in about five days, but can take up to two weeks, especially if it has to go through Customs. There are no customs broker charges (see DHL and FedEx, next page). This is about the only secure way to send packages by mail, as there is no insured or registered parcel service to Mexico. MexPost does have a tracking number, which makes the package less likely to be pilfered or lost.
If you have to leave and expect to receive mail worth recovering, but don't want it returned to the sender (because you plan on coming back soon, for example), write a letter authorizing a local resident to pick it up for you, endorsed with both signatures. It is a good idea to have this document witnessed, especially if the item is valuable. The witness should be a local business person who has some kind of rubber stamp to make it look official. Your representative must have adequate identification. The Post Office is justifiably very strict about these procedures, given the possibilities for fraud in a community with such a large transient population.
Registered mail arrives in about two weeks. We have had several experiences in which friends told us that they were informed by United States postal employees that registered mail does not go to Mexico. This is completely untrue. If your correspondents are told this, have them report the matter to a supervisor. All registered mail services, including restricted delivery and return receipt, are valid for Mexico, except for packages.
The best way to receive mail is through a post office box. These are available for new rentals only in the month of January, as all boxes are currently occupied and you have to wait for someone to give one up. Although Post Office regulations require that your name be listed on the rental contract in order to receive mail, it is safe to have your mail sent to the box of a friend or business associate.
It is not a good idea to have mail sent to a street address unless you are sure it receives regular home delivery -- not all do.
Lista de Correos
Lacking a box, the best method is to have it addressed to:
Your name Lista de Correos 77501 Cancun, Q. Roo, Mexico
Letters or packages addressed this way will be held for you at the Post Office. A list is posted every day of new arrivals. If you don't recover your mail within ten days it will be returned to the sender.
At one time, many unregistered packages sent to us disappeared en route, but this has improved considerably in recent years. If you are expecting mail, check for it regularly. The Post Office returns all unclaimed mail after ten days, as the volume far exceeds the storage capacity.
Packages containing dutiable merchandise will require customs charges, which will usually be 38 percent of the declared value. If you receive a package through a service such as DHL or Federal Express, it will sometimes have a charge of about $12 (even if the contents are not dutiable) to cover the services of a customs broker.
If your friends send you clothing and other gifts of modest value, have them declare them as having no value. Otherwise the customs charges may be greater than the actual value of the merchandise.
Telephones & Fax
Hotels charge stiff service fees for all long-distance calls, whether completed or not, including collect calls. Mexicans who do not have telephones make their long distance calls at any of the Casetas de Larga Distancia (TelMex agencies, which charge fairly modest fees). If you are calling within Mexico, you can pay for the call in cash or call collect. International calls are collect only at some casetas. The service charges may apply whether or not you connect and there might be an extra charge for information or any other service involving the international operator.
Only use official TelMex phone booths for long distance calls, as all others charge very high fees, so high that the government is now removing the phones. These usually have an appealing point-of-sale urging you to call collect with an American flag to ram home the point. Most, if not all, are absolute rip-offs. Fortunately, you can also look at Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile prepaid plans and get travel cell phones for cheap, to make long distance calls.
If you are not staying in a hotel and do not wish to call collect, you will find it difficult to make international long-distance calls.
The least expensive way of paying for an international call is to buy a Ladatel card at one of the locations that sell them, such as the newsstand in front of the post office.
These come in amounts from 30 pesos up. You put the card into a slot in a Ladatel public phone and direct-dial the number. The amount of credit you have left will appear on the display and be updated when you connect. The charges are automatically deducted from the card.
Credit Card Calls
Some Mexican credit cards will also work in Ladatel phones, including Master Charge and Visa International. We don't know if the American versions will, too, and we have no way of finding out. We will appreciate any information about this.
You can send faxes from the post office or from any Caseta de Larga Distancia. The two most convenient locations are
 Downtown next to Lavandería Alborada on Nader.
 Mercado 28, near Farmacia YZA.
$1.65 per page, plus long-distance charges of about $3 per minute (one minute equals one page, usually).
Downtown: Av. Tulum just past main bus terminal. Hotel Zone: Coral Negro Market, Plaza Kukulcán, 2nd level.
Fast, efficient fax service
Public internet service is available in all major hotels at rates of about $10 an hour. There are also many Internet cafés in the Hotel Zone and Downtown. Hotel Zone malls with Internet service include Plaza Caracol, Plaza Kukulcán and Maya Fair, but there are many other locations. Rates generally run about $5 an hour. Service in downtown Cancun ranges from $1.50 to $4 an hour.
The telegraph office is in the Post Office. We have sent telegrams occasionally, but we have no way of knowing how fast they arrived. Service here is actually better than in the United States, as Telégrafos Nacionales tries to deliver to street addresses whenever possible, whereas Western Union always uses the telephone. Telegrams arrive within 24 hours. If you are expecting a telegram, check the Lista de Telégrafos. For a money order -- giro (hee-roh), check the Lista de Giros.
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Zona de Tolerancia
Words to live by.