All Things Shipping
Sep 11, 2020

Shipping to Puerto Rico: Tips and Requirements

Shippo Snippets:

  • Packages shipped from the U.S. to Puerto Rico are considered domestic shipments and do not need to go through customs
  • Shipments do require a commercial invoice and may need to provide Electronic Export Information
  • In general, goods going into Puerto Rico will be taxed—if a tax exemption applies, you’ll need to include the tax exemption number
  • Some requirements may vary by shipping carrier

The Story:
The island of Puerto Rico has been part of the United States since 1898, but not as a state. It’s actually an unincorporated territory, which means that it’s neither a state, nor a sovereign nation. This also means that shipping to Puerto Rico involves taking different steps than when shipping from one traditional U.S. state to another—with different carriers having different requirements.  

Taking those extra steps to ship to Puerto Rico can be well worth it, though, when you consider how there are nearly three million potential customers for your business who live on the island. Read on to learn more about the fundamentals of shipping to Puerto Rico, how it works with different carriers and more. 

Commercial Invoices

When shipping to Puerto Rico, there are no customs requirements involved because your shipments are considered domestic packages, which simplifies matters. On the other hand, you’ll need a commercial invoice, and if the shipment is valued at over $2,500 USD, Electronic Export Information is typically required. 

 This document identifies what’s being shipped and is also used for:

  • Listing the value of the package (which will determine the taxes due, if applicable)
  • Import control (This is a way to control the amount of shipments being sent to a particular location and is typically used to manage shipments abroad.)
  • Duty determination (A “duty” is a tariff paid on exported goods; this is typically used when shipping across international lines.)

Because shipping to Puerto Rico from the United States is considered a domestic shipment, this document would mainly be used for valuation purposes in this case.

Here are a few key elements to found on a commercial invoice:

  • Contact information for both the shipper and recipient
  • Description of the item being shipped and its usage
  • Why it’s being shipped to Puerto Rico
  • Where it was manufactured
  • The number of items in the shipment and value of each one
  • Total value of the shipment

In general, goods going into Puerto Rico will be taxed. According to the International Trade Administration, state sales tax is currently 5.5%. There can also be an applicable municipal sales tax, up to 1.5%, which means that these tax rates can range from 5.5% when no municipal sales tax applies to 7% when the maximum municipal sales tax is required. If a tax exemption applies, you’ll need to include the tax exemption number.

More About Electronic Export Information

Electronic Export Information (EEI) is included in a document that must be prepared for shipments to Puerto Rico if the value is more than $2,500. This may seem odd, given that these shipments are not considered exports under the Export Administration Regulations, but Foreign Trade Regulations make this a requirement if the $2,500 valuation benchmark is surpassed.

USPS in Puerto Rico

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is often the best, most streamlined choice when shipping to Puerto Rico, both in terms of rates and delivery times. Why? Because USPS classifies a shipment to this US territory in the same way that it does for shipments to one of the 50 states. Your shipment would be classified as Zone 6, 7, or 8—and then you’d pay the rate that corresponds with that zone.

On your package, list Puerto Rico as the state and the United States as the country.

UPS in Puerto Rico

Although the USPS is typically the cheapest way to ship to Puerto Rico, that won’t be an option if you’re shipping a package weighing more than 70 pounds. That’s the limit the USPS puts on shipments to this island, while UPS’s limit is 150 pounds, nearly twice the weight. This will cost more overall, but it remains a viable option. 

With UPS shipments, you list Puerto Rico as both the state and the country. 

FedEx in Puerto Rico

If speed is of the utmost importance, FedEx can be a solid choice. Their overnight delivery or emergency delivery services can get your shipment there the fastest. But, be prepared to pay more for the convenience. 

And, like UPS, you would list Puerto Rico as both the state and country.

With this information at hand, shipping to Puerto Rico can be a streamlined process, not significantly different from shipping to any U.S. state. Because there can be extra costs when shipping to Puerto Rico, at least compared to shipping within the mainland, USA, having a good understanding of what’s involved will make it easier to incorporate within your business’s shipping program. 



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Kelly Boyer Sagert
is a full-time freelance writer living in the Cleveland area. Her range of expertise spans business, finance, logistics, automotive, e-commerce and more.

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