Adapting,  How to

How to: Use Correos (Part I)

Dear Tina,


You’d probably like to think that using the postal system is the same everywhere, but unfortunately it’s not. While the experience in Spain can be rather simple and straightforward if you know what you’re doing, it helps have some background knowledge. We’ve found that there are definitely some factors that you might not think about otherwise that can truly save you some headaches. In Part I, let’s break it down into what you can expect when using the post office, or correos, and other entities for sending a letter or package back home from Spain.

Sending a standard letter or postcard

Sending letters and postcards is definitely the most pain-free process related to the post in Spain. Actually, you don’t even need to step foot inside the post office to do it! For a standard size/weight/shaped envelope or postcard you can simply attach the standard international stamp and drop it in any of the yellow, phallic-shaped mailboxes you find around town.

Such stamps can be purchased at the customer service desk of the post office or in any tobacco shop (estanco in Spanish). We find the tabacco shops to be easiest as they’re are on almost every street whereas there is typically only one post office per neighborhood. This means that you’re likely to receive quicker service at an estanco, especially since you can just walk to the next one if there’s a line.

Simply tell the person the country you would like to use the stamp for and they will provide you will the correct one. If you are sending a letter outside of Europe, they will often not have one stamp for the exact price required to reach your country. Instead, they should look up the cost and sell you a number of lower-priced stamps to attach to your envelope. When we first got to Spain, a single stamp for the US cost approximately .96€ whereas we believe it now costs 1.45€.

These are real mail slots!If you have a non-standard letter or package you’re going to want to get it weighed and properly posted. Many tobacco shops actually have small scales to do this so you should have no problem getting a large envelope weighed and posted there. However, you will still be responsible for getting this into the post, so if you are looking to send a envelope that is too large to fit into a mailbox or mail shoot outside the correos building, this is not advisable as you will still need to wait in line at the post office anyways.

Fun fact: Those lion-mouths on the walls of post offices are not merely ornamental! They date back centuries but are still functioning mail shoots that will get your letter into the right bin —simply choose localidas (within your neighborhood), Resto de provincias or nacional (within Spain), or extranjero (international).


Sending a package

If sending a package (or a large envelope that will not fit into the mailbox) you’re going to have to wait in line at correos. Be sure to grab a ticket from the machine in front. In this case you will want to choose enviar, or to send, and then listen up for your number to be called and displayed on the screen which will tell you which teller to go to. Try not to get frustrated as other people who have entered after you get called up first; the system is set up so that you are in a queue with only the other people sending packages (not those you are picking up a package or getting another service). Unfortunately, sending is usually the longest queue.

For an international package (or if you plan to get your envelope insured and tracked), it will be necessary for you to fill out the paperwork for this and you can save some extra time by asking the customer service desk (or simply perusing the countertops where these forms are normally displayed) and getting it filled out to the best of your ability before you reach the teller.

This process is required for a package (which involves a literal box) whereas it is not required if you choose to put your things in a large manila envelope (in our experience, this includes all envelopes- with or without bubble wrap and of any size). For this reason, especially if you do not wish to purchase the insurance and tracking, we recommend shipping non-fragile items in an envelope as it will be much more economical.

As with the post office anywhere, the teller will likely give you a variety of options in very different price ranges depending on how quickly you want your mail delivered. Unless it is an urgent situation, ask for the most basic (lo más básico) and the cheapest (lo más barato) to avoid astronomical prices. Depending on the weight of your package, you may be looking at very different costs as this is charged incrementally (i.e. a package between 1 kg and 1.5 kg may cost the same, but 1.6 kg is going to be much more expensive).

How to: Send Letters and Packages from SpainPro-Tip: Do not be afraid to ask about the pricing or to try out switching to a flat-rate box if you think it might be more affordable. we used to be too nervous to “waste people’s time” doing this but after awhile you learn that the price difference may be worth the hassle. You can always say that you’ll step aside as you transfer things over to a different box and/or fill out new paperwork. If you’re at all anticipating doing this, we recommend not taping your box shut until you decide.


Hope this helps you to understand a bit more about the process and to feel more confident as you go forth using the post office here in Spain. Let us know if the tips have helped or if you have your own tricks to add to the conversation!



  • Geke

    Hi! I’m Dutch and trying to send a postcard from Lanzarote to the USA. Am I correct to think I only need a €1,65 stamp?
    Is that all? Thank you so much!

  • Kevin Smith

    Hi Ladies, worth bearing in mind that there are (I think) two postal systems in Spain: Correos and ‘By me’. If you are given ‘By me’ stamps you need to find their posting box as the yellow Correo box is only for items with their stamps. Best wishes Kevin

    • Sincerely, Spain

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Until receiving your comment, we were not aware of this “Post By Me” service, which seems to be a newer system aimed at tourists. While we don’t have any experience with it ourselves, it seems to cause quite a lot of confusion and frustration among visitors from around the world since, as you said, the “Post By Me” stamps can only be used to post things through their private, green post boxes.

      It seems the one should not have issues with this if they take note of the location of “Post By Me” post boxes (typically at/near tourist shops that are selling them) but it can create problems for you if you purchase these sort of stamps in one city and then travel to another city where this system does not exist. While the most popular Spanish destinations are serviced by “Post By Me,” they are only located in 15 cities at this time. A list of their post boxes can be found here:

      Dani and Claudia

  • Autumn

    I want to send a Valentines day card with some stickers and such to the US from Spain that might weigh around 40 grams or so. To mail this would I just put 2 stamps on the envelope or would I have to get specific stamps for it? Thanks for any help!

    • Sincerely, Spain

      Dear Autumn,
      In our experience, two stamps covering the cost of the postage would be enough (just make sure you are covering the necessary cost). Our recommendation, however, would be to always confirm this at a post office or with someone who will sell you stamps. Best of luck with your letters!
      Claudia and Dani

  • Justin S Hobby

    Hello, I want to send a few postcards to different people that contain magnets, they don’t weigh much. Can I send these as standard or should I go and get them weighed?

    • Sincerely, Spain

      Hi Justin,

      While we don’t have any direct experience sending postcards with magnets, our thoughts would be as follows…

      We would like to think that the person who sold these to you would have explained / offered to sell you the postage if these could not be mailed as regular post. If that did not happen, it’s reasonable to believe standard stamps would work fine for you. However, that is basing the success of your postcards’ arrival on an assumption and we personally wouldn’t want to chance it. That being said, your best bet would be to get them weighed and know that you’ve done everything you can to ensure they arrive. In general, it’s easy and stress-free to get this done at correos. (Alternatively, most tobacco shops, where stamps are also sold, will have a scale to charge you for the exact right amount, too).

      One final thought is that we’ve found that postcards take longer to arrive than typical mail. For this reason, we’d personally recommend putting your postcards in envelopes, which you might find helpful to ensure the magnets make it to their final destination too. You can purchase a packet of envelopes quite inexpensively at a bazaar or even individually at most stationery stores.

      Hope that helps!
      Dani and Claudia

  • David


    I have recently moved to Spain and have been using the lady at the counter to create any shipping labels I need.
    I am going to start printing my own labels at home, but am stick when I am asked for my “Numero de documento”con the correos website.
    Please please can someone tell me what I need to put for this?

    In hope


    • Sincerely, Spain

      Dear Dave,

      Normally when asked for your “número de documento” it will refer to a DNE (the identity number Spaniards have) so you can probably try your NIE (the number given to you as a foreigner living in Spain). Alternatively, you could try to also give your passport number but the system might not accept different formats. We would suggest trying to see if you can add any number there or asking the lady at the counter to confirm what it is that should be put. Let us know what you find out!

      Dani and Claudia

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