Part 1 of 3: Mail and Magazines – Living on an island where everything is imported, you really need to have an understanding of how to get stuff here otherwise you’ll get swamped by large fees or long waiting times. The problem is there are many different shipping options. Depending upon what you are sending, how much you are willing to pay, and how long you are willing to wait, you need to be able to switch easily from one to the other.  Over the next few months, the experts at Tortola Express will be offering you some insight on best practice for shipping anything to and from the BVI.  This month we’re covering regular mail.

Snail Mail
There are two options for snail mail.  The first is the regular post; the second option is to use a PO Box service.  We recommend the PO Box services like Inland Messenger or Khoy’s because they own PO Boxes in the USVI to enable you to use both the USVI and BVI Post.  They will check their boxes several times during the week and consolidate it for one delivery to their general offices.  

The regular BVI Postal Service takes about 2-3 days for local mail so if you need to communicate invoices and statements or send out cheque payments to multiple recipients, this can be a good service.  However, for mail to and from the outside world, you’ll probably want to use a mail service with a USVI PO Box as it will go a little to a lot faster and the US postal rates are a little more favourable.

Express Mail
To send documents at speed when the e-mail or file transfer option is out of the question,  courier services such as FedEx, DHL or UPS are your best options.  They will provide you with next day service to and from the US and a 3-4 business day service to the UK, with a few extra days to the rest of the world.  Add an extra day for UPS; their shipments arrive late in the day on Tortola and so are not distributed until the next day.  For up to one pound of weight and in 9.5”x12.5” envelope, expect to pay between $30 and $40 to the US.  These companies have delivery guarantees so if it gets there late, you get the shipment for free.  They tend to have excellent customer service and the shipments can be tracked on the web.

Subscribing to magazines can be easily done by using one of the PO Box service companies.  If you subscribe to a US-based magazine and use a BVI address, then you’ll probably find you’ll get charged international rates for your subscription.  We’ve seen some charge up to four times as much as a regular subscription, so you are effectively covering your annual box rental with the savings you make.   The USVI have very good postal rates from the US and you won’t generally be charged extra for this destination.  This option can still take some time since US mail to the USVI can often be slow.  The US postal service does stipulate 4-6 days, but that may be a little optimistic.


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