The first part of this post explains how to send a letter from Bogotá to somewhere else (either in Colombia or to another country). The second part briefly explains how to format a Colombian address when you are posting a letter to Colombia.
How to send a letter from Bogotá
Colombians rarely use the public mail service so it took me a while to find out how to send a letter abroad. Everyone knows about the private courier services – Fedex, DHL, Deprisa and Servientrega (national) are some of these. However, you’ll often get a blank face if you start asking where to buy stamps or find a letter-box (doesn’t exist) or a post office (there aren’t many).
Colombian postal service
4-72 is the public postal service in Colombia. It has offices scattered around the city, and these can be in quite obscure places.
You can check on the 4-72 website to find the 4-72 post office nearest to you in any part of Colombia. You can change the language of the website in the top right-hand corner.
Post office in downtown Bogota
I went to an oficina de correos (post office) near the Museo del Oro in downtown Bogotá at Cl. 12a #8-74. Walk to carrera 8 and walk down it until it crosses with calle 12a. The post office is diagonally opposite a big building called Murillo Toro which has steps outside it. It just looks like a shop, but in the window somewhere it says “4-72“.
If you are sending a letter, you need to write your name and address in the top left hand corner of the envelope, and the recipient’s address more or less in the middle (leaving plenty of space for stamps in the right-hand corner).
Colombian mail service options – Normal or Certified
The best service to use if you want your letter to arrive as soon as possible is the Correo Certificado. This allows you to track your letter if it doesn’t arrive. They say it takes 10-12 working days for post to arrive in the US or Europe from Colombia. At the time of writing, a letter weighing less than 20g cost approx. 9000 pesos to send. So if you’re a tourist passing through Colombia, you might want to send post-cards once you arrive home! There is a Correo Normal which is cheaper, costing $2600 to the US, and $3600 pesos to most countries in Europe, so you may want to choose this option for postcards.
What information will I need to give to send a letter in Colombia?
For Correo Certificado, you will be asked for your ID/Passport number, name and address. If you choose this option, make sure you have this information with you at the post office.
Good to remember…
The city of Bogotá largely consists of calles (streets running east to west) and carreras (avenues running from north to south), much like cities in the US. The calles are horizontal and the carreras are vertical on the map. So if you see an address “calle 76 # 9-60”, it means that the building you need is on calle 76, near where it crosses with carrera 9, and the building number is 60.
How to send a letter to Colombia
Bogotá and most other places in Colombia are divided into a grid of streets and avenues. I used to live at Carrera 7 # 65 – 23, Apartment 702. This means that I lived on 7th avenue, that the street just to the south of my building was street 65, the building number was 23 and my apartment number was 702.
So when you want to send a letter to Colombia, the recipient’s address will have a format similar to the one above. It might have the name of a building/hotel/business too.
What is the Colombia address format?
If I wanted to send a letter to the person living in my old apartment, this is what I would write on the envelope:
Carrera 7 # 65 – 23 Apto 702
Edificio Lambaré <– the name of the building
Chapinero Norte <– this is the neighbourhood – useful but not necessary to include
Does Colombia use zip codes?
Zip codes are a new concept in Colombia, so if you ask the recipient for one, they might not know what to tell you. However, postal services in some countries require you to enter a postcode. For that reason, the Colombian postal service has created zip codes you can use, if needed. You can either Google e.g. ‘código postal Bogotá Chapinero’ or go to this website and enter the first line of the Bogota address (e.g. “cra 7 # 65 – 23”).
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