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Purchasing Via Internet in Uruguay and Peru

South American Countries Ranked by Import Taxes

PIB is GDP in Spanish.

Import Taxes Ranking

Available Shopping Sites


  • Many items will have exorbitant shipping, but some will have a reasonable shipping price.
  • Sorting searches by the number of orders may yield better products and more reliable vendors. Update 2022: Now this is less true.
  • Always read customer reviews searching for negative comments about the product.

AliExpress has terrible customer service. Chat with a live person will not fix any problem, as they have no power to change anything. They won't tell you as much, and waste your time asking many questions and making you jump through hoops for nothing. I've learned to use the automated processes and find my own workarounds.

In one instance, my credit card was rejected when purchasing an item to ship to Peru, when right after the same card was used to ship the same item to USA. Despite my bank telling me AliExpress never attempted to charge the card, AliExpress blames the credit card. The bank does not have a history of lying. AliExpress will tell you anything, and attempt to waste as much of your time as possible. I have a lot of experience with AliExpress customer support. I'm curious to see that they might help or give a straight answer at least once. In this particular case, the new credit card needed to be validated through a not so obvious link within AliExpress. It was easy to do, but customer service was either completely ignorant or have a sadistic streak.

If you receive a crap product through AliExpress that is a rip-off, always claim it is broken, won't turn on, or anything because otherwise the judgement by AliExpress is more likely to rule in the store's favor. is also an option, but I prefer because it usually has more product options and better prices.

AliExpress sends you a lot of email, to the point you feel spammed to death. You can opt out of all email, but then you have no record of what you've ordered, and some orders may mysteriously disappear on your order list on AliExpress. There is no control of getting some types of email, and not others. So I created filters to send the email I don't want to the trash. Click to expand the list.

AliExpress Email Filters

When searching for products, sorting products by price, or by number of orders, yields a sorting method that is heavily compromised towards AliExpress profit. There is a user script called AliExpress Plus that I use on TamperMonkey, that helps you get closer to actual sorting. These scripts tend to have a short shelf life: if AliExpress changes the site the script can stop functioning.

Aside from AliExpress product search, if you are left desperate to find a product you can try a Google image search for

Overall, compared to Amazon, which strives for good customer experience, AliExpress is blatant in its attempts to fuck over the customer, and if you aren't extra careful, you can be tricked. Lack of competition in many countries that AliExpress serves?


By contrast, Amazon customer service is golden. There may be items on that ship to Uruguay, but I haven't found any. Items that ship to Peru have a minimum of $30 shipping, and the price of shipping goes up with price rather than weight, such that it is never a competitive price.

For this reason there are some shipping services in USA that will organize your purchases into one package and ship them to Uruguay or Peru, but I don't find that especially interesting, considering I have family in USA.


I've ordered via AliExpress and consistently have my packages delivered. Just like in USA. Aduanas isn't a PITA (pain) like it is in Uruguay.

The advantage of shopping AliExpress in USA compared to Uruguay or Peru is cheaper shipping. Shipping to Peru for $10 items will on average be $5, where shipping to USA is generally listed as “free”. The end result is that items are 50% more expensive buying from Peru or Uruguay compared to buying from USA. Although this average of 50% more is not consistent, with high variation.

When specifying your address, be overly descriptive because addresses are not absolute like they are in USA.


Uruguay Aduana / Customs

Uruguay aduana can't keep up with all mail, so some items, probably smaller ones, make it through without your being asked to pay import taxes. For this reason, redditors in 2020 recommended not declaring your shipments. In another 2020 reddit thread, runic3270, BardoKeeper, and others agree that small items that don't weigh too much are not stopped by Aduana.

There are two types of tracking numbers, official and unofficial. When you look at the order, you will see that it has an official tracking number or it does not. Official tracking number are 13 in length and have two letters in front and two letters in back, like this: RL123456789CO. I'm guessing all orders having this format tracking number are of the official type.

Non-official tracking numbers can't be tracked within Uruguay. The last item you see in tracking may be “handing over to airline” or “departing country of origin”. Sometimes you will also see “arrived at destination country”. In contrast, packets with official Uruguay tracking numbers will have tracking information through aduanas and into the country.

I called Uruguay Correo/Aduana (0800-2108) and they claim exterior tracking has no way of knowing when a package arrives in Uruguay, (despite the package arriving in Uruguay by plane, at least according to tracking info). He also said that Correo/Aduana may take one month, two months, even three months to process a package sent by “simple mail”, where simple mail doesn't have a pre-approved Uruguay official tracking number. He said simple mail takes long because it has lower priority than those with pre-approved Uruguay tracking numbers, where you have paid at least a small Uruguay shipment fee in advance. However, my experience is that if simple mail arrives, it arrives well before mail with official Uruguay tracking numbers.

In actuality, non-official tracking numbers are given a different internal tracking number within Uruguay. They just never let you know what that number is. Kudos for them, because that way you can't ever complain that your package is missing. Of course, they will tell you they know nothing about the original tracking number. If your package “disappears”, you have no recourse.

I called another time, and they mentioned that 5% of incoming packets (probably those with an official Uruguay tracking number, since I was calling about one such packet) are retained for verification of the cost of the contents. My packet had yet to go through that lottery process. In 2016, policy was a little different, as described by “Se incrementa el control aduanero y crece la retención de paquetes – compras en el exterior, 20161202, where depending on the month, up to 12% of packets were intercepted.

You can set up an account, and pay import taxes on shipments that aduana has intercepted (and all shipments with official Uruguay tracking numbers), at the following address:

The ahiva system has a bad reputation of not having correct information, according to yet another reddit thread in 2020.

Not sure what this address is for:

Literature regarding Aduana Corruption:
Para más del 70% de la población adulta uruguaya hay "mucha" corrupción, 20201214
Se lanzó el Piloto del Procedimiento de Recepción de Denuncias, 20181121
Aqui No Pasa Nada. El Contrabando y La Aduana. Navarrete y Nathan 2003

Is Online Shopping Reliable in Uruguay?

As of 2021-07-10:

  • I ordered 30 packets between 20210508 and 20210530.
  • 9 packets remain undelivered.
  • 24 of 30 packets were under 5 USD.
  • 4 of 30 packets were between 5 and 15 USD.
  • 1 packet 25 USD and 1 packet 55 USD.
  • The $55 packet was never shipped, and the seller store disappeared from existence. I disputed the order with aliexpress, and received a refund.
  • Of the 9 yet-to-be-delivered packets, 4 were less than $5, 4 were between $5 and $15, and one is $25.
  • The $25 packet (ordered May 18) and a $15 packet (ordered May 23) have official Uruguay tracking numbers and have yet to be delivered.

I might conclude that packets under $5 make it through aduana more quickly than more expensive packets?
More than 2/3 of the packets I ordered made it through in under 6 weeks, with an average of 5 weeks.

What I find different ordering aliexpress from Uruguay instead of USA, is that packets ordered from USA arrive in more or less the same amount of transit time. I can only blame Uruguay aduana for holding on to some packets longer than others? Were the packets “lost” in transit? I'm surprised that some orders from earlier dates have yet to arrive: one from May 8, one from May 9, and three from May 12. These 5 packets are now two months in transit.

As of 2021-07-23:

There were 9 packets yet to be delivered. Of the 5 packets I mentioned earlier, ones that were very late, one arrived. It had an official Uruguay tracking number, was worth $15, and I paid aduana $5 to send it to my address (despite it being one of my 3 non-taxed packets per year). Another also had an official tracking number, but there was absolutely no tracking information. Probably never shipped, and I will get a refund from Aliexpress when the wait time expires. The remaining three have unofficial tracking, and although the tracking says the packets arrived in Uruguay, I doubt they will ever arrive at my address.

There are 4 more packets left to cover from the 9 packets that had yet to be delivered. One packet with unofficial tracking from May 16th I doubt will ever arrive. The remaining three have official tracking numbers and are all being held by aduana. I need to pay for the shipping fee on two of them.

I've paid for the shipping fee on one of the three, and it is being held anyway, according to the “lottery” process until I verify the value with a copy of the receipt (I guess a screenshot of the order will do?), a copy of my ID, and the last four numbers of my credit card. I sent them the information ( 10 days ago, along with reminder messages, and they have yet to respond. Not nice since they will consider the packet abandoned on August 7th.

I should make sure everything is shipped with unofficial tracking numbers! It's a lot less headache to declare to Aliexpress that some items never arrived and get a refund. 4 out of 26 not delivered is not great, but worthwhile since Aliexpress gives a full refund for undelivered packets. That's been my experience in USA, although lost packets happen much less frequently. I wonder how they got “lost”. Maybe intercepted by aduana, but I never get a notice.

I had 4 packets with official tracking numbers, and they all get intercepted by aduana. I only get 3 non-taxed items per year, so I will have to pay taxes on one item. I choose the least expensive one, which is $10. The minimum tax is $10, so I get 100% tax, and the shipping fee is $5.50. I don't even want the packet if I have to pay an additional $15.50. I'll take the $10 loss.

Update 2021-09-23:

None of the remaining packages were delivered. I needed to make an appointment, then visit Aduanas in Montevideo. Appointments were a month out or more and I was leaving Uruguay.

My conclusion, is that anything $10 or more is likely not to make it. How do they know the cost?!! Also, anything particularly “cool” will get stolen.


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information-technology/2021-customs-aduana.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/21 04:33 by