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Moving to Puerto Rico

July 28th, 2017 - 9:51 AM

Want to move to Puerto Rico?​

Puerto Rico became a U.S. Territory in 1898, making its residents U.S. citizens. But because it isn’t incorporated, it can sometimes feel like a completely separate country — especially if you’re trying to move there. While you can travel to Puerto Rico from the U.S. without a passport and use U.S. currency, other differences (like not paying U.S. taxes or voting in general elections) may make the process seem confusing. Learn more about moving to Puerto Rico, and get tips for adjusting to life on the island. 

moving to Puerto Rico

Everything you need to know about moving to Puerto Rico​

Life in Puerto Rico​

Puerto Rico is 3,515 square miles (comparable in size to somewhere in between Delaware and Connecticut) of pure Caribbean paradise. The mountains, rain forest, beaches and rivers make this a gorgeous place to call home, and with 78 municipalities (counties) that each have their own local flavor, finding a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle should be easy. Before moving, visit with the eyes of a resident. Look for the amenities you need, consider potential commutes, and find the area that’s best for your family. We also recommend brushing up on your Spanish since it’s the primary language spoken by the 3.4 million residents, however, many people know some English or are bilingual.

The cost of living

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Puerto Rico is 7.9% lower than living in the U.S. While some of the metro and tourist areas may be more expensive, most areas are easily affordable. According to prices listed on Expatistan, costs in San Juan currently are quite comparable to costs in the United States — $7 for a fast food meal, $875 for monthly rent in a 900-square-foot apartment in an average area, and $17 for two movie tickets. Check local wage estimates and employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out what you could make.

Shipping your belongings

To move household items into Puerto Rico, you may be required to complete an Electronic Exportation Information Form (EEI). An EEI is required if moving any single item or group of similar items (like a guitar collection) worth more than $2,500 by itself (used value). There are no customs fees, but goods are subject to an excise tax. After arriving, your items will need to be cleared at the local tax office before delivery. Our local service center can do this for you — we’ll just need the following documentation:

  • Declared value — the total value of the shipment (declared at time of reservation and listed on your Bill of Lading)
  • EEI form for anything with a used value over $2,500
  • Receipts for any new items
  • Copy of photo ID
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Puerto Rico physical address

The tax official will check everything, apply the tax and clear your items. Be truthful about the cost of items — if they feel there is a discrepancy, you could be penalized with fees.

Finding a moving company that services Puerto Rico

Moving options are either a full-service mover or a DIY self-moving company. A full-service company is typically the higher priced option, since they do everything for you. For a more affordable option, try a DIY service like U-Pack®. We service most locations in the U.S. and many locations in Puerto Rico door-to-door. If the new address isn’t available for door delivery, we offer an option to unload at a local service center.  

How does moving to PR work with U-Pack?

  • We bring the moving equipment to you — either a moving trailer or ReloCube moving container
  • You load your belongings
  • We transport it to the port in Jacksonville, FL and place it on a ship
  • The ship sets sail to San Juan, which takes approximately one week
  • The trailer or container is offloaded and taken to our Guaynabo service center
  • You clear the items at the tax office
  • We deliver to your new home

Wondering which type of equipment would be best? The 28-foot trailer allows you to use the space you need (down to a 5 linear foot minimum), only paying for the space you use.  ReloCubes are 6’ x 7’ x 8’ (external dimensions) metal containers — use as many as you need, paying only for the ones you use.

You can also add storage if needed, either at origin or at the service center in Guaynabo.

The cost to move

Costs depend on a few different things: where you’re moving to/from, how much you’re moving (how much space/how many containers used), and when you’re moving.  U-Pack rates include the moving equipment, transportation, fuel and limited liability coverage. We also file the EEI form for you at no additional cost.

Check rates by getting a free moving quote. For most Puerto Rico moves, you won’t get an instant price. Instead, a moving consultant will take a closer look at the details and send rates via email within 1-2 business days.  Or call us at 800-413-4799 to talk with a moving consultant, and get an instant quote.

Shipping and registering a vehicle

Many companies that handle household goods are not licensed to transport vehicles. For example, U-Pack can move personal belongings to Puerto Rico but doesn’t transport automobiles. We recommend Mr. Car Shipper® for vehicle transport. Contact them at 877-528-9627 for a quote.

Getting your car to Puerto Rico is only the first step — you’ll also have to get a driver’s license and register the vehicle. You’ll need to obtain a Puerto Rican driver’s license within 30 days of moving. If you have a valid U.S. driver’s license, requirements for a license in Puerto Rico include an eye exam, a written exam and payment of a $10 fee. After getting a license, get the car inspection. Then take the inspection, the title for the car and import papers to register the vehicle.

Moving with kids and pets

Moving to Puerto Rico with children

If you have children, there are a few more things to think about. Use these tips to arrange everything from travel plans to finding the best school and getting around the island.

  • Check with your airline to find out if any paperwork is required for travel (for example, they may require a birth certificate for those under 18).
  • Talk to a doctor about any vaccinations your child may need. While there is health care on the island, it may be easier to take care of it before you leave. Note: Puerto Rico allows exemption from immunizations if it contradicts with religious beliefs.
  • Consider the commute when choosing a school. There are both public and private schools, but most schools don’t offer transportation.
  • Keep in mind that many schools require uniforms and teach in Spanish.
  • Infants from 0-20 lbs. must be in rear-facing car seats and children 20-40 lbs. can forward face in a convertible car seat.  It’s also recommended that kids under 4-foot and 80 lbs. use a booster seat.

Moving pets to Puerto Rico

Pets are family, too! Before traveling, talk with your airline for their pet policies. Check our tips for moving a pet long distance to make the trip as comfortable as possible for pets.

There are no current quarantines for moving a pet to Puerto Rico — but there are a couple important requirements. Your pet should be up-to-date on vaccinations and in good health before traveling. You'll need to provide an official health certificate (dated within 30 days of the shipment) containing: the animal description (age, sex and breed), the date of tests and the name of the laboratory or person performing the tests, date of vaccination, name and address of owner and destination address. Dogs and cats over four months must also have a recent rabies vaccination (within 6 months of shipment). Also, important to note that several breeds are not allowed to be imported to Puerto Rico: Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American Pit Bull terrier and hybrids of these breeds with other breeds. If you’re importing any other types of animals, check for the requirements here

Ready to plan your move to Puerto Rico?

The first step in planning this move is to get a moving quote, which allows you to take a closer look at the moving equipment, estimate your moving budget and compare options. For a relocation to Puerto Rico, it’s best to start as early as possible. Let us know how we can help.

If you have questions about relocating to Puerto Rico, leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you with an answer.