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During a 6-day 7-night all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tours, we go in to great details (including special tips) about shipping household goods, cars and pets to Panama. Since 2010, we’ve been offering Panama Relocation Tours and have completed more than 112 relocation tours as of November 2019. We’ve helped 1000s of people relocate to Panama the easy way. Here’s an overview of important information you need to know if you are considering shipping your car to Panama.
SHIPPING A CAR OR MOTORCYCLE TO PANAMA
It will cost about $3500 to $5,000 to ship your car to Panama. If there is a lien (loan) on the car, you’ll need to either pay it off or get permission from the lender to take the car out of the country. Once the car arrives in Panama, you have 30 days to get it re-registered as a Panama car which will cost about $1500. Failure to get your car re-registered will result in it getting impounded. The price difference depends on how far you are from a port.
Once the car or motorcycle arrives in Panama, you will also owe import taxes which are based on the value (that Panama) puts on your vehicle. The import tax is usually between $500 and $2000.
North American cars have emission controls and catalytic convertors but Panama cars do not. Therefore, you may have a hard time finding a good mechanic to work on your North American car and it could take months to get any parts which are needed.
A good example….Friends thought he was getting a heck of a deal by buying a 2008 car with low miles for $4000. The car had been brought in from Georgia. Because the gasoline in Panama is different, the lowest octane is 91 and there is no ethanol in the gas, he started having problems with the car. One time they drove from Chitre to Boquete but the car overheated many times along the way until it finally just stopped. I helped them get a wrecker to take it to a local mechanic. The mechanic determined that he needed certain parts which took 3 months to get to Panama. Three months (with no car) and $3500 in repairs later, the car still has problems in Panama.
IS IT CHEAPER?
Moral of the story, it’s not always cheaper to bring your car to Panama. If you do bring your car in to Panama, it would be a good idea to bring the parts most frequently needed with you.
I know you’re going to ask… NO, you cannot fill your car up with your household goods when you ship it to Panama. The car must be completely empty and drain the oil and gas too.
Good cars are readily available in Panama. You can buy new cars or go to a used car dealer. I used a car broker to help find the first car I purchased in Panama. You just tell the car broker how much you want to spend and what you are looking for then they go find the car for you. The car broker has the car inspected and handles all the paperwork to transfer ownership to you. My first car was a Kia Sportage with 25,000 miles which I purchased for $9,000. My second car was a Nissan X-Trail with 25,000 miles which I purchased for $7500. A few months ago I purchased a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe with only 5,000km for under $20,000 (it still has the factory warranty).
A tour client shipping his motorcycle to Panama READ THE DETAILS HERE
During a 6-day 7-night all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tours, we go in to great details (including special tips) about shipping household goods, cars and pets to Panama. We’ve been offering Panama Relocation Tours since 2010 and have completed 112 tours since November 2019. We’ve helped 1000s of people relocate to Panama. Here’s an overview of important information you need to know if you are considering bringing your pets to Panama.
Bring your fur babies! The process for getting your pets in to Panama is extremely time sensitive but so worth it to have your pets with you. I brought my cat, Elizabeth, when I moved to Panama (see photo on the left).
Consult with your veterinarian before making a decision to bring your pet to Panama because older pets may be too stressed to fly to Panama, especially if they have to go in cargo.
At least 3 months before you move to Panama, you should check the various airline pet policies on their website to determine which airline you will use to get your pet in to Panama. If the pet is small enough to fit under the airline seat, the pet can fly “in cabin” but if the pet is larger it will need to go in a special pet cargo area.
Note that each airline has different rules for how tall a pet carrier can be. Domestic flights have much smaller pet cargo areas so it may be necessary to drive to a town that has a direct international flight to Panama, like Miami or Houston. It will be easier on you and your pet if you have a non-stop flight to Panama instead of changing planes with long layovers.
WEATHER AND HOLIDAY RESTRICTIONS
Some airlines do not allow pets to be flown during certain months, times of day or holidays. It’s important to check the pet policy for the airline to pick a date and time when you can fly with your pet(s). The airline pet policy will have their rules for pet carrier sizes and style. Also make sure you are NOT arriving in Panama on a weekend or a Panamanian holiday. You must arrive in Panama between 8am and 11pm on weekdays. I will explain why later.
If your pet is small enough to flying in-cabin, there is usually a limit of two pets in the cabin on any flight. So, you’ll want to book your flight and your pets flight early. If there is only one of you but you have two pets to go in-cabin, you’ll need to have a friend fly with you to get the other pet in-cabin otherwise the second pet will need to go in cargo. Once you book your flight and pay for your pet to go on the flight, then you know your DATE you will be arriving in Panama.
The next step is to make sure your pet is up to date on their shots and schedule a veterinarian appointment to get an international health certificate for your pet 30 days before your flight to Panama.
Thirty days before you will fly to Panama, you will need to take you pet(s) to the vet to get an international health certificate. You may be able to put two pets on the same certificate. The cost is $150 to $200 for the certificate.
Then exactly 10 days before you fly to Panama, you will need to get the international health certificate authenticated by the agriculture department. If you’re a US citizen, that is the USDA. If they have an office near you, it would be a good idea to drive to their office to get the authentication. If there is not an agriculture department office near you, you will need to send the international health certificate to them via Federal Express “next day delivery” and include a return “next day delivery” envelope so they can send it back to you as fast as possible because there is one more step…
Once you get the authenticated international health certificate back from the agriculture department, you will need to get it authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate. If they have an office near you, it is best to drive there to get the authentication. If there is not an office near you, once again, you will need to send the authenticated international health certificate via Federal Express “next day delivery” and include a return “next day delivery” Federal Express envelope so they can send it back to you right away.
Remember, you only have 10 DAYS to complete the last two steps.
Simultaneously, while you are doing what is necessary to get your pet OUT of your country, you will need to do certain things to get your pet IN to Panama. At least 3 days before you arrive in Panama, you will need to send in a document requesting a 40-day home quarantine. The home quarantine means your pet can stay in your home or yard in Panama. The fee for the home quarantine is $130 per pet. SEE THE HOME QUARANTINE DOCUMENT IN ENGLISH HERE.
When you arrive at the airport, your pet must be inspected by a veterinarian. So, it’s important to arrive at the airport when the vets are working which is 8am to 11pm on weekdays only and no Panamanian holidays. If you arrive after hours, when it is a Panamanian holiday or on the weekend, your pet will be held in a kennel at the airport until the veterinarian office opens again.
There are companies you can hire in in Panama to take care of the Panama home quarantine documents for you and they will meet you at the airport when you arrive to help you get your pet inspected by a Panamanian veterinarian then either take you to a pet friendly hotel so you can relax or drive you to your final destination in Panama. You will get recommendations during a Panama Relocation Tour.
If this sounds too complicated and time sensitive for you to do, you can hire a pet relocation company to handle everything for you but they charge about $3000 per pet. This is really not necessary if you follow these simple, yet time-sensitive, guidelines.
During a 6-day 7-night all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tours, we go in to great details (including special tips) about shipping household goods, cars and pets to Panama. Since 2010, we have been offering Panama Relocation Tours and have completed 112 relocation tours. We’ve helped 1000s of people relocate to Panama. Some of our clients have shipped a container to Panama but most don’t. You’ll understand why when you read the rest of the article.
SHIPPING HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO PANAMA
Most people do not ship household goods or cars to Panama because it is so expensive. This month I obtained quotes from several international moving companies and it would cost $9,000 to $15,000 to ship a 40-foot container from the United States. A 20-foot container is about 20% less. If you live in Canada, the cost will be a little more. Note that these prices may not include loading or unloading the shipping container so you may need to hire someone else to do that for you.
It is expensive to ship your household goods to Panama and that’s why most people move to Panama with a few suitcases or they ship 5 to 10 boxes instead of a container. The costs difference depends on how close you are to a port and which mover you select. It will take about 3 weeks for your container to go from North America to Panama.
WHERE WILL YOU MOVE TO
The other problem you will run in to with shipping your household goods to Panama is that many rentals (and homes for sale) come completely furnished so you’ll have a very limited selection of places to move to with all your household goods. A landlord will not move their furniture out of the house so you can move your furniture in. So you’ll need to find a rental that is not furnished. If you have large furniture, it may not fit in Panama houses. If you plan to ship a container to Panama, you will need to come to Panama in advance to find a house that your household goods can be moved to. The international movers will need an address or directions on where to take your household goods. If you don’t have a place to move your household goods to, the moving companies can store your household goods in their warehouse… for a fee of course.
CAN A SHIPPING CONTAINER GET TO YOUR HOUSE
Another thing to take consideration when shipping a container is if the moving company will be able to get a shipping container to your property. In some parts of Panama, it would be completely impossible to get a shipping container anywhere near the house. The road could be too narrow or too steep, the road may be a dirt road, or it may be impossible to get the shipping container up or down your driveway. The moving company can transfer your household goods to a smaller truck then make multiple trips to your house but there will be an extra expense for this service.
A good example…my house is at the bottom of a steep driveway at a narrow turn on the road. If I had shipped a container to Panama, it would be necessary for the truck to park on the road about 100 yards away from my driveway entry. Then they would have to use a dolly to go down my steep driveway to get to my house. It is estimated that it would cost an extra $3,000 to $5,000 because the shipping container cannot get down my driveway to my house. [Read more…]