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If you’re a smoker and planning a trip to Panama, you need to know that there is no smoking allowed in most public places in Panama. This includes no smoking when you are walking down the street. There are very few designated smoking areas where you will be allowed to smoke. Most hotels will have a smoking area outside and away from the entrance. Hotels do not allow smoking in any hotel rooms. All casinos are smoke free. In addition, smoking is not allowed within a specified distance of doorways, outdoor patios of bars or restaurants, parks/beaches, outdoor stadiums, and outdoor markets. These rules applies to vaping too. When you arrive at Tocumen International Airport you will be greeted by the sign below which spells out where you cannot smoke. Panama is hoping to be a completely smoke free country some day soon. For now, you can still buy cigarettes in Panama but it’s possible that Panama could ban the sale of cigarettes.
Every package of cigarettes will have advertising on the front and back to try to convince you not to smoke cigarettes:
Listen to the replay of the Q & A Conference Call about relocating to and living in Panama.
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We host these live Q & A calls every month. But you’re also welcome to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t worry, you can still receive and send mail within Panama and even from outside Panama. These are your options:
Mail Inside Panama
To send and receive mail within Panama, you will use in in-country courier service like Uno Express or Fletes Chavele. You’ll need to take the letter or package to their office and have it addressed to the person you want to send it to, plus their city or location, plus their cell phone number.
If someone in Panama City needs to send me something to Boquete, they will take the package to an in-country courier service. If the package is delivered to the courier service by 2PM, I will usually get the package the next day. They do supply the sender with a tracking number.
The cost will depend on how much the package weighs. It is typically about $4 for a legal sized envelope filled with documents.
Since there is no mail delivery, you will not receive any bills in Panama either. Companies like electric, internet, and cable TV all send your bills by email. If you have a Panama bank account, you can pay your bills online. If you do not have a Panama bank account, you will need to go in to their office to pay your bills or go to one of the general bill pay locations which are throughout Panama.
Using the Panama Post Office.. or not
To receive mail at a Panama post office, you can have letters sent “general delivery” to the post office in the town where you live. You should instruct the sender to include your full name and your Panama cell phone even though it is unlikely that the post office will call you when your mail arrives. This is the most economical way to send mail within Panama cut also the least reliable. It could take a week or more.. if the package arrives at all.
You can also take letters to the post office in Panama to send to your country but they have a 50% chance of arriving.
International Mail — Mail Forwarding Companies
Throughout Panama there are mail forwarding companies like Mail Boxes Etc, Uno Express, etc. You can set up an account with them when you arrive in Panama. They will supply you with a unique Miami address where your letters and packages are sent to. Once your mail arrives in Miami, it is put on a plane to be flown to Panama City. From there it is put on a truck to be delivered to the mail forwarding company where you have an account. When your package or letter arrives, you will receive an email that you have mail. You’ll need to go in to their office to pick up your package. This service is very convenient, but using a mail forwarding company is not cheap! You’ll pay about $4 to $5 per pound for packages.
Here’s an example: If I want to order something on Amazon, I will have it sent to my Miami address. Once the package arrives in Miami, it is flown to Panama City then trucked to Boquete. From the day I order until the day my package arrives in Boquete, it is typically 7 days.
Some of these mail forwarding companies also handle mail that needs to be sent from Panama back to your country. They even offer Federal Express or DHL for time-sensitive packages.
So, even though there is no mail delivery to your house, you can still receive and send mail in Panama. But because of the costs involved, it’s a good idea to convert most of your mail to electronic delivery to reduce costs.