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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. 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…]
One of the biggest concerns that people have about relocating to Panama is not knowing Spanish. Don’t let the lack of knowing Spanish stop you from enjoying a more stress-free and affordable life in Panama. There are places where you can live in Panama and do just fine with very limited (or no) Spanish.
Some areas of Panama have a higher concentration of expats who speak English. In these areas, more Panamanians speak English so it easier to start out, at least initially, in an area with plenty of expats because it will make your transition to life in Panama easier. In the expat communities, you’ll find that some restaurant menus are in Spanish and English, people at the bank speak English, doctors speak English and even signs at the grocery store are in Spanish and English. In expat communities, there will always be someone close by who is bi-lingual who can help with translations if necessary.
But, even in the expat communities, it is good to learn basic Spanish phrases. You’ll find that the more you are around Spanish speakers, the more Spanish you will learn!
If you move to an area where there are not many tourists or expats, there will be only a few Panamanians who speak English because they have not been exposed to, or had the need to know, English. In these areas, you’ll need to learn more Spanish faster.. keep reading to learn how!
So, you moved to Panama and you are getting settled into you very first rental. You are unpacking, you are walking around your town and finding out where the grocery stores are, where the restaurants are, and most important, where the closest place is where you can sit down and order an ice cold beer (or margarita). There will probably be several places like this and there will be other expats there who you can chat with!
Learning Spanish is high on your priority list, but first things first. Your suitcases needs to be unpacked, and you must buy food to put in the refrigerator so you can cook something this week! When you move to Panama, where Spanish is the official language, it could present some new challenges – but they are easy to overcome!
With that in mind, these are some basic things you will need to know to communicate and function in Panama that first month. The first chart has a few words and basic phrases that will make your first month in Panama a little easier.
If Panamanians see you trying to speak even a little Spanish (even if you butcher it) and you have a big smile, they will do everything they can to help you communicate. They sincerely appreciate that you are trying.
THE FAST TRACK TO SPEAKING AND UNDERSTANDING SPANISH
To get a head start in Spanish before you arrive in Panama, I recommend Gary A. Scott’s $79 Online Spanish Course. Gary’s amazing course will help you learn 17 little tricks which will help you learn 4,000 Spanish words in your first week in Panama. Then, he teaches you connector words to make it easy for you to communicate. Even if it is not a complete sentence, you will be able to get your point across and you’ll understand what Spanish speakers are saying to you.
SEE DETAILS ABOUT GARY SCOTT’S $79 ONLINE SPANISH CLASS HERE
I was fortunate to go to Gary’s live 3-day class when it was taught in Panama. By the end of the first day, everyone in the class was speaking, reading and writing in Spanish! In addition to the 17 “tricks”, Gary uses special “super learning” techniques to help you learn faster and comprehend what you learn easier.
Gary is also offering a free report with 173 medical words which could come in handy. Many doctors in Panama speak English but their support staff may now. These 173 medical words could help get your point across until the doctor is available. You can get the free report with 173 medical words when you enter your email HERE