Relocating Overseas To Panama

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International Moving Services to Panama

A-1 Auto Transport specializes in international moving services to Panama. We know that a move to Central America can be a daunting task and it is one that requires a great deal of detailed preparation to ensure everything goes smoothly. This can be a life changing experience, and our job is to help make sure things are positive for the duration of the move. This means that you can sit back and relax while the logistics of the Panama move are handled by the pros in the industry who know how to take care of things from start to finish.

A Little About Panama

Panama is an ideal location for expats who want to live in a beautiful country with an affordable cost of living, a nice climate and where English is spoken in the bigger cities. The country has a diverse culture but is laden with a lot of English influence.

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The country itself is situated right between North and South America and features hundreds of beautiful bodies of water. Panama is a pet friendly country, but it can take a little work to bring a pet over from the United States as you will need to have detailed vet records and proof of vaccination.

Many American families have relocated to Panama and you will find several international schools where Americans are enrolled. An area like Panama City is family friendly and the larger cities are usually best for living with families. The larger cities are also a great place for the younger adulty crowd as there are many options for entertainment and fun day and night.


A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. can help you move your household goods internationally. Call 888-509-3213 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote on interstate moving services.


Unlike some countries where water can be unsafe, tap water is usually safe to drink in Panama but you may experience water outages at various times of the year if you reside in a small city or in a rural area. The same holds true for electricity as it is common for power to go out. Internet is typically strong in the larger cities and while it is often available even in rural areas, it may be a little slower than what you may be used to.

While many consider Panama and other Central American countries as places where Americans can go and live cheaply, and while there are many areas where the average person can live for under $1000 USD monthly, you will also find many upscale places where the cost of living can range upwards of $3500 for rent each month. In cities including Panama City, you can expect to pay a cost of living, on average, around $2500 monthly. This is not bad at all, but not quite as low as some would lead you to believe if you want to live in a nice home or apartment in the city.

Customs Requirements to Move to Panama

You cannot just hop a flight and end up in Panama as a permanent resident. You will need to provide some mandatory legal documents to customs and these may include:

  • Driver’s License or Valid Photo Identification
  • Passport
  • Residence Visa or Official Petition for Residence Visa
  • Packing Inventory (May be in Spanish or English)
  • Work Permit
  • Change of Residence Certificate
  • Sales Invoice for Home Furnishings and Large Purchases

Prohibited Items

There are a few things you cannot bring to Panama

  • Weapons of any kind
  • Drugs/Narcotics
  • Food
  • Plants
  • Hay/Straw
  • Ammunition/Firearms

Items That Must Be Limited

Some items are allowed yet must be imported only in limited quantities. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Coins (Must pay duty fees on coins)
  • Jewelry (Must pay duty fees on jewelry)
  • Leather goods (Must have proof that all leather, including belts, have been fumigated)

You will need to pay taxes on any items that are newer than six months old. You must also include customs paperwork including the following:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Quarantine Allowance (for food or beverages)
  • Transit Letter (for food or beverages)
  • Commercial Invoice (for large or expensive property)

Motor Vehicle Import Regulations

Expats and returning Panama residents may import a motor vehicle during a move to the country. Duty fees will need to be paid based on around 30% of the CIF value and all vehicles will need to be appraised by a customs official at a local customs office only.

To import a motor vehicle, you will need to provide customs with the following:

  • Passport
  • Authorized Consular Document
  • Tax Payment Certificate
  • Sales Invoice
  • Pollution Certificate
  • Bill of Lading

All imports, including motor vehicles and personal household goods must be accompanied by the owner to clear customs. You can import duty free if you are a foreigner with a residence visa or a Panama citizen returning home after being away for at least two years in another country. All shipments into Panama are fully inspected at the port by customs officials and all fees and taxes must be paid by the owner before property can be released.

It can seem a little overwhelming to make such a big move, but when you work with a qualified professional like A-1 Auto Transport, you can rest assured that your international move to Panama including shipping your motor vehicle over for personal use, can be handled safely and stress free so you can catch your flight and enjoy your new residence in Panama as quick as possible.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, Inc., including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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