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Moving To Panama

🇵🇦 Panama, (PA)

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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.

Moving to Panama Cost & Time Examples

To/From    2BR    4BREstimated Time
Houston to Panama City$2,900- $4,900$5,400- $9,0003-5 weeks
Jacksonville to Panama City$3,200- $5,300$5,900- $9,7003-5 weeks
LA to Panama City$3,200- $5,500$6,200- $10,1003-6 weeks
San Jose to Panama City$3,300- $5,500$6,200- $10,1003-6 weeks
Charlotte to Panama City$3,300- $5,500$6,000- $10,0003-5 weeks
Atlanta to San Miguelito$3,300- $5,600$6,300- $10,4003-5 weeks
Las Vegas to San Miguelito$3,800- $6,300$7,100- $11,7003-6 weeks
Chicago to Panama City$3,800- $6,400$7,100- $11,7003-5 weeks
Phoenix to Panama City$4,000- $6,700$7,300- $12,2003-6 weeks
Denver to San Miguelito$5,300- $8,800$9,700- $15,9003-6 weeks

*Please note that these estimates do not include taxes, customs fees & duties, insurance & quarantine inspections. They assume easy access to both pick up and drop-off addresses and do not allow for special items such as pianos.

Estimated Weight (based on home size): 
1BR=2600 lbs - 3900 lbs 
2BR=3900 lbs - 5200 lbs 
3BR=6500 lbs - 9100 lbs 
4BR=9100 lbs - 14300 lbs 
5BR=11700 lbs - 19500 lbs

Is import duty charged on household goods?

According to two reputable sources, import duty can be waived on your shipment (1). To obtain this exemption, you must have a Residence Visa and have purchased your belongings a minimum of one year ago. All shipments should also enter their port or point of entry, no later than six months after you relocate to Panama (a total of two shipments are permitted) (2). What are the import regulations for household goods?

Customs requires that you visit the Office of Immigration (which must issue you a Working Visa), prior to your shipment entering port. If any cargo in your shipment has been packed in wood crating, it should be treated in compliance with ISPM 15 regulations. The crates also must be marked to indicate that the required treatment has taken place. You’re also instructed to use a courier to deliver any original documentation to customs, rather than shipping it through the mail (3).

Is certain paperwork required to import household goods?

There are different filing situations, which will dictate what documents you must present to customs. For example, if you’re entering Panama under an Investor’s Visa, then you’ll need specific paperwork like a Certificate of Incorporation and a copy of your social agreement (pacto social). It also appears that the special designation of being a retiree entering Panama, carries with it unique filing requirements of its own.

If neither of these situations apply to you, it still highlights how intricate and involved the filing requirements during clearance can be. If you’ll just be entering Panama under a typical Working Visa, then expect to show your Original Bill of Lading or Air Waybill, passport and a comprehensive inventory. A separate packing list is also required, plus your name, address within Panama, phone number and where to send any bills for services rendered (4).

Is import duty charged on vehicles?

On this point the sources consulted disagree, with a couple guiding that the going duty rate is 27% to 30% (charged on the CIF value). In addition, demurrage (a type of storage fee during processing) is probable, due to the long clearing times for vehicles (5).

The International Association of Movers differs, saying that duty exemption is possible for those who are a part of certain international organizations or for contractors from the U.S. (6). To determine if import duties can be waived in your situation, you should speak with customs for a definitive answer.

Is certain paperwork required to import vehicles?

Importing a vehicle into Panama means having the correct paperwork, such as a Certificate of Origin, driver’s license, passport and packing list. Your Original Bill of Lading is also necessary, along with documents proving that you own the vehicle (7). If you have a Certificate of Ownership, it will satisfy this requirement. The VIN and engine number, a purchase invoice and the vehicle’s title must be provided as well.

For those entering Panama under retiree status, then a retirement letter is also obligatory documentation (8). It’s important to note, that retirees (Visa de Retirado Pensionado or Pensionado Permanente visa holders) must follow many additional regulations when importing a vehicle (9).

This discussion isn’t comprehensive, and should instead be viewed as an excellent overview of what to expect. However, part of your planning should involve contacting customs, to determine the exact paperwork, regulations and fees that will pertain to your specific shipments.

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.

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 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.


  1. Moverscom “Moving to Panama” page and Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Panama” page
  2. Found on Moverscom “Moving to Panama” page.
  4. Moverscom “Moving to Panama” page and Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Panama” page
  8. Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Property Into Panama” page.
Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated 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, 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.

🇵🇦 Panama, (PA)

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
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Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
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Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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