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Moving to Panama


Capital: Panama City
Population: 3,608,431
Area: 29,157 sq. mi
Top 5 Largest Cities: 1. Panama City 2. San Miguelito 3. Tocumen 4. David 5. Las Cumbres
Lanuage: Spanish
Climate: Tropical
Motto: "Pro mundi beneficio" / "For the benefit of the world"

Interested in moving your household goods to Panama? Nationwide Van Lines would love to assist you with your overseas move. We take pride in our staff and ethics and bring you only our best. We are prepared to guide you successfully and produce a move that will leave you satisfied and happy. Give us a call today for easy sailings to Panama!

Required Documents for Import

Once you've arrived to Panama, you will have to assure you have the right documentation for Customs. Please take a look below at some of the required documents expected by Customs.

Customs Value Declaration - A document used to calculate duties and taxes that states the value of the entire HHGS shipment.

Certificate of Origin - Gives verification of which country your household goods are manufactured in.

Import Requirements and Documentation

Documents are extremely important for all parties involved in your sea shipment. To make identification of you and your goods much easier, please take a look at some of the documents you may need to be presented to Customs.

  • Your original Bill of Lading (OBL)
  • Your original Passport
  • Copy of Panamanian Cedula if you are a Panamanian citizen
  • Your Diplomatic Passport if you are a Diplomat
  • Copy of Carnet from Immigration
  • Your Residence Visa
  • Your detailed Inventory List in English or Spanish
  • Your Work Visa or a certificate from attorney
  • A copy of your Social Agreement if you are an Investor Visa holder
  • A copy of your Investor Carnet if you are an Investor Visa holder
  • Your Pacto Social if you are an Investor Visa holder
  • Your Certificate of Change of Residence
  • A copy of your Persionado Carnet

Additional detailed document requirements

  • Original documents must be sent through a courier only.
  • Copies of documents displaying that you've lived abroad for at least 2 years.
  • A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the Panamanian company if you are an Investor Visa holder.
  • A Letter from your employer in Panama towards Customs requesting a free entry of HHGS if you are a Diplomat.
  • Purchase invoice for any new furniture. Furniture is considered new if less 6 months old.
  • Commercial Invoice in Spanish for antiques, art, carpets and artifacts.
  • A letter from the bank in Panama where your 6 figure account is held addressed to the Panamanian Customs if you are a Self-Solvency.
  • Your Letter of Employment addressed to the Panamanian Customs if you are a Working Visa holder.
  • A copy of your Approved Visa Resolution Form if you are a Pensionado or Jubilado Visa holder.
  • An original Letter from Attorney in Panama that's addressed to the Panamanian Customs. It must state that your Visa is in process if you are a Pensionado or Jubilado Visa holder.
  • A Letter from Attorney in Panama that's addressed to the Panamanian Customs. It must state that your Visa is in process if you are a Working, Reforestation or Self-Solvency Visa holder.
  • An original Retirement Letter from your previous employer or the government that is stamped by the Panamanian Consulate at the origin if you are a Pensionado or Jubilado Visa holder.
  • A copy of Letter from Attorney in Panama that's addressed to the Panamanian Customs. It must state that your Visa is in process if you are an Investor Visa holder.
  • All wood furniture must have an Import Quarantine Permit in the hands of Customs 1 week prior to entry. The weight, Passport number and quantity of pieces must appear on the OBL.

The Examination of Household Goods and Entry Documents

Once your household goods have arrived in Panama along with your documents, both are subjected to examination by Customs. A CBP officer will examine your household goods to determine the value, correct markings, proper invoicing, existence of prohibited items, damages, deterioration and illegal narcotics. It's important to assure all items are properly described and accounted for to avoid any delays or seizure of items. Once your items are approved for release, they are safeguarded by the proper officers.

Duty and Taxes

Once your items arrive to Customs, you must be physically present. Your shipment must arrive to the Port of Entry (POE) no later than 6 months after you've arrived. You are allowed only 2 shipments within this time. If you are a returning citizen whom lived abroad for 2 years or more, you can import your household goods (HHGS) without incurring taxes. You must have owned and used your goods for a year or more. If you have any new items, expect to pay duties of 20% based on the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value. Inspections by Panamanian Customs will not be held for Diplomats and public officials with diplomatic or contractual reasoning's or an official Passport, yet inspections will be held by quarantine officials. All goods must show a need of use. Your inspection may occur at your residence if the port is congested with shipments to clear. This service is an additional charge.

Duty-free Items

Your HHGS and personal effects will be free if you are a foreigner with a Residence Visa or a Panamanian returning after you've spent 2 years abroad. Please take a look below at some of the items that are duty-free and their restrictions

  • 10 packs of cigarettes or 2 packets of tobacco
  • Either 5 bottles or 3.8L of alcohol
  • Up to $2,000 USD of goods
  • No more than 6 of each item of gifts

Labeling and Marking Requirements

The correct labeling and markings are very important for Customs. Each mark and label should be in the English language.

Please take a look below to discover the marking and labeling requirements.

  • The name and address of the importer
  • The country of Origin
  • Clearly numbered in reflection of the inventory list
  • The quantity

Prohibited Items

To assure a smooth clearance through Customs, prohibited items must not be associated with your HHGS. Please take a look at some of the prohibited items that cannot be imported into Panama.

  • Narcotics
  • Weapons
  • Lift vans filled with straw or hay
  • Drugs
  • Firearms
  • Right-hand drive vehicles
  • Ammunition
  • Plants
  • Animal skins

Restricted Items

Restrictions are very important while deciding what to import to Panama. Please familiarize yourself with some of the restrictions below.

  • Items not considered part of your move are charged duties.
  • Seeds requires a Phytosanitary certificate (Certificado de Fitosanitario) from the origin
  • Food items and beverages are subjected to duties and taxes and may require a Sanitary Certificate, quarantine allowance, transit letter and/or a Commercial Invoice.
  • Alcohol is limited in the quantity one can import.

Receiving your Household Goods

The liability for duties are paid once Customs has cleared your shipment for release. There are no options of prepaid duties or taxes prior to exportation from a foreign country. Once your shipment is filed with CBP, the party and only the party listed as the receiver can pick up the shipment. If household goods are warehoused, the party of liability can be changed to another party, most whom purchased the goods. The Customs broker cannot pay duties, but can accept a check written out to the Customs and Border Protection to forward. Once items are received, all articles are deemed owned by the receiver and no longer in ownership of the CBP.

For more information regarding moving to Panama, please take a look at the websites below.

All information featured above is for viewing purposes only. To obtain up-to-date information about overseas shipment, please notify your nearest Consulate.