Panama Country Guide

Everything you need to know about moving to Panama

How to Ship Your Belongings to Panama

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Your Options to Bring Your Belongings to Panama

Shipping belongings from the US to Panama involves various methods, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here are some of the most popular ways:


  1. Sea Freight:

    • Full Container Load (FCL): If you have a substantial volume of belongings, you can opt for a full container. Your items will be packed into a container, sealed, and shipped directly to Panama.
    • Less than Container Load (LCL): For smaller shipments, you can share a container with others. Your belongings will be consolidated with items from different shippers, making it a cost-effective option for smaller loads.
  2. Air Freight:

    • Quick and Expensive: Air freight is the fastest way to ship belongings. It’s suitable for smaller shipments or items that are urgently needed. However, it tends to be more expensive than sea freight.
  3. Door-to-Door Shipping:

    • Some shipping companies offer door-to-door services, handling every aspect of the shipping process from your residence in the US to your new home in Panama. This can include packing, loading, customs clearance, and delivery.
  4. Port-to-Port Shipping:

    • This is a more traditional method where your belongings are shipped from one port to another. You’ll need to handle the transportation of your items to and from the ports.
  5. Shipping Containers:

    • Depending on the volume of your belongings, you can choose between different sizes of shipping containers. Standard sizes include 20-foot and 40-foot containers. Some shipping companies also offer specialized containers for specific items, such as vehicles.
  6. Freight Forwarders:

    • Utilizing a freight forwarder can simplify the process. These companies specialize in coordinating shipments and managing logistics. They can assist with documentation, customs clearance, and transportation.
  7. Shipping Agents:

    • Hiring a shipping agent in both the US and Panama can provide local expertise and support. They can help navigate customs procedures, handle documentation, and coordinate the logistics of the shipment.
  8. Consolidators:

    • Consolidators pool shipments from various clients into one container, offering cost savings for smaller shipments. This is a common choice for those not requiring a full container.
  9. Container Sharing:

    • If you have a partial container load, you can share the container with other individuals or households. This helps reduce costs, especially for those with smaller shipments.
  10. Express Courier Services:

    • For smaller and urgent shipments, express courier services can be an option. These services are typically more expensive but provide quick and reliable delivery.
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Process of Shipping Belongings to Panama

f shipping personal goods to Panama, you will need to provide a complete inventory of all possessions you’ll be moving into the country. Costs for sea freight will range from ~$2.20 to $3.00 per lb while air freight will be more expensive at approximately $4-5 per lb. Some companies charge a flat rate for a 20 ft. or 40 ft. container. 


The pensionado visa allows duty-free importation of personal goods into Panama up to $10,000 in value. If your imported goods do not fall under a duty-free importation limit you can expect to pay duties of 20% on newly purchased items and 30% on cars (depending upon the car’s value and age).

Import Duties in Panama

Here are some key points regarding import duties:


**1. Duty-Free Allowances:

  • Panama has specific duty-free allowances for individuals relocating to the country. This may include personal effects, household goods, and certain items that are intended for personal use.

**2. Residency Status:

  • Expatriates and retirees may qualify for special residency programs in Panama, such as the Pensionado Program. Depending on your residency status, you may be eligible for reduced or waived import duties on household goods.

**3. Temporary Importation:

  • If you’re importing items temporarily, such as for a short-term stay, you may have the option to do so without paying import duties. However, you’ll need to re-export these items within a specified timeframe.

**4. Used Personal Items:

  • Used personal items and household goods are generally eligible for duty exemptions. Be prepared to provide documentation, including an inventory list, to demonstrate the used and personal nature of the items.

**5. Professional Assistance:

  • To navigate the customs process smoothly, consider seeking professional assistance. Hiring a customs broker or using the services of a relocation company with expertise in international moves can help ensure compliance with regulations and reduce the likelihood of unexpected fees.

**6. Documentation:

  • Accurate and comprehensive documentation is crucial. Provide a detailed inventory list of the items you’re shipping, including their values. This documentation will be used to assess applicable duties and taxes.

**7. Customs Valuation:

  • Import duties are often calculated based on the customs valuation of the goods. Be aware of how customs authorities in Panama assess the value of your belongings and ensure that your declared values are accurate.

**8. Exemptions for Vehicles:

  • If you’re importing a vehicle, note that there are specific regulations and duties associated with vehicle imports. Research the requirements and fees related to bringing a vehicle into Panama.

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