How To Receive Mail in Panama
Receiving mail in Panama can be frustrating because unlike North America Panama does not have a home mail delivery system. Most Panama City neighborhoods don’t even have numbers on houses or apartment buildings. Plus, there is no Zip Code system which confuses U.S. shippers who assume the whole world has zip codes like theirs.
Most people residing in Panama rent a box at the local Panama Post Office. However, mail often gets lost or misplaced in the wrong post office box and this system is unreliable.
Monthly electricity bills in Panama City are left at the entry to apartment buildings which can be lost or misplaced forcing most customers to use their online billing and payment services. Here is how a typical electricity bill is labeled:
Bella Vista, 42 Este P.H. Aqua Azul
CL Ave. Rep. Bolivia Otro Lado UDI
What this means is that the courier knows that the property is located in the Bella Vista district on 42nd Street East in the Property Horizontal (P.H.) Aqua Azul building in Apartment 4B. The “#2-18 refers to when the building was originally
provided with that number indicating it is 2 streets up from the sea and 18
paces from the corner. The most important line is the last one which tells the courier that the building is close to the cross street Avenue Republic of Bolivia on the other side of the University del Istmo (UDI).
This address is not suitable for actual mail.
So, how can you reliably receive mail in a country with no address system and an unreliable post office box system?
You can pay for the expensive international couriers like UPS, FedEx, or DHL who will call you before arriving at your building so you can meet them at the entry or buzz them up and guide them to your apartment. But, at $50+ for each delivery can become very expensive if you receive a lot of mail from your home country.
Here are the alternatives in Panama:
Earth Class Mail provides a U.S. address which can be used for banks, credit cards, creditors, etc. They are the best for regular size mail. They will scan the envelope’s exterior and post it online for you to access when you want to. You can instruct them to do the following with each piece of mail: Store, Shred, Recycle, Forward to you, or Open and Scan the contents. You view the scanned images and then instruct them to Store, Shred, or Forward to you. Most people opt to store the scanned mail in their computers to save the expense of forwarded mail. You can use the stored scanned copies to pay your bills. The costs are around $10 USD a month.
AirBox Express provides a U.S. address which can be used for banks, credit cards, creditors, etc. They are good for packages which cannot be scanned. The package is received in Florida and shipped to Panama by air freight to be picked up at one of their offices in Panama City. You can also use this company to buy things online to be shipped through their U.S. address and forwarded to one of their Panama offices. In addition, you can ship things from Panama. Their costs are more expensive than Earth Class Mail ($2.25 USD for each 8 ounces), which can be cut the costs by using one of their monthly plans which start at $15 USD.
Mail Boxes,Etc. which is the world’s largest franchise offering import & export
services, customs (aduana), online ordering of goods & products, faxes, packaging, along with office supplies and packaging supplies. They offer a Florida P.O. Box address with a Miami physical address enabling foreign customers to be able to order U.S. products from the internet to be shipped to Miami and then forwarded to their Panama offices. There are 23 offices in Panama.
Aeropost, is similar to Mail Boxes, Etc. with a Miami P.O. Box and physical address allowing customers to shop online for U.S. products and have them forwarded to one of their Panama offices after being approved by Panama Customs.
Priority Express, offers shipping by air and sea from Miami to Panama door to door
services. This company handles large cargo.
POLS offers mail forwarding to Panama. Our corporate mail forwarding service includes a Corporate Post Office Box and Physical Address either in Panama City (Republic of Panama) or in Miami, Florida (USA) to receive postal mail or courier packages. The fee is $300 per year.