Shipping Household Items to Panama – Costs, Taxes, and Rules

Feb 20, 2014 | Moving to Panama

Shipping to Panama is a great option for those seeking to relocate to Panama or move household items great distances at low cost. While there are a variety of prices and services available, most fall under a similar price range. With English widely spoken at most shipping and container offices, you can be sure of getting quality, accurate service when you request quotes or ask for information about your potential move.

shipping to panamaThe potential to save thousands of dollars by shipping to Panama is very real. Your entire household can fit inside a 20ft or 40ft container, with plenty of configurations available to help your minimize the cost and maximize the efficiency of your container use. Avoiding buying all of your household items, furniture, and appliances can easily save you more money than the expeditious shipping to Panama will cost, so be on the lookout for good deals with well-regarded companies.

Companies with good reputations can help you at all stages of the process, from packing to quotations and arrival in Panama. They also provide advice and consultation on important issues you may encounter with customs, cargo shipping regulations, and filling out the required paperwork correctly. In either Panama or your home country, this can be accomplished very simply with the right company helping you with shipping to Panama.

Rough cost of Shipping to Panama

Anywhere around $2.20 to $3.00 per lb for container shipping is considered reasonable, with air cargo a slightly heftier $4.00 to $5.00 per lb. Prices for refrigerated containers are similar to conventional “dry” containers and many companies offer the option to “share” portions of containers, dividing them up between multiple clients on a per lb and dimension basis.

The two most conventional sizes for people shipping household items to Panama are 20ft shipping containers and 40ft containers. The 20ft option will generally have enough capacity for 1,000 cubic feet, big enough for a small household. 40ft containers stretch to 2,200 cubic feet – or a large household of up to 4/5 bedrooms.

The Rules for Shipping to Panama

There are rules to everything in life and shipping to Panama is no different. A container company will help ease the burden of this for you, by retaining all of the relevant paperwork and guiding you through your role in the process. Certain rules that are inflexible and must be enforced by the shipping company include:

  • All containers must be inspected physically by a custom official when entering a Panamanian port.
  • A detailed inventory in either Spanish or English MUST be included before shipping.
  • The value of each item must be listed on the above inventory.
  • Items such as washers and dryers may be subject to a 20% duty if purchased new.
  • Restricted items in shipping include wooden packing crates or furniture – check about the suitability of wooden items with the company.
  • Weapons, drugs, plants, raw food, fruits, and meat are not allowed in containers.

Different tax rates and regulations apply to Panama Pensionado Visa holders for importing goods to Panama. Read more about importing as a pensionado.

Shipping a Car to Panama

This can be a simple process for experienced shipping companies. A duty tax exists for most people shipping cars to Panama, which is around 30% dependent on a car’s price and value. Retirees get a superior deal here, with many retirees being exempt from paying this duty. All paperwork must be submitted in Panama to the relevant authorities before shipping a car to the republic. Documents for shipping cars in the correct fashion must include:

  • Certificate of Environmental Control and Pollution Certificate
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Property Letter
  • Certificate of Title and Registration
  • Bill of Lading
  • Transit Letter

Searching around for companies with good reputations is a good idea, as the world of shipping is highly competitive and companies may offer you a deal if pressed. With the expansion of the number of ports in Panama and the increased volume this represents, your ability to ship to a local port can help ease your passage into a new life. Using a shipping company can help you to make a move seamlessly and simply, retaining the greatest elements of your life while moving to a new paradise.

Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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