Relocate to Panama

The Advantages of Relocating to Panama

  • Lower Cost of Living
  • Quality of Life
  • Retiree Immigration Incentives
  • Medical Facilities
  • Flexible Incorporation Law
  • Asset Protection
  • Taxation Exemption
  • Ground Floor for Business Opportunities
  • Real Estate
  • Rainforest Heaven
  • Best Fiber-Optic-Cable Access & Bandwidth


Once you have decided this and the exact location for your new home, be it Boquete, Cerro Punta, Coronado, or any other place in Panama, MOLINA & CO will assist you. You must know the type of Visa you will obtain and the requirements and advantages of different types of  Visa. Upon filling the Visa application, we will submit all required documentation for your Visa in David or in Panama City. At this point, Molina & CO will have the “Certificado de Recibo de Documentos en Inmigración (The Immigration Office Certificate of Received Documents)”, in which the Immigration Office states they have received your documents and they are being processed.

If you already have the “Carnet de Retirado (Retired ID)” (Pensionado Visa), the process is much easier as the “Certificado de Recibo de Documentos is not required.

The following are the documents required in order to process your shipment:

  1.  The Immigration Office Certificate of Received Documents or Retirement Visa.
  2. Original or notarized copy of your passport (with photo page and the page with your most recent Panama entry stamp.
  3. Original Bill of Loading, Air Way Bill or Express Release
  4. Original Packing List without prices
  5. Certification of bank account in the name of the retired citizen.

If you are requesting another type of visa, contact your moving company to review which documents are required.

Remember, it is the customs authorities who require these documents, not the moving company.


A. What to Bring

You are now ready to pack up and move to Panama with all your household goods, cars and pets so it is time to begin scheduling your move.

  • Take a look at your house and walk through each room. Imagine the use of all items in your new home. Remember you are coming to Panama, where there is no snow - so why bring your skis?
  • Many things in your home will be useless in Panama. Why pay large amounts of money to bring them here, only to never use them again?
  • Separate all the things you will not be bringing to Panama. Make a list of all the furniture by room and the household goods that you will be bringing.
  • With this information ready, is time to call the moving company.
  • Food, alcoholic beverages, firearms and ammunition are all prohibited.
  • New electronic items and new furniture will be subject to duties & taxes.

Pet Relocation - Vet Services

Moving to Panama with your pets is essential. We offer veterinarian services in order for your mascote to enter Panama with the regulatory documetation and care it requires.

Requirements from the country of origin:

  1. Health and Vaccine Certificates of each pet.
  2. Previous coordination with the airline when flying to Panama.

Requirements entering Panama:

  1. Clearing Airport Customs Services
  2. Home Quarantine supervised and signed with our VET´S Services.
  3. Transportation to your new home with our VET´S services. (Weekend Services additional charge)

C. How to contact an agent in any part of the world?

As in any other business there are moving companies of differing quality. We advice  to contact at least three international moving companies. International moving companies do not need to be in your area. They can be in another state far from where you live, but have agents in your area who will perform the packing part, and the coordination of your shipment, which is extremely important, will be done by the international company. 

The majority of international moving companies request a survey from the packing company in charge of the actual packing of your container.

They will need to know the following information:

  • Packing & Departure Dates
  • Shipment Arrival Dates & Insurance Needs
  • Storage needs in Panama

Once they have this information, they will contact an agent in Panama, and will request a quotation for the delivery of your HHG at your destination. Once they have this, they will present you with a complete ‘Door to Door’ quotation. 

International moving companies offer several types of service. The most complete is the ‘Door to Door’ service which includes the following:

Your shipment is packed and shipped to Panama. It is delivered to your new home and unpacked. All customs documentations are handled and the shipment is insured throughout. This can be arranged by the International Moving Company or by an agent in Panama. Be sure to request a detailed summary of the fees - “ALL INCLUSIVE” does not usually exist in the moving  business


Before an accurate quotation can be provided a Moving Specialist will visit you to establish what you are taking and provide advice and guidance according to your destination. Various transport and storage options will be suggested depending on your needs and a quotation will be made.

When shipping by Sea, there are several options:You can use a Sole Use Container or a Shared use container. Your choice depends on whether you need an entire container. Transit times are faster with Sole Use Containers as you don’t have to wait for consolidation. Alternatively, Less-than-container-load Consignments are consolidations of various companies’ shipments. Extra expense is incurred through increased packaging. 

Air Shipments are usually more expensive so most people take "survival" shipments of belongings. Occasionally it is more economical to ship by air.

The majority of moving companies provide secure long-term storage at origin or destination for items you do not require at your new destination. Storage is usually cheaper in Panama than in most places.

TIMING OF SHIPMENT is important. You do not want to pay storage at the port or at the bonded warehouse and neither do I.

It is not true that moving agents receive a fee from the ports in Panama if we delay your shipments. When a shipment arrives, we want to send it to your home as soon as possible.

But before we can do this you must comply with the following:

  1.  You cannot receive your shipment until you have a Visa.
  2. Once you have all the required documents, decide if you are ready for the delivery.
  3. Our contracts usually include a complete delivery and unpacking service. Are you ready for this?
  4. If not, you need to find storage.
  5. With all this in order, we can deliver your HHG shipment in 5 to 6 working days after the container arrives at a port.

Being the main commercial hub of Central America and South America, PANAMANIAN CUSTOMS AUTHORITIES receive many commercial shipments for review and approval. They also receive household goods, but the ratio of commercial to household goods is about 1000:1. Due to the relative lack of importance of household goods, customs officers are not very ‘interested’ in reviewing them, but they are required to. Despite the myth, customs will not usually ask for a bribe to release your shipment, although it is not unheard of. Avoid bribery at all costs, we do not want to encourage this bad practice.

You may bring YOUR CAR, MOTORCYCLE, BOAT AND SO ON… but they are not considered part of your Used HHG or Personal goods. Depending on your visa, you may avoid paying tax on your car but will have to pay ITBMS (5% of the current value of the car + shipping). Motorcycles, boats and jet skis are all subject to duties and taxes.

The PANAMANIAN QUARANTINE DEPARTMENT ensures that no food, plants or vaccines are brought into the country. They review the shipment together with the customs department. They also receive all animals brought into the country. The Ministry of Health has established that “Home Quarantine” can be used for PETS that are introduced if they meet the following requirements:

  1.  Rabies Vaccination.
  2. Good Health Certificate.
  3. Please send this documents to our office in advance by courier if we are going to handle the process.
  4. You must arrive in Panama between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  5. Upon arrival, your pet will be retained by the Quarantine Department at the Airport.
  6. Go through immigration and collect your luggage.
  7. At the main entrance, you will meet a representative from our office.
  8. Leave luggage withour personnel and a customs broker will continue the process for you.
  9. This process takes 2 to 5 hours.
  10. Please indicate if you need somewhere to leave the pet while in Panama City.


The Republic of Panama with an area of approximately 29,700 sq. Miles (76,900 sq. km.), located between Costa Rica and Colombia, forms the narrowest and lowest portion of the Isthmus that links North and South America. Shaped like an elongated letter "S", which extends west to east some 420 miles (676 km.), the country has a width that varies between 31 and 115 miles (50 and 185 km,) and has a coastline of 490 miles (788 km.) on the Atlantic Ocean and 870 miles (1,400 kin.) on the Pacific Ocean. The Canal, which joins the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, is about 50 miles (80 km.) long. Because of the lateral nature of its extension and its curved contour, directions are often surprising. A transit of the Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic involves traveling not to the East but to the North-West; in Panama City the sun is seen to rise out of the Pacific.

Principal Cities

Panama City is the country's capital and the principal commercial center. It lies on the Gulf of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. Colon, the country's second largest city, is located on the Caribbean Coast. Its economy is dependent on traffic through the Panama Canal and on business activity in the Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest duty-free zone in the Americas.

Population and Language 

The population of Panama is approximately 2.8 million, about 52 percent of which is urban. Spanish is the Official language of the country, but many of the people in Panama City and Colon speak English. Most businessmen, top government officials and executive staff are fully bilingual.

Weights and Measures 

The metric system is the official unit of measurement in Panama. However, many units of the English system, such as pounds, ounces, gallons, inches, and yards, are still used.

Business Hours

Panama's time is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Thus, Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (EST); it does not have daylight saving time.  Most private business offices are open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. It is customary for all offices and stores to close for the lunch period for at least one and a half hours. Banks are open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Office hours for government offices vary and it is advisable to check prior to visiting any government office. If a holiday falls on Sunday, it is observed on the following day. The executive branch is authorized to designate days of national mourning on which all offices and commercial businesses are closed. 

Standard/Cost of Living

In Latin America, Panama ranks as one of the best places to live, according to a business survey of 192 cities worldwide by the Corporate Resources Group. Panama ranked among the top three cities in which to live in Latin  America next to Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The survey takes into account transportation, crime rate, arts and entertainment. In executive living expenses, recreation and entertainment costs and prices of basic goods, Panama ranks well below Buenos Aries, Sao Paulo, Santiago and Caracas (EIU, Worldwide Cost of Living Survey). 

Medical Services

Health care is both excellent and reasonably priced in Panama. Many of the country's physicians earn their degrees in the U.S. and other industrialized countries, and the state university offers a top quality medical program. Bilingual doctors are common in all Panama City hospitals. Water supply is safe to drink with few exceptions throughout the country. 


Panama is the only city in the world in which a protected, tropical rainforest can be found within city limits. The country has many and varied outdoor attractions from the mountain region of Chiriqui the beaches on the Caribbean coast. 

Attractions & Entertainment

The country's most famous attraction is, of course, the Panama Canal. There are several superb tourism activities that can be easily reached from Panama City. There are five golf courses in or near the city and beach areas. Dining is excellent in Panama City, and there are numerous bars, discos and cafes. Evening entertainment may include live music, movies (in English with Spanish subtitles) or dancing. 


Panama is a peaceful country with no military. Unlike many neighboring countries, personal security concerns are limited. Panama and Costa Rica have similar crime rates.

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