This post is written with my apologies to the reader from Calgary. I read an email and/or a comment this morning with a question about the moving company that we used from Canada but it seems to have disappeared so hopefully this will answer your question/s. I’ve tried to remember the content but if I missed something please email me again, Yahoo seems to have eaten the first email after I read it on my phone.
We used Starline Overseas Moving which has offices in both Calgary and Edmonton and is a subsidiary of Highland Moving . The service we received was exceptional and the cost all-inclusive. We were also very happy with the service we got from the receiving agent in Panama. And given what we now know about customer service in Panama we are now also very surprised at the service we received.
One of the primary reasons that we chose Starline was because of the customer service. The other company that we called didn’t seem too interested in what our wants and needs were after our first contact. The Starline agent was always willing to answer my questions and even followed up after we arrived in Panama concerned with something that she had heard from our receiving agent about the state of our goods. After inspection at the port our stuff was little askew so in somewhat less pristine condition than how it was packed in Canada. Our shipment was actually in better shape than some of our moves around Canada while SU was in the military so it was of no concern to us. The workers who delivered our goods were also great fellows and wanted to make sure that everything was in order for us.
I believe one of the other questions was about packing your HHG (household goods) yourself. Yes, we did our own packing. I don’t know that it is that much cheaper though as we spent a bit of money on boxes and paper so that is something to think about. The primary reason we packed ourselves is that because when we started this journey we really weren’t quite sure where we were going but we had sold our house. Honestly, we had a plan in our head to move to one place and ended up on the other side of the world. We had our (severely pared down) items in storage for about almost a year while we did a bit of traveling before we moved.
The moving company and customs will require a detailed listing of the items, if you’re not sure what to put on the list ask your moving agent. I did a spreadsheet that listed each box by number and then listed the main things that the box contained and the approximate value of the box. Keep in mind that second-hand goods aren’t really that valuable. For insurance purposes give an idea of replacement value but for customs and duty purposes list what the item is really worth if you were to sell it at a garage sale. Remember that Panama only allows those with residency a maximum of $10,000.00 worth of goods duty-free and it’s best to come in somewhat lower on your shipment.
Some of our friends have needed to use a lawyer to help them with their shipment once it arrived in Panama. We did not need to do this which saved us legal fees. Again, our receiving agent spoke very good English and was very helpful and our agent at origin kept tabs on every step of our journey via email. Any moving agent you ultimately choose should give you an all-inclusive price that has all duties and shipping fees through each port that your shipment enters or leaves from. The only extra fee we were warned of was for fumigation once our items arrived in Panama which we paid to the receiving agent. For some reason if you have anything wooden in your shipment they will want to do this at the Port of Balboa although I’ve heard some people get away without having it done. We did it and I think it helped speed up receiving our shipment. There was a thin green powder on our goods so I believe our shipment was fumigated and this wasn’t a kick back. I think the cost was about $160.00.
For any one else needing further information I’ve included a detailed description of how we managed our move to Panama under the tab How We Walked Outside La Caja. If you look closely at the picture of our loaded container you’ll see a nice message from the Starline Crew to us on the bulkhead. The article will be more for Canadians thinking about moving to Panama but anyone from anywhere might learn a little something from our experience, which was pretty positive in our eyes. Again, feel free to comment or re send the email.