**Disclaimer: This page has a transcript based entirely on our personal experiences and opinions and is only offered as such. **
** Updated 11/05/2014: I have made a change under the Gathering Documents section. **
1. Taking the First Step
“Step outside the box” is somewhat cliché but how else do I get across that when we decided to retire to another country we really had to take a good look at what our comfort zone was? Chucking it all and moving away from friends, family, our jobs, our coffee place and everything we’d ever known was not a step taken lightly and was a serious emotional and financial commitment. We didn’t have buckets of money to waste and our goal was to live comfortably within our means. That meant trying to improve our life, not end up in financial ruin. Our story is about living a middle class life and making a plan. We started out with six, yes six, possible places to consider! Being the anal retentive person that I am I built a spreadsheet with comparisons for all six so we could take a look at everything in black and white.
We began by asking ourselves, and asking ourselves, and asking ourselves (you get my meaning) was: “Do we really want to do this?” This was something we did through the entire process. Part of that also meant that were we both on board and this was a team effort. If we had done a mental check in with each other and if one of us were having second thoughts we would have put the brakes on the process regardless of where we were. Communication is very important through the process.
Our second step was research. Our spreadsheet evolved from the realization that we shouldn’t get set on just one place. That maybe the first destination we had in mind wasn’t as perfect as it could be. Our research and spreadsheet showed that no one place is ever perfect and certainly Panama isn’t the place for everyone but it made our short list. Comparing the cost of living, immigration/residency regulations, ease of access to home, infrastructure etc. was what helped us build our list. We did our research using the internet reading blogs of people who have gone before us, sites devoted to moving overseas and yes, good old-fashioned books. The library, second-hand bookstores and Indigo/Chapters are a good source of written material and most travel book companies carry “Living In ________” books. Surprisingly our first choice did not make the short list. Research really did pay off in our case.
Once we had narrowed it down to two places, Panama and Nicaragua we decided on a time line for a visit. After all anything can look good in pictures. We thought three weeks in each country would give us enough time to help us make our decision. Before we departed we had some idea of the areas in each country we wanted to visit.
2. Our Research Trip
We booked our research trip with a travel agent. Usually we make our travel arrangements ourselves on-line but in this case the trip was going more complicated and it would have been more time-consuming to do it ourselves.
We left in mid-October…the height of rainy season. We spent three weeks exploring Panama first. We had researched the various regions of Panama but the beach was calling us. We’ve lived landlocked all our lives and loving the sea and the sun that was at the top of our priority list.
We spent part of the first week exploring Panama City and getting a feel for the people and the culture…and the driving habits. We decided that we definitely did not want to live there! Too busy, too congested, too crazy! I described it to my friends back home as Toronto without traffic signals. The Panama Canal is a wonder that everyone should see and the city is full of culture and other sites. It is a wonderful place for people who like the hustle and bustle and the modern conveniences but we decided it wasn’t for us.
The second week we drove down towards the Azuero Peninsula. The first day of driving we met the first big rainstorm since we had been in Panama. It was like a monsoon and had me clutching the door of the vehicle as we maneuvered our way out of the city onto the Pan American Highway. We only went as far as Coronado that first day as we wanted to explore a beach area closer to the city. We quickly decided that it wouldn’t be the place for us. There seemed a few condo towers either built or under development in the area and it looked nice enough to have a weekend home but not quite our style.
The following day as we drove through the little towns in the countryside it was obvious to us that this was the real Panama. Rolling fields of sugar cane and maize, green hills and grazing cattle. Once we arrived at our exploration base we spent most days driving the back roads of the area on our own and a half a day with a real estate agent looking at about a half-dozen houses on the market . We originally intended on spending five days in the area we chose to explore but there was a fiesta on the weekend to honour the patron saint of the town. The people that we met insisted that we had to stay at least until the fiesta was over to get a feel for the town when there was a party going on. We stayed two extra days. Of course the festivities were nothing like what Carnaval is like but we enjoyed soaking up some of the culture and traditions all the same.
After leaving the Azuero we went back to Panama City to use it as a base to explore some of the smaller towns surrounding it. We took day trips to El Valle de Anton – where we did the zip line, Gamboa, Veracruz, and we explored other areas such as the Amador Causeway and Balboa. By this time Panama was celebrating Independence Day(s), Flag Day, etc. The celebrations and parades in November are many. We found that the local television stations were mainly reporting on the day after days of parades!
At end of our three weeks in Panama we both agreed that we were probably wasting time with the trip to Nicaragua. After much discussion we decided we’d go anyway because then we would have a benchmark for comparison. We could look at Nicaragua as a vacation and not part of our investigation.
Upon our arrival in Nicaragua it was clear to us that the country was at least ten years (if not more) behind in infrastructure. The country is still recovering from years of instability and we knew the first day that it didn’t feel “right” for us. We agreed to carry on with our trip as tourists and explore some of the locations we had seen on the internet that appeared to have homes that would be suitable for us. In the case of Nicaragua it was definitely don’t believe everything you see.
Nonetheless we explored the country visiting the crowded, bustling city of Managua where it wasn’t unusual to see ox carts instead of cars transporting people and goods on roads that were badly in need of repair. After Managua we visited the colonial city of Granada and climbed a church tower to get the most fantastic view of the city and the surrounding lake. We stayed three days at Laguna de Apoyo at The Villas at Apoyo right on the lake. The resort is on a hillside and it is one of the most beautiful places that we’ve ever been.
From there we went to down to Rivas and the Tola Coast. We didn’t realize how far Tola was from Rivas or how bad the roads would be. The area was lovely and there was a bit of development going on along the coastline. We also visited San Juan del Sur from our base in Tola. While doing research San Juan del Sur kept popping up as one of the places to retire and surf in Nicaragua. The town itself is beautiful as it sits on a lovely bay where the views from the surrounding hillsides are breathtaking. It seemed to live up to its pictures on the internet but the real estate prices for anywhere but out in the country were very high for what Nicaragua had to offer. It also seemed to us that the town seemed to lack somewhat in local flavour. There was a cruise ship in port the day that we were there giving the town a somewhat carnival like atmosphere with street vendors everywhere trying to sell various wares. There is a healthy abundance of amenities mostly geared towards visitors and ex-pat residents. We spent a week in the Tola area relaxing and enjoying the beach and then went on to León.
In León we stayed at the Hotel el Convento. As the name indicates this is a former convent converted into a lovely little boutique hotel. León is a beautiful little university city full of colonial homes and churches. The city was full of young people I imagine because of the universities. There is a huge marketplace in the town centre. We likened it to a Nicaraguan Walmart where you could get almost anything that you would need. We didn’t need to use the vehicle at all in the city and it has many interesting cafés and restaurants and a couple of modern supermarkets.
We used León as a base for exploring the north beach areas. We really had high hopes because we had seen houses on the real estate websites that seemed to be quite nice and reasonably priced within our budget. We visited the Poneloya and Penitas beaches and a few smaller areas a little more off the beaten track. Once again disappointment reigned but we continued our vacation. We visited the Ruins of Leon Viejo there we learned more about the history of Nicaragua and the León area. A guide took us around and we gained more insight into Nicaragua and its people. There was a beautiful view of the two volcanos from the old Fortaleza hill on the lake.
We concluded our trip to Nicaragua by returning to Managua and taking back our rental truck. We took the last few days before we returned home to relax at a hotel close to the airport. There were several graduation parties while we were there as it was close to the end of the school year. We found that Nicaragua itself is a land of contrasts. Volcanos and beaches, haves and have-nots, twenty-first century and eighteenth century.
3. Returning Home and Regrouping
After our return home we had a lot to think about. We had already sold our house so we committed to moving somewhere be it a smaller house anyplace in Canada or really following through on our plan. We agreed that Panama seemed the place and that we were going to buy a modest resale home in our chosen area.
In the meantime the holidays were fast approaching and we had many things to do. Formulate a game plan, gather documents for residency and decide when we were going back to Panama to look for a place to live. We agreed that there was no point in going back to Panama until the New Year as we would not be able to get any business done with all the upcoming holidays.
As part of our regrouping plan while we were waiting to return to Panama we decided to take a vacation. We had always loved the South Pacific and the area had been part of our research. One of the problems was that it was so far away from home and it seemed that property prices just kept climbing every time we looked at real estate. We decided to book a trip to the Cook Islands, one of the places we had visited and fallen in love with in the area. As soon as we booked our trip we received an email from the real estate agent who had taken us on the half day tour that a house we liked had come back on the market. We didn’t let our emotions rule our heads and we decided if the house was ours then it would still be available when we returned to Panama.
Having now lived in Panama for over four months as of this writing I can truly see how this step is vital to a successful move. We have seen many people come to Panama and rush in to buying land or committing to working with a developer only to have their dreams shattered or to get deeply frustrated with the process ruining their health. From our first research trip we decided we definitely did not want to build or be in a gated community. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to do those things but it was not something we wanted to do.
We took our vacation and returned at the end of January ready to commit ourselves to obtaining residency and moving to Panama. We gave ourselves a timeline for having this completed by mid-February to early March.
4. Gathering and Preparing Documents for Residency
In the case of our residency we were applying for a Pensionado Visa based on the spousal unit’s Government of Canada Pension. I’m not going to get into the semantics of what this Visa “gives” you other than indefinite residency once you’re approved. The rules and laws change so often in Panama and I don’t want to mislead anyone. One thing we did find out was that we were not permitted to bring a vehicle into the country duty-free anymore. Some of the information that we had was out of date.
We required the following documents:
- A police check each from our national police agency the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We visited our local headquarters and it took about half an hour to complete and we walked out with papers in hand. Note: It is now required that you have a security check completed by the RCMP, not your local police force. You must also have fingerprinting done when completing the documentation for this. These documents are only good for three months. In Alberta we paid no fee for this service nor did we have to wait however; every Province has different contracts with the RCMP, please check with your local office for more information. Here is a link in regards to payment for fingerprinting with the RCMP but some additional fees may apply. Please check with the Panamanian Embassy in Ottawa for further documentation changes. You may contact them here;
- An original marriage certificate – I requested a new one from our Provincial Government at our local registry as I had no clue where ours was in our storage. This also took less than a week to come back; and
- Confirmation of pension letter from the Department of National Defence this took less than a week for us to receive. A telephone call resulted in them sending three original copies for us.
The next step is to get the documents authenticated. As Canada did not sign the Hague Convention we do not have an Apostille process but rather follow the original process. We lived in Western Canada, nowhere near any embassies or consulates. Getting the documents authenticated and approved required stamps from both the Canadian Government and the Panamanian Embassy or Consulate. At first we discussed taking a trip to Ottawa to get it all done and not wait the weeks or months it would take through the mail service or by courier. After some research I found a company in Ottawa that could complete the process for us for a fee and we could put everything in their hands. The company we used was ALS Canada . (Note: By using an expediting service you may save some heartache later. They often will catch missing forms for you and make sure that everything that is required to be notarized and authenticated is in order.) From the start this company was professional and helpful. They have different fee structures for different needs and kept us informed via email through each step our documentation was going through. The whole process from the first contact with ALS took just over a week and we found that we received very good value for the fees charged.
Return to Panama to Purchase a Home and Begin the Residency Process
a) We waited to take our trip back to Panama until after Carnaval. We had everything ready to go but we probably would have no place to stay either when we got there or would we have been able to get any business completed. We booked our trip for 15 days to give us time to get our residency application started and find a house.
Most information that you will find about retiring or moving to a foreign country will tell you to rent in your chosen area for at least six months. We didn’t follow those rules because we didn’t want to put any of our limited resources towards paying rent. It is probably a good idea to do that though and there are several people in our new community who would have gained some valuable insight if they had spent more time renting and not leapt into buying.
We contacted the real estate agent that gave us the tour the first time we were in Panama and told him we were coming back to buy. We set up an appointment to have dinner our first night in town and he made an appointment with a local lawyer for us. Unfortunately we missed our connecting flight into Panama because our plane was delayed. It was a mad rush when we landed the next day to get our rental car and get on the road as we had appointments to keep the following day and we were still in the city five hours away. We decided not to try to drive all the way but stopped in Coronado about an hour outside the city.
The next day we travelled the remaining distance and met with the real estate agent. Keep in mind that Panama has no MLS system and real estate agents do not need licenses. There are very few exclusive listing agreements for the sale of homes. The same home can be listed by multiple agents for different prices. The home owner also may decide to sell their own home despite having an agreement one or more agents. The agent we used had come with several word of mouth recommendations from people we met the first time we visited.
A few of the homes that we visited originally were still listed for sale. We went back and revisited three of them. The spousal unit had taken several pictures the first time we were in the homes, something that we highly recommend even when buying a house in your own country. We were fortunate that the renters in two of the houses were home. We asked their opinion on several of the deficiencies that we saw in our pictures and we received honest answers. The fourth home we saw was still under construction but close to completion. Immediately we decided that it was the one for us. We’d have a new home without the hassle of building and the finishes could be completed within our schedule. Our agent told us to think about it overnight and the next day with our minds still unchanged we made an offer and started the paperwork.
We were fortunate that our new neighbors allowed us into their home to see what the finished product would look like. Although our home was a little different in size and colors at least we could see what some of the finishes like woodwork and lighting would look like. We were able to pick out our own paint colors while we were there although the house inside and out was only painted one shade. We had to pay a 10% down payment on the house and agreed to a further two payments after. As soon as we agreed that we were going to buy the house we were asked if we wanted the keys, something that we weren’t used to so we were quite surprised. We decided to leave all the keys in Panama with the builder.
b) Anyone applying for residency must by law use a Panamanian immigration lawyer to shepherd you through the immigration process. We used the same lawyer in our new community for our real estate transaction and our immigration. Our lawyer in town took all our documents and forwarded them to her associate in the city who assisted us through the process. Our local abogada was quite pleased at the thoroughness of the documents that we presented. Here is where spending the money to have an expert help us paid off. We returned to the city to begin our residency process. We found that the residency went very smoothly as the associate knew the system inside and out.
The abogada in the city was very efficient in shepherding us through the immigration process. We were required to have pictures taken offsite from the immigration office for our file and fill out a multitude of forms and get a doctors certificate. She spent time with us in the immigration office waiting with us for our number to be called. I can only equate the immigration office to something like a walk in medical clinic in Canada. So many people crammed into one spot all waiting for hours on end. We spent about five days in a hotel waiting for everything to go through and made two trips to the immigration office waiting for documents to be processed. It helped that we had a return ticket back to Canada and that we had a deadline so there was a sense of urgency. We were required to surrender our passports to our abogada to have paperwork completed. When we went back to the immigration office the second time it was to have our temporary cards issued and to have the pictures taken for them and our abogada returned our passports. We left Panama with our temporary cards and our abogada aadvised us to also pay an extra fee of $50.00 each to get a multiple entry visa in our passports. The multiple entry visas were worth the extra cost because it’s the first thing the immigration people look for when you’re leaving or entering Panama while your residency is in progress. (Note: The multiple entry visa alone requires two business days to process. In total we were without our passports for almost five days. In my opinions it’s best to start the process on a Monday so you have everything completed by Friday.)
5. To Move Furniture or Not?
That is the question dear Soon to be Expat. If you go back to the beginning of our journey to settle in another country you’ll note that when we sold our house we didn’t know where we were going to live. At the time we were fairly certain that we wanted to be in the South Pacific so before we stored our furniture we gave away most of our small electrical appliances because the voltage was different. When we decided that Panama was the place we had to lay out a few bucks for a few things but that’s o.k. we got all matchy poo poo for some things and decided that we could do without a few others.
The next thing to do was to figure out if we should bring only personal items (consolidation in a shared shipment) or a 20 foot or 40 foot container full of “stuff”. After visiting some furniture stores on our trip to buy the house in March 2012 we decided that yes, we did want to bring some furniture with us. We had given much of our furniture to our children but we did want to bring a pullout couch and some chairs and we had stored our bed and most of our other everyday items. We also found out that the deal for bringing a vehicle to Panama every two years duty free as part of the Pesionado Visa had been rescinded. We had planned on bringing our Jeep with us but decided it was too old to bring and pay duty on.*
We took a look at what we had in storage and estimated that we had enough to fill a 20 foot container. Before we even sold the house I contacted a couple of shipping companies and they had come out and given us a quote to move to the South Pacific. Almost any national moving company has an overseas shipping division so it’s just a matter of finding the right company. We had two companies come out to take a look. We ultimately chose Starline Overseas Moving. Why? Because the agent that was assigned to us gave us different shipping options to help with our costs, was excellent at answering any questions promptly, had a huge amount of patience with me and was as enthusiastic about our move as we were.**
We ultimately chose to pack everything ourselves and have the company load the truck at our storage unit. We ended up not having a full 20 foot container so the movers had to build a bulkhead to keep everything in place. Are there some things I wish I would have brought? A few months into it, yes. Now, nine months down the road? Not really. Are there some things I wish I wouldn’t have brought? At the time, again no; now, the biggest things that we shouldn’t have brought are our cheap Ikea tables that were full of mold and mildew underneath all through Wet Season. We’re now getting some solid wood tables made in the same style to replace them for not many more dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ikea products all our living room furniture is Ikea; but there are some things that are not suited to a tropical environment.
Our furniture was due to arrive in Panama the first week in May, but ended up arriving two weeks later than it was estimated. I guess that’s why it’s called an “estimate”. Our Starline agent affiliate here was Canal Movers & Logistics Corp. and this was arranged completely by our agent in Canada. Our Canadian agent acted as the intermediary for our required destination documents and forwarded them on for us. We also didn’t have to worry about any other associated fees at the Port of Vancouver. We were required to pay some extra customs charges in Panama but we were told about them before our shipment left Canada.
When our furniture finally arrived in Panama it took five business days to clear customs. Our agent in Panama looked after the customs clearance but my passport (as the shipper) was required. I could have provided a notarized copy but chose to leave my original with the agent. It was returned to me when the furniture arrived at our house via the jefe of the movers. Our furniture was delivered right to our door and unpacked by the moving company. The workers were wonderful. There was minor breakage and damage but we were very impressed at how little. We’d had more of our things broken and go missing on cross country moves than we did for this move.
I have friends who moved here with nothing more than a few suitcases and who bought everything here. I know others that have moved with two or three 40 foot shipping containers. To each his own, move more or less what your budget allows. If we had it to do over would we ship furniture again? Probably, we had a good experience and it’s nice to have our personal items around us, they make us feel like this is our home. And it is.
*We could have fit the Jeep into the container and some days we wish we would have brought it. Ultimately though, the parts would have been difficult to get if it had broken down, it wasn’t suitable as our primary vehicle and we certainly don’t need two cars here.
** The cost to move furniture and effects will vary depending on where you live in the world and where you’re shipping it to and where the nearest port is. I’m not going to provide a cost break down for our move. The company you select should offer different shipping options and levels of insurance for your goods.
6. Saying Goodbye and Hello
Not everybody was jumping for joy when we announced that we had decided to move somewhere warm and started looking for that “place in the world” where we could be comfortable and live on a fixed income. There were some people who were positively thrilled that we were able to realize a dream and other who were gloom and doomers. No matter what the destination is and no matter what the reason, taking the big step of moving to a foreign country should be carefully considered before jumping in with both feet. We took into consideration our aging parents and our children which is one of the reasons we ended up in Panama rather than the South Pacific. I remember my mother telling me that it was my life to live and it would be selfish of her to ask me not to go. That made it a little easier to say goodbye.
There are probably some people who think that we are loco and I’m sure some still don’t get it. I think that once the naysayers realized that we had done our homework and that we were going ahead with our move, the objections, for the most part, fell away. When the planning eventually reached the stage where the movers were booked and it was happening we still didn’t believe it ourselves. Even to this day we look at each other and can’t believe we are actually living in Panama.
We have been extremely fortunate to have met some great people who were and still are very helpful to us as we meander our way through our first year of living as transplants to Panama. One of the things that helped us was to make friends with people “on the ground” that have blazed the trail before us. In fact we’ve had several people who have been wonderful at sharing their experiences with us. We learned not to be timid about asking others for help. Muddling through the intricacies of buying a vehicle, getting our driver’s licenses and getting our utilities set up were all done with help. Hopefully we’ll be able to “pay it forward”.
And how is life in Panama? We love the easy pace, the people and the weather. Is it frustrating some days? Yes, no place is 100% perfect. Do we miss our friends and family in Canada? Yes, pretty much every day. But, we’re thankful that we are able to realize this adventure. And for the rest of the story…follow the blog.
The following is a resource list provided by El Gordo. Again, this is based on his personal experience and is meant as a guide and not as a check list. Please check to ensure that the document requirements have not changed.
Moving to Panama From Canada Resource List
1. Lawyer in Panama (PC and Pedasi)
Berta Sanchez – Sanchez and Sanchez: Tel. 011 507 6671-3807, 011 507 6000-5283
2. Accountant in Canada Tel. 250 381-3151
Andrew Jackson Fax. 250 381-3475
Trenholme and Company E-mail: email@example.com
3rd Floor, 1007 Fort Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V3K5
3. Process Server in Ottawa Tel. 613 225-1808
Maplesoft Legal Support Services Inc. Fax. 613 727-0843
Suite 100, 408 Churchill Avenue
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (First letter is l not i)
Ottawa, Ontario K1Z 5C6
4. Authentication of Documents
Authentication & Service of Documents Section (JLAC)
Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
5. Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Form RDIMS 2114877
HA General Dogs and Cats (Amended June 21, 2010)
There is another form like this but is only in English and French. This form also has Spanish.
6. Panama Consulate Tel. 604 365-7173
Sylvia Navarro Cell 604 365-7173
Suite 2200 1050 West Pender E-mail: email@example.com
7. Shipper in Canada Tel. 1 877 232-0204
World Cargo Tel. 1 604 232-0204
Unit 112, 5200 Miller Road Fax. 1 604 270-7797
Richmond, B.C. V7B 1K5 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attn: Dane Croft
8. Receiver in Panama Tel. 011 507 431-5590
Global Cargo Express Fax. 011 507 431-5591
Colon, Panama E-mail: email@example.com
Attn: Jose Luis Pitti
Process for Moving to Panama From Canada
The process for moving permanently to Panama from Canada is complicated and if done improperly can take a long time. A lack of Spanish further complicates the process. We use Berta Sanchez (#1 above) as our lawyer. She has offices in Panama City and Pedasi and is fluent in English as is her assistant Roxanna. Berta is thorough and extremely competent. Her specialty is real estate and contractual law. She has an associate in Panama City who specializes in immigration. Within four months of moving to Panama we had our permanent visas.
We use Andrew Jackson (#2 above) as he is very knowledgeable on Canadians living abroad and applying for non resident status. We also used him when we lived in Abu Dhabi. The key is finding an accountant who understands the tax laws on residing abroad.
C. Documentation Required for Moving to Panama
The following is required for moving to Panama: copy of marriage certificate, criminal record search for each person and a letter from your pension provider proving you will have a life time pension income. All of these documents must be notarized and then sent to Ottawa for authentication. In Ottawa they are essentially stamping that the notary is indeed an official notary in Canada. Send the documents by courier to Maplesoft Legal Support Services (#3 above). Make sure you enclose a return self addressed empty courier envelope so they can send the documents back to you. They will take the documents to Foreign Affairs to be stamped. You can send the documents directly to Foreign Affairs (#4 above) but it will take approximately forty-five days to get the documents back. Maplesoft walks in and has them stamped immediately. Make sure you get in touch with Sylvia Navarro (#6 above) at the Panamanian Consulate in Vancouver prior to doing any of this to ensure the documents needed haven’t changed since we moved. There is also a Panamanian Embassy in Ottawa for those who live closer to Ottawa than Vancouver. Once you receive all these documents they need to be stamped by the Panamanian Consulate in Vancouver or the embassy in Ottawa. Take your passports with you when you go to the Consulate or Embassy. Please note there will be costs associated with all these steps.
D. Documentation Required for Taking Pets to Panama
The following is required for taking pets to Panama. No earlier than ten days prior to leaving Canada the pet must be inspected by a veterinarian in Canada. If the pet is inspected earlier than the ten days before leaving the forms will not be accepted. The following documents are needed from the vet: Health (Sanitary) Certificate, Certificate of Vaccination and Certificate of origin. Also you must take a blank copy of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency International Health Certificate for Dogs and Cats (#5 above) for the vet to fill out. This form can be downloaded from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency web site. Make sure you download the form that has Spanish as well as English and French. Copies of the forms our vet filled out are included as attachments as is a copy of the Panamanian requirements for importing small animals to Panama. Once these forms are all filled out you must take them to the nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency Office to be stamped and signed by the Inspection Agency Veterinarian. The completed and stamped forms must then be stamped at the Panamanian Consulate or Embassy. All the completed forms must be with the pet when you arrive at the Panama City Airport. Make sure you notify the Panama Airport veterinarians of your arrival date and time. This must be done at least three days prior to your arrival. The details on how to do this are in the attached document on importing small animals into Panama. Please note there are costs associated with all these steps.
E. Shipping Personal Effects and Furniture.
There are a number of shippers and receivers that can be used. We used World Cargo (#7 above) to ship our goods and they were received in Panama and the container delivered to our rental house in Pedasi, Panama by Global Cargo Express (#8 above). We were happy with both of these companies though you may want to receive quotes from other companies. Our container was shipped from Vancouver, B.C. to the port of Balboa in Panama City. All packed boxes must be numbered with the contents inside written on the boxes. You must also have a container contents list made up with all the numbered boxes and contents written on the list as well as all other contents in the container (furniture etc.) Contact your shipper for further details.
Our advice is to talk to your Panamanian lawyer, Canadian accountant and Panamanian Consulate or Embassy before starting the process. They will be able to make the journey through the process much easier.