Importing household goods to Panama

According to Article No. 216 of Cabinet Decree No. 41 (December 11, 2002), foreigners who can prove their intention to establish residency in the country, and Panamanians who have resided abroad for a period of no less than two years and return to the country, will have the right to import their used household furniture and personal belongings up to a customs value of B/. 25,000.00 without paying taxes.

*It is important to note that this provision does not apply to temporary returns that do not involve a permanent change of residence.

Requirements to process the import of household goods

The import process requires the intervention of Customs Brokers, who describe the requirements as follows:

  1. Submit an application addressed to the corresponding administration, including the following details:

    • General information of the applicant.
    • Place of origin.
    • Number of packages.
    • Vessel number.
    • Airway bill, bill of lading, or consignment note.
    • Specify the name of the customs warehouse where the personal belongings are located.
    • Location for the inspection of personal belongings (either at the warehouse or at the residence).

  2. Accompany the bill of lading, airway bill, or consignment note with the “delivered” stamp from the shipping agency, airline, etc.
  3. Present the original passport or notarized copies.
  4. If the applicant is Panamanian, a certificate proving that they have worked or resided outside the country for more than two (2) years must be provided.
  5. If the applicant is a student, a diploma or credit certificate should be presented.
  6. If the applicant is a foreigner, the following documents must be presented:

    • Letter from the company where they will be providing services.
    • Letter from the lawyer certifying their intention to reside in the country.
    • Certification from the migration office.
    • Employment certification from the Ministry of Labor.

  7. Provide a set of copies for each of the documents submitted for the records of the corresponding administration.
  8. The application must be approved and stamped by the administration.
  9. If the inspection is carried out at the residence, the following fee will apply based on the number of packages:
1 to 10 packages B/. 30.00
11 to 30 packages B/. 50.00
1 or Several (containers in one or multiple shipments) B/. 75.0

Upon the arrival of the household goods, the customs broker and personnel from the coordination department of the facility will proceed to inspect the contents.

Are you planning to import your household goods to Panama?

Kraemer & Kraemer can provide you guidance on how to avoid complications and manage import taxes. However, it’s important to note that the household goods shipping service is carried out through customs brokers and the consulate.

If you have any other legal questions regarding immigration to Panama, feel free to contact us.

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Published July 31st, 2023, as Commentary on Immigration by Johana Sum