This is a very useful video if you want to ship all your stuff to Panama.
Sheryl moved to Puerto Armuelles in October 2016.
In this video she shares her experience shipping her car and household goods from the US to Puerto Armuelles, Panama
(transcript of video below)
You are welcome to use the icontainers.com quote request located in the sidebar on this page.
We are are not officially endorsing the company. However, as you heard in the video, Sheryl had a wonderful experience shipping her stuff with icontainers.com
What to Ship To Panama
Also, you should check out my Moving To Panama Checklist.
It outlines what you need to do and when. It also includes some advice on what to bring with you to Panama.
More To Come
Also, stay tuned for Sheryl’s video with her advice on “What You Should Bring With You To Panama”.
Make sure you don’t miss that video. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Betsy: Sheryl moved to Puerto Armuelles, Panama about a year ago.
In this video, she shares her experience and advice on shipping your stuff to Panama. Sheryl didn’t want to be videotaped, so you’ll hear her, but you won’t see her.
I’m Betsy, from Living in Panama, the place for information and advice on being an expat in Panama. Interested? Click subscribe, and hit the bell so you don’t miss a video.
You seem to be an expert on shipping your stuff down to Panama. Tell us what do think somebody who’s thinking about moving to Panama should know about shipping?
Ship Your Stuff or Not
Sheryl: When I decided I was gonna move to Panama, my next big question was,
“Am I gonna take anything or am I gonna leave it all here and start over again in Panama?”
And of course, for me I don’t have an abundance of money, so it’s a matter of economics.
Can I afford to ship to Panama? Do I have to leave all this stuff, even the furniture my father made for me that I love looking at? My car that is so reliable? And what should I do?
Of course, you look on all these forums, and you see people saying, “Don’t bring anything. Just start all over again. It’s too expensive. It’s way too expensive. Bringing your car is too much of a hassle. You just stay all day at the port, and you just have to stand there in the scorching sun all day.”
Those things weren’t very promising in terms of bringing it.
Cost of Shipping
Then I started checking prices for shipping.
And in the United States, the shippers make it like super, super hard to get that information.
They won’t just quote you a price over the phone. They want to come to your house. They want to check it out. They ask you a gazillion questions. “What do you have here? How many rooms? What are you doing?”
And then they end up quoting you something like $11,000 to $14,000 from door to door. From door in the United States, to door in Panama. And that was just wasn’t gonna happen. Just was not gonna happen.
I got so tired of dealing with these shippers.
And then one day I found something, a shipper called icontainers.com. Icontainers.com.
They’re actually a company out of Spain, and they don’t deal with all that malarkey about, “How many rooms? How many pieces of furniture? How many this? How many that?”
They’ll quote you a price. “Do you want a 20 foot container? Or do you want a 40 foot container.” It doesn’t matter how many pieces of furniture you got.
It doesn’t matter the weight. All they wanna know: 20 or 40 foot container.
Betsy: That’s simple
Sheryl: Very simple. They ask you where you’re moving from, and the port you’re shipping to. And then they give you a quote immediately.
They send a truck to your house, it’s up to you to load it or get friends to help you load it. Or in my case, I just hired a local moving company to load all my furniture, all my household goods, and my car. ‘Cause it was a lot easier for me.
Ports of destination, where it’s moving from, where it’s going to is gonna make a difference.
If you’re about 2 hours from a port, your house is like 2 hours from a port, a 20 foot container is gonna run you about $2,700. And a 40 foot container is gonna run you about $3,100.
Now, I can’t say those will be the same prices if you’re shipping out of Kansas, because that’s a long haul for a truck driver to take from Kansas to a port, so you would just have to go online, and get the quote online. You can call them. They’re very friendly and they’ll just give you the price.
Bring My Car or Not
Sheryl: Then the next question was,
“Take my car, or don’t take my car?”
I knew I had a super reliable car, but you read all this stuff on the forums, “Oh it’s too much haul. It’s too expensive. Blah, blah, blah.”
But, you know, it’s not true.
I shipped my car in my 40 foot container, along with my household goods.
Customs, Fees & Pensionado Visa
There are 2 ways. I came in on a Pensionados Visa.
On a Pensionados Visa, I could’ve done a situation where I didn’t pay any taxes on the car coming in because it was over 7 years old.
However, if you do that, it puts you into a different process where they will keep your car for 2 -3 weeks. And you have to pay the daily cost on it. Storage.
My customs lady, and it’s very important to have a very good customs lady who gets back to you with all your questions immediately, calculated the cost of what I would pay if I paid all of the duties.
Not just the tax, but tax and all the duties versus what it would cost me to go through the other process for a Pensionados Visa.
What people don’t say on all these forums is that with the Pensionados Visa you have to hire an attorney to do half of the customs work to bring it in duty free. And you have to pay a customs person to do the other half. Then you have the daily storage fees.
Cost Less to Pay Customs
By the time you calculate all these costs, you compare it with what would happen if you just paid the full amount of duties, it came out to be about $150 difference.
What do I want? Do I want my car in two days? Or do I wanna wait 2-3 weeks and go through some hassles?
Needless to say, I paid that $150 extra dollars.
How Long Did It Take
My car and my container arrived in Panama City on a Wednesday. It was here in Puerto Armuelles by that following Saturday.
The same Saturday. Same week. Got the car off. Got all the goods in. Piece of cake.
A good customs agent will also help you find local moving companies from Panama City to wherever you’re moving.
Car Part Availability for Imported Car
Bringing my car here was one of the best things I ever did.
They say you have a lot of problems with parts and everything else.
Paso Canoas Car Part Stores
Well, here in Puerto Armuelles, we live very, very close to the border, called the Frontera or Paso Canoas. And there are these huge, huge car parts places, stores down there. It’s huge.
And I did need to get some parts for my car. They’d finally worn out.
I went right down to Paso Canoas, for my Honda. It was a Honda. Went right down to Paso Canoas, they had the car parts, they put right in. No problem.
Anybody even that lives anywhere in the Chiriquí region, before you freak out and think you have to go to a dealership or you have to go somewhere else, check with Paso Canoas first. Because chances are those big parts stores will have the part that you need.
Betsy: Okay, that’s good.
Betsy: Thank you.
Sheryl: Thank you.
Betsy: For more information on living in Panama, please click the link below. Thanks for watching.
To get your questions answered, check out my FAQ about Living in Panama page.