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New or used cars can be imported into Panama with no restriction. Vehicles are subject to taxes and duties of approximately 27-30% of CIF (Cost, Insurance & Freight) value; this depends upon the value of the car.
Diplomats, members of international organizations, persons with Retiree status and US contractors can import one car free of duties and taxes.
You cannot bring in a vehicle that is still being paid off as legally it still belongs in part to the finance company.
TheTransit and Land Transport Authority (ATTT) has defined a new requirement mandatory for used cars entering Panama. This means that these cars must possess a certificate of review by a workshop appointed by the ATTT.
As a general rule, the importation of vehicles requires the intervention of a customs broker.
Vehicles imported into Panama can be sold or replaced after 2 years and cannot be sold for more than the original price.
Bill of Lading, Air Waybill or transit letter – must include freight charges, and you must send a copy to the Destination Agent to commence the clearance process
Certificate of Title and
Registration – original or copy
Commercial Invoice/Purchase invoice - original
Certificate of Environmental Control & Pollution Certificate
In 2014, 60,304 new vehicles were sold, 7% more than in 2013. Toyota, Hyundai and KIA were at the top of the ranking of best selling brands. It is expected that this year's growth will be around 2% to 4%.
Currently an average of 4,745 new vehicles are sold monthly, according to ADAP (Automobile Dealers Association of Panama).
These Asian brands represent 92.4% of total sales in the top 10 sales ranking, while American brands (Chevrolet and Ford) occupy 7.6%.
4.7% of cars sold between January and November 2014 corresponded to the segment of luxury cars in Panama, where the Italian Ferrari is expected to settle in March.
Among the brands sold in Panama are Jaguar, Cadillac, Lincoln and Volvo; other luxury brands but with less demand in this market are Maserati and Lamborghini. Between January and November 2014 around 2,602 luxury cars were sold, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census.
The most sold car models of 2014 were:
If it's your first time importing a car into Panama, there are a few things you must know:
The car should be transported in a container. The cost of a container is usually expensive, though this depends on the size and the country that you are shipping from.
The process for the customs department assigning a value to your vehicle can be long, so it may be some time before you are actually able to pay the charges and get customs clearance for your vehicle.
The recipient must have the legal right to live in the country. In order to get items through customs you will need to present documentation that proves you have this right, such as your passport which should be valid and have at least six months left.
In order to register a vehicle with the Panamanian authorities you need to contact the Registro Unico Vehicular. This government department has a number of offices located in the Panama City District. You will need to take with you proof of importation, proof of ownership and proof that you are legally living in the country. The car will need to pass an inspection before registration. Cars need to be inspected each year and for this you need to also have valid insurance on the vehicle.
There are different ports in Panama, but the biggest and most important ones are Cristobal and Balboa.
The port of Cristobal is located at the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal; its location connects this seaport with the most important maritime routes of the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean.
This port is one of the oldest still operating in Panama, operating for more than 150 years.
Cristobal has a handling capacity of over one million containers, and has road access to the Colon Free Zone. It has a total of 3 container berths, 16 hectares dedicated to container storage, 11 quay cranes and 36 RTGs (Rubber Tired Gantry).
This Atlantic port is operated by Panama Ports Company (PPC), who has been in charge of the management of this seaport as well as Balboa since 1997.
Crossing the Panama Canal, we find the port of Balboa located in the Pacific entrance. This port was inaugurated in 1909; it was formerly known as Ancon Port.
It connects major liner services from the Far East and North America to the west coast of South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It handles nearly 3 million containers, with a total of 30 hectare for storage, 5 container berths, 22 quay cranes and 51 RGTs