Moving to Boquete, shipping advice welcome

Hi!    This is my first time posting, I know this question has been around forever and Ive gone through the old threads, just putting this question up again to refresh the topic,

My family of three are moving to Boquete in April or May, we plan on establishing residency and building a house on some land we recently bought. We've been living in Latin America for over a decade, and we are pretty sure Boquete will meet our needs for the forseeable future. We are going to get residency.  On to the point:   We are going to ship our stuff from Mexico, where we currently live, or send it up to San Diego or Los Angeles and ship it from there. I wish I could avoid this expensive step, but we have a lot of ireplaceable tools for work, carpentry and coffee roasting gear, so Im afraid its unavoidable.  Im asking for advice and an explantion of the process of shipping stuff down to Panama. Do you provide the shipping company a complete inventory of all the cargo? do you need receipts or approximate values? How can I determine value on used tools that are 5-10 years old, but were quite expensive new.... In my experience importing stuff into Mexico, you could just fabricate a receipt from "Rex's Cheap used tool shed" and hide all of your new gear under a pile of dirty clothes.   Also, since I have to get a container anyway, Im thinking of getting the apliances that fall under houshold exemptions like washer/dryer.... any other major appliances or things that wont be taxed that I cant get in Panama that I should get up in the US? 

Anybody want to weigh in on buying vs renting a container (I would turn it into a wood kiln in Panama if I bought one)  and 20' vs 40'?

Thanks in advance for any advice

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  • First you need to apply for residency and receive a temporary residency card. You then are allowed to bring in $10k of used personal goods, i.e. clothing, furniture, tools, clothes, etc. duty free. This does not include, self propelled items i.e. riding lawnmowers, golf carts, ATV's, etc. You will need a copy of your residency card or temp. card and a copy of your stamped passport showing you have applied for residency. Your bill of lading needs to list all boxes of items with approx. used value i.e. box#1- used kitchen untesils $25,box#2- used linens $30, Item #3 - used table saw $75, etc. On the question of buying a container, if you buy a container it needs to be certified for ocean freight, you will be charged a $200-$500 bunker fee to load aboard if it is yours and not the ocean freight companies and when it arrives in Panama and the container is to remain here you can be charged a duty based on the value of the container. Some people have managed to keep them here without paying a duty but if you ever sell it the duty will kick in , so it is a roll of the dice.  if you are moving to Boquete I would strongly suggest that your Customs broker here file a dicreto 6 and have the container brought to David for customs inspection. There is still a lot of corruption in the very busy ports of Balboa and Colon and it is common to have to pay bribes and storage fees there. The cost of the dicreto 6 filing is $100 and well worth it. If you are in Mexico and will let me know whether you are closer to the Pacific or Atlantic I may be able to help you with a container.

    P.S. you do not need receipts on used personal goods only new ones and you will be charged a duty on new items. if you take new items out of the box, reverse the box,peel the stickers, they become used items.

  • Hello, May I recommend you as well asking with this company in panama.

    Psl :logistic solutions in Panamá +5072238301  you can ask with Luis Bustamantes and tell him Kenneth refered you.

    Website is and email


    I hope it can work for you.. 


    Best regards, 





    Home Page
    Freight Forwarders in Panama providing a complete set of logistics and shipping solutions through our more than 1,000 partners worldwide allowing you…
  • If you buy a container... be sure it is still certified for ocean shipment.  I would start by looking for an exporter - freight forwarder where you are currently living to handle the transaction on that end.  A good one would coordinate with an Importer in Panama to make the shipment.

  • I would not bring a washer, dryer etc as you can buy them cheap here in David.

    20 or 40 ft container can store 22k kg of weight each. The 40 ft has only more space.

  • I had a good experience using DAC Transport.

    Via Argentina, Edif. Altamira
    Mezanine, ofic. #4
    Panamá, Rep. Panamá

    Tel: (507) 263-7155/ 3146 (ext. 105)
    Cel: (507) 6703-4713

    Contact: Ronaldo Buchanan

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