The area in and around Panama City boasts many good international school options and can be a top choice if you’re thinking of making a move to Panama with children. Many schools offer programs in Spanish and English. Most education is still publicly funded, although you will find some prestigious private and secondary schools in Panama’s major cities.
Panama is a convenient port and it’s easy to ship to, from the U.S., a 40-foot container will fit just about everything you might need. It can literally be packed in front of your house at home and unpacked in front of your house in Panama.
Remember: There are no taxes on the importation your household goods if you have at least applied for residency in Panama. Taxes do apply when shipping cars. Also, you’ll need to hire a customs broker to unpack and arrange shipping to your home. Their fees are reasonable.
Moving to Panama with a pet can be a daunting process, but not an impossible one. There are only a few steps, but the timing is what will prove difficult. From the USDA to the Panamanian consulate, take our advice, follow this guide, and bring that loving pet along.
If you are like the vast majority of pet owners, you have a dog. If you are a little less common, you have a cat. If you are outside your mind and hate animals with feelings and warm skin, you have a lizard. (Just kidding…kind of.)
Don’t do this step too early. You need to have your appointment with the vet inside of a two week window from your departure date. This is a requirement in Panama. The vet should have the required International Health Certificate form that must be filled out, but call in advance to give them notice that you will be needing it for international travel.
You will need to check directly with your airline to make sure that you have everything they require for traveling with a pet. These guidelines are pretty relaxed, for the most part, but it is necessary to operate inside of them. Some airlines have specifications for kennel types and food and water being available for the pet. Again, check with the airline and they will be glad to provide this information.
Take your completed, reviewed, authenticated, apostilled documents with you to the airport. Get on the plane and fly to Panama. Once you arrive in Panama you will provide the documents to the veterinarian on duty. They have lists of all people flying in with pets, and often(not always) stay late to make sure that each pet is taken care of. You will give the vet your home quarantine request and the health certificate. He will review it and let you leave once you have paid the US$130 fee. Please note that if you do not have your paperwork with you and correct, the pet will be quarantined for 40 days at the airport at a cost to you of US$10 a day.
The process can seem convoluted, but if you follow the steps slowly and methodically, you will be just fine. The only thing that we cannot prepare you for is the wave of heat and humidity that you will feel when you and your pet step out of Tocumen Airports front doors. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.
Once you’ve determined which visa is appropriate for you, you’ll likely find that you can enjoy import benefits.
First things first: Find a permanent address in Panama, come to Panama. Utilities cannot be set up while you’re in another country. You need a lease agreement or property title for your residence along with a passport.
Many condos and apartments already have gas connections hooked up and running, included in the HOA fees. No work is needed on your part. For homes, gas tanks can be ordered from a local gas company, and they usually show up two to five days after being called. When your tanks is empty, simply call the company and request a refill. Two options in Panama City for gas companies are Tropigas and Panagas. A 10-pound tank of gas costs between US$5 to US$7, depending where in the country you are located.
To set up your electricity, take your lease agreement or property title as well as your passport to the electricity company (likely Union Fenosa). A deposit is expected to be made, depending on your expected usage. An appointment is set for them to come to your residence and make the connection, but it usually takes a week or two for them to show, so be prepared for that. Every month the bill is left near the front of your apartment building or front gate. Electricity bills can be paid online or at an E-Pago kiosk in a mall or supermarket. After two months without payment, the service will be cutoff, so don’t fall too far behind. Electricity rates vary depending on where you are living, and even rates in Panama City can change neighborhood to neighborhood. In Panama City’s El Cangrejo neighborhood, expect a monthly electricity bill of roughly US$50, and double that if you plan on using air conditioning.
For water service, IDAAN (Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados Nacionales), a government owned company, is who you need to visit. Bring your lease agreement or property title as well as your passport to their office, pay the deposit, and make an appointment for them to come to your place and get the water flowing. As with your gas, if you live in an apartment, your water connection may already be included in your HOA fees. A typical monthly water bill in a three-bedroom home is US$60, but this varies with usage. Water bills can be paid at a Rapid Money or E-Pago kiosk in a mall or supermarket.
It’s always good to call ahead before arriving to the utility companies’ offices. It allows you to check when their hours are, confirm you have all the paper work that they request (these things can change), and see if your visit will be expedited by making an appointment.