How do I Ship Cars to Panama From the USA?

by Wes Simons
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view of a cargo ship image by Yali Shi from

Shipping a car to Panama is not difficult in theory, but there are many obstacles that can arise, and estimating the exact cost of shipping a vehicle is almost impossible. Many shipping companies will be able to provide you with a quote, but this quote will not include bribes that must be paid in order to expedite the process, or the cost of maintaining a car in a foreign country where parts are not available.


Step 1

Compare prices and options of several different shipping companies. Companies that ship automobiles, or contract auto shipments, include, and These companies have detailed descriptions about their shipping policies available on their websites.

Step 2

Obtain a quote from the shipping company. On the company's website, navigate to the "Get a Quote" section and fill in the data fields. You will need information regarding the make and model of your car, as well as your starting address and the address of the destination. The cost of shipping the car will depend on the value, as well as the size of the vehicle. A smaller car will cost less money to ship. The shipping costs will be close to $2,000 or higher.

Step 3

Call or email the shipping company to obtain information about their licensing. Companies should be members of the Better Business Bureau or a similar organization, and should also have an option to ship to the desired country, in this case Panama. Contact information can usually be found on the company's website. If contact information is not available, try scrolling to the bottom of their homepage, or consider looking for a new shipping company.

Step 4

Pay for duties and fees associated with importing a car to Panama. According to Don Winner of, the import duty in panama is 18 percent. You will also have to pay a 7 percent transfer or value tax, also known as an ITBM. The value of the car is determined by the import officials, and can vary greatly. For instance, a car valued at $10,000 will be subject to $1,800 in duty fees and $700 in ITBM tax.

Step 5

Drive your vehicle to the shipping company's arranged pickup location. Some companies will arrange to pick your vehicle up from your home, although there is often a charge associated with this service.

Step 6

Meet your vehicle at the arranged destination in Panama. Ships will usually stop at multiple destinations. Don Winner states that although paying bribes are not a necessity to receive your vehicle, the paperwork process that is required before you can take your vehicle from customs can be overly long. Bribes are often required to expedite the process.

Step 7

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