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Customs and Duty

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volcan357
6/30/2019 22:34 EST

One positive thing about Panama is that when you order something from outside the country the duty or taxes charged are very reasonable. A number of Latin American countries charge exorbitant duty and taxes if you have anything shipped in from outside the country. This is true of several countries that supposedly have a much lower cost of living than Panama. Also in general it is cheaper to buy and maintain a car in Panama as compared to several other Latin American countries. It is fairly easy to find a good deal on a used car in Panama. There is a big selection. I recently renewed my tags on my old Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep and it costs me 165 dollars including insurance, inspection and the new plates. Keeping my vehicle in repair is fairly cheap and the cost of diesel is lower than many other countries. I've brought into Panama a large commercial mower, a Massey Ferguson tractor and several hundred small items shipped in through a private mail service during the past 20 years. Never once was I charged what I considered to be an unreasonable amount of duty. And when you fly in you can bring in pretty much anything you want that fits in your luggage. Or at least that has been my experience. Anyhow this is something to take into consideration when comparing the cost of living of Panama to other countries. I have heard stories of people having mailed items to the Dominican Republic and having to pay an outrageous sum to receive their item. Same with Nicaragua and several other countries. So if you occasionally like to order items from Amazon or eBay it is something to take into consideration.

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jonoyakker
7/1/2019 03:07 EST

Volcan, can you give an example of how much extra it has cost you to bring stuff in? I have mostly brought stuff in using my luggage, or had friends who brought me stuff in their luggage. But I seem to recall that it about doubled the cost of things...Regarding airport customs, around 3 years ago, I brought back a cheap cctv system-the value was around $250. The agent tried to pinch me for customs fee. That was a bit of a surprise to me-I wasn't aware at the time that there was a $2000 allowance (now $1000) But fortunately, I had little cash on me-just enough for a taxi. He had the nerve to follow up with a phone call-I blew him off. I am happy to say that I have never paid a bribe here in 6 1/2 years-I hate the idea. Now days, I would be very tempted to set him up to be busted. Maybe he was because I don't see him there anymore!

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volcan357
7/4/2019 22:08 EST

A few years ago I imported a commercial lawn mower that cost me $1450 in the USA. I had it shipped to a Riba Smith location in Miami and picked it up at a Riba Smith supermarket in Panama City. Riba Smith charged me $425 for shipping and duty. Most of the charge was for shipping so the duty and taxes wasn't much. I have ordered many items using a private mail forwarding service from Miami to Panama. The most expensive item was a camera body that cost me about $1000. I think I paid about $75 to get the item with some of that being for shipping. I have ordered maybe several hundred different items over the years using the private mail forwarding service and I never noticed that the taxes were very much. A small percentage of the value of the item.

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Mikxx
7/4/2019 22:29 EST

Hello volcan
may I ask which service you use?
Thanks

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volcan357
7/4/2019 23:11 EST

Right now I am using Airbox. They send the items to the office of Internet Activo right here in Volcan where pay the shipping and taxes and pick them up. Just a few minutes drive from my house. Very convenient. If the items are very heavy it doesn't pay to use their service but other than that the service works very well. I used to use PTY 600 but their service went down hill in recent years. Airbox is much faster and more reliable.

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nubrain
7/16/2019 17:22 EST

I live a in Atlanta and send 40 pound boxes of clothes and household items to an agency in Miami called HOT
EXPRESS. via Fedex and they deliver it directly to my friend in Panama. The cost is 2.75 per pound + $15. I cant seem to find any company in Atlanta to send direct and would appreciate any info and also any other company in Miami or FLORIDA that I can send to.

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SAY
7/16/2019 19:15 EST

nubrain,

You might find it less expensive to set up a hot-express monthly account. The cheapest is 15.00 a month, and it provides 10 lbs a month for that price. Over 10 lbs, it is 2.00 a lb.

Also, if you had an Amazon prime account or use Walmart free shipping or some others, they could send the package straight to the Miami hot express address, thereby cutting out the middle man mailing and cost.


That is what most of us expats in my town do,

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nubrain
7/17/2019 11:19 EST

thanks for the info - a lot of the stuff i buy in thrift shops,local stores, and ebay over a period of weeks, ,so it would not make sense to use amazon or walmart.

However, I will call hot express and inquire about the monthly account - wonder why they never mentioned that to me!

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SAY
7/17/2019 18:59 EST

a lot of ebay stores have free shipping that could go straight to hot express in Miami

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nubrain
7/17/2019 21:00 EST

that would not make sense at all since most of the products I buy locally over a period of weeks until I have about 40 pounds or so which fit nicely in a 24 x 18 x 18 box and I enumerate each item
in the box and include a check. for payment.

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