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Buying or Selling a Car

Panama - Buying or Selling a Car

There are many car dealers in all the major cities in Panama, so finding one to purchase a car from should not be a problem. Many of them can offer a second hand car that is not too old but is much cheaper than buying the same model new. Buyers can also purchase from private sellers if they wish. Either way it is a good idea to haggle on the price and try to get the best deal possible. This will be expected, but it will not always be possible to pay a price a fair way below the asking price.

No matter how you choose to buy, it is recommended that you get a qualified mechanic to look at the car before you commit to the purchase. These should put the car through a number of tests to ensure that it is in good working order. This will also help with the price negotiation. The dealer will only make a deal if they know that you have the finance in place to pay for the car.

Once you have bought the car you need to be sure that the title of ownership is properly transferred to you. The car must have valid insurance; this is a requirement from the National Transit and Transportation Authority. If you purchase through a dealer they will ensure that the ownership of the car is transferred to you. If you need to do this yourself you can find that you need to pay, while a dealer will take care of it for you.

A transfer card must be taken to the Municipality Office that originally gave the car its license plate. This does not have to be done before you can take the car, as long as this procedure is underway. If you are buying from a private seller you can accompany that person to the Municipality Office to ensure that the process of ownership transfer has begun.

When you are transferring ownership of a car you will need to take with you a copy of the first owner’s identification, as well as the transfer card which is required for the transfer. A copy of the ID card of the new owner is also a requirement as is the certificate which shows that the vehicle has passed its inspection. The certificate of sole title of the vehicle shows that it is not jointly owned by a person and a company, so that the sale can legally be made. The current owner also needs documentation that shows that there are no debts owed to the government with respect to the vehicle being sold. Payment for the National Permit of Circulation tax must also be made at the Municipality Office.

Transfer of ownership is then carried out and a contract is signed by the new owner. They are then legally responsible for the vehicle and for the maintenance and insurance.

Selling a car is fairly easy. If you have a second hand car you can simply advertise it for sale as a private seller and go through the process already described to transfer ownership to a buyer. Alternatively you can take the car to a dealership and ask them to purchase the car from you. This might sound like an easy option but unless they believe that they can easily sell the car for a good price – which will mean you may have to accept a lower price than you would like – they may not be interested.

In order to sell the car you must be able to prove that you are the legal registered owner, otherwise the sale cannot be processed by the authorities and the person you sell to will not be the legal owner of the car. You will need to have documentation that proves your identity and that proves that you are residing legally in the country.

There are dealerships for many of the major brands of cars, although it should be noted that there is not much of a market for luxury brands, as few people can afford the prices and repairs and spares are hard to come by. By opting for standard family cars, you can make selling and buying much easier in Panama.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.