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Importing Your Pets

Panama - Importing Your Pets


With many expats the issue of whether or not to take pets along is an important one. Every country has different regulations and these need to be adhered to strictly otherwise an animal will not be allowed into the country.

Panama does allow pets to be imported. It is important to check with airlines to see what their requirements are for transporting the pets as they may require extra documentation. Information can be obtained from the Departamento de Cuarentena Agropecuaria on which rules and regulations will apply to your pet.

For dogs and cats evidence of vaccinations is required as well as a sanitary certificate. The pet health certificate must be authenticated by the Panama consulate or embassy in your home country and must be dated no earlier than 10 days of the flight. This will show that the pet is not suffering from any communicable diseases and is in a good state of health, with no injuries or conditions. This will also be required for the airlines. A certificate of origin needs to be completed and this can be issued by a vet in your home country. The import form which needs to be completed is available from the health department at the airport or the quarantine department. When the pet arrives at the airport it will be checked over by the quarantine department and the documentation will be checked.

The quarantine department may decide that the animal should be kept for a short time at the health department and for this the owner will pay $7 per day. This could be for any number of reasons but is usually due to the animal not having had the correct vaccinations. There is also the possibility that the animal can be kept in quarantine at the home of the owner and for this there is a fee of $120.

If you want to take an endangered species into Panama such as a bird or a reptile then you need to send a letter of request and obtain an export authorisation from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Similar information on vaccinations and the history of the animal are required to be presented and you will need to ensure that you have the correct import license.

When you have authorisation to bring a pet into Panama you will receive an import permit from the Departamento de Cuarentena Agropecuaria and you must have this available for presentation at the airport when the pets arrive. You can request the home quarantine for the animal at this point and this can be approved immediately. If you get authorisation for home quarantine then the animal can only go out if under your supervision. The vets will check after a couple of weeks to ensure that the animal is still in good health and provided the answer is yes you will not hear anything else. It is possible to have the pets examined out of hours at the airport. This needs to be arranged in advance with the department and will incur an extra fee.

For home quarantine there is a certain amount of information required. The pet’s owner must provide ID information for themselves and the pet, the type of pet, the weight and breed of animal. This is more for identification purposes and the department’s records.

The main vaccination that is required for pets is rabies. The pet must have a rabies certificate which gives details of the animal’s microchip, dates of vaccinations and the length of time that the vaccination will last. Different types of rabies vaccinations are available, some are only valid for one year but others last longer. There is no restriction on the type of rabies vaccination that Panama prefers. As long as the animal is immunised and has not been exposed to rabies in another country that will be sufficient.

Pet supplies are readily available throughout Panama. The supermarkets stock many well known brands of pet food as well as some local brands. If you need a wider choice there are a couple of speciality pet store chains including ‘Melo Pet Centre’ and ‘Animals and Pets’. Rural areas may offer less choice but you should still be able to purchase supplies.


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