Panama country guide

Learn about cross-border ecommerce, shipping, and importing.

If you are looking to grow your ecommerce business into New Panama 🇵🇦 Attribution for Twitter Emojis: ©️ Twitter, Inc., you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about selling goods into Panama.

Ease of importing goods score: A 

Ease of doing business 5/5

  • With the ability to import into Panama without registering your business, it is easy to do business in Panama.

Landed cost fairness 5/5

  • The import tax and duty rate is low, which is favorable for landed cost.
  • The de minimis is relatively high, which can be beneficial for businesses with lower-value products.

Flexibility of legal regulations 5/5

  • Ecommerce businesses wanting to sell to Panama don’t have to navigate any notable legal regulations.

Availability and accessibility of shipping 5/5

  • Major shipping carriers offer services to Panama, making it easily accessible.

Accessibility and variety of payment methods 5/5

  • Panama uses globally popular payment methods, such as credit cards, debit cards, and online payment gateways.

Market opportunity 4/5

  • Over half of the population has internet access, while a little less than half of the population shops online, making the market opportunity decent.

Key stats for Panama 

Population4.4 million (2022)
GDP64 billion USD (2022)
GDP per capita19,173 USD (2022)
Internet penetration69% of the population uses the internet (2022)
Ecommerce users66% of the population shop online (2022)
Leading product categoriesTechnology, fashion, beauty, and home products
Preferred online payment method(s)Credit cards, debit cards, and online payment gateways, e.g. PayPal or Stripe
CurrencyPanamanian Balboa/PAB/B/ or United States Dollar/USD/$

Landed cost for Panama 

The landed cost for a cross-border transaction includes all duties, taxes, and fees associated with the purchase. This includes:

  • Product price
  • Shipping
  • Duties
  • Taxes
  • Fees (currency conversion, carrier, broker, customs, or government fees)

Panamanian de minimis, tax, and duty

Term to know

CIF: CIF (cost, insurance, freight) is a method for calculating import taxes or duties where the tax is calculated on the cost of the order plus the cost of freight and insurance.

Further explanation of de minimis, tax, and duty provided below

Duty and tax de minimis

  • Duty and tax de minimis: 100 USD or 100 PAB

Applied to the CIF value of the order

De minimis value

Duty and tax will be charged only on imports into Panama where the total CIF value of the import exceeds Panama’s minimum value threshold (de minimis), which is 100 USD/100 PAB. Anything under the tax de minimis value will be considered a tax-free import, and anything under the duty de minimis value will be considered a duty-free import.

Import tax

  • Standard rate: 7%

Applied to the CIF value of the order

Value-added tax (VAT)

The standard import VAT rate for Panama is 7%, which is applied to orders when the CIF value exceeds the 100 USD/100 PAB de minimis threshold.

Import duty

  • Average duty rate: 12%

Average duty rate

Imports into Panama may be subject to duty when the CIF value of the order exceeds 100 USD/100 PAB. Due to the Panama-United States (U.S.) Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), 87% of U.S. imports are exempt from duty to Panama. However, Panama’s average duty rate for other countries is 12%.

Landed cost examples

Below are sample landed cost breakdowns for Panama calculated using Zonos Quoter:

Landed cost for a shipment to Panama below the de minimis value:

Landed cost for a shipment to Panama below the de minimis

Panama landed cost quote below the de minimis

Landed cost for a shipment to Panama above the de minimis value:

Landed cost for a shipment to Panama above the de minimis

Panama landed cost quote above the de

Panama landed cost quote above the de minimis

Trade agreements

Panama has at least 19 trade agreements that offer a zero or highly discounted duty rate for goods manufactured in participating countries.

Panama is a member of the World Trade Organization

As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Panama must abide by the most-favored-nation (MFN) clause, which requires a country to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation in a trade agreement to all other WTO member countries. For example, if one country reduces duties by 10% for a particular WTO country, the MFN clause states that all WTO members will receive the same 10% reduction from the country that initially granted it.

Customs resources 

Panama Customs authority

Panama's Misnistry of Foreign Affairs

Customs refund in Panama

Panama Customs refund

Note: Talk to your carrier about customs refunds.

Shipping and compliance 

Top courier services:

  • DHL Express
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • USPS

Depending on the courier, additional shipping fees may include:

  • Tracking
  • Insurance
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Remote delivery charge
  • Signature fee
  • Overweight or oversized fee
  • Special handling fee
  • Dangerous goods fee

Documentation and paperwork

Always required:

Sometimes required:

  • Commercial or industrial license

    • Required for importers seeking to engage in commercial or industrial activities in Panama
  • Phytosanitary permits

    • Required to import non-food agricultural products
  • Other special import permits

    • Required for all types of firearms, ammunition, and fertilizers

Prohibited, restricted, and controlled imports into Panama

Many government agencies may be involved in regulating imports.

Prohibited vs. restricted. vs. controlled items

Restricted items are different from prohibited items. Prohibited items are not allowed to be imported into a country at all. Restricted items are not allowed to be imported into a country unless the importer has approval or a special license. Controlled goods have military or national security significance.

Prohibited items:

  • Counterfeit coins
  • Arms and war instruments, or offensive weapons in general
  • Smoking opium and opium resin
  • Falsely labeled spirits, wines, beers, and medicines
  • Obscene or morally offensive printed publications
  • Plants, seeds, and animals designated by the Ministry of Agricultural Development
  • Foreign lottery and raffle tickets
  • Non-original products that partially or wholly imitate the workmanship of traditional products of the indigenous peoples

Restricted items:

  • Machinery for minting coins
  • Firearms that are not war weapons (intended for hunting, sporting skills, and those permitted for self-defense) and the corresponding ammunition
  • Dynamite, gunpowder, nitroglycerine, and other explosives
  • Medicinal opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine, and all alkaloids of opium and cocaine for medicinal use only

Frequently asked questions 

The top five most popular online stores in Panama are as follows: 1. Amazon 2. Ebay 3. Aliexpress 4. Panafoto 5. Doitcenter.

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