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A cross-border guide to Panamanian ecommerce, shipping, and importing goods 


If you are looking to grow your ecommerce business into Panama, you’ve come to the right place. In our guide, created by Zonos' cross-border experts, you will find the following:

Zonos grade for Panama’s ease of importing goods: A 

Ease of doing business5 / 5- With the ability to import into Panama without registering your business, it is easy to do business in Panama.
Landed cost fairness5 / 5- The VAT 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.
  • The average duty rate is reasonable, and with Panama’s trade agreements, duty is often waived, which can make for a low landed cost. | | Flexibility of legal regulations5 / 5 | - Ecommerce businesses wanting to export to Panama don’t have to navigate any notable legal regulations. | | Availability and accessibility of shipping5 / 5 | - Major shipping carriers offer services to Panama, making it very accessible. | | Accessibility and variety of payment methods5 / 5 | - Panama uses globally popular payment methods, such as credit and debit cards and online payment gateways. | | Market opportunity4 / 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 

Population4.38 million (2021)
GDP$52.94 billion USD (2020)
GDP per capita$12,269 USD (2020)
Internet penetration64.8% of the population uses the internet. (2021)
Ecommerce users45% of the population shop online. (2020)
Leading product categoriesTechnology, fashion, beauty, and home products
Preferred online payment method(s)Credit and debit cards and online payment gateways, e.g. PayPal or Stripe
LanguagesSpanish
Currency- Panamanian Balboa/PAB/B/
- United States Dollar/USD/$

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

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

Duty and tax de minimisValue-added taxAverage duty rate

| - Duty de minimis: $100.00 USD

  • Tax de minimis: $100.00 USD
  • Applied to the CIF value of the order | - Standard rate: 7%
  • Applied to the CIF value of the order | - Average duty rate: 12%
  • 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. 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.

VAT - Value-added tax

All imports into Panama are subject to 7% VAT where the CIF value of the order exceeds $100 USD.

Import duty

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

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 National Customs Authority

Customs refund in Panama

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
  • Chain of signature fee
  • Overweight or oversized fee
  • Special handling fee
  • Dangerous goods fee

Documentation and paperwork

Always needed:

Sometimes needed:

  • 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 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

FAQ

What are the most popular online stores in Panama?

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

Next steps

  • Decoding China - Learn all you need to know to expand your online business into China, including import regulations, tax and duty rates, and more.
  • Decoding India - Learn about importing into India, graded “B” by Zonos experts.
  • Decoding South Korea - Discover the ins and outs of selling products into South Korea, graded “A” by Zonos experts.