We spent about five days in a hotel waiting for everything to go through and made two trips to the immigration office waiting for documents to be processed. It helped that we had a return ticket back to Canada and that we had a deadline so there was a sense of urgency. We were required to surrender our passports to our abogada to have paperwork completed. When we went back to the immigration office the second time it was to have our temporary cards issued and to have the pictures taken for them and our abogada returned our passports. We left Panama with our temporary cards and our abogada advised us to also pay an extra fee of $50.00 each to get a multiple entry visa in our passports. The multiple entry visas were worth the extra cost because it’s the first thing the immigration people look for when you’re leaving or entering Panama.
To Move Furniture or Not?
Our next step was to decide if we should move only personal items (consolidation in a shared shipment) or a 20 foot or 40 foot container full of “stuff”. After visiting some furniture stores on our trip to buy the house in March 2012 we decided that yes, we did want to bring some furniture with us. We had given much of our furniture to our children but we did want to bring a pullout couch and some chairs and we had stored our bed and most of our other everyday items. We also found out that the deal for bringing a vehicle to Panama every two years duty free as part of the Pesionado Visa had been rescinded. We had planned on bringing our Jeep with us but decided it was too old to bring and pay duty on.
If you go back to the beginning of our journey to settle in another country you’ll note that when we sold our house we didn’t know where we were going to live. At the time we were fairly certain that we wanted to be in the South Pacific so before we stored our furniture we gave away most of our small electrical appliances because the voltage was different. When we decided that Panama was where we were going we bought a few things and decided that we could do without a few others.
We took a look at what we had in storage and estimated that we had enough to fill a 20 foot container. Before we sold the house I contacted a couple of shipping companies and they had come out and given us a quote to move to the South Pacific. Almost any national moving company has an overseas shipping division so it’s just a matter of finding the right company. We had two companies come out to take a look. We ultimately chose the company that moved our furniture and effects because the agent that was assigned to us gave us different shipping options to help with our costs, was excellent at answering any questions promptly, had a huge amount of patience with me and was as enthusiastic about our move as we were.
We ultimately chose to pack everything ourselves and have the company load the truck at our storage unit. We ended up not having a full 20 foot container so the movers had to build a bulkhead to keep everything in place.
Our furniture was due to arrive in Panama the first week in May, but ended up arrivingtwo weeks later than it was estimated. Iguess that’s why it’s called an “estimate”. Our agent affiliate here was arranged completely by our agent in Canada. Our Canadian agent acted as the intermediary for our required destination documents and forwarded them on for us. We also didn’t have to worry about any other associated fees at the Port of Vancouver. We were required to pay some extra customs charges in Panama but we were told about them before our shipment left Canada.