Logistic and forwarding services in Panama


Capital City
Panama City

3,7 Mio.

National languages

Balboa (PAB) / US Dollar (USD)

Gross national product (GNP)
USD 44,7 Mrd.

GNP per person
USD 11’800

Financial exports to Switzerland
CHF 242,41 Mio.

Financial imports from Switzerland
CHF 78,22 Mio.

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Panama

Panama is one of Switzerland’s most important export destinations in Central America, and attractive to Swiss investors.

Economic cooperation

Panama’s economic openness and favourable framework conditions make it an interesting country for Swiss investors.  In terms of exports Panama ranked as the 8th largest market for Swiss products in Latin America in 2015, amounting to CHF 216 million. These exports were mainly pharmaceutical products, watches, and precious stones and metals.  It can be assumed that most of these exports were re-exported to the region’s free trade area in Colón. In 2014 the free trade agreement came into force between EFTA and the Central American States, of which Panama is a member.


Business language

Spanish, English.


Dimensions and weights

Metric system.



National curency Balboa (B/.) = 100 Centésimos (c, cts)

US currency is also legal tender.

ISO code: PAB


Customs tariff

Harmonised system.


Import control

Only a small number of imported goods require a licence.

Annual import quotas are set for certain goods e.g. various textiles, small iron goods, records, detergents, leather soles, barbed wire, plywood of all kinds, floor coverings and carpets, glass, paper and plastic goods etc. There is a ban on the import of leather, certain foods and milk powder from countries with foot and mouth disease. The following goods require a licence: pharmaceutical preparations, meat, animals and plant products, firearms, explosives and munitions. There are quotas for the import of certain goods. The import of psychotropic substances is prohibited. There are no foreign currency regulations.

Standard VAT rate: 7%


Terms of payment and tenders

Documents against payment is standard.

Letters of credit are also possible. Invoices in EUR or USD.

Tenders in USD FOB exporter’s port or CIF Cristobal. Beware of “post box companies”.


Designations of origin

Designations of origin are not required on goods.

Ask the importer for instructions.



All packages must be numbered and labelled with the port of destination and gross weight. There are special marking regulations for goods including medications and foods.



Seaworthy packaging, take the moist and warm tropical climate into account. Hay and straw packaging is only permitted with a health certificate.

ISPM no. 15 applicable.


Product samples

Duty free if they have no retail value.


Shipping and accompanying documents

In the shipping documents, the capital city may only be referred to as Ciudad de Panama (not Panama City).

a) Commercial invoices, 2 copies, with the standard information in Spanish/French, uncertified. Indications of the total FOB and total CIF values, indicate freight and insurance costs separately including at the Balboa rate. The following declaration must be made by the importer at the end of the invoice and signed: “Declaración jurada. Declaro bajo gravedad del juramento con la firma puesta al pie de esta declaración, que todos y cada uno de los datos expresados en esta factura son exactos y verdaderos y que la suma total declarada es la misma en que se han vendido las mercaderias”.

b) The same accompanying documents as for Panama are required for shipments with a destination of the free zone of Colón. For shipments that pass through the free zone of Colón in transit, four copies of the commercial invoices issued for the destination country and four non-tradeable bills of lading must be submitted to the general consulate. If a shipment of goods is made by a free zone, the signatures of those authorised persons who signed the commercial invoices must be deposited at the general consulate.

c) Certificates of origin are not required.

d) Packages up to 31.5 kg: 1 international dispatch note, 2 customs declaration in Spanish/English/French.

e) Bills of lading in Spanish (if the goods are transported via the US also in English), 4 copies indicating the insurance value. Notify address permissible.

f) Proof of preferential status:

EUR.1 (issued by the customs office)

Declaration of origin on the invoice

– every exporter up to a value of EUR 6.000,

– “authorised exporters” – no limit.

Wording of the declaration of origin: “The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs authorization n° …) (1) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of … (2) preferential origin”. If the declaration on the invoice is made by an authorised exporter, the permit number of the authorised exporter should be entered under (1). If the declaration on the invoice is not made by an authorised exporter, the words in brackets can be left out or the gap left empty.

(2) The origin of the products must be indicated. If the statement on the invoice relates in full or in part to products originating in Ceuta and Melilla, the exporter must make the short description “CM” clearly visible.