International Moving From USA to Any Destination

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Moving and Shipping Your Household to Panama

Panama is quickly becoming a popular destination for Americans looking to move abroad. Currently, there are an estimated 30,000 Americans living in Panama, indicating the growing popularity of this destination.

One of the main draws of Panama is its relatively low cost of living compared to the United States. From affordable housing to cheaper food and entertainment options, many retirees find that their savings go further in Panama. Additionally, the country boasts warm weather year-round, making it a desirable location for those looking to escape cold winters.

Panama Beach

The English-speaking population in Panama also makes the transition to living in the country easier for Americans who may not speak Spanish. Furthermore, Panama offers a range of visa programs, such as the Pensionado Visa program, which provides discounts on healthcare, transportation, and entertainment, to make it easy for foreigners to retire or invest in the country.

Panama is known for being a safe and secure country, with a relatively low crime rate, a stable government, and a strong economy. Its natural beauty, including lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and exotic wildlife, is a major draw for eco-tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Overall, the combination of affordable living costs, warm weather, ease of residency, safety, and natural beauty makes Panama an attractive destination for Americans looking to retire or invest in a new home abroad. The significant number of American residents in Panama highlights the growing popularity of this destination among retirees and expats.

The Panamanian Flag

What are the top cities in Panama, for expats?

There are several cities in Panama that are popular among expats. Here are some of the top cities and the reasons why they are attractive to expats:

The most popular cities for expats in Panama are Panama City, Boquete, and Coronado.

Panama City: As the capital and largest city in Panama, Panama City is a popular destination for expats due to its vibrant nightlife, international cuisine, and modern amenities. The city also has a large expat community, which makes it easy to connect with other foreigners living in the area.

Boquete: Located in the western highlands of Panama, Boquete is known for its mild climate, natural beauty, and outdoor activities. It’s a popular destination for retirees who are attracted to the town’s relaxed pace of life, friendly locals, and low cost of living.

Coronado: Located on the Pacific coast, Coronado is a beach town that has become a popular destination for expats looking to retire or invest in real estate. The town has several golf courses, shopping centers, and restaurants, and is known for its beautiful beaches.

Panama City

Panama City

Other cities that are popular among expats in Panama include Bocas del Toro, Pedasi, and El Valle de Anton. Each of these cities offers a unique lifestyle and set of attractions that appeal to expats from different backgrounds and interests.

So, how straightforward is it really to pull the trigger to make this happen?  The answer is that it can be very straightforward, provided you have done a little homework, have made the decision, and are working with an experienced, reputable and responsive international shipping company (your mover to Panama).  SDC is an international shipping company that stays with you every step of the way, from start to finish!


What to Look for in a Top-Tier Door-to-Door International Moving Company

If you’re planning on moving internationally and need to find a reliable door-to-door moving company, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some things to look for in a top-tier door-to-door international moving company:

SDC International Movers

Expertise and Experience:

The moving company you choose should have plenty of experience and expertise in handling international moves. SDC International Shipping, for example, has been moving household goods and personal effects to Panama for over 20 years, making them a trusted and knowledgeable choice.

A Dedicated Support Team Working with You from Start to Finish:

Shipping goods internationally can be complicated, but with the right support team, it can be a smooth process. Look for a company that offers guidance and communication throughout the entire shipping process, including customs clearance and delivery to your new home. SDC International Shipping provides this kind of support every step of the way.

Superior Online Reviews:

Online reviews can be a valuable resource in choosing a reputable moving company. Look for companies with high ratings and positive reviews from previous customers. SDC International Shipping has 4+ star ratings from satisfied clients.

Visual Survey/Question and Answer Meeting:

To ensure accurate quoting and a successful move, it’s important for the moving company to conduct a visual survey or Q&A meeting to assess the volume of items being shipped and any other important considerations. SDC International Shipping provides this critical step with an experienced shipper and estimator to ensure the quotation is based on accurate volume estimates and your specific needs.

By taking these factors into consideration when choosing a door-to-door international moving company, you can ensure a successful and stress-free move.

Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Shipping Company

Are You Working with a Genuine International Moving Company? (Caution)

Regrettably, there are some companies that portray themselves as legitimate moving companies and may even advertise their expertise in moving to Panama. However, this is not always the case. These companies, known as brokers posing as moving companies, may deceive customers and secure bookings only to subcontract the job to a third party at a lower cost to them. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to steer clear of brokers pretending to be genuine international moving companies.


Bait and Switch (low-ball) (Caution) 

It’s important to be wary of extremely low quotes when searching for a shipping company. Just like with a new car that’s advertised as “starting as low as…,” you might end up paying extra for essential features like the steering wheel, transmission, and tires. The “bait and switch” or “low-ball quote” is a real tactic used by some companies, and it’s crucial to be aware of it.

At SDC International Shipping, we understand that the lowest quoted price may not always be the most cost-effective option in the end. If a shipping company provides a quick and lower quote without taking the time to fully understand your inventory and needs, it could be a red flag.

Unexpected costs can add up quickly. That’s why we take the time to understand your needs and expectations thoroughly. Based on our extensive experience, shipping relationships, and efficiencies, we provide a clear and professional quotation that’s as low as possible while still meeting your needs.


Up-Front $ Deposits (Caution)

Be cautious when dealing with companies that demand an up-front deposit. While credit card authorization for security purposes is acceptable, an actual deposit could signal a potential issue. At SDC International Shipping, we do not require up-front deposits or charge credit cards before 99% of our jobs.


Consistently Poor Online Reviews  (Caution)  

It’s crucial to pay attention to online reviews when choosing an international moving and shipping company. Positive reviews can be an excellent indicator of a company’s reliability and quality of service. On the other hand, negative reviews can be a warning sign to look elsewhere. Check out Yelp and Google to see what other customers have to say about the company you’re considering.


Lack of a Professional, Comprehensive Quote  (Caution)

When working with SDC International Shipping, you can expect a comprehensive and professional proposal for your shipment to Panama. This proposal will outline precisely what services are included in your quote, such as door-to-door, door-to-port, port-to-port, and more. Additionally, all inclusions and exclusions will be clearly stated, so you know exactly what to expect. Be wary of any company that does not provide a detailed proposal, as this could be a red flag. 

The SDC Shipping Process                                             

When it comes to selecting international movers to Panama, SDC International Shipping is the best choice. We prioritize understanding our clients’ needs to minimize surprise charges and prevent potential issues. We offer a range of services, from door-to-door, door-to-port, port-to-door, port-to-port, air freight, and more, to cater to your needs. For instance, if you require a full household move, we can handle the process from your origin point to your desired destination, using ocean shipping and including full professional packing, wrapping, and protection of all your household goods.


  1. First, it is a great idea to conduct the Visual Survey in order to get to know each other better, and for SDC to understand the client’s needs and inventory. This is also an opportunity to answer any questions the client may have.  ß Very important   Sometimes a visual survey isn’t possible.  In that case, it is still important for SDC to understand your needs.  Sometimes we use pictures; or in certain cases, we agree on an amount and service.  That said, for most shipments of household goods from door to door, a visual survey is an important part of the process.
  1. After the survey is complete and analyzed professionally, SDC Intl. Shipping will then provide a Professional Quotation. This quote will clearly explain all elements of the move that are included as well as those which are not or may not be.
  1. If everything looks good, the next step would be for your SDC Intl. Shipping Relocation Specialist to provide you with an Order for Service. This is the actionable booking document that initiates the shipping process.   The order for service will clearly spell out not only the price but also all details, including what is included, what is not, etc.
  1. Internal Support and Logistics Team gets involved- Once your job is booked, an internal Support Expert for Panama is assigned. This Specialist will provide constant communication, and guidance, request the proper documents /paperwork that might be required, and stay with you from start through finish.
  1. Packing, Wrapping & Protecting, and Pick-Up- Sometimes this (packing and pick-up) is done on the same day. Sometimes, for larger and more complex jobs, professional packing (if part of your requested service), wrapping, protecting, and prepping could be 1-3 days prior to the actual pick-up/loading.
  1. Shipping– The next step is to ship your household inventory.
  1. Customs– Unless otherwise requested, SDC Intl. Shipping will clear customs at the destination port of entry. Long before this point, your SDC Intl. Shipping Specialist will have taken care of all of the necessary paperwork.  This way, clearing customs at the destination port of entry should go smoothly.
  1. Final Delivery– Unless otherwise requested, SDC Intl. Shipping then delivers your household goods to your destination residence or desired delivery location. All furniture is reassembled (if applicable), unwrapped, and placed where you would like it.  All boxes are delivered to the room or area of your home that you wish.  We then clean up all trash and depart.


Necessary Documents

At SDC International Shipping, our Logistics and Support Team collaborates with you and provides assistance in obtaining the required documents to ship your household items, clear customs, and deliver them to your residence in Panama.


What Can’t I Ship from the USA to Panama with My Household Goods? 

There are several items that are prohibited from shipping to Panama, including:

Narcotics and drugs: All types of narcotics, including cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, are strictly prohibited in Panama.

Weapons and ammunition: Firearms, explosives, and ammunition are not allowed to be imported into Panama without the proper permits and licenses.

Pornography: All types of pornography, including magazines, DVDs, and online content, are illegal in Panama and are not allowed to be imported into the country.

Counterfeit goods: The importation of counterfeit products, including luxury goods, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, is illegal in Panama.

Radioactive materials: Radioactive materials, including nuclear waste and radioactive substances, are not allowed to be imported into Panama without the proper permits and licenses.

Hazardous materials: Hazardous materials, including chemicals, pesticides, and other toxic substances, are not allowed to be imported into Panama without the proper permits and licenses.

Plants and Soil

Foods and Liquids


Here is a helpful link for more information-  Customs Guide-  Panama


Packing and Protecting Your Household Goods 

  • Standard Service (protecting your larger items/furniture)- SDC International Shipping, by default will wrap and protect all of your furniture items.  This would include items that would not normally be boxed.  For example, desks, sofas, dining tables, credenzas, beds, etc.  All furniture items will be protected in a manner necessary to ensure transit from door to door, with complete protection.
  • Special Enhanced Protection for Delicate and/or Specialty Items- SDC International Shipping will always provide the appropriate level of protection for your different inventory items. Items such as glass and marble tops, statues, glass china cabinets, etc., will receive the appropriate level of enhanced protection for the shipment.  At SDC, our mandate is to do everything in our power to ensure your items arrive in the exact same condition in which they left.  We are experts at making this happen.
  • Packing of Boxes There are basically 3 options when it comes to packing your boxes.


  1. Full Professional Packing Service by SDC– When it comes to boxes, the client may elect to have SDC International Shipping professionally pack all boxes, or only some of them, and create a professional inventory list. This is often helpful with customs at the port of entry in Panama.
  2. Self-Pack- Alternatively, the client may elect to self-pack (or partially self-pack) boxes for the shipment. In this case, it is important for you to create an inventory list.  SDC Intl. Shipping will help.
  3. Hybrid- This is an option when the client would like to self-pack most of their boxes but leave some delicate items to be packed by the agent (SDC Intl. Shipping). For Example- the client will pack most boxes but would like SDC to pack the framed wall art, TVs, and fine china.  This is a common arrangement.


  • Framed Art- SDC can pack framed wall art for our clients. Alternatively, the client may choose to pack themselves.  SDC can provide everything from standard wrapping and boxing of art, up to acid-free wrapping and soft crating, all the way up to creating full, custom hard crates for your fine art. 
  • White Glove Service-  If needed, SDC International Shipping’s teams of expert packers and un-packers are happy to provide full white-glove service. 

Art, Pianos, Billiard Tables, and Sculptures to Panama

To ensure the safe transport of specialty and valuable items such as pianos, billiard tables, fine art, and collectibles, it’s crucial to entrust them to an experienced and capable shipping and relocation company. SDC International Shipping has the expertise, skills, and equipment to handle any specialty shipment, from musical instruments to oil paintings, pool tables, pinball machines, and more. We offer door-to-door service for your peace of mind.


Shipping Your Household Goods to Panama by Ocean or by Air 

Household shipments destined for locations outside of North America are typically transported via ocean freight, which is a more cost-effective option. However, it may take longer for your shipment to arrive. At SDC International Shipping, we specialize in both air and ocean shipping and may recommend a combination of both depending on your needs.


Shipping Your Car to Panama  

Can I ship my vehicle from the USA to my new home in Panama?   Yes, it is possible to bring your car with you when moving to Panama from the USA. However, there are certain regulations and requirements that you will need to follow in order to import your car into the country.  Also, there may be duties/taxes which will be applied in Panama.  Please consult with your SDC International Shipping Relocation Specialist for additional details.

Drive-side standard in Panama-  Left-Hand Drive (same as USA)

Some Helpful Links for you-

SDC Vehicle Shipping


Importing Your Motorcycle to Panama

Yes, you can ship your motorcycle from the USA to Panama, but there are certain regulations and requirements that need to be followed. SDC International Shipping can assist you in navigating the process and providing detailed information.

Firstly, you will need to obtain an import permit from the Panamanian Bureau of Standards (SABS) before shipping your motorcycle. You will also need to provide proof of ownership and purchase of the motorcycle, as well as a certificate of roadworthiness from an approved testing facility in the USA.

Once the motorcycle arrives in Panama, it must go through customs clearance and be inspected by the Panamanian Bureau of Standards to ensure it meets safety and environmental standards. Customs duties and value-added tax (VAT) will also need to be paid on the motorcycle.

It is important to note that Panama has strict emissions standards, and certain types of motorcycles may not be allowed to be imported into the country. Additionally, your motorcycle must meet Panamanian road regulations, including having appropriate lighting and mirrors.


Pet Relocations to Panama

Yes, it is possible to bring your pet with you to Panama, but there are certain regulations and requirements that you must follow. Firstly, your pet should have a valid rabies vaccination certificate administered at least 30 days but no more than one year prior to arrival in Panama. Additionally, a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within ten days of your pet’s travel to Panama is also required, which should include information such as your pet’s breed, age, sex, and proof of vaccinations.

You will also need to obtain an import permit from the Ministry of Agricultural Development in Panama prior to your arrival. The import permit will require you to submit your pet’s health certificate, rabies vaccination certificate, and other relevant documentation.

After arriving in Panama, your pet will need to be inspected by a veterinarian at the airport to verify that all the necessary documentation is in order and that your pet is in good health. It’s important to note that certain dog breeds are prohibited in Panama, so you should check with the Panamanian Embassy or Consulate in the USA to confirm that your pet is not one of the prohibited breeds.

Overall, bringing your pet to Panama requires careful preparation and adherence to the requirements, but it is certainly possible. SDC International Shipping can assist you in navigating the process and ensuring that your furry friend arrives safely and legally in Panama.

SDC Intl. Shipping- Your Pet

Marine Insurance for Your Household Goods

SDC International Shipping offers both Total Loss as well as Full Coverage insurance options which cover your possessions from door to door.  Please contact SDC International Shipping at 888-779-3962 for details.

SDC Maritime Insurance


Healthcare in Panama     

American expats residing in Panama have the option to purchase health insurance. There are several health insurance plans available in Panama, including international health insurance plans specifically tailored for expats. These plans typically cover medical treatment, hospitalization, and emergency medical evacuation.

To obtain health insurance in Panama, you can contact local insurance providers or international insurance companies that offer coverage in Panama. It’s important to conduct thorough research and compare different plans to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.

You should also note that some insurance plans may require a medical examination or medical history before coverage can be approved. Moreover, the cost of health insurance in Panama can vary depending on factors such as age, health status, and the level of coverage needed.

Overall, it’s advisable for American expats living in Panama to consider obtaining health insurance and choose a plan that provides adequate coverage and fits their budget.


Electrical Standard in Panama    

The residential power standard in Panama is the same as in North America.  That being 120 volts (alternating current) with a frequency of 60Hz.



In conclusion, if you are planning to move to Panama from the USA, there are many things to consider, including shipping your household goods, specialty items, and even your pet. SDC International Shipping can help you navigate the various regulations and requirements for shipping to Panama, whether you choose to ship by air or ocean freight. They also offer services for shipping specialty items such as pianos, billiard tables, and fine art. Additionally, if you are an American expat living in Panama, they can assist you in obtaining health insurance coverage that suits your needs and budget. For more information and to get started with your move, please contact SDC International Shipping at 877-339-0267.

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International Moving From USA to Any Destination

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