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Bringing A Pet Into Panama (From the USA)

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Bringing a Pet (Cat or Dog) Into Panama From the USA
(Version 1.1, Updated January 28, 2019 With New Information about United Airlines)

 

This topic applies specifically to the procedures and forms associated with bringing pets into Panama from the USA. In the context of this topic, the word pet only means a cat or a dog, and not birds, equine, reptiles, exotic, or controlled animals, etc. The term used for the procedure of bringing a pet into Panama is 'to import.'

What follows are thirteen steps to follow in the sequence listed for importing a pet. These steps were compiled by Judy Sacco based on her research and experiences. She provides this information to those who inquire of the process. Judy has graciously agreed to let her information be published here in CL for the general benefit of pet owners wishing to bring their pet into Panama.

For more restrictive information about using United Airlines for pet importation, please scroll to the bottom on this posting below the horizontal rule line. (Added January 28, 2019).

If you have questions about importing a pet, you may post a reply here (assuming you are a CL member). Alternatively, Judy is a member of CL; you may contact her via private message to 'JudyS'.

It is reasonable to think that bringing pets to Panama from countries other than the USA would follow roughly the same steps, but that the agencies in the home country would, of course, have different names and procedures.

For background information, first go to the US Embassy website for Panama to find the requirements for bringing in a pet (Traveling With Pets). There is a two page Panamanian Ministerio de Salud form in PDF format called "Solicitud De Cuarentena Domociliaria" (Home Quarantine Request) that should be filled out and faxed to Panama. That PDF form is attached at the bottom of this posting. It is strongly recommended that you read the entire referenced page on the US Embassy website.

If you have information changes that you believe should be included herein, please send your suggestions via email to petvet@chiriqui.life.

The preferred method to share this information with others is to provide a URL hotlink for this topic. We request that references to this resource listing include attribution as to source, specifically meaning the Chiriqui.Life website. The URL hotlink for this resource listing is:
    
http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/2405-bringing-a-pet-into-panama-from-the-usa

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is simply information and a listing of resources. CL does not endorse, make recommendations, or screen the resources listed. It is suggested that you do your own due-diligence prior to engaging any of these resources.

 

Step 1: Call the USDA office in your state and make sure you get the right forms that the veterinarian needs to fill out. This is really important because a lot of vets don't know the right forms (although they may say that they do), let alone even know if they are federally accredited or not. Also find out from the USDA if your vet is federally accredited -- they have a database of all vets that are accredited.

Step 2: Call around to different airlines and see if they will allow the pet to travel either in cargo or in carry-on. This is important because depending on the airline and the time of year, sometimes you can't carry your animal in cargo. Be sure the airline has a temperature controlled and pressurized cargo hold for animals. Get it in writing and triple check that they know that you are traveling with a pet. If it is a carry-on animal, be extra careful that the carrier will fit under the seat in front of you. And don't trust the people from the airline on the phone as to what dimensions will fit.

Step 3: Call the selected airline and book your tickets and your pet's ticket at the same time. This is because they only allow so many animals on one plane, and you do want your animal on the same flight as you. Then when it is done, call back and verify that everything is correct with a different agent.

Step 4: Download the form Cuarentena de animales formularios y requisitos. You will also find this document as a link on the embassy website link listed above. Follow instructions in Step 11.

Step 5: Ten days (not earlier or later, but ten days) prior to departing the USA for Panama, go to your veterinarian, who must be federally accredited (check with the USDA and make sure your vet is federally accredited, as mentioned before). Have the vet fill out three documents:

  • the International Health Certificate (USDA Sanitary Certificate)
  • the signed rabies certificate. The rabies vaccine must be at least 30 days old, but no more than 1 year when you arrive in Panama. Puppies and kittens under 4 months old do not need a rabies certificate. The pet also must have other recommended vaccinations. The vaccine records must accompany the pet when you take it to Panama.
  • the general health certificate. This one is required by the airlines. It does not have to be sent to the embassy.

Step 6: Take the International Health Certificate and signed rabies certificate from the vet to the USDA office the same day to be notarized (or apostilled). Go to the USDA office that notarizes animal health certificates (there is one per state that does this), and with all of the forms (the originally signed ones, not copies) and have the USDA office notarize all of the forms. Tell them to make sure to make copies of all forms before you send the originals to the embassy. Note: If you have more than one pet, all of them can be put on the same form. That way the $30.00 you will send to the Panamanian Consulate (see Step 7) will cover all the pets. If they are put on separate forms, it will be $30.00/pet.

Step 7: Take or send by FedEx the USDA notarized forms (originals), along with a prepaid FedEx envelope that is addressed to yourself, to the Consulate of Panama in Washington DC. Enclose a $30.00 money order. Let them know you are sending something, so they can be on the look out for it. It is vital that there is a fast turn around time, and they will return the forms to you the same day they receive them if you let them know they are arriving.

Step 8: Call the Panamanian Consulate to verify they have received the forms and check progress.

Step 9: Make sure you purchase an animal carrier that is appropriate. Also get a harness and leash for each pet. Using sedatives for your pet can be risky. Check with your vet about this. Some vets do not recommend sedatives.

Step 10: Receive health and rabies forms back from the Panamanian Consulate, and keep them with your passports because your animal won't be able to (a) get on airplane, or (b) get into Panama without them. To be sure you have enough cash, take at least $200.00 per pet. It costs $130.00/animal to get them through quarantine, and if they have to stay overnight, it will be a little more.

Step 11: Three days prior to departure, email or fax the form, Cuarentena de animales formularios y requisitos (see Step 4 above) to the Ministry of Health in Panama. Their email address is dcontreras@minsa.gob.pa. The email might bounce, so you might have to fax it to (+507) 212-9449 and (+507) 238-4059. (Note: People and phone numbers change. To make sure you send it to the right place, contact José Saenz; contact information is at the end of this document).

Step 12: Leave extra early for your flight, because there will almost certainly be complications, despite everyone's best efforts. If your pet is going as carry-on, you will have to remove it from its carrier when you go through Security. Cats get very frightened and can easily escape. Be sure to attach the leash to the harness (not a collar) before removing the cat.

Step 13: Airport quarantine and vet release: If your flight is going to arrive (or may arrive due to delays) after 8:30pm Panama time, be sure to either (a) call the airport to have a vet stay later or meet you (for example on a weekend) or (b) be prepared to have your animal stay in quarantine at the airport until the following business day (Monday if over a weekend). Although they are open till 10:00pm, it can take an hour or more to get through customs to the vet. The vet is located after immigration has checked your passport, and near the place where customs scans your luggage after you pick it up off the conveyor.

  • Import license fee is $16.00 for one pet and $10.00 for each additional pet.
  • Health Ministry "Home Quarantine" process costs $130.00 per pet.
  • The Panamanian authorities offer services Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. They are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

 

Pet Relocation Services
[copied from the Pet Care Resource topic; see http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/2354-pet-care-resources-of-the-chiriqui-province/]

 

Click the below hotlink to download the MINSA form (see the paragraph just before Step 1 above):
MINSA-Formularios Para Introduccion De Animales Menores.pdf


The following USDA online resource may also be of interest: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/export/international-standard-setting-activities-oie/sa_by_country/sa_p/ct_animal_panama

 


 

 The following information has been provided by a community member regarding importation of pets when using United Airlines (meaning from Houston Intercontinental Airport, airport code IAH). 

New information (effective late 2018) about shipping pets to Panama (or any country) via United Airlines, an airline you can use if you want to go non-stop from Houston to Panama.
 
United Airlines now will not accept several breeds of dogs and four cat breeds. Also they require people shipping internationally to use a pet relocation company. You can no longer arrange the shipping yourself. Pet re-locators are considerably more expensive than doing it yourself, so this is going to affect some people.
 
You can find the banned breed list by Clicking On This Hotlink. Scroll down that page almost to the bottom to find the international shipping requirements.
 
An alternative airline to fly non-stop from Houston to Panama City is Air China.  Air China does not require you to use a professional pet relocation service.

 

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Change in Pet Import Paperwork Requirements

Formerly, the small animal export/import process between USA and Panama required a US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) validation of a special form filled-in by an accredited US veterinarian. As of August 2016, the USDA has discontinued validating of the form, known as APHIS7001. Instead, a new form negotiated directly with Panamanian authorities is used.

I just brought in two kittens, and I will describe the hoops I jumped through in the hope the experience will be useful to others planning to bring in a pet. As always, your mileage may vary.

Following well-explained instructions, I had the APHIS7001 form filled out by an USDA-accredited vet in Texas. This form describes the animal(s) and gives precise information about their vaccinations, and name/address of the exporter and of the importer. I then went to the USDA office qualified to provide the validation - there is only one in each US State - in this case in Austin.

The USDA declined to validate the APHIS7001, but used the information it included to fill out the new, Panama-specific form, which then was certified with an embossed seal. They also handed back a copy of the APHIS7001. I took the new form to the Panama Consulate in Houston for authentication (an apostille by US State Dept. would also work).

I had arranged for Jose Saenz of GoldenFrog to meet me at Tocumen, as I wished to have an experienced facilitator on hand to smooth out any possible difficulties. The vet/inspectors at Tocumen accepted the new form, but also insisted on having the old APHIS7001 form, in addition to Rabies vaccination certificates and all other vaccination records. As per usual, having more paperwork in hand is helpful. The kittens passed promptly, with no issues beside the grumpiness from hunger - no food while in transit...

Attachments are documents of interest: USDA letter announcing new policy, my Panama form, my APHIS7001 form, and receipts for the fees of interest ( except for the Consulate's charge of $30, and Jose's fee).

Panama Health Receipt.pdf

Panama Agriculture Receipt.pdf

Aphis7001.pdf

USDA Letter.pdf

Panama Animal Form.pdf

USDA Fee Receipt.pdf

Edited by Admin_01
Made the subject into a "subtitle" embedded within the posting
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Thank you so much for posting this new information.  The USDA letter says it will stop endorsing form APHIS7001, if the importing country doesn't require it.  So they didn't endorse your form, but the Panama immigration asked for it anyway.  There will probably be inconsistencies in both countries for a while until they get their forms straightened out. 

 

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Note that the posting by @Jim Bondoux has been merged into this topic as a kind of update to the original posting. Readers should consider all of the postings in this thread, especially including this most recent update, prior to taking any action to import a pet into Panama.

 

4 hours ago, Jim Bondoux said:

Change in Pet Import Paperwork Requirements

Formerly, the small animal export/import process between USA and Panama required a US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) validation of a special form filled-in by an accredited US veterinarian. As of August 2016, the USDA has discontinued validating of the form, known as APHIS7001. Instead, a new form negotiated directly with Panamanian authorities is used.

...

 

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Jim, thank you for posting this update. We are coming home to BCC next month and will be bringing our Jack Russell Terrier, Elvis, back for his second visit to Panama. Hope to see you and Kate. We will be there through March 2017. John Simpson

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On 5/26/2016 at 10:01 AM, Admin_01 said:

The rabies vaccine must be at least 30 days old, but no more than 1 year when you arrive in Panama.

There is absolutely no time requirement of at least" 30 days old or not being more then one year old".  This is mis-information on some web sites.

Contact Golden Frog for the exact requirements. Pet Relocation Services - Goldenfrog.net

We had read this  back when we were getting ready to bring our two dogs down here. One of them required a rabies shot within the 10 day time frame. We called Jose and asked him about this and he said that is incorrect information Panama does not have that requirement. You simply need proof of a current rabies shot regardless of when it was done..

It can be a certified 1 or 3 year shot.

In addition, for COPA airlines you must have copies of all the pets paperwork in a zip lock bag taped to the carrier if going in Cargo, a zip lock bag of food, an approved water bottle refillable from the outside of the crate.

Bottom line: contact Jose for the most current information. He is the expert and he did an excellent job for us!

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1 hour ago, TwoSailors said:

"There is absolutely no time requirement of at least" 30 days old or not being more then one year old".  This is mis-information on some web sites."

That might have been on the Panama Embassy form years ago.  I just looked at the website, and it does not mention the age of the vaccine, just that it has to be current.  Makes sense, because a 3-year vaccine obviously would still be valid after one year.  I'm glad you found this out.  It will take some of the stress out of bringing in a pet.

 

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Jmillet,

See step 5...yes is the answer.

 

Step 5: Ten days (not earlier or later, but ten days) prior to departing the USA for Panama, go to your veterinarian, who must be federally accredited (check with the USDA and make sure your vet is federally accredited, as mentioned before). Have the vet fill out three documents:

  • the International Health Certificate (USDA Sanitary Certificate)
  • the signed rabies certificate. The rabies vaccine must be at least 30 days old, but no more than 1 year when you arrive in Panama. Puppies and kittens under 4 months old do not need a rabies certificate. The pet also must have other recommended vaccinations. The vaccine records must accompany the pet when you take it to Panama.
  • the general health certificate. This one is required by the airlines. It does not have to be sent to the embassy.

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No other vaccinations are required that I'm aware of. The absolute expert in pet immigration however, is Jose Saenz at Golden Frog. golden frog.net

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Agree with Keith.....check with Jose. He is your best bet on what is required by each airline and up to date with the changing requirements. Don't waste your time searching on the internet. The information is at times dated. As for us we had all the typical  vaccine up to date.  COPA did require  at the time. We had to email them a copy and provide another copy at Cargo check in.

 

Jose contact:

 

http://www.goldenfrog.net/

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I just imported 2 dogs and 2 cats from South Carolina, on 2 different trips 3 months apart.  The process seems overwhelming, but it wasn't too bad.  Did it all myself without paying for any special service.

The dogs flew in the belly of the plane on one trip; on the next trip, the cats flew in the cabin.  When you accompany the pets, that IS NOT considered cargo.  Cargo is when you're shipping pets.  Cargo is very expensive.  When you're accompanying the pets the cost is less.

I found American Airlines to be the cheapest for flying my dogs.  $200 per dog, when I was accompanying them.  Flying the cabin pets was a bit cheaper, $125 per cat.

The most complicated part of the transport was flying.  There are temperature parameters and temperatures in the US and Panama don't correspond, so that was tricky.

The dogs were flying in the belly of the plane and we had to change planes in Miami.  By the time we were due to arrive in Miami, the tarmac temperatures were going to be too high and therefore the dogs wouldn't be allowed to fly.  The way we got around that is, while my bags were checked straight thru to PTY, the dogs were only checked thru to Miami, where I collected them in baggage claim, watered and fed them, walked them in the Airport's doggie park, and then we waited in the air conditioned terminal until we had to go back thru security.

We had a 4 hour layover, and by the time it was time to fly again, the tarmac temps had cooled somewhat, so we were within the temperature parameters.  We were arriving at PTY at 8p.m. so there was no problem with the temps at this end.

Not all airplanes are equipped for putting animals in the belly of the plane.  So when booking a flight for animals who'll be traveling in the belly of the plane, be sure the airplane can accommodate your animal.  The airline reservationist had to search several flights until she found the flights with the "equipment" that could accommodate the dogs.

From my airplane seat I could see the cargo being loaded into the plane's belly.  I also spotted my dogs' kennels and was obviously interested in how they handled the dogs' kennels and whether they'd just toss the dogs in the cargo compartment.  I was gratified to see that they handled the dogs' kennels respectfully.

Coming thru Customs in PTY was pretty simple.  I collected the dogs in baggage claim, and brought them to the MINSA office and waited until they did their end of the paperwork.  They peeked inside the kennel, I paid the money, and we were out of there.

Before leaving Panama for the animal-transport-trips, I went to the David airport and rented a Hilux to accommodate the large kennels; paid a Panamanian acquaintance to drive to PTY to meet us, and we shared driving back to Chiriqui.  It was a win-win event.  I saved a lot of money not hiring a service, and he enjoyed driving the Hilux.  When transporting the cats, I did the same thing, only rented a Toyota SUV so the cats could ride inside the car in their kennels.  Rental companies don't permit animals in the cars, so if you bring them inside the car, be sure to keep them in the kennels so no animal hair gets on the car seats.

Paperwork requirements weren't too confusing.  The main thing is to do all the paperwork on time, for instance: the Health certificates need to be done 10 days before you travel.  If you don't live within a reasonable driving distance to the USDA-APHIS office, you have to fax or overnight those docs, including the rabies certificates to them, and get them all back so you can then send them to the Panamanian Consulate for your part of the Country for Apostille.  Then, you have to be sure to fax, or scan and email the Minsa, Home quarantine form plus the Rabies and USDA-APHIS docs to cam@minsa.gob.pa. 

The USDA-APHIS Veterinary Certificate of Health is specie specific.  There is one for dogs and one for cats.  It's actually the same form for both species, but choose the appropriate form for your animal. The form is applicable for multiple animals of the same specie, i.e. more than one dog on a USDA APHIS form.

Airlines won't transport certain breeds.  My dogs were BOTH breed mixes that couldn't be transported OR imported.  One terrier mix, and the other a pitbull mix.  NOTE: the Rabies certificate indicates the breed.  So on the Rabies certificate, my vet "re-classified" my dogs.  The Pitbull is now an Australian Heeler mix.  And the terrier, was re-classified "jack russell mix"  we just left off the word terrier.  It all worked fine.

In addition to Rabies Certificate you need the attached forms completed by the Vet:  The MINSA form for Home Quarantine is completed by you, not the Vet.  Remember, the Veterinary Health Certificate is Specie specific.  I've attached for dogs, but if you're bringing in cats, download the one for cats.

Vet Health Cert. dogs to panama.pdf

USDA Health Cert. form sm animals.pdf

MINSA Panama English.pdf

Edited by Sassy Blake
consolidated spacing
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I forgot to mention, you need to send the MINSA form 3 days before you travel.  Their hours are 8am-11pm.  You will supply your travel information on that form so they are sure to be there when you arrive with your pet(s).

also, upon arrival at PTY, you WILL have to put your animal in it's carrier thru the x-ray machine before bring it to the MINSA office.

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Great report.

We brought our dogs in on Copa over 2 years ago in Cargo. Copa provided a very good experience for us. We asked after getting in our seats the status of the dogs. Ten minutes later one of the flight attendants came by and said they were safely aboard the aircraft.

We used Golden Frog and were very happy with Jose's service. He took care of everything on the Panama end.

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I brought in my two cats, nearly two years ago, and we never sent the cats in their carriers through any X-Ray machines.  It's my understanding they are dangerous for both man and beast.  The machines are set much higher than any medical X-Ray machine, and certainly aren't tested for safety to people or animals.  We sent the empty carriers through X-Ray machines and carried the cats through the magnetometers.  In Houston, on leaving, we were taken into a separate small room in the TSA area where our cats where "frisked".  But, never ever should a pet go through an X-Ray machine.

Edited by Palo Alto Jo

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In the domestic terminal at PTY, if flying continuing on to David, security wants to X-Ray the pets in the carriers.  They don't insist, however, and it is fun for all when a cat escapes into the waiting room.  Been there, done that.

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Please, please when you take a cat through security, be sure you have put a harness and leash on it before you take it out of the carrier. There is no reason a cat should escape. Do not let them x-ray your cat. That is not meant for animals and could be harmful.

Edited by JudyS

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