Bringing your Pet, Pet Stores and Veterinarians

Pet Stores

You can find all the usual pet products in the supermarket. For more specialty items, go to the closest Melo Pet Center ( located in Albrook Mall, Tumba Muerto, Paitilla, Obarrio, Dorado, Los Pueblos, Rio Abajo) or Animals and Pets ( Costa del Este, Via Espana, Los Pueblos).

Veterinarians

For veterinarians, there's an office in every neighborhood- ask other ex-pats or Panamanians in your neighborhood for a recommendation. Consultations are very inexpensive compared to the USA, starting at $10.

FAQ: Bringing your pets to Panama

Nobody wants to leave their favorite pet behind. It's possible whether you're planning to move to Panama as a resident or just planning a long stay as a tourist.

Can you bring your favorite pets? Yes but...

Yes, you can. However, like most countries around the world, Panama has strict rules which must be followed. Panama doesn't want sick or infectious pets coming into contact with other animals.

Here's a summary of the Immigration and Health laws and regulations pertaining to pets.

Cats & Dogs

1. Vaccination Card provided by your veterinarian

2. Sanitation Certificate also provided by your veterinarian

3. Certificate of Origin.

4. Completed Import Form (you can get one at the airport's Health or Quarantine Departments).

5. Airport Health Department reviews papers and inspects the pet.

6. $7 per day fee must be paid if your pet is quarantined by the Health Department.

7. Home Quarantine option is available for a $120 fee where you promise to keep your pet inside your home for the required time.

Exotic Pets (Birds, Reptiles, etc.)

1. Sanitation Certificate provided by your veterinarian.

2. Export Authorization by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora). Your veterinarian should provide you with their appropriate agency in your country to contact regarding this.

3. Letter of Request to the Director de Patrimonio Nacional, Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM). Phone: (507) 315-0855, Ext. 176.

This letter must include:

(a) Name, Species (common & scientific name), age, other relevant information
(b) Country Exporting from
(c) Panama as country of Import
(d) Sanitation Certificate & CITES authorization Attached

ANAM will provide an Import Authorization which must be sent to:

Departamento de Cuarentana Agropecuaria,
Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario (MIDA)
Phone: (507) 207-0703.

This department will provide the Pet's Import Permit which must be presented at the airport when your pet arrives. They will determine if your pet must be quarantined. This is when you can request the Home Quarantine option.

Your Veterinarian is Your Key

As you can see, most of the documentation of your dogs & cats will be provided by your veterinarian. As long as your pets have been properly vaccinated, sanitized, and place of birth documented; you shouldn't encounter any problems with Panama's Immigration and Health officials.

Exotic Pets Require Further Documents

Since Panama has many beautiful and exotic birds & reptiles, protecting them is a national priority. Your veterinarian can provide you with a Sanitation certificate. Obtaining CITES approval is your first step. Even with CITES approval, permission to enter ultimately rests with Panama's ANAM agency.

Cites

Obtaining a CITES authorization is the first critical step. Their website describes their function as: "All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system."

There are 2 classes of species at risk of potential extinction which CITES wishes to protect:

1. "Species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances."

2. "Species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival."

Here are the requirements by CITES for obtaining their approval based on the 2 classifications of species above:

Species 1

1. "An import permit issued by the Management Authority of the State of import is required. This may be issued only if the specimen is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes and if the import will be for purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species. In the case of a live animal or plant, the Scientific Authority must be satisfied that the proposed recipient is suitably equipped to house and care for it."

2. "An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is also required. An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained; the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species; and an import permit has already been issued."

A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and, in the case of a live animal or plant, if an import permit has been issued. In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.

Species 2

1. "An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is required. An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the Convention."

2. "In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment."

3. "No import permit is needed unless required by national law."

As you can see, CITES has strict regulations in order to protect all types of exotic species. Knowing these requirements before you begin your application process will be valuable in obtaining their permission.

Summary: Bringing in dogs and cats is a pretty standard procedure, as long as your veterinarian provides you with the appropriate documents. Exotic pets, on the other hand, will require an international organization's approval and a Panamanian agency set up to protect its natural environment.

Author Steven Rich, MBA