If you are going to use Barwil to ship from Panama Colombia, we have detailed instructions for shipping your car in Panama and picking it up in Colombia.
Barwil Shipping from Panama to Colombia
Procedure in Panama
Location of Barwil Office
Once you decide where and when you want to ship your car, Barwil will provide a 'International Bill of Lading.' Using your car title, passport, bill of lading, and vehicle import permit (and 5 photocopies of each) you will need to get permission from the police and Panama to export your car. The permission should not cost anything. This involves two steps and often takes a full day (or two) so be sure to bring some good reading material. First you will go to the Direccion de Investigacion Judicial of the National Police to get the vehicle inspected. As a forewarning, this is not in the nicest neighborhood. The process seems somewhat disorganized and arbitrary, but it's likely best if you sit in their office and remind the police of your presence if it looks like you're being forgotten. The police will examine your paperwork to make sure it matches the vehicle, and let you know when they have prepared the inspection papers. This paper will be brought over to the Secretaria offices across the street to be examined again by Interpol before your final police permission is granted. You will then need to wait in the second building again, before filling out some last paperwork to receive your final permit. The vehicle permit is only valid for 8 days.
Location of Police Inspection Offices
Vehicle permit in hand, you can pay Barwil (cash or certified check only) for the shipment. You can have your car 'stuffed' in the cargo container up to 1 week before the ship leaves the port without paying any additional fees. After driving the car to Colon, you first need to stop at the customs office to present the paperwork and be granted permission to enter the shipping area. Permission in hand, you can drive your car to the port, have it 'stuffed' in the container, and you will seal the container yourself. An inspection of the car will also be made in case any damage is done to the car during transit. There is a $600 limit on any damage claims without supplemental insurance. Also, if you are using a container, you might want to clarify with Barwil that you do not want to pay any deposit for the container. Otherwise, when you get to Colon, in order to retrieve your initial papers from the agency there, they will demand a deposit, which will most likely (contrarily to what they will say) be partly kept for cleaning and repairs. Barwil should take care of this.
Location of Port in Colon
Costs in Panama: $750/car, 2 cars in a 40 foot shipping container. Includes departure permits, 'stuffing' fee, ocean freight charge, stuffing materials, and any port fees. $9/car customs/port charge paid in Manzanillo Port in Colon.
Procedure in Colombia
At Barwil in Panama, they gave us quite detailed instructions as to how this process should work. They are included here, but we've also written our personal experience, since it seemed to vary quite a bit from the official version. Official version:
After retrieving the original bill of lading from the Colombia offices, you will go to the customs offices in the Barrio Manda. In the Exterior Commerce Division, you will fill out your temporary vehicle import form, and customs will assign the inspector. At the 'Muelles el Bosque,' in the Centro de Documentos, you can then request the customs inspection and port fee invoice. At the Centro de Operaciones you can verify the exact location of your vehicle, and then visit the 'Dian' or customs office in Muelles el Bosque to meet your previously assigned inspector. After the inspection of your car, the inspector will sign your form which you will then need to bring back to the Dian in Barrio Manda to obtain the vehicle release (levante in spanish). Bring the levante back to the Centro de Documentos in Muelles El Bosque and go to the document cashier to receive the vehicle exit form (planilla de salida del vehiculo). With the vehicle exit form, go to the Centro de Operaciones and claim the vehicle. For your guidance, you can hire a customs broker in Colombia to help with this process, but this is not necessary.
Bring lots of reading material, since you will spend a lot of time waiting around. First you will need to head to the Barwill offices in Barrio Manga (cab drivers will be able to take you there for about $3), you will have to pay $45 to retrieve your Bill of Lading. They will also be able to tell you at these offices where your car is, so you can start the somewhat frustrating process of getting your car back. With the Bill of Lading, head to the port authority with copies of your passport, the stamp (or 'sello') you got when you entered Colombia, and your vehicle tite. The port authority is called 'DIAN,' and again, cab drivers will be able to take you there (it's not far from Barrio Manga). These documents will be processed at the DIAN in order to get your temporary vehicle import document. With this document you can now get SOAT, the mandatory vehicle insurance in Colombia. You need to bring this document to the actual port (again, the cab drivers will be able to find it) to get an 'acta de inspecion' for the car. Make copies of all of these and then head back to the DIAN, where they will keep a copy of the 'acta' and will sign your temporary vehicle import document. Head back to the port with the signed form, and they will likely give you more forms that require copies of your passport, Colombia stamp, and receipts. With all of these forms signed and ready, you are now ready to open your container and retrieve your car. This may take a day or two, as the port claimed that they couldn't get our container that day, and would have to come back another day when they could retrieve the container. You need to wear closed-toe shoes in order to enter the port area, and they may ask for 'proof of insurance' not for you, but for your car. We simply showed them an official document that was our health insurance document, and they seemed satisfied. They will give you a badge, hard hat, and reflective vest, and lead you to your container. They will unseal the container and drive the cars out. They will then do an interior and exterior inspection of the cars, and begin to process your inspection paperwork. They gave us more paperwork that we then brought to 'servicio al clientes' or client services. They claimed it would cost us extra since we didn't leave the keys in the car and couldn't move the cars themselves. We called their bluff and let them know that Barwil in Panama said we should keep the keys, and they reduced the price. They then gave us a receipt that we had to pay a the 'caja' which was conveniently closed for 2 hours for lunch. After paying, we received the 'Suelta de Importacion,' 'Notificacion del Proceso de Autorizacion', and 'Documento de Radicacion.' With this last document, our passport, and the keys, we finally could get the car. They gave us a last set of documents, which we handed over at the checkpoint on the way out. 4 days later, many confused half Spanish/English conversations later, we finally had the cars.
Costs in Colombia: $45/car for to retrieve the bill of lading $40/car for port fees
Panama City Office
Evelyn Batista, Sales Supervisor
Galerias Balboa, Suite 35
Ave. Balboa-Aquilino de la Guardia
PO Box 0843-01562
Panama, Republic of Panama
Mary Carmen Pinel or Giovanna Mark
Documentacion y Servicio al Cliente
Avenida Pedro Velez #48-14
In Cartagena there is a customs agent that we found very helpful. It's a small family business
named Enlace Caribe. Luis and Sonja are the owners. They charged about $200 and were well worth
the money. Don't try to do the formalities yourself unless you speak Spanish.
They took care of and interfaced with all the customs and other formailities. They transported us to and from the port. Made both the entry to Columbia (going south) and the exit from Columbia (coming north) very easy.
Luis Ernesto La Rota R. Enlace Caribe Ltda. Manga, 3a. Avenida No. 26-47, Of. 103 Cartagena, Colombia Ph +57 (5) 660 8960 Mob + 57 315 758 5872 www.enlacecaribe.com