How to Buy a Car in Panama

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#1 Thu, 07/25/2013 - 19:18

How to Buy a Car in Panama

We're sure there is a definitive post about buying an American car while in Panama (or another Central American country with similar laws) but we haven't been able to find it. Can anyone point us to a checklist of things we'll have to get sorted out? The car we're interested in is from California, we are from New York. 

Thanks so much, Ian and Magda

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 11:17

The only thing I know about

The only thing I know about that is that you'll need a lawyer to sort the paperwork out and arange everything with the regostration.

So once you found the lawyer he posibly can tell you more about buying a car.

Costa rica seems easy with that but the government take's a lot of tax from the seller.

good luck!

Tue, 07/30/2013 - 10:41

You only need a custom broker

We just assist a client that do the same thing that you and he will do the shipping next will need a custom broker that tramit the paperwork and make the clrearing for the car.


Any aditional question let me know


[email protected]

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 15:56

We bought a car in Panama!


We bought a car in panama.

Read our story on and if you have any question feel free to shout!



Wout and Lucy

Tue, 08/13/2013 - 17:18 (Reply to #4)

Thanks Wout and Lucy! We were

Thanks Wout and Lucy! We were wondering if the whole process could be done on the border. Or would we have to go to Panama City to process the papers. We are in Costa Rica right now and it looks like we would have to pay lots of taxes here so we were thinking of going to panama instead and do the title transfer there. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!

magda and Ian 

Fri, 08/23/2013 - 16:14



You can't do this on the border. There is a Aduana office in David as well, where  we were stuck for 3 days because we didn't have the right papers. The aduana in Panama City said it couldn't be done, but it can. You need a notorised bill of sale, which then needs to be brought to the Aduana for them to approve the sale and change the name on the permesso. Not doing so will bring you a world of pain and probably, like us, 3 days stuck without being able to cross the border.

We hope everything goes well.


Wout and Lucy

Thu, 09/12/2013 - 06:01


Hi Wout and Lucy,

We are in the process of selling our American van in Panama city to another traveller that is not changing the plates also. Any help would be much appreciated! Where is the notary office in Panama city that you went to? How did the seller get the vehicle stamp out of his passport? I am assuming the aduana, or does the lawyer sort this also? Do you think the aduana in Panama city will recognise this?

Thanks in advance