Bringing Your Pets to Panama from the USA or Canada

Last Updated on August 10, 2023 by Retire in Panama

** For Canadians, see the bottom of the article for additional information, forms, and addresses of the Canadian agencies. **
Please take me with you . . .

So, you have decided to make the move to Panama, and now you are in the planning stages. What to do with the house, furnishings, mail forwarding, the car, and of course, the most important one, your baby (dog or cat). Pets are like family and of course you want to take them with you. Bringing a pet to Panama is actually quite simple, but it is not easy. There are many steps that you will have to follow, or you could run into problems, that you do not want to face, upon arrival with your pet in Panama.

I would highly suggest as the governments and Airlines change policies often, for you co contact the airline and each agency mentioned below, to confirm there have been no changes to the process. If you have come on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, we will always keep you updated on the changes, and we even provide some red-carpet services, for a small fee to handle the process here in Panama for you. Remember, when you arrive here, everything will be handled in the Spanish language.

Now remember, in the steps below, timing is very critical, if you do something with the wrong time frame, like vet check up at home at the wrong time, shots at the wrong time, or even arriving at the Panama City airport at the wrong time, your pet could be taken and put into Panama quarantine, and you will not see it for a several weeks, or they could be shipped back on the next flight.

Choose an airline for your flight, with a direct flight if possible. When choosing an airline, you need to check their policies first, as some airlines restrict certain breads. For the sake of your pet, please try to choose a direct flight as possible, even if you must get someone to drive you several hours to an airport that flies directly to Panama. The airlines will also have specific restrictions on carriers both for onboard and for checked. Check with the airline, and select the right per carrier.
There are almost 20 cities in North America with a direct flight to Panama City, below is the list and what airline flies that route. Make sure you are arriving in Panama when the vet is working which is Monday to Friday 9am – 3pm, and 7p,m – 10pm. If arriving at any other time, you will have to make arrangements for a Panamanian vet to be there and pay him a fee.
Scroll to the Bottom to See Direct Flight List from USA and Canada to Panama City (PTY)

Step #1 – Choose an airline and book your flight

You should be booking your flight 5 – 8 weeks out at this point, and below are the current links to the Airlines Pet policies. Please read through carefully. These are airlines that fly to Panama City (PTY) airport.

United (In 2018 United announced several new pet policies that include restricting certain breeds. United uses an exclusive 3rd Party service for pets in cargo, which can get expensive)
Spirit (Spirit DOES NOT transport pets in cargo. On board only, so they must be small)
Copa in CabinCopa in Cargo

Step #2 – Your pets’ vaccinations

You will need 2 vet appointment, usually, unless your pet already has all up-to-date vaccinations, the vaccinations must Dated 30 days before your travel date.
Your pet’s rabies vaccination must be between 30 days and 360 days from your flight time. In addition to rabies vaccine, dogs need to be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and Parvovirus. Cats need to be vaccinated against viral rinotraqueitis, calcivirus and panleucopenia.

Step #3 – Paperwork

See your vet 10 days before your travel date and get following from them. The health certificate must be dated no more then 10 days before your travel date.

Health Certificate for dogs or cats – (Up to 3 dogs or 3 cats per certificate) You can download here and bring to your vet (Canadians use This Form)
Rabies Certificate
Other Vaccinations info
Certificate of Origin. You must prove where you pet was born, if you do not have, you vet can provide

I your Vet does not file electronically with the USDA, take the Health Certificate(s), put in an overnight envelop, addressed to the USDA office at one of their offices here , and add two addressed overnight envelops inside that are addressed to the Panama Consulate and one to yourself.

If you Vet does file electronically with the USDA, send the health certificate to the Panama Consulate office below, of if you live near one, you can make an appointment and do it in person.

The Panama Consulate office is at:
2862 McGill Terrace, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

. . . and write in clear print “TRAVELING WITH PET” on the outside of the envelope that you are overnighting to them so they can process it faster ( include a $30 per document money order in the envelope payable to Consulate of Panama,) , and put the other envelope addressed to you, inside that envelope, so they return it to you.

You can use a local Panama Consulate, but the DC office is used to doing these and they will turn it around fast for you. If you have a USDA office and a Panama Consulate office in your city, you can do all of this in person, which would be great, but remember, the health certificate must be dated no more than 10 days from your arrival.

So put your self-addressed envelope folded into the Panama Embassy or Consulate envelope (with the money order) and that envelope in the USDA envelope. Here is a link to USDA offices you can use.

Your documents must be certified by the USDA, and they will take 2 days, typically, then they will forward the documents in the pre-addressed envelopes you have provided to the Panama Consulate. Within 3- 4 days of sending to the USDA, you can contact the Panama Consulate to confirm they received the envelope, and they will Apostle them for you , keep the money order ? and return them to you in the self-addressed envelope you provided. I told you, simple, but not easy.

**2021 UPDATE** Many states in the US can now electronically file with the USDA, so sending them the documents is not always necessary.  Check with your vet if they can electronically file with the USDA. You will still have to have the health certificate authenticated with the Panama Consulate.

As you see the timeline here is tight, so you need to be on it. If you start too early, outside of the 10 days, the airline will reject the paperwork when you arrive there with your pet.

Step # 4 – Apply for Home Quarantine

Without this paperwork filled in and presented when arriving in Panama, your pet will be taken away and quarantined in a Panama facility for 40 days, and you will have to pay a $10 per day fee. And you do not want this.

Fill out the form “Home Quarantine Request” (download here)

Email all completed and authenticated paperwork, to camzoonosis@gmail.com and cc cam@minsa.gob.pa. This form must be sent to the Ministry of Health authorities 3 – 5 days prior to your arrival in Panama.  DO NOT send this form to early, as it may get lost, and do not send it late.

The request must include arrival date, flight number, time, pet information and name & passport number of the person filling in the form, and length of time pet will remain in Panama.

The fee for pet importation and doctors visit is $25 per pet and for home quarantine is $130 per pet, and you will be paying this fee in US Cash (exact change) when you arrive at the Panama City Airport.

Step #5 – Travel Day

Well, the day is here, and if only pet travel was like this:

Your moving to another country, wow, stressful, but don’t forget, it is also going to be a very stressful day for your pet, especially in they cannot travel in the cabin with you. If you have traveled before with your pet on a plane, this may be easier for you. Check out the airline guides above for the requirements of the pet carrier, to make sure you don’t have problems before even getting on board.

Please see this comprehensive guide on how to choose the best dog carrier.

Step #6 – Arrival at Tocumen Airport

You will first go through Immigration, then you will pick up luggage, and go through customs, at some point during this, if your pet was travelling with you in the cabin, a friendly airport official will take you pet to another place in the airport, where you will be meeting it soon. If you pet was checked, there are probably already there.

Next you will pay the fees. This $146 ($16 for importation, and $130 for home quarantine) fee can be paid in cash, exact change, located in the customs area before entering the area to process your pet.

Then take your receipt, home quarantine paperwork (the one you faxed and email three days earlier, and all the paperwork returned to you by the Panama consulate, all original paperwork, and present to the veterinarian at the Panama Quarantine Department (Department of Zoonosis Control) at Panama Tocumen International Airport, in order to get the pet. You will also find this in the customs are before exiting customs.

It may be a good idea to write (Panama Quarantine Department (Department of Zoonosis Control)) down on a piece of paper, if you speak no Spanish, to show the bank teller, who will know what to do and help you fill in the deposit slip when you are paying the fee, and if you get lost, to ask for directions by airport staff.

Step #7 – Love on your pet!

Now get them outside to some grass, and welcome to Panama. The Panama airport is under constant construction, and I will update this article when the new International Terminal is fully operational in case they have moved anything, but as of the writing, the only grass is out the doors of Terminal 1, turn right, at the end of the terminal near the Domestic entrance, you will find some grass.

Well, you made it, bienvenido a Panamá, and the journey of your new life in Panama as just begun, with your furry friend. Don’t worry, it may be a tough day on your pet, buy they will thank you forever from bringing them with you.

Join us on a Retire in Panama Tour to find the best location for your future life in Panama for you and your pet.

Our Sister Company, Panama Expat Service, offers an end-to-end solution for Pet Relocation to Panama, from directing you with paperwork, authentications, submitting paperwork, verbally checking with authorities that they have received everything, and everything is in order and they are expecting you, meeting you the airport to assist, and transferring you, your luggage, and your precious pet(s) to your new home destination.  Inquire HERE.



Retire in Panama Tours
It’s more than a tour . . it’s an experience.


For Canadians

All the steps above are the same except replace the USDA with the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency, address below, , and get the Health certificate for your second vet visit below, and see addresses the Panama Consulate below.

Fees for the Canadian Panama Consulate are in IS dollars. US $30.00 for the first page and US $2.00 for each additional page attached to the first page.

Money Order payable to: “Embassy of Panama- Consular Section

Download Health Certificate
Find Offices for the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency here – this agency will be the first envelope, to get them to stamp, before the forward on to the Panama Consulate of your choice.

Canadian Panama Consulate Offices

Consulate of Panama in Vancouver
Park Place, 666 Burrard St, Suite 500, Vancouver, BC. V6C 3P6
Call: +1.778.370.1415
E-mail: panamaconsulatebc@outlook.com

Consulate of Panama in Toronto
4789 Yonge Street East, Suite 412, Toronto, ON M2N 0G3
Call: +1.416.651.2350
E-mail: info@consulatepanama.com

Consulate of Panama in Montreal
1425 Blvd. René Levesque Ouest, Suite 602, Montréal, QC H3G 1T7
Call: +1.514.874.1929
E-mail: consulado.pma.montreal@gmail.com

Direct flights from, USA and Canada to Panama City (PTY – Tocumen Airport)

HOUSTON – United
NEW YORK: United, Copa
NEWARK: United, Copa
CHICAGO: United. Copa
MIAMI: American, Copa
Washington Dulles – Copa

TORONTO- Air Canada &  Copa

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  1. Thank you so much for this article!!! It’s been a huge help with our move to Panama. One question though, where are you seeing “ the health certificate must be dated no more than 10 days from your arrival”? I’m not seeing that anywhere so I want to make sure I don’t mess this up. On the certificate of good health form, it says that that form is good for 30 days. Where exactly are you seeing this so I don’t mess up. I’m flying with Copa from LAX to Panama and didn’t see that with their airline either.

    I look forward to your response and thank you again for this wonderful article!

    1. Hi Joseph, the 10-day requirement is the Airlines requirements, not the Panama requirement. The most important thing to ease the stress is finding a vet to fill in the health certificate, that files electronically with the USDA, saving you a couple of days. If you need any assistance with this, or transport in Panama when you arrive, please let us know.

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