Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taking an Animal Out of Panama

Are you making a trip to the United States or some other country and planning to take your pet? Panama requires that you complete certain procedures and get a license (naturally). Your destination country may have its own requirements but here's what you have to do to satisfy Panama's bureaucratic muckety-mucks.

You need two documents from a veterinarian in Panama:

Vaccination card showing that all vaccinations (especially rabies) are up to date.
General certificate of health.These documents must be dated within ten days of your departure. In other words, if you get them one month before your departure they will not be valid.

Make a copy of each document, and take it to the government office called Ventanilla Unica. This office is in Edison Plaza at the corner of Via Brasil and the Tumba Muerto in Panama City. The office is on the Via Brasil side, a few doors down from Mango restaurant. The words "Ventanilla Unica" are written in large letters on the window. You must pay to park in this lot.

By the way, if you haven't had a chance to make copies of your documents you can do it at the pharmacy a few doors down from the Ventanilla Unica office.

Tell the clerk in the Ventanilla Unica office that you want a "licencia de exportacion." The clerk will give you a form to fill out and a payment slip for the $5 fee. You must take the payment slip to the Banco Nacional, also in Edison Plaza, at the corner, in the base of the tall conical building. The line in the bank is often quite long, unless you are a jubilado in which case there is a shorter line. Wait in line there and then present the slip and your $5 to the teller, who will give you the yellow copy. Take that back to the Ventanilla Unica clerk, along with all your documents including the form that he gave you to fill out. Hand the documents over to him and he will tell you to wait until he calls your name.

Have a seat and be prepared to wait. The clerk will eventually call you up and give you a yellow paper titled, "Licencia fito-zoosanitaria de exportacion." Check the information on the paper and make sure it is correct. If so, you are done. You now have a license to take your pet out of the country.

Of course you should also notify your airline and make all appropriate arrangements with them. Continental Airlines, Copa and TACA allow dogs and cats in the cabin as long as they weigh 15 pounds or less. They must be able to stand and turn around within the carrier.

P.S. The dog in the photos is Molly, a rottweiler from Wales that adopted these two lambs.

Update August 25, 2008: I have completed my trip to the United States with Lil Fishy, my cat. No one asked to see any of my paperwork whatsoever. Really. But of course you have to have it, just in case someone does ask for it.

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