First off, you need to get the proper certificates and other paperwork. The Panamanian government requires that your cat or dog be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days before traveling, with the vaccinations not being more than 12 months old. Then you will need the Panama Veterinary Certificate endorsed by a USDA or CFIA accredited veterinarian, provided you are traveling from the United States or Canada. If you are coming to Panama from another country you will need the proper authorities in that country to authorize the form.
Have your veterinarian also complete a Health Certificate, showing your pet is disease free within 10 days of your departure date. You will also need a Rabies Certificate. The documents will need to be sent to the nearest Panama consulate or embassy by courier with a return envelope to be authenticated and apostilled. In addition you need a Certificate of Origin, showing where the animal was born.
From the Panama Airport’s Health or Quarantine Departments obtain and fill out the Completed Import Form.
Once you arrive at the airport, Panama’s Airport Health Department will validate your paperwork, inspect your pet, and collect the entry fee for the animal. The airport vets work from 9 am to 3 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm on weekdays, so if you arrive on the weekend or during a time when the vet is not normally working, you will need to schedule for a vet to meet your flight. This should be done beforehand through the Panama Ministry of Health or the Panama Agriculture Ministry and it does cost extra. If you do not make arrangements beforehand your pet will have to stay at the airport until a vet is available to exam him.
Panama requires that upon arrival dogs and cats be quarantined for 40 days. While you can pay $10 a day for the Panama Health Department to take care of your pet during this period, the more popular choice is the Home Quarantine program. You can apply with the Panama Ministry of Health at least 14 days beforehand to promise to keep your pet inside the home for the required 40 days. For the application you will need to provide your arrival date, flight number, time, pet information and the name and passport number of the adult responsible for the pet. You will also need to stipulate how long the pet will be in Panama. The cost for the Home Quarantine program is $130 and must be paid at the Banco Nacional de Panama in the airport terminal. For your pet to be released you must present all the documentation to the airport authorities, along with the bank receipt for the Home Quarantine program.
Panama is strict with their requirements for pets. Failure to comply can mean refusal of entry and return to country of origin, so make sure you have everything you need to get your pet safely to Panama.