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All the info you need for traveling with a dog from the USA to Panama

A dog sitting on the deck

The first time we traveled with our dog from the USA to Panama, we were completely unaware of ALL the steps required. We thought it would be the same as traveling between Canada and the United States. It definitely wasn’t! We actually had to push back one of our flights to make sure we had all of our paperwork in order as we hadn't allowed ourselves enough time to complete the required steps.

The process felt very tedious and slightly confusing. There was so much information online and to be honest, left me feeling very overwhelmed.

Now having got through the process twice, we wanted to document it and share it with the world in case there's anyone else out there who might need it one day.

Traveling with dog in airport

So, what's the process?

Here are the steps:

  1. Visit the Vet

Make an appointment with the vet and let them know you will be traveling to Panama. Ideally, you will do this months ahead of your departure date to make sure your pet has all of their vaccinations and is considered ‘healthy’ to travel, and meets all the requirements for entry into Panama. Some shots may require multiple doses, so do this EARLY.

2. Get a travel certificate from the vet

This certificate will cost you approximately $250. Some of the vets we called were as high as $500, so definitely shop around. Also, keep in mind that only certain vets provide travel health certificates, so make sure you find one that does. The travel certificate can only be prepared 10 days in advance of your travel date.

3. USDA Approval

Once your certificate is prepared by the vet, they will send it by mail (at your expense) to the USDA for approval ($40 + postage). This can only be done 10 days before your flight. Make sure your certificate is shipped the fastest way possible and with tracking.

4. Get the travel certificate authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate

Once you receive your approved travel certificate back from the USDA, expedite it to the nearest Panamanian consulate. Send it with a pre-addressed envelope back to you along with a money order for $30. Again, make sure you ship it fastest way possible and with tracking. On the outside of the envelope, in clear print, write "TRAVELING WITH PET" so it can be processed as quickly as possible.

Before I send it in the mail, I take a picture of it for my records...and in case anything were to happen to it.

5. Notify the Panamanian Government

Send an email to the Panamanian government and the Zoonosis Control Department 3-5 days in advance of your arrival and let them know when you’re arriving (flight info) and provide scanned copies of all paperwork (passport, travel health certificate and home quarantine request form).

Note: I usually send this BEFORE I receive the authenticated travel certificate from the Panamanian Consulate to make sure they are aware of my arrival and to stay within the 3-5 days in advance. Once I received the authenticated form, I send a follow up email with the update digital form.

In order to take your dog with you upon arrival you will need to request home quarantine ($130) + inspection/importation license ($25), otherwise they will keep your dog in a government facility for 40 days.

6. Book a Flight for your Pet

When you want to book your flight, call the airline first and make sure there is space for your pet in cabin BEFORE you book the flights. Once you know there is room on the flight, then you can proceed to book your flights. After, call the airline back to officially add your pet onto the flight (approx. $125)

If your pet needs to go in cargo or under the plane, you’ll need to explore that info as I'm not familiar with it.

7. Upon Arrival in Panama

Once you arrive in Panama, you will be met by some officials to check your pet, to process your paperwork and payments required.

Below, you will find a few resources that helped me along the way.

These links also contain the Home Quarantine Request Form, the email addresses required for your arrival to Panama and more.

If you have any questions about the process, please ask below!

All the best in your travels!

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