Traveling with a Dog to Panama is not as hard as it might seem!
Traveling with a dog to Panama is not as hard at it seems. And, might we add, the effiort needed to ensure everything goes smoothly, is TOTALLY worth it.
Last August, my humans packed up our bags and decided to spend two weeks in Panama exploring its beaches, jungles, waterfalls and all-around natural beauty. Below, are the steps they took to ensure that the travel in-and-out of the country was as easy as barking woof!
Steps to Traveling With A Dog to Panama:
3 Months Before Your Flight
Leptospirosis Vaccination – has your dog been vaccinated against Lepto? If the answer is yes, then you can skip this step. If the answer is no then call your vet ASAP. Your dog will need to have his/her first vaccination at least 3 months before the trip. The Letpo vaccine, when given for the first time as an adult pup, will need to be administered twice. The first shot 3 months prior to the trip, and a booster approximately 2 weeks after the first shot.
10 Days Before Your Flight
Health Certificate – within 10 days of your flight (I recommend going quite literally, on the 10th day before your flight), visit your USDA accredited Veterinarian so they can do a physical on your pup and fill out a Health Certificate. This basically just states that your dog is in good health for travel. You will need to get the health certificate signed by the USDA right after, so make sure to keep the documentation handy.
9 Days Before Your Flight
USDA Endorsement – If you have a nearby USDA office, I recommend making an appointment in advance to have them sign your pups Health Certificate (I would make the appointment for the 9th day before travel, literally, the day after your vet fills out the health certificate).
With an appointment the whole thing will take less than 30 minutes. If you do not make an appointment, you can walk in and wait until they call your turn. This can take all day, depending on how busy of an office you happen to pick.
If you do not have a USDA office nearby, I believe there are options where you can mail your paperwork in, but remember you will have to expedite the process since at this point, you are within the 10 days of your travel, AND…you still need to get sign off by a Panamanian Diplomatic office.
8 Days Before Your Flight
Panamanian Diplomatic Sign Off – if you live in a city that has a Panamanian Embassy or Consulate, I recommend going on the 8th day before travel. Most do not take appointments, rather you just walk in. You will have to leave the Health Certificate, the USDA signed Paperwork and a Cashier’s check (important: they do not accept checks of cash) for overnight approval.
The very next day, you can go back and pick up all of the paperwork that you now have for travel: Health Certificate, USDA endorsement/receipts, Panamanian Embassy/Consulate forms. Keep all of these with you during the duration of your trip, you will need them once you get to the airport in Panama. (tip: keep EVERYTHING together, you never know!)
If you live in a state that doesn’t have a Panamanian diplomatic office, the health certificate can be signed by the Office of Authentications located in Washington, D.C. Only they can issue apostilles. For more information, visit their website. click here.
3 Days Before Your Flight
Panama Notification & Submission of Home Quarantine – 3 days before your flight, you will need to email the Ministry of Health in Panama to let them know you and your pup are coming, and that you are filing to have a Home Quarantine for your pup. You need to fill out this form and submit it along with photo proof of all of the documents you have filled out up until this point. They will get back to you and confirm that all is set for your arrival.
The Day of Your Arrival
Final Check & Clearance – after you get your bags, but before you are able to leave the Panamanian airpot, you will have to head over to the Vet/Immigration office where they will collect the entrance fee for your pup (tip: take about $200USD in cash) and will do a final inspection of your pup and all the paperwork. The whole process takes about 45 minutes and the people are very friendly.
Tips & Tricks, Things to Remember:
- Make sure to call your Airline as soon as you know your travel plans and let them know you are traveling with a dog. We go into detail about airline travel with a dog, here.
- Always make sure to keep all your documentation handy. It is better to be prepared, than to be sorry!
- if your visit to Panama is for less than 3 weeks, then you do not have to do anything to be able to leave with your pet back to the USA. (please confirm the rules/procedures if you are from another country).
- If you are planning to stay more than 3 weeks in Panama, you’ll have to follow a series of steps to ensure proper exit. Notice, your paperwork is only valid for 30 days. We are not sure what goes into this process, but we figured we would let you guys know!
As you can see from my photos, Panama is TOTALLY worth the paperwork.
We had such an unbelievable time, we cannot wait to go back. We hope that this step by step list, as well as the images we have shared, have convinced you to go visit Panama.
If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know! Much love to you all – xoxo, Hami