Postal and Forwarding Services in Panama
Information about postal services in Panama: how to receive and send mail, and how to get a post office box...
There are no standardized addresses in Panama, no postal/area codes and no organized postal system. For this reason most expatriates and Panamanians find it easier and more reliable to set up a post office box in Miami and have mail delivered from there by a mail company.
Air Box Express, Air Facility, and Mail Boxes, Etc send and receive mail. Air Box Express delivers mail and packages directly to the home. Mail Boxes Etc. receives them at their location, where they can be picked up. Most companies charge an annual fee and may charge additionally by weight. These companies can forward regular mail, but may also handle online purchases; the U.S. P.O. box can be used as the shipping address and it is then forwarded.
To ship a package to North America or Europe there are several shipping companies such as DHL or FedEx that offer services. Packages generally arrive within a day or two. Rates vary depending on company.
The central Panama City post office (Correos y Telégrafos) is open Monday to Saturday from 09:00-15:00, and is located in Calidonia in front of the Don Bosco church (Tel: 512 7601). It costs 35 cents to send a letter or a postcard that weighs less than 20 grams. Mail to North America or Europe takes 10 to 30 days. There are options for sending things faster, but they are considerably more expensive. Incoming mail can take considerably longer and is unreliable.
Receiving Mail in Panama
To receive mail locally it is possible to get a local post office box, called an apartado, which can receive mail from within Panama and overseas. It generally takes about 10 days to receive mail from the U.S., possibly longer from Canada or Europe. To apply, go to a local post office in January and ask if any are available. If one is available a simple form must be filled out and proof of identity must be provided (passport or identity - cedula - card).
However, free boxes are rare and the applicant is generally put on a waiting list. These lists are indefinite and move slowly; it can take months or even years before receiving a box. Addresses for apartados can vary slightly, but the name of the box holder is required, there should be a four digit code that indicates the area of Panama followed by the number of the postal box, for example:
- Apartado Postal 1234, 1-A, Ciudad de Panama, Panama or
- Apto. Postal 1234-1 or
- Apto. Postal 1234, Zona 1
Mail sent to a residential address may arrive if the post office can figure out the address. However, this is risky as it could easily be left at the wrong address or left outside in weather, and if it does arrive, it may take around six months.