Buying and Selling a New Car in Panama

Information on the paperwork and processes involved when buying a new car in Panama...

New cars in Panama are generally sold by dealerships, where the sticker price (or Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) is often less flexible than elsewhere. Dealerships often keep their cars at the shipping port until they are purchased because of import taxes and fees, which means that they usually do not have a wide selection of new cars on display in their showrooms.

Buying a New Car

To purchase a car, the buyer needs to provide a residence card or c├ędula as proof of identity and legal residence in Panama.

When purchasing a new car with a bank loan, the buyer has to provide a cash deposit, which reserves the car while the paperwork is completed.

The car dealership handles the ownership transfer.


Cars may not leave the dealership without insurance as all vehicles in Panama must have at least a third-party insurance policy. To get car insurance a buyer must have a permanent address in Panama; a housing contract constitutes proof of residential address.

  • Notarised copy of the car loan approval notice (if applicable)
  • Notarised copy of the car proposal (propuesta) from the bank that approved the car loan
  • Proof of purchase
  • Photographs of the vehicle, which should include, but are not limited to:
    • The engine
    • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
    • All four sides of the car
    • The interior and the dashboard showing the odometer

Note: The more photographs that the buyer can provide, the better.