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Customs brokers in Panama

On what measures are customs brokers required in Panama and in what cases do exceptions apply? All of the following is the answer given by the Panamanian government.

Customs brokers are required to ensure safe, reliable and predictable foreign trade operations, in order to comply with the functions and attributions of the customs service, in accordance with Article 5 of the Regulations of the Central American Uniform Customs Code (RECAUCA).

Among these functions and attributions are: to demand and verify compliance with the elements that determine the customs tax obligation, such as the nature, characteristics, tariff classification, origin and customs value of the goods.

Thus, it is important to have the security of qualified professionals who handle customs matters and give certainty of the content of what is declared in the different customs operations, as expressed in Article 40 of Decree Law 1 of February 13, 2008.

This decree creates the National Customs Authority and dictates provisions concerning the Customs Regime, in accordance with the prior examination contained in Article 74 of the Central American Uniform Customs Code (CAUCA), which allows the declarant to recognize his merchandise subject to declare it correctly and comply with his customs obligations (tax and non-tax).

Customs brokers

Both the regional regulation in articles 89 and 90 of the Regulations of the Central American Uniform Customs Code and the national legislation in articles 47 and 51 of the aforementioned Decree Law 1 of 2008, establish the legal representation of customs brokers to act and execute all the formalities inherent to the different customs regimes within the parameters and powers that the law allows them.

However, the law also allows the «Non-intervention of the customs broker» taxatively indicated in article 87 of the RECAUCA and the intervention of the customs broker in definitive exports, temporary export with re-importation in the same state, free zones, customs warehouse, temporary export for outward processing and temporary admission for inward processing or others regulated by law can be optional.

In the opinion of the Panamanian government, the above-mentioned regulations allow the legal representation of the customs agent for the different customs regimes.


However, they also allow dispensing with it in those cases where the rule specifically states that the use of a customs broker is not required for certain customs operations, such as small shipments of a non-commercial nature, those covered by a customs form of a Central American Free Trade Agreement, those carried out by express delivery or courier system, travelers’ baggage, relief shipments, samples of no commercial value, among others indicated in Article 87 of the RECAUCA.

Now, we consider that Panama cannot dispense, abstain, omit or eliminate customs agents in «all» trade operations, since it would generate uncertainty and legal insecurity in tax matters, therefore, the rule establishes parameters where the auxiliary must act in certain customs regimes and where the use of the auxiliary is not mandatory, the latter being a trade facilitation measure, however, without ignoring the fiscal control measures to ensure a safe and predictable trade in both directions.


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