Whatsapp   Panama Panamá +50762197664   Perú Perú +51920301745   Venezuela Venezuela +58 4241153525
Panama Panamá +50762197664
Perú Perú +51920301745
Venezuela Venezuela +58 4241153525

Services / Customs Brokerage

Flete Maritimo


All importers and exporters require the support and advice of a good customs agent that can be counted on to reduce customs duties within the maximum legal limits using the benefits of commercial agreements, (Free Trade Agreements, EUR1, etc.), that exist between countries, (please read through this completely for more information on this topic).


Import taxes will repeatedly mark the differentiating factor for the product to be commercialized profitably or at loss, requiring a dependable customs broker, who will provide the customer with advice and guide him through this vital stage of the international transport operation.


Our Customs Brokerage department in each of our offices at Panamá, Perú and Venezuela are continuously updating their knowledge of customs matters, thus ensuring that our clients enjoy the benefits of Free Trade Agreements obtaining reduction of import taxes and the maximization of benefits.


To expand you knowledge about the costs that influence transport, we suggest you read our freight calculation article in order to complement the customs process to have a complete picture freight-calculator-and-freight-types /




  • What is the customs clearance process or what does a customs broker perform?

Simply, all customs brokers ensure that impoters and exporters register in customs the arrival or departure of goods or products at the lowest cost possible.


  • When is it necessary to use a customs broker?


When the cost of the goods being imported exceeds USD 2.000 although each country/Common Market has it’s own regulations,


  • Why is it important to be able to count on a good customs agent?

The simple answer is to reduce as much as possible the investment in import duties and processes, although, there are various aspects which we will expand on.


1 Avoid extra costs

When a merchandise arrives to a customs zone, called port, customs warehouse etc,. Costs start to be incurred such as storage, container demurrage/detention which if the customs agent is not quick and diligent in obtaining the release of the goods from this area will result in rapidly increasing additional costs for importer or exporter.


2 Import Duties

Every merchant wants his product to have the lowest costs possible so that the final customers can purchase it. Import tariffs (taxes placed by the each country/common market) directly affects the final price of the product, these can vary from 0% to 30% and in some cases if the country/common market to which the goods are being imported is protecting its local Industry these tariffs can reach 100% of the cost of the product, all customs agents must classify correctly within the customs tariff and look for the classification that best benefits the customer which may determine the feasibility of the business and that it is profitable


  • What are Duties and when are they applied?

Duties are taxes imposed by the each country/common market for the entry of a product into its territory. In most countries/common markets customs duties are paid only for IMPORTS, while exports generally pay only a slight export rate for customs processing.


  • What does the import tariffs set by the each country/common market depend on?


1 Protection of local industry.

We will explain this with an example:


Say X country/common market produces a great amount of oranges, thus if any importer wants to introduce oranges from a another country/common market the import tariffs for this product will be relatively very high, because the local government will prioritize their local producers.


2 Trade agreements or agreements between countries, the so-called FTAs (Free Trade Agreements)

Let’s say country/common market A has an excess orange production, however it lacks bananas, in contrast, country/common market B ha excess bananas but a shortage of oranges…… These countries/common markets reach an consensus and set up a mutual cooperation agreement in order to import these products at low cost because they require them and do not produce them locally.


In general these agreements take years because not only one product is reviewed, but a list of goods are considered and of course each party seeks to benefit as much as possible.


  • What is the customs tariff?

PIC calls it the customs broker’s bible, it looks like telephone books used to be, (thick), where all the possible products that exist in the world are catalogued under classifications which indicate the import duties to be paid for the product.


The first few digits in a customs tariff are the same worldwide ensuring that all countries speak the same customs language.


Remember to read our freight calculation section to complement this information.


  • What should an importer or exporter focus on when reating the services of a CUSTOMS BROKER?

We’ll answer this question starting with what the customer shouldn’t focus on: NEVER focus on reducing the customs brokers fees.

The customer should focus on obtaining the best advise from the customs broker to reduce duties to a mínimum by seeking the best import tariff and avoiding unnecessary costs and expenditures in a customs zone.


  • What should be considered BEFORE purchasing a product?

The keyword here is BEFORE, it is very important to check to see if all the required documents and permits are at hand in order to import a product into the destination country/ common market, otherwise the extra costs will leave you without any profit.


  • What products require a special permit for their import or export?


Below are a list of products that generally require special permits, if you don’t see yours please consult your customs broker:



  • Liquor
  • Tobacco products
  • Medicines
  • Agricultural products such as herbicides and similar products
  • Veterinary products
  • Vehicles
  • Merchadise considered radioactive o dangerous goods
  • Firearms, explosives, ammunition and related goods
  • In some countries/coomon markets all products that have batteries, such as cell phones, toys, etc.
  • Peru requires additional documents for toys because they are considered toxic for children
  • Trade mark protected merchandise.


  • Which documents are required to clear customs?


Generally the required documentation is:

Commercial invoice

Packing list

Transport document, for ocean transport it is called Bill of Lading or B/L and for air transport air way Bill or AWB.


Additional documents may be required later in the customs clearance process depending on the country/common market and/or product:


  • Certificate of origin
  • Laboratory Analysis Certificate
  • Technical data sheet
  • Government permits that regulate certain products
  • Patent license for products with trade mark protected merchandise

Some countries require a notarized power of attorney appointing the customs agent as the importer’s/exporter’s representative.


 Additional permits that must be obtained if any of the following products are to be customs cleared, (if the product is not listed consult your customs broker)


It is important to note that in certain cases permits may take up to six (6) months to obtain which is why we strongly suggest to inquire about possible permit requirements before starting the import process


In Panama some of the import government permits are:


Aupsa, for all related foodstuffs and beverages products

Farmacia y Drogas, for medicines and biopolymers; medicinal drugs,

Alcohol and tobacco.

Cuarentenafor Wood, compressed cardboard

Vicomex, the agency where exports must be registered


In Peru some of the import government permits are:


Digesafor all related foodstuffs and beverage products for humen consumption

Digemid – Minsafor all pharmaceutical, health products and/or medical devices

Senasafor all agricultural and vegetable products

Sucamecfor all explosives and firearms

Ministerio de Transporte y Comunicaciones for telecommunications equipment



The venezuelan government has granted the exoneration of import tariffs to many products which are detailed in the federal register  (Gaceta Oficial)



Please remember to review our article where we recommend what must be considered to perform a secure export


  • Free Trade Agreements and Commercial Agreements


Keep in mind that these agreements help to reduce import duties and to always request advice to from your customs broker, as the agreements depend on the product’s origin country/ common market with which there is an agreement as long as the certificate of origen is presented. It is important to note that not in every case the application of an agreement is beneficial as in some instances it may increase the tariff, (remember it is always best to request advice from your customs broker)


Panama has the following agreements in place


  • Central American countries
  • Peru
  • Canada
  • USA
  • Chile
  • Singapore
  • Mexico
  • Taiwan
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic


Please see more information by clicking on the following link and also on


Peru has the following agreements in place:


Peru currently has fifteen (15) comercial agreements, either regional or bilateral with the following countries:


  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • South Korea
  • Cuba
  • Ecuador
  • USA
  • Honduras
  • Iceland
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Paraguay
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Uruguay
  • European Union


For more information and to know the details of each agreement  ou may check out this link:



  • What duties must be paid?

Some misunderstandings are prevalent and some customers think that duties are paid to the customs broker or agent, while the duties actually go straight to the government agency that controls customs tariffs/duties


Panama - Tesoro Nacional (National Treasury)

Venezuela - SENIAT (operates under the Finance Ministry)

Peru - Sunat


In customs there is what is the so called CIF value, which means:


C = Cost(of the Product(s))

I = Insurance(covering the merchandise and freight costs. If no insurance was taken the government will all the same calculate and apply to the value declared customs value 1% on the cost and freight.)

F = Freight, (transportation cost)


In most cases the customs clearance costs consist of


Import duties, which as previously indicated es the percentage reflected in the customs tariff.

Taxes, VAT, IGV or IVA or ITBMS (they all have the same meaning but change their name or abbrevation depending on each country but it is the local sales tax. Currently in Panama it is 7% , in Peru 18% (16% of IGV and 2% of IPM) and in  Panama the 7% taxi s known as ITBMS


  • Which costs must be considered to perform a succesful operation?


As oreviously indicated remember it is always best to request advice from your customs broker to avoid delays and extra costs.


Origin country costs: Will depend on the negotiation made with the supplier who is selling the producto, (commercial term or INCOTERM)


  • Customs broker export fees
  • Transport from the factory or origin port warehouse
  • Origin terminal costs
  •  International Freight: Ocean, Air or Land


Destination Costs:  

  • Customs bróker import fees
  • Import customs duties
  • Transport from the Port or port warehouse to the buyers warehouse or premises.


To expand on this information please read our ocean transport section or air transport section depending on your requirement.




Importaciones Grupales