Transferring the Title of the Car

We bought a bigger car. We love our Atos but with me playing in the band, even with the drummer carrying some of our equipment, it was really difficult to manage. My neighbor wanted a smaller car since she is retiring, so we bought her Mitsubishi Montero. It looks like a beast but it sure is great to have plenty of space for band equipment, and it really is a nice car to drive.

We transferred titles before but they were local. This is Panama so of course it requires paperwork, and copies, and more copies, and visits to various offices but it’s not that big a deal. This car, however, is registered in Panama City so the process must be done there.

My neighbor knew someone in Dolega who helped her in the past with cars registered in Panama City, so this morning off we went. We asked, he wasn’t in. We asked again, and got his phone number. Lucho called and learned the guy was out sick, but we could prepare everything he needed and he’d take care of things when he returned to work.

Lucho got copies of all the car documents and two copies of both of our cedulas (an ID card like a social security number card).  Haydee wrote out a statement giving the guy permission to do this process on our behalf. The statement included everything – date, location, names, car type, model, VIN number, chassis number, color, fuel type, transmission type, number of passengers, etc. etc. our signatures, cedula numbers, and it involved three more phone calls to the guy to be sure it had everything right. We needed two of these signed by both of us.

Then, we saw the notary. She inspected all the documents, took our cedulas, put a big stamp on the permission statements and filled in more info on us in the stamp. $40 (my neighbors thought this was awfully high). Then, Lucho was sent back to the copy line for copies of the documents that had been notarized.

Next we went to another office. The lady there inspected all the documents, requested more copies of our cedulas, and disappeared to her desk. We waited probably 30-40 minutes for her to return with the receipt and declare everything ready to go. The whole process took over two hours, but it’s sure better than both of us having to go to Panama City!

It cost $122 for this service, $50 of which was fees for the car, what it would have cost if we did it ourselves. $72 more to avoid the hassle of going to the city? Yes, very good, happy to pay. There was also the $40 for the notary and who knows how many $.15’s for copies. But, it’s done! The paperwork should be back by the end of the month and then everything will be squared away.

Cars here are registered in specific locations so when it’s time to renew and get new plates for the year, I either have to go through a process to get the car registered in David or Dolega, or use this service again to get it done in Panama City. I think I’ll probably change the location since this is a car we expect to keep for a long time. When you need plates for a local car it’s a simple process.

Our Hyundai Atos will be for sale soon. It’s been to the mechanic for maintenance and inspection, and next it goes to the body shop for some dent repair and new paint, nothing major but this tropical sun has been tough on the paint. It’s a great car for around town, easy to drive, doesn’t use much gas, parks in a small space but doesn’t feel small when you are in it. If you are looking for something like that let me know. Oh, and it’s registered in Dolega, not far, in an office that’s easy to get to.

You can expect a lot of things to take time here, and involve lots of documents and copies but if you bring your patience, it always gets done.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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8 Responses to Transferring the Title of the Car

  1. chugwa says:

    Kris very well written again we know what a hassle it can be


  2. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    Try getting married! haha
    We were married in 1970 in a church in the then US canal zone. Then we were married in a civil ceremony in the canal zone. Last, we registered the marriage in Panama City. At each stage, I had 6 copies of everything (5 of which I still have?!), and every copy was required to be on legal paper with $2 timbres attached. I think the coronation of Queen Elizabeth was done with less paper. If one can last through all that, the marriage part is easy.

    I do think there is a plus side to all the processing of legal matters. It does make one think twice about buying a new car every year or deciding to get married. No one would go through all that paperwork if it can be avoided.


  3. Marty says:

    Sounds like visit to the local DMV office (Secretary of State) here in Illinois!





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