Buying/Selling a Car in Panama City

Buying/Selling a Car in Panama City
Posted by: “Bob” rtaskew
Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:51 am (PDT)

Here’s the overview:
– The buyer and seller make the deal (price, payment arrangements, bill of sale, etc.)
– If the seller has a loan, the loan must be paid off and the title liberated by the lending institution.
– The title document (called Registro Unico de Propieded Vehicular … issued by the ATTT, the Ground Transportation Authority) must be put in the new owner’s name.

Some people hire a facilitator, but you can do the title change yourselves. It is a 3-step process:

1. With documentation and copies of the documentation (personal ID documentation — cedula or passport if not Panamanian; and vehicle documentation (old title, current revisado, etc.) both the seller and buyer go to one of the Municipio offices … I use the one in Balboa next to the Niko’s Cafeteria.

Note that the Municipio and the ATTT are tied together with the process of vehicle titling, annual inspection and plate renewal so the first step is with the Municipio. Cost here about twenty-something bucks.

After this step the seller is done.

2. Make a deposit of $20 at a Banco Nacional (there’s a branch in Balboa not far fm Niko’s and the Municipio)into the account of the ATTT. The Banco Nacional branches usually have a filled-out example at the desk where the deposit slips are kept.

It’s funny though … they have a couple dozen neatly organized bins of special-use deposit slips, but the particular one you need is not kept out for the public — you gotta ask the customer service clerk. It seems this deposit slip is — by far — the most commonly used one by customers, so when the bank leaves them out, they disappear.

I think people take extras home so that they can be filled out ahead of time. I guess BN doesn’t like printing extra deposit slips or running out of them … TIP.

3. With the step from the Municipio completed and the yellow bank deposit slip, go to the ATTT office where they process the title document (Registro Unico). In Panama City it is on the top floor of Plaza Concordia.

Plaza Concordia is right on Via España across the street from the Rey Supermarket (general vicinity of hotels El Panama, Continental Veneto). Parking around there is a real bear. If the parking for the Rey is open (they are doing construction all along the front of the Rey) use that for parking and cross over Via España using the pedestrian overpass.

When using the pedestrian overpass, finding the ATT Registro Unico office is easy — as you finish crossing the overpass and enter Plaza Concordia, just go to the right. Note the location of the copy shop, because likely you’ll need copies of something!

The first step in that office is the Nazi lady (she’s actually a sweetie underneath) who checks the documents and copies (IDs, old title, revisado, Municipio docs fm step 1 and yellow deposit slip fm step 2).

The final step in this office is when they print out and hand the new owner the title document. CHECK IT CAREFULLY that the name and identity document number are EXACTLY correct. They make mistakes so make them do it over if wrong.

End Notes:

1. The plate and plate number stay with the vehicle.
2. The annual inspection and plate renewal month stays the same.
3. New owner — make SURE you complete the process and get the new title document! As stupid (TIP) as it sounds, I’ve run across 3 cases where the new owner (lazy, stupid or both) did not complete step 3 and get the new title in his or her own name.

Guess what — if this is not done, ownership has not changed. Actually it is also important that the old owner knows that the new owner has taken title.

Think of all the problems that can happen and I saw them with the 3 cases I saw where this did not happen.

4. Old owner cancel insurance and new owner get new insurance.

There’s more details if you need more.

Caveat — rules change! What I wrote above was recently true and I think is still the same but one never knows.


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