Options for sending and receiving mail in Panama
Sending and receiving mail in Panama can take a little work, but the routines aren’t difficult once you fall into them. Setting up a local post office box, called an apartado, is usually step one.
The Correos y Telegrafos, Panama’s national mail service, has numerous offices around the country in most cities, towns and larger villages. A map of post office locations is available at this link: http://www.correospanama.gob.pa/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=73&Itemid=37
When a post office box is requested, simple forms must be completed, proof of identity is required, and a small fee is assessed. Applicants are generally placed on a waiting list, but unfortunately it could be months or even years before your name is reached! When box availability is a problem, a common practice is for family members, friends or neighbors to share one. This is technically against regulations but there is little enforcement.
Mail can be sent from and received at any Correos y Telegrafos location in Panama. The post office does not provide home delivery, and there are no street boxes for dropping off outgoing letters. Typical post office hours are 6:30 am to 5:45 pm from Monday to Friday and from 7 am to 5 pm on Saturday, but hours will vary by location.
Domestic mail delivery within Panama averages two to three days depending on the destination, and as of this writing costs about 35 cents for a standard letter. Airmail letters sent from Panama to the US and Europe are generally delivered within about ten days but can take much longer, up to four weeks. Incoming mail is more of an issue and can be delayed for up to several weeks, although generally it takes about ten days to receive mail from the US. Since mail can be lost, using the postal service to send items of value is never recommended.