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October 15, 2017 - PLEASE DO NOT USE OUR SERVICE TO SHIP ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION !!! This includes any foods, supplements, vitamins, medicines, as well as any cosmetics, lotions, cremes, makeup, soaps, shampoos, body powders, deoderants, ...

August 3, 2017 - BAN on shipping COSMETICS !! As of Today, August 3, 2017, I have been notified by Mail Boxes Etc, Central America, that MINSA (the Department of Drugs and Pharmacies) ...

August 2, 2017 - Items for HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION may be held or confiscated in Panama Customs! WE NO LONGER RECOMMEND UTILIZING OUR SERVICE FOR THE SHIPMENT OF ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION. ...

More news ...

News from MBE Bocas Del Toro!

October 15, 2017 - PLEASE DO NOT USE OUR SERVICE TO SHIP ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION !!!

This includes any foods, supplements, vitamins, medicines, as well as any cosmetics, lotions, cremes, makeup, soaps, shampoos, body powders, deoderants, or any other thing that a human OR AN ANIMAL might ingest through their mouth or skin.

These items are subject to Panama AUPSA (Ministry of Food Safety) and MINSA (Ministry of Drugs and Pharmacies) regulations. The situation is so complicated that my only recourse is to ask you please not ship these items through our service.

Past performance is NOT an indicator of future results! Just because you *may* have used our service in the past to successfully ship these kinds of items, or you manage to recieve one of these kinds of items without any problems after reading this, THESE PACKAGES ARE ALL SUBJECT TO CONFISCATION, ADDITIONAL CHARGES, AND DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS.

(a) If you ship these kinds of items through our service, you will be charged by us (MBE Bocas) for the shipping WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARRIVE IN BOCAS, as we cannot guarantee that they will clear Panama Customs, AFTER we have already paid to have them shipped to Panama on your behalf.

In other words, IF YOU SHIP ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION
you may owe us money for a package you never receive !!!

(b) You will additionally be charged * service fees of $10 for an AUPSA item and $25 for any MINSA items for which you AUTHORIZE US TO PREPARE THE APPLICATION, on your behalf, to the respective agency to attempt to get a clearance for your item. This does not mean that we guarantee the application will be approved, just that we will make the application on your behalf.

* Regular Clients (with montly accounts) will have to explicitly AUTHORIZE us to begin the application by providing all required paperwork and REPLYING to the email we send them, and will be charged for the application before we begin working on it. Occasional Clients will have to actually come to the office and PAY US THESE SERVICE FEES, as well as provide all required paperwork, before we will proceed.

(c) Any such item which fails the AUPSA or MINSA approval process will be considered a closed issue, and the package will be destroyed at Tocumen Airport. (In exceedingly important MINSA cases, it may be possible for the client to pay us another $25 application fee if they wish to re-apply and try a second time, once again, with no guarantee of success).

Note that MINSA applications can take UPTO A MONTH to be processed!

(d) Also, due to the fact that many clients fail to respond to our emails about these items, we are enacting a 30 day limit on the amount of time we will allow for a client to respond to our emails regarding AUPSA and MINSA packages. If we have not received a reply from you to an AUPSA or MINSA email from us, after 30 days, we hereby reserve the right to destroy the package and CHARGE YOU FOR THE SHIPPING TO PANAMA anyways, added to your next package pickup or monthly bill.

You are responsible for ensuring that we have your correct email address at all times!! Please contact us if your email has changed!!

I am sorry to have to have all of these rules, restrictions, and extra charges associated with our service. Please believe me that it is the last thing we want to have happen, but the fact of the matter is that these items for human or animal consumption are creating huge problems for us, and thus, for you. That is why we are asking you as nicely as we can,

Please don't ship items for human or animal consumption through our service.

If you DO, please get ready to accept the barrage of paperwork, uncertainty, extra costs, delays, and possible lack of results.

Also, please read our description about Amazon Invoices especially inasmuch as every AUPSA or MINSA application for an item purchased on Amazon will require such an invoice.

Also, please remember that the shipment of Tobacco and Tobacco related products. including Nicotine Vaporizers is prohibited!

And finally please see our FAQS page and list of Prohibited Items for more information on using our service.

August 3, 2017 - BAN on shipping COSMETICS !!

As of Today, August 3, 2017, I have been notified by Mail Boxes Etc, Central America, that MINSA (the Department of Drugs and Pharmacies) has BANNED THE IMPORTATION OF COSMETICS INTO PANAMA.

This summary decision was made WITHOUT WARNING and is EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.

Here is the text of the email I received from the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Mail Boxes Etc, Central America last night:

---------------------------------

Buenas tardes, adjunto notificacion entregada hoy en Farmacias y Drogas / Ministerio de Salud, donde indica que desde ayer los cosmeticos para uso personal estan prohibidos. Estamos tomando las medidas pertinentes, pero por el momento a partir de ahora todos los paquetes con cosmeticos que lleguen a Miami se pondran en inventario mientras se consigue una solucion para los mismos. Tan pronto tengamos mas detalles se les hara una comunicacion a los Centros y a nuestros clientes de ser necesario.

Translated into English:

Good afternoon, attached notification delivered today in Pharmacies and Drugs / Ministry of Health, which indicates that since yesterday cosmetics for personal use are prohibited. We are taking appropriate action, but for the moment from now all cosmetic packages arriving in Miami will be put into inventory while a solution is obtained for them. As soon as we have more details we will make a communication to the Centers and our customers if necessary.

---------------------------------

It is not clear what happens with Cosmetics in transit or already in Panama City. We will work with individual clients and packages to resolve those issues.

If a package containing COSMETICS arrives for you in Miami, at this point, we will send you an email requesting a "reship address". You will have the option of reshipping the item (at your cost) to another address in the USA.

We apologize for this huge inconvenience. We will try to help you get your cosmetcis, but please note that we are not responsible, and cannot absorb any costs as a result of this change to Panama Government Policies.

It is clear that the best thing to do will be to try to find the same, or similar costmetic products, in Panama.

We will keep you updated if and when this policy changes.

August 2, 2017 - Items for HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION may be held or confiscated in Panama Customs!

WE NO LONGER RECOMMEND UTILIZING OUR SERVICE FOR THE SHIPMENT OF ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION.

DO NOT COMBINE ITEMS FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION with other items (i.e. computers, clothing, etc) IN A SINGLE SHIPMENT!!

Although the Panama laws and regulations regarding items for Human or Animal consumption have not changed, the enforcement policies surrounding these items appear to be changing. Beginning last year, but increasing substantially this year, particularly starting in June 2017, several Government Bodies besides Aduana (Customs) have gotten much more involved in clearing items shipped via our service into Panama.

This includes any Foods, Snacks, Supplements, Vitamins, Medicines, Lotions, Cremes, Oils, Shampoos, Soaps, or other items a human or animal might ingest or which might be applied to a human or animal's body.

In all cases, the best thing to do is to try to obtain these items, or similar equivalent items, within Panama and not to import them into Panama via our service.

About 1 in 5 of such items for human or animal consumption are being held at customs by AUPSA (the "Panama Food Security Administration") or MINSA (the Panama Department of Drug and Pharmacies). Such packages that are held then require substantial supportive documentation and processes ... forms which must be filled out, presented, inspected, and approved, in order to clear items into the country.

There are additional charges (costs) to you for these processes!

This process takes from a week to a month or more, depending on your, and the bureaucracy's timely responses. In all cases, for an item requiring AUPSA or MINSA clearance, we will require a copy of your passport and/or Panama id, a valid invoice for the item, including the specific quantities of the items in question, and a technical description of the item. Medicines will require a prescription from a Panama Doctor.

There is a difference between AUPSA and MINSA. AUPSA is less stringent, in that we can make the application online, and we usually receive a reply within a week. MINSA is very stringent, there is a substantial application fee, and the documentation package must be presented on PAPER, IN PERSON at the MINSA office in Panama City, after going to the BANK to get a stamp!

As of today (August 2, 2017) we were just notified, for example, that as of now, without warning, that COSMETICS are BANNED from shipment into Panama by MINSA !! This is completely beyond our control. Starting today COSMETICS are going to be automatically held in Miami and you will have an opportunity to have them reshipped (at your cost) to another address in the USA.

The net result is that unfortunately, we can no longer recommend you use our service for items for HUMAN or ANIMAL consumption. Any items for HUMAN or ANIMAL consumption that come to Panama MAY be held for AUPSA and/or MINSA clearances, in which case you will receive an email from us regarding the documents, process, and fees required to clear the items.

We cannot guarantee the success of that application process. It largely depends on your responses, but is ultimately beyond our control.

It is also important to note that, for example, if you buy some Vitamins and include it in an order with your New Laptop Computer, the laptop computer could be HELD IN PANAMA CITY pending the resolution of the AUPSA or MINSA application for the Vitamins ... and it is not clear that the computer might not be confiscated along with the drugs, supplements, or other human/animal items should they be confiscated. At best the laptop will be delayed by weeks or a month in the case of MINSA ....

SO PLEASE DO NOT COMBINE ITEMS FOR HUMAN/ANIMAL CONSUMPTION WITH OTHER ITEMS.

As with anything else shipped through our service, separating your shipments into separate smaller packages (shipments) is generally better than large combined orders. All it takes is ONE item to be dis-approved to hold the entire package!

Once again, this is completely beyond our control, and this is not a message I want to be sending, but the possibility of AUPSA/MINSA requirements on your package is something that you must consider carefully in utilizing our service.

August 1, 2017 - The Customs $100 Value Exemption is actually less than $100 !!

The actual cutoff for customs exemptions is LESS THAN $100 ...

We tell our clients that "there is no customs on packages under $100 in value". This is generally true, but is fraught with details. For those clients trying to optimize their usage of our service for packages CLOSE TO $100 in value, some details may be in order.

I could say, instead "there is no customs on packages WELL UNDER $100 in value", but that is not accurate either.

The actual answer is that "there is no customs on packages under $100 in value minus 1% of the value minus the weight in kilograms times $1.49".

Huh?

The issue is what we mean by "value" ... the valuation that will be applied to the package by Panama Customs (Aduana). The generally accepted international notion of the value of an item at the point of entry into a country includes all costs that were incurred to get it to that point. This includes any taxes, shipping, insurance, etc that may have "added value" to the item to get it to Tocumen Airport in Panama City. In the shipping business, this is called the CIF value.

So it definitely includes the taxes and shipping you pay, for instance to Amazon, to get the item to our Miami address. Some people have a hard time understanding this. They think the value of the item is its "price" ... but the actual "value", from a customs perspective includes the tax and shipping you pay to get it to Miami.

But it is even more complicated than that.

Panama Customs includes arbitrary freight and insurance charges for getting the item from Miami to Panama. They add 1% to the value of the item for insurance. Then they add $1.49 per kilogram for air freight charges from Miami to Tocumen. Please note that these numbers are "made up" and do not reflect what I pay to get your package from Miami to Bocas, and that you do not "pay" these amounts. They are used ONLY by Aduana in the valuation process.

So, if you buy an $80 item that weighs 10kg, with Free Shipping to Miami, it could easily result in a valuation in Tocumen Customs of over $100 ... even though from your perspective its value might be well under $100 ...

For example, say you have an order from Amazon with an invoice total of $90.95, as below.

Shipping Weight: 10kgs (22 lbs)
Purchase price: $85.00
Sales Tax (7%): $5.95
Shipping to Miami: $0.00
Invoice Total: $90.95

Now, when this item gets to Tocumen, they are going add 1% insurance and $1.49/kg ...

Insurance 1% of Invoice Total : $0.91 Freight 10kg at $1.49/kg : $14.90

VALUE FOR PANAMA CUSTOMS: 90.95 + 0.91 + 14.90 = $106.76 !!!

So this item will be OVER the $100 limit, and will be subject to customs duties and taxes on a value of $106.76 !!

If you are trying to avoid customs charges when shipping things through our service, you will need to take this formula into account. For most normal items that people ship, i.e. a small package under 1kg in weight that is well under $100, there are no customs charges. But for packages that approach $100 in value, or that are heavy, you may need to take the exact formula into account when making your purchase decisions.

July 31, 2017 - Using Amazon with our Service - Amazon Invoices

We recommend you BUY ONE THING PER DAY ON AMAZON!

We are seeing a lot of clients using the Amazon and Amazon Prime services, which is great, but a few tips, and some instruction, might be in order to help you get the most out of your Amazon shopping experience and to avoid some common pitfalls of ordering items thru Amazon to be shipped via our service to Panama.

I will summarize the issues here, then explain them each in detail

AVOID PARTIAL ORDERS AND BACK ORDERS
AVOID COMBINED INVOICES
PANAMA CUSTOMS requires a SPECIFIC INVOICE for Amazon orders

In general, personally, I do not use Amazon on a regular basis with our service. If I do use Amazon, I buy one thing maximum per day. Otherwise, I prefer to "drill down" to the actual vendor's website which usually includes an order form, shopping basket, etc, and the vendor's website usually knows if the item is in stock, or not.

AVOID PARTIAL ORDERS AND BACK ORDERS

If you buy something on Amazon and it is back ordered, or the vendor decides to ship the item in several separate shipments, it can result in confusion in Panama Customs, with a significant chance of you getting hit multiple times for customs on the same items. Amazon may send an invoice that includes the total purchase amount for all the items on the order, even though only some of them get shipped. Then later, when the back order is filled, they may send the SAME INVOICE with the items. If you are not paying attention, do not notify us of this potential conflict, we will have no way of knowing about the duplicate invoices, and the chance exists that Panama Customs will apply the TOTAL INVOICE amount to BOTH shipments.

The other thing that can happen is that IF customs identifies the partial or back order invoice, they may ELECT TO HOLD the items until the shipment to Panama is complete. This could be a complete nightmare if the back ordered item is never shipped or the other package "slips through" customs without them noticing it.

We are not saying this happens every time, but experience has shown us that our service works best with customs when there is ONE INVOICE PER PACKAGE and one package per invoice (a one to one correspondence between invoices and packages). It is very difficult to track the documentation for 100's or 1000's of packages and mistakes do happen.

From our business perspective it is important that you understand that ONCE CUSTOMS ASSIGNS A FEE AND WE PAY IT there is no recourse and no refunds or changes are possible. Therefore the burden is on you to contact us and clarify, ahead of time, any issues with customs that might arise as a result of partial or back orders thru Amazon (or any other vendor).

AVOID COMBINED INVOICES

This is really the same issue, but a little different.

Amazon may COMBINE all your purchases on a single day into one big invoice for the day. You may actually be ordering things from several different vendors, and it is likely they will all ship them separately. The first and perhaps most important ramification of this is that Panama Customs will most likely consider the "value" of the order to be the TOTAL FOR EVERYTHING YOU BOUGHT THAT DAY because there is a SINGLE INVOICE that says so. At best, they will pick one of the packages to absorb the entire valuation and incur the total customs duties, fees, and taxes, but the chance exists, as above, that they will re-apply the invoice to each package, and it is, technically, upto you to notify us of that before the item gets to Panama and we make the customs payment on your behalf.

Thus, the best thing to do is avoid buying things from multiple vendors on Amazon on the same day. Often, personally, when I want to buy 3 of something, say $40 each, I buy them on separate days so that each package will arrive in Panama customs, well under the $100 exemption, in a separate box with a separate invoice.

This issue is most pronounced with Amazon, but can occur if you make several orders with any given vendor on the same day, including on Ebay etc. So on Ebay, If I want to buy two of an item ... especially over $40 or so in value, I often buy but from different vendors on Ebay ...

PANAMA CUSTOMS requires a SPECIFIC INVOICE for Amazon orders

A significant portion of our business, of the packages coming to Tocumen via our service, are via Amazon and Amazon Prime. Panama Customs (Aduana) are seeing 1000's of Amazon packages each day. They are VERY aware of the Amazon purchasing process, and have VERY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS for what constitutes an AMAZON INVOICE for customs purposes. They DO NOT ACCEPT screen shots from your phone or computer or order summaries. They SPECIFICALLY want to see an "Amazon Invoice". This invoice may be sent to you by email, or can be obtained by "drilling down" on your Amazon website to "Order Details" or, better, a "Print Invoice" link.

In any case, If we ask you for an invoice for an Amazon purchase, the invoice you send us, that we will send to customs, MUST START WITH THE WORDS "FINAL DETAILS FOR ORDER #123-456-7890" and MUST LOOK LIKE THIS:



The example is also available as a pdf at this link: http://www.mbeBocas.com/Example_Amazon_Invoice.pdf

It is generally beyond our ability to help each client locate the invoices for the packages across 100's of clients with dozens of orders, so please understand this and try to send the CORRECT AMAZON INVOICE to us when requested!

April 7, 2017 - NO LIVING THINGS! or tobacco, for that matter.

There are general prohibitions (as well as environmental concerns) about the international shipping of living things and genetic material in general.

These prohibitions obviously include animals, but also include any plants or seeds, any soil (or any items) that may contain living insects or even micro-organisms, as well as any foods or other items that might have these living things within them.

We take protection of the fragile environment of Bocas Del Toro seriously, and encourage our clients to avoid the importation of anything that might be harmful to it.

On a related note, just for the record, one more time, we have been reminded that it is against Panama Regulations to import Tobacco or Tobacco products via our service. We have received lots of packages of tobacco in the past, but cannot guarantee tobacco will not be confiscated in Panama City at Tocumen Airport. If that happens (or for any reason if Aduana decides to confiscate something), MBE Bocas Del Toro is not responsible for the item, it's replacement cost, or any inconvenience it might cause you.

just wanted to put that out there ..

Thanks,
-Patrick

June 19, 2016 - Completed move of website to a new server.

Due to some obscure techinical requirements for paypal, and the fact that we had not upgraded our webserber for over 4 years, we had to port the website to a new server over this weekend. After testing, we believe that everything is working, but if you run into any problems using the website, please let us know !!!

Please note that, for security reasons, we do not post our email address anywhere on this website . It also helps keep the amount of junk mail that we receive to a minimum. So if you need to get a message to us, please use the contact us form on this website.

Thank You,
-Patrick

May 8, 2016 - New AUPSA Regulations for Food, Supplements, Vitamins, and Medicines

As of Apri 1, 2016, Panama customs (Aduana) has begun to more rigourously enforce AUPSA regulaltions regarding the import of food, supplements, vitamins, medicines, and drugs.

AUPSA is the Departamento de Farmacias y Drogas here in Panama, much like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA, and all items intended for human consumption being imported into Panama fall under their jurisdiction.

As a result, Aduna agents are pulling some packages out of customs, and requiring AUPSA clearances for them. The packages that Aduana agents appear to be choosing are few, and perhaps even random in nature. Thus far in April, of 1000 packages we recieved, of which perhaps 150 were food, supplements, or medicine, four (4) packages have been subject to this AUPSA hold. One was for medicine, two were for vitamins or other supplements, and one was for simple food (Wheaties Cold Cereal).

Packages that are pulled from customs by Aduana agents for an AUPSA hold require an entirely separate process and set of documents, in order to get them cleared by AUPSA, and returned to regular customs processing. Thus far we have reason to believe that this processing also adds significant delays, on the order of several weeks, to the clearance of an item into Panama.

First of all, I wanted to tell you this, so that you understand that this is not the fault of MBE Bocas, or Mail Boxes Etc, Central America or any of our employees or vendors. Second, I want to explain the process that we have to go through to get your package here, so you will understand what is happening should you receive an AUPSA hold notification email from us.

1. When we are notified by our workers at Tocumen airport that a package has undergone a AUPSA hold, we will send YOU an email, asking you to provide the following documents:

  • A scan of your ID (Passport or Cedula)
  • A detailed technical description of the item(s) in the package
  • A receipt clearly showing the contents, and purchase price of the item(s)
  • A doctors prescription if one would be required in Panama for the item(s)

2. From these documents, we are required to put together a package of forms and documents for AUPSA, including a signed letter from us, on company stationary, "vouching" for you as our client, and asking the Director of AUPSA to consider your item for clearance. We will then send that package of documents, via email, to our workers at Tocumen airport.

3. As I understand it, once a week, all such AUPSA document packages will be processed. This means, among other things, that a Tocumen employee has to go to the bank and pay a $7 fee and get the forms we filled out stamped by Banco Nacional, then stand in line at Customs to present the AUPSA package. This $7 fee will be passed on to you as a charge.

4. I believe that some unknown amount of time later, the Aduana agent gives the package to an AUPSA clerk who then schedules an inspection of the item. Some additional unknown amount of time later, an actual AUPSA agent gets around to your item, reviews the item and the documentation package, and, hopefully, clears the item, so it can re-enter normal customs processing, which usually takes a day or two anyways ...

So, that's the process. And just to be clear, we (MBE Bocas Del Toro) receive very little, or no information about the progress of your item through this process. So far, it has added weeks to the process, and nobody, including our Tocumen employees, seem able to tell us anything about when a package will actually be delivered.

So, as we smooth out this very rough and beuracratic process, we ask for your patience should a package of yours undergo an AUPSA hold.

And we also ask you to allow upto a month for any package you ship that contains food, medicine, or drugs, to Panama. As I said, this has only happened to four or five out of more than a hundred food related packages, but if you will need the medicine or food, then please allow plenty of time for it to clear customs.

And though I hate to remind you of it, we (MBE Bocas) do NOT guarantee delivery times, and we accept no responsibility for items you ship which Panama customs, or any legitimate legal authority in the USA or Panama, deems as not acceptable for shipment. Sorry, but that's just the way it has to be.

Thanks for your time, attention, and continued patronage ...

- Patrick

October 1 2015 - Restrictions on Li METAL BATTERIES

As of September 1, 2015, UPS in Miami started refusing to fly Lithium Metal Batteries, in certain cases, to Panama. Specifically they only allow Lithium Metal Baterries when they are shipped in original manufacturer packaging and are shipped in the same packaging as the item that uses them.

In other words, apparently it is ok to ship an Electric Drill, or a cellphone with it's Li Metal Battery, but it is not ok to ship a replacement battery for the same items!

We are addressing the problem as follows. When an item containing a LiMetal battery is deemed unshippable by UPS in Miami, they will be consolidated, and once per week a special shipment of these metal batterie items will be sent from Miami to Panama via DHL (who, apparently CAN fly them, sheesh). This will add, typically, about 4-5 days to the transport of these items.

For the time being, there will be no additional charge to you for these items, as we are assessing the cost impact of this change. It is likely that in the next few months we will be forced implement a surcharge of something like $4/package + $2/kg when this happens, to cover our costs.

In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and understanding, and want you to know that we will continue to do everything we can to get your packages here as quickly as possible.

September 30, 2015 - WEBSITE UPDATE

  • You can now calculate your pickup cost and pay it online
  • You can now modify your email address online
  • You can now modify your list of authorized users online
  • All clients can now see their account history online

We added the ability for occasional clients to calculate their pickup cost and to pay for their packages online via Paypal. On your Packages page, click on the Calculate Cost button in the list of packages. This will bring up a page showing you exactly  how much it will cost to pickup the package that you have in the office at that moment. If a payment is needed to pick them up, this page will show a Make Payment button near the bottom of the page. Pressing that button will take you securely to Paypal where you may make the payment.

If Paypal authorizes the payment, it will be posted immediately to your account, and your account will show a Credit Balance. This credit balance, if any, will be applied to your package pickup when you come to the office to pickup the packages. So, if you want, instead of going to the bank here in Bocas before coming to the office, you can now pay for your packages online, and send one of your authorized uers to pick them up!

As a result, and in the interest of transparancy, we also added the ability for all users to view their Account History online. This is different than viewing your Package History which is a list of the packages you receive each month. Your Account History includes a record of any payments you make, and any credits or debits to your account, as well as any invoices or work orders charged to your account. For "regular" clients with monthly accounts, this may help explain any questions you have about your monthly statement or account balance, and for "occasional" clients this will let you see your payments, and see how we calculate your balance.

We also made it possible for all users to modify their list of authorized users on the Preferences page. Please remember that you are responsible for keeping your list of authorized users up-to-date, and that these are the people you will allow to pickup your mail. We reserve the right to refuse to give your packages to anyone who is not on your list (we make certain exceptions for clients we know well)

Finally, we added the ability for all users to change their email address of record in our system, also on the Preferences page. Your email address is very important as this is how we notify you of your packages, etc, and so we also ask that you keep your email address in our system up-to-date. The process does the usual thing of sending you an email to verify your new email address that you have to receive and click on, and it also sends an email to your old address notifying you of the change.

There were a lot of other changes to the website, as well as to our accounting systems in the office. If you experience a problem or have a suggestion how the website might be better, we'd sure appreciate it if you would contact us and let us know!

Thanks!

July 26, 2015 - MIAMI ZIPCODE CHANGED TO 33192-4177.

As of August 1, 2015, our zipcode changed to 33192-4177. Please try to use this new zip code on your mail. However, as it may take some time for this change to filter to various online address validation systems like Amazon.com, Fedex, UPS, etc, please note that the old zipcode 33172-4177 will continue to work.

Also, some systems may not accept the -4177 part of the zipcode. In those cases it is all right to use just the 5 digit zipcode 33192 (or 33172).

The new zipcode is expected to save a day or so in transit.

January 31, 2015 - WEBSITE AND DATABASE UPDATE.

We have updated our website. We have reworked the Sign Me Up and Lost Password procedures and added some capabiiities to your Preferences page.

Beginning today we are asking clients to provide us with a phone number, and/or a mailing address (or other contact information) to help us provide better service. We don't expect miracles, but if you can, please let us know what Island you are on, and/or the name of your boat, and so on.

Also starting today we are also asking all clients who have not previously done so to please establish new passwords to the website. For the time being the temporary passwords we have sent you in past emails will continue to work, but for security reasons, they will cease to work in the near future. So, as of now, we are asking all clients to establish their own password to the website as part of an effort to increase the security of your personal data.

We hope you do not find these new procedures too complex or difficult.

As with all programming efforts, there is a chance we have introduced some bugs into the system. So, If you do run into a problem, particularly if you think there is a bug of some sort, please feel free to Contact Us. If you don't tell us about them, we'll never know!

And as always, we appreciate your continued Patronage and look forward to serving you in 2015!

- Patrick
owner, MBE Bocas Del Toro

December 15, 2014 - NO TOBACCO or E-CIG PRODUCTS.

We have been notified by Mail Boxes Central America, our parent company, that Panama customs may confiscate any packages containing ANY Tobacco, and or any E-Cigarettes or related products.

MBE BOCAS DOES NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY PACKAGES CONFISCATED BY PANAMA CUSTOMS.

We do our best to understand the customs laws and publish lists of prohibited items, but as of now any packages confiscated by Panama customs (Aduana), for any reason, whether or not you, or we, could have reasonably known about them or not, are considered NULL AND VOID and will not be the subject of refunds or replacements of any kind.

We have updated our own list of prohibited items to include Tobacco, but please note that in the end it is the client's (your) responsibility to only ship items that are allowed by our vendors and Panama customs.

If in doubt, don't ship it.

December 6, 2013 - Volumetric / dimensional weight charges.

PLEASE NOTE that heavy or oversized items are liable for extra charges.

The formula for volumetric weight is to take the dimensions of the package, in INCHES, and multiply them, then divide by 366 to get the volumetric weight in kilograms. For example, a package that is 48" x 16" x 16" will have a volumentric weight (will be charged for) 33.57 kilograms, even if it actually weighs less:

48x16x16=12288
12888/366=33.57 kilograms

Dimensional weight applies when one of the dimensions of the package is larger than 48", or the sum of the length of the sides is greater than 92", and can substantially increase the price of shipping items.

Single packages that weigh more than 25kgs (about 60 lbs) or are larger than 72" in any dimension cannot be flown to Bocas on Air Panama, and, as a result, will incur additional charges, and time, for special handling to coordinate their shipment from Panama City to Bocas via truck.

Please also read our faqs regarding damaged or prohibited items which arrive in Miami, and the fact that you, the client, are responsible for all packages that arrive at your Miami address, and the fact that the Miami address is not a consolidation or repackaging service.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our pricing policies. It is important that you understand the charges you may incur by using your Miami Mailing address!

November 15, 2013 - NO direct DHL or FEDEX shipments to MBE Bocas Del Toro!!

MBE Bocas Del Toro does not accept ANY direct shipments, via DHL, Fedex, the Panama Postal Service or any other courier, vendor, or service

We will NOT BE RESPONSIBLE for any attempts to you might make to send items directly to Bocas Del Toro.

If you do attempt to send something directly to MBE Bocas Del Toro via our street address, or any other means, it will most likely get stuck in Panama City and will be your responsibility to find, retrieve, and organize shipping to Bocas.

Having said that, please note that our system for receiving mail in Bocas by having it shipped to a custom mailing address in Miami continues to work flawlessly, is generally less expensive than a direct DHL/Fedex shipment, is very reliable, and will get here just as quickly, or quicker, especially when, by the other route, your package will end up stuck in Panama City!!

Thank You,
- Patrick
Owner, MBE Bocas Del Toro

August 22, 2013 - Our office hours have changed!

Our office is now open 9am to 5pm weekdays, and 9am to noon on Saturday. We are closed from 1pm to 2pm each day for lunch.

We also occasionally need to close the office for 20 minutes or so during the day to go to the airport to pickup or drop off packages, so if we're not there when you get there, please try again later!

Thanks for your continued patronage!
- Pat Horton

August 22, 2013 - Notice of PRICE DECREASE for occasional clients!!

Effective immediately, we have changed our pricing structure for occasional clients who are picking up documents (letters and envelopes). Henceforth, generally speaking, clients will pay $1 to pick up a letter or envelope, subject to a minimum of $4 or $5, depending on the items being picked up, and their weight.

Previously the price was $4 for each letter, and $5 for each envelope. By envelope we mean a manilla envelope or other package larger than a standard letter envelope. So, a client who picked up four letters was previously charged $16. Under the new pricing scheme, they may pick up all four letters for $4.00, a substantial savings.

This change is intended to encourage occasional clients to pickup their mail and remain in good standing with us, rather than letting letters and envelopes accumulate, forcing us to destroy their mail and/or close their accounts when they don't pick them up after 60 days.

The details of the price change are as follows, and depend on the definitions of a 'document', a 'letter', an 'envelope', and a 'package'.

A document is an item that consists of flat pieces unbound paper. A book is not a document, but a loan application, or letter from your mom, can be. The classification of an item as being a document is done by our personnel in Miami when the item arrives there for initial processing.

When the item arrives in Bocas, we further define a letter to be a document that comes in an envelope that is roughly 4 by 9 inches or smaller, the size of a standard 'letter' envelope. On the other hand, we define an envelope to be a document that arrives in a larger, often manilla colored envelope, that is larger than 4 by 9 inches. And the term package in this context, is anything else.

1. Pickups that involve only letters are subject to a $4 minimum overall price.

2. Pickups that involve envelopes or packages are subject to a $5 minimum overall price.

3. For documents under .25 kg in weight (under about 1/2 lb), the price will be the prorated per/kilogram price of the package (at $20/kilo), rounded up to the next nearest dollar minus 7%. The minus 7% is so that the that the total comes to an even dollar when tax is included.

Thats it, and believe it or not, it's actuallly simpler than the previous pricing, but I won't bore you with the details. A couple of examples, though, might help:

Example #1 - Client picks up four letters weighing 1.5 ounces each and the price=$4.00

The letters are 1.5 ounces, which is equal to about 43 grams, or 0.043 kilograms. The prorated price at $20/kg for the letter is 0.043 * 20 == eight-six cents, $0.86, which we round up to ninety-three cents, $0.93, so that with tax it comes out to an even $1.00.

There are four letters, so the total is $4.00, which meets the minimum for pickups involving only envelopes, so the overall price of the pickup is $4, and you're out the door!

By the way, the actual cost, before tax, for documents can be as low as $0.59 per ounce (fifty nine cents per ounce), which is about the same as the USA 1st class postal rate. So I just want to mention that we at MBE Bocas are proud to have created a system by which you can get your documents from the USA to the island town of Bocas Del Toro for prices rivaling the United States Postal Service!

Example #2 - Client picks up a large manilla envelope containing their new ATM and Credit Card. price=$5.00

We first prorate the weight of the envelope. Say it weighs 4 ounces, or 1/4 lb, which is equal to about 0.113 kilos. The prorated price of this envelope, at $20/kg, would be $2.27 (plus tax), however, this is the only thing the client is picking up, and it falls under the $5.00 minimum for pickups involving envelopes or packages, so we bump it up to $5.00.

Did I mention that the client has been in the office every day to see if their ATM card has arrived? They have no money since they lost their wallet in the ocean a week ago, and BOY are they happy to have their new cards :-) Furthermore, I give them a break and let them go to the bank with the ATM card to get some money, so they can come back and pay me the $5. But they don't mind because now they can have a nice meal and continue their vacation.

It all works out ok!

Example #3 - Client picks up a small 1/4 kilo package, and a manilla envelope weighing about 1.5 ounces. Their cost out the door is $6.30!

They pay $20/kilo for the small package plus tax, which equals $5.30. The same formula as above applies for the envelope, so they are charged $0.93, plus tax for it. Since the total, $6.30, exceeds the minimum price for pickups involving packages or envelopes, that's it ... they are done and their total cost is $6.30, out the door!

Another satisfied MBE Bocas Customer!

Regular clients please take note. You still pay less than occasional clients because you are NEVER subjected to the minmimum pickup fees, or the 'rounding up' of document prices. Regular clients pay only for the weight of the envelopes and documents they receive, period.

We believe our occasional clients, particularly those who recieve multiple documents each month, will benefit from this price change and we remain proud to be of service to our clients - the visitors. residents, and businesses of the archipelego of Bocas Del Toro.

- Patrick

February 8, 2013 - Our Web Server Crashed!

Over the previous weekend, the hard disk in our web server crashed, taking the mbeBocas.com website down with it.

As of today, we are glad to say that all normal operations have been restored. However, in the process we lost the login history and passwords for all users, so as of today, you will need to re-login to the website either using the temporary password (we just sent out to all our regular clients in an email), or by using the "lost password" process on the website itself.

We are sorry about any inconvenience this might have caused you, and want to thank you for your continued patronage!

- Patrick

January 22, 2013 - IMPORTANT NOTICE: We are closing box 12005 on March 1, 2013!!

I wanted to let everyone know that we are finally closing the generic PTY 12005 box (address) on March 1, 2013, about 6 weeks from now. Any packages enroute to PTY 12005 at this time will make it to Bocas just fine, but it is important for everyone to know that henceforth, mail that arrives at the generic PTY 12005 address after March 1st will get lost!!!

We have notified all the clients that have used this address in the past year, and for most of you, we have created a unique PTY number (address) and sent it to you in an email.

I am trying to get word about this change to as many people as possible, so if anybody asks you, please tell them to not use the PTY 12005 address, and to contact us for their own unique address!

This change will improve service and quality by eliminating lost mail, and helping us to better track your mail, so we hope you will help us by no longer using PTY 12005.

Thank You!
- Pat Horton
Owner, Mail Boxes Etc, Bocas Del Toro, Panama

January 22, 2013 - What's new for 2013!!

I am proud to say that since I took the store over in January of 2012, we have succesfully received over 2800 packages comprising over 1700 kilograms of weight without a single lost or damaged item!

We have learned a lot in the proceess. The first few months were rough, as we figured out what the problems of the past were and corrected them. Yes, a few packages have been delayed in customs, and a few packages were deemed unshippable by Miami as prohibited items, as we have grown to understand the process, but by and large, we are very pleased with the way things have gone so far.

In the first year we developed the new office systems, creating a a new tracking system, and implemented our website at www.mbeBocas.com, all steps which have combined to create what we belive is a high quality experience, for you, our clients and customers, the residents and visitors to Bocas Del Toro.

For 2013 we look forward to continuing to improve the services that we provide to you. We are exploring the possibility of implementing an ocean freight service for larger and heavier items, we are in the process of establishing ourselves as official Fedex and DHL destinations, to improve those courier services, and we continue to grow our in-store copying, laminating, fax, and other services.

So, I just wanted to take the opportunity to say "Thank You" to all of our clients for a great 2012. We look forward to serving you in 2013 and for many years to come!

- Pat Horton
Owner, Mail Boxes Etc, Bocas Del Toro, Panama

November 1, 2012 - THE NEW PRICES GO INTO EFFECT TODAY!

Effective today, November 1, 2012, we changed the prices for our mail delivery service from the USA. Below find our new price list.

New Prices for MBE Bocas Del Toro
Plan kg cutoff monthly addl kilos
Occasional   no monthly fee $20.00/kilo,or
$4 for envelope, or
$5 for manilla envelope
Plan A 1 kilo/month $20.00/month $17.50/kilo
Plan B 2 kilos/month $35.00/month $15.00/kilo
Plan C 4 kilos/month $60.00/month $13.50/kilo
Plan VIP 8 kilos/month $108.00/month $12.00/kilo

There is also a $6 document fee for any items that require the preparation of customs documents for entry into Panama, and, as always, the client agrees to pay any customs fees, duties, or taxes, as necessary.

September 29, 2012 - NOTICE OF PRICE CHANGES

Effective November 1, 2012, we will be raising the prices for our mail delivery service from the USA.

These changes, the first price changes in over 4 years, are reflections of increases in costs that we have experienced from our own transportation suppliers, along with a growing realization and understanding of the unique costs and market conditions of running a high quality package delivery service in a remote island community like Bocas Del Toro.

New Prices for MBE Bocas Del Toro
Plan kg cutoff monthly addl kilos
Occasional   no monthly fee $20.00/kilo
Plan A 1 kilo/month $20.00/month $17.50/kilo
Plan B 2 kilos/month $35.00/month $15.00/kilo
Plan C 4 kilos/month $60.00/month $13.50/kilo
Plan VIP 8 kilos/month $108.00/month $12.00/kilo

These changes will take place beginning November 1st, for all clients except for a small handful that have signed new contracts in the last 60 days. If you signed up for a regular account since August 1st, 2012, then the changes will take place after your initial three month contract commmitment has expired.

Also effective November 1st, we will be introducing a $6 document fee for any items that require the preparation of customs documents for entry into Panama, which is about 10% of the packages that we process. This new fee reflects a hidden cost that we already have been paying to our customs broker in Panama City for each "red sheet" we fill out on behalf of our clients. For us, these fees vary from $10 to $18 per page, depending on the number of items on the customs form, and the $6 fee we will be passing on to you has been selected to approximately offset those costs.

September 21, 2012 - Bug Fixes

Fixed a bug that was causing the site to always prompt users to accept the terms and conditions, even when they already had! Sorry bout that.

September 9, 2012 - Website LIVE!!!

OK, that's it. The website is now officially LIVE!!!. After two months of testing, with clients successfully using the site, viewing their packages and accounts on a regular basis, and making may payments online via paypal, I feel like it is now time to announce it officially!

So, in the next few days, I will be sending an email to all of our existing clients explaining how they (you) can log onto the site and start taking advantage of it too!

Of course, there will always be work to do. I still have to write the privacy policy page, rework the account preferences page, and would like to add some graphics, pictures and so forth to make the site more visually interesting, but by and large, this is it!.

Whew!

It took me longer than expected, but I think it worked out well to expose it to a few trusted clients for a couple of months before unleashing it on everyone else. So thanks Jill, Joaquin, John and Anne, and the select few other clients who used the website and help me test it for the previous two months!

I hope everyone enjoys it!

July 22, 2012 - Continuing development of the website.

Added meat to the account page, so that now you can see your current and past statements, a complete history of your account, as well as make payments on the website. Getting ready to send an email to all clients with information on how they can log on the first time!

June 23, 2012 - Initial Website

Whew, has it really taken this long? The website is up, more or less, but I haven't told anybody yet. Hope to smooth off a few rough edges and announce it this week.

May 1, 2012 - Website Progress

Making good progress on the website, decided to make it bi-lingual from the get-go, and it's all template driven to ease design considerations. It's still a lot of work though.

April 29, 2012 - Website Started

We've started the deployment of our email notification system and new website. Needed to have at least a website with 'preferences' when rolling out the notification system.

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