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Bocas Del Toro


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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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

More news ...

News from MBE Bocas Del Toro!

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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