Panama to colombia car ferry xpress

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Pan American Highway > Panama to colombia car ferry xpress Currency to display:


Ferry xpress.jpg

Current Status as of 7 February 2016[edit]

Ferry service has not been reopened. [1] Recent comments on the Ferry Express Facebook page indicate that there may not be any ferry service across the Darien Gap at this point. [2]

Current Status as of 22 April 2015[edit]

Ferry service no longer exists.

Current Status as of 12 Feb 2015[edit]

12 February 2015 - Information from Overland Sphere

A regular vehicle service will be running from the 23rd of February on the following days each week:

Please note due to the unreliability of the service, we do not know how long the "regular" service will operate for.

For the most up to date info, check the Ferry Xpress Facebook page.


The ferry took just over 18hrs, the cabins were comfortable with shower air con and toilets. If you choose not to get a cabin, the regular seats are fine, you can hire duvets I believe, or take your own on board - although wasn't needed for our trip. On board advice:

  • If you’re on a budget bring plenty of food (no fresh fruit and vegetables) as it's about $8.00 USD for a small plate of food on board.
  • You can get hot water for 2 minute noodles from the staff in the café.
  • They have WiFi at $5.00 USD for 2 hours.
  • They tried to confiscate all the tools from one motorbike rider. He stood his ground and managed to keep them, so make sure you do likewise!
  • The air conditioning inside is like a movie theatre, so bring your sleeping bag. You can sleep in the aisles.
  • The wall inputs are European. If you need an adaptor ask at reception on the 6th floor for a converter. It's only a $2.00 USD deposit. Hot tip is to try get a seat next to a socket on the wall, they're just above head height


Currently the ferry sails South (Panama to Colombia) on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm.
The ferry sails North(Colombia to Panama) on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.
For an up-to-date schedule, it's best to check the Ferry Xpress official site with schedule


In Cartagnena, Colombia there is an agent where you can buy tickets,located at Centro Uno - 2nd floor - Avenida Santander close to the clock tower of the old city.

Taking pets on board the ferry[edit] is an excellent reviews / write of up the whole ferry process, including taking pets.

Price Breakdown[edit]

Item 4x4 Length up to 5m Height up to 4.2m Van Length 5m - 7m Height 2.9m Motorbike Bicycle Dog Cat or small pet
Cabin (for two people) $57.00 USD $68.00 USD
Vehicle $275.00 USD $300.00 USD $125.00 USD $75.00 USD N/A N/A
Base $118.00 USD $118.00 USD $118.00 USD $118.00 USD $30.00 USD $20.00 USD
Tax $228.00 USD $248.00 USD $55.00 USD $20.00 USD 0 0
Total to Pay $678.00 USD $734.00 USD $298.00 USD $213.00 USD $30.00 USD $20.00 USD

Note: These prices differ significantly from the prices quoted on the Ferry Express website. For a sedan, the price quoted is 1,980 US.


  • Children under 2 are free.
  • Children 2-11 pay child prices.
  • Children 12+ pay adult prices.
  • Senior discount as per Panama law.
  • You also have to buy vehicle insurance for the destination country before you will be allowed to drive off the ferry, and there might be a couple of very small extra costs for fumigation and other small items.

Panama to Colombia Detailed Instructions[edit]

NOTE: This was written after the initial voyage on 10/27/2014 and may change.

  • Purchase tickets for Ferry, online or at the office in Panama City. Website
  • Call to make reservation for the size of the car, number of passengers and the optional cabin
  • Operator emails a Word Document authorizing credit card payment. Doc includes description of service provided.
  • Email the completed word doc with pictures of front and back of credit card and the buyers passport.
  • Operator return emails a scanned copy of credit card charge and a ticket. 1 page ticket listing ticket holders name, # passengers and vehicle
  • Paperwork 1) DIJ certification in Panama City. Location 8.96642, -79.54476.
  • Arrive before 9:00 am, they inspect VIN, take copy of title, drivers passport and customs paperwork. At 2:00 pm walk across street to Secretary General's office, give them a copy of the same paperwork and pick up certification.
  • Make 3 copies of the certification in kiosk across street.
  • In Colon, use Port named Colon 2000. Customs office on the right, just after the gate. Provide DIJ, Import Permit, Insurance and passport. They will stamp driver's passport "salida" for the car.
  • Drive to the departure gate for Safety and Dog inspections. Safety inspection: Provide the port workers with copy of DIJ, passport, insurance. They will check for triangles, fire extinguisher, spare tire and check the lights. Dog inspection: open everything, stand to the side and two dogs will check car. Remove your carry on bag for the ferry trip.
  • Check in a Ferry Xpress desk in the departure building using your printed ticket confirmation.
  • Exit Immigration all passengers at the same desk to your right. Show passport, yellow customs card and ferry ticket.
  • Drivers will return to vehicle to drive onto the Ferry after one more inspection. There was some confusion about the requirement to empty the vehicles of all cargo or luggage. We did not empty the vehicle, the police conducted a quick visual inspection. Again this may change after initial trip.
  • Passengers will scan carry on bags and walk to the ferry
  • If you haven't purchased insurance, you will be required to buy it on the Ferry after it departs from the dock. They will not allow the vehicle off the ferry until you buy or provide proof of insurance.(see the Colombia page for details on the insurance and price.

You arrive in Colombia!!

Colombia to Panama Detailed Instructions[edit]

Report from November 20 2014
Turn up to ferry (Cruise ship) terminal in Cartagena at recommended time. Gentleman at the gate will let you know what is going on, make sure he is aware you are going with car on ferry Xpress

PROCEDURE At Cartagena:

  • Wait for shipping agent to turn up - go in shipping agents car to their office 3 kms away - you will need passport, car ownership, SOAT (Colombian Car insurance) and $25.00 USD or equivalent in Colombian Pesos. - very straight forward, 3 people took 30 mins.
  • Shipping agent organizes car fumigation (inside and out) at ferry (cruise ship) terminal car park. $35.00 USD or equivalent in Colombian pesos.
  • Wait until ferry is ready and then drive through to customs holding point, (at this point it may be driver only - ask at the gate) you will be directed here. Park the car here and it will be THOROUGHLY SEARCHED by the military. Fishing rods pulled apart to be inspected, roof tent poles inspected and some air let out of tires. Sniffer dogs used.
  • Drive as directed to second customs holding point. Park here.
  • Walk to personal immigration and customs building where everybody going on Ferry Xpress clears.
  • Once cleared personal customs and immigration go to car, when directed drive on ship.


  • You can use VISA or American Dollars NOT Colombian pesos.
  • You can't access the car without authority.
  • We were told we had to buy Panama Car insurance on the boat, otherwise we were not able to disembark the car. It cost $75.00 USD. You will need car ownership and owners passport be photocopied. - they gave a ferry express receipt (not the insurance)


  • Drive the car to customs holding point.
  • Go and clear personal immigration and customs in terminal like other passengers.
  • Next step is importing your vehicle into Panama. (Getting your temp importation license and an authority to drive(?) This is done in the building on the left hand side of the carpark when you leave the building. You need to show your Panama car insurance to clear customs
  • (Hopefully this step will have been sorted out compared from our experience.) FOR US:
    • Arrived at car customs building, told we needed car insurance to start process, the office did not know what the ferry Xpress receipt we were given meant. We waited.
    • Eventually we were told to go to a blue building outside the dock compound to the left - a car insurance company. We waited.
    • A fixer from the port turned up at office who got the insurance completed for us.

It took us 4 hours from leaving the boat to leaving the port - it took a long time but everything always went forward.

  • Once you have the insurance, hand over your passport, car registration, car insurance to the man in the window on the left hand side. (If hot you could ask to wait in the air conditioned room) he will issue you with two documents and stamp the owners/drivers passport. Pay him $15.00 USD
  • Make sure to get the car/bike looked over with a sniffer dog before you leave the compound.

You arrive in Panama!!

Overland Sphere Discount[edit]

Overland Sphere provide a Ferry Xpress booking service on a not for profit basis, read more here

Typical discounts are between $70.00 USD and $120.00 USD per booking.

  • Overland Sphere provide regular updates on the status of the service on their Overlanding Facebook Group and have in the past shipped vehicles on unpublished services.

External Links[edit]