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In preparation for (and to avoid another visa issue like China) my trip to Panama, I decided to do some research about the visa requirements for United States citizens visiting the country. This was more or less to confirm that I should not have an issue entering or exiting the country, as long as my passport remains valid. A quick search of the United States Department of State’s website revealed the following:
Requirements for Entry:
- A passport valid for at least three months past the date of entry.
- A return ticket to home country or onward destination.
- Money – either $500 in cash or its equivalent, or credit card, bank statement, letter of employment or travelers checks.
- Criminal Record Restriction – Panamanian immigration reserves the right to deny entry to any person with a criminal conviction.
Requirements for Exit:
- 180 Day Stay-Tourists can only remain in Panama for 180 days.
- Traveling with Minors– Minors (children under 18) who are Panamanian citizens (including dual citizens) or legal residents of Panama are required to present both parents’ identification documents, birth certificates, and notarized consent (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents.
- Arriving by Sea: The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit fee of $110 for sea travelers piloting their own boats and arriving as tourists. This fee allows entry into Panama for a period of three months, and can be extended for up to two years through an approved application with the immigration authorities in Panama.
Most of the entry/exit requirements are straightforward, but there were a few things that confused me.
This is a no brainer. Panama, much like every other in the world, requires a passport to remain valid for a given length of time after you arrive. The main reason for this requirement is that the country does not want tourists to enter and have problems when it comes time to depart.
This is much like the valid passport requirement, Panama does not want tourists to overstay their welcome.
I do not know why Panama would have a $500 requirement for tourists to enter the country. How would the immigration officer verify that a tourist has $500 on their credit card? Or verify the accuracy of a bank statement? It would seem obvious to me that a person visiting would have sufficient funds to cover the trip. That is unless the person is a fugitive from justice, which is covered next.
Criminal Record Restriction
Panama has its fair share of issues when it comes to those who do not follow laws. It is appropriate for the country to reduce the amount of “criminals” that enter the country. How did the person leave the United States? Who knows, but we can all agree that criminals do not follow rules.
180 Day Stay
Tourists can stay up to 180 days. At this point, you should be prepared to leave the country or have found a way to obtain permanent residency (which is fairly easy).
Arriving by Sea
I found it interesting that tourists who are piloting their own boat have to pay $110 to enter the country. Is this a boat storage fee? This tourist visa can be extended to four times the length of a regular one, which is a win in my book.
I had to perform a sanity check to ensure that I would not have issues when I arrive in Panama. The $500 requirement is a little puzzling because I do not feel that this could be verified. Either way, the sanity check is complied with. I am looking forward to visiting this beautiful country. I hope that this post helped you as much as it helped me.
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