Visa, Passport & Embassies
What are the requirements to enter Panama?
ALL VISITORS require a VALID PASSPORT and an ONWARD/RETURN TICKET leaving within the time allotted for your visa either to your home country or another country. Additional requirements vary according to nationality and are subject to change. Citizens from certain countries need a tourist card, others need an authorized visa and others do not need anything. You are recommended to check with a Panamanian Consulate, Embassy or ticketing agents for airlines that fly to Panama to obtain the most updated and accurate information.
If you plan to be in Panama for more than 180 days, you can simply cross over into Costa Rica which is about 1 1/2 hours from Boquete and remain there for 72 hours, as this renews your visa.
Do I need a Visa to enter Panama?
It depends on your nationality. Citizens from the following countries DO NOT need a visa to enter Panama because their countries hold treaties with Panama that entitle their citizens to visit for up to 180 days without a visa: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Uruguay.
Citizens from these countries can apply for an extension for up to another 30, 60 or 90 days. Petitions are approved or denied on a case-by-case basis. Immigration recommends you apply at least a week before your time is up.
Citizens from all other nationalities may need a Tourist Card ($5) or some other type of Visa.
How can I stay for longer in Panama?
The easiest way to extend your stay is to cross over to Costa Rica for 72 hours as this renews your visa.
You can also apply for an extension. There is an immigration office in David, Chiriqui, where citizens of certain countries, including the U.S. and Canada, can apply for extensions. Citizens of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, among others, must travel to Panama City to request tourist visa extensions, as the tourist visa they are granted upon entering Panama is classified as "restricted".
In Panama it is law for all foreigners to carry their original passport or a copy of their passport with their arrival stamp on them at all times. This is especially important when traveling as you will be asked to show proof of your arrival date. In order for you to obtain a visa your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date that you arrive and have one blank visa page.
Before leaving home make 2 duplicates of all documents such as passport, visa page (if you have this), air tickets, travel insurance policy, credit card, etc. Leave one set with someone at home and take the other set with you. Remember to keep the copies separate from the originals so they can be used in an emergency use.
Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates
Panamanian diplomatic missions do not only process visas but they are a great source to find out information about Panama. You can find out information about history, politics, tourism, national events and holidays, and about the relations between your country and Panama, so check them out as you prepare for your volunteer time.
Embassy in Panama Links
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_994.html (for USA citizens)
Knowing where or if your country has a diplomatic mission in Panama is important too. They will be able to offer advice and help if you lose or have your passport stolen for instance.
You may like to consider registering yourself with your country's diplomatic mission while in Panama. If a serious emergency was to occur in Panama which required foreigners to be evacuated then your Government will in many instances coordinate an evacuation effort. If your country knows you are in Panama then they will be able to offer you help and coordinate this effort more effectively.
It is important to know that you can't always be helped by your diplomatic mission in Panama. The mission may be able to help out with lost or stolen passports but they will not provide flights home if you needed to return home suddenly. They would expect you to have insurance for emergencies like this. They won't be able to help if you've got yourself into trouble by breaking the law. Remember what may be considered legal in your own country may not be in Panama.
List of Diplomatic Missions