Do I need a passport or visa to enter?
U.S. citizens traveling by air, road, or sea must present a valid passport when entering or departing Panama. U.S. citizens departing or re-entering the United States must likewise present a valid passport. Complete information on how to obtain a U.S. passport is available on the Passport Information page at travel.state.gov or by calling 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778).
Panamanian law requires that U.S. citizen travelers present a passport that has a remaining validity of at least three months or a passport with a Panamanian visa, and the visa has a remaining validity of at least six months.
If your passport does not have the required validity, you will not be allowed to leave the airport or enter Panama, and you will be returned to your point of departure in the U.S. on the next flight with available seating.
Upon arriving in Panama tourists must present a return trip ticket or fare back to their home country or next destination. Panama also requires a completed international boarding card which is provided by the airline and submitted by the traveler at the point of immigration. In addition to this, no less than five-hundred balboas ($500.00) in cash or its equivalent must be presented as proof of financial solvency. In addition to cash, travelers can show a credit card (with most recent credit card statement), bank reference, letter of employment, or traveler’s check. Please be aware that immigration officials on the Panama-Costa Rica border are making tourist entry requirements more strict. Travelers planning to enter/exit along the Panama-Costa Rica border should be prepared to present all required documents to immigration officials.
Travelers should be aware that Panamanian immigration law provides for the denial of entry or transit to any person who has a criminal conviction. According to Panamanian law, it is irrelevant whether the crime was committed on Panamanian soil or in a foreign country. Individuals denied entry or transit will be returned to their last point of embarkation. For further information, contact the Government of Panama at their website under ‘Contactenos’.
As of April 2010, U.S. tourists arriving by air or road are permitted to stay in Panama for 180 days without obtaining a formal visa. U.S. citizens entering Panama by commercial flight as tourists will be charged a $5.00 tourist fee when they purchase their travel ticket. To obtain a multiple entry visa, if, for example, you plan to stay more than 180 days or plan to engage in non-tourism activities such as university study, please contact the Panamanian Embassy or a Panamanian Consulate in the U.S. before traveling.
U.S. citizens transiting the Panama Canal as vessel passengers do not need to obtain a visa or pay any fees if they are not disembarking. If you are disembarking, the Servicio Nacional de Migracion will issue you an initial permit of twelve hours for a $5.00 fee. This initial permit can be extended for 72 hours without an extra fee (you may want to consider requesting the 72 hours upon disembarking to avoid visiting the Servicio Nacional de Migracion if your visa extends past the initial 12 hour permit). U.S. citizens arriving in Panama via private plane may obtain a pre-stamped visa from a Panamanian Embassy or Consulate in the U.S.
The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit fee of $110 for sea travelers piloting their own boats or yachts and arriving as tourists. This fee permits entry into Panama for a period of three months, which can be extended for up to two years through an approved application with the immigration authorities in Panama. U.S. citizens navigating private craft through the Canal should contact the Panama Canal Authority at (011) 507-272-4570 or consult the Panama Canal Authority web site to make an appointment.
Further information on visas other than tourist visas may be obtained from the Embassy of Panama or its consulates in the United States. The Panamanian Embassy is located at 2862 McGill Terrace NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 483-1407. For travelers who wish to remain in Panama beyond the 180 days permitted to tourists, a “change of migratory status visa” should be requested through a Panamanian lawyer before the expiration of the 180 days in country. An initial fee of $250.00 must be paid for the “change of migratory status visa.” Please note that the approval of the change in migratory status is at the discretion of the Panamanian Immigration Office.
More information on visa types and the necessary steps to take in Panama is available at the National Migration website. Or visit the Consular Services tab of the Embassy of Panama website for additional visa information.
Minors (children under 18) who are citizens (including dual-citizens) or legal residents of Panama are required to present both parents’ identification documents, birth certificates, and notarized consent from both parents (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents. Any child born in Panama automatically obtains Panamanian citizenship.
This documentation is required at all sea and air ports as well as at all border crossing points.
Even if minors are not documented as Panamanian citizens and are documented as U.S. citizens, they may be denied departure without the consent letter and birth certificate. If your consent documents are notarized in the United States, they still need to be authenticated in the U.S. with an Apostille stamp before being accepted at immigration entry and departure points.
Electronic scans of documents that have been emailed, or faxes of the documents, will not be accepted, only the original documents. You must therefore bring them with you from the U.S. if your children are accompanying you to Panama. Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Panama. Panamanian immigration does not require an HIV/AIDS test, but Panamanian law does allow for deportation upon discovery by immigration. U.S. Embassy Panama is not aware of any U.S. citizens who have been deported due to HIV/AIDS. Should you have questions, you may wish to inquire directly with the Embassy of Panama before you travel.