Observations – Regarding Moving To Panama

I know I haven’t posted much lately, but I have several items consuming my time. However, I have had some time to observe several Yahoo groups and the Internet conversations about the frustration of the new immigration laws that Panama is enforcing.

For those considering retiring in Panama, this should have no major ill effect. I still maintain you should live here, as you would if you were a permanent resident, for a minimum of 6 months, prior to deciding to move here.

You should use that time for a test run to allow experiencing both the rainy and the dry seasons. That is not hard to do, but it does require effort. You should keep in mind that some locations have extra risks during the rainy season , such as bridge outages or land slides.

During that time you need to do a real due diligence to see if Panama is right for you.

I suggest several items for your due diligence.

  1. Observe the climate. Probably the most enticing reason to move to Panama is the weather. I consider it the only reason that would motivate me to move here after 14 years of experience.
  2. Visit the appropriate medical facilities. Check out doctors you might use. Visit the Regional Hospital emergency and watch the traffic. Determine how you would cover a serious illness or accident. Understand how you will pay for an unplanned medical event. If you have moderate to serious medical conditions, think hard before making a move here.
  3. Watch the local Panama TV news. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you will learn a lot. This should be a daily event while you are here.
  4. Plan on learning Spanish, if you don’t speak it. It will be needed, if you are rushed to the Regional Hospital for an unplanned medical emergency.
  5. Determine how you will manage your finances. Many Panama banks no longer allow US citizens to open an account. To withdraw $500 from an ATM will typically cost you over $5+, if the account is not from a bank in Panama.
  6. Determine the cost and availability of reliable Internet. TV and Internet can be costly, if you don’t live in a good area. Most programing will be in Spanish. Service, both technical and account, can be a challenge, if you don’t speak Spanish.
  7. Verify the cost of living in Panama. It is not cheap. Granted, it is cheap compared to Costa Rica and safer than most of the other Latin American countries, but cheap, it is not.
  8. Verify your tolerance to rapid changes. What was the rule last week may not be the rule next week. Don’t like protests blocking you ability to get to medical services, well expect it in Panama and plan for it.
  9. While government officials will tell you that crime is on the down tick, locals will tell you it is higher than in the past. I have seen it change a lot in the last 14 years I have been here. Watching the local news will educate you.

Continue this list with other items that are important to you. Continue reading Observations – Regarding Moving To Panama

You could kidnap my wife, and she’d be in the trunk of your car shouting that you’re following the car in front of you too closely.

I always like to find the humor in things, for example, my Social Security check!!

Volcan Apartment, Finca Altozano, Disponible (Available) after Apr. 10

I received a request to post the following

The apartment on my farm will be available for the first time in nearly six years as of April 10. For Information, please call 6931-1129.
Por primera vez en casi 6 años, el apartamento en mi finca estará disponible a partir del 6 de abril. Para mayor información, estoy a sus órdenes al 6831-1129.
Pour la première fois depuis presque six ans, l’appartement chez nous dans notre domaine sera disponible dès le 10 avril. Renseignez-vous au 6931-1129.

I keep messing up my diet with my desire for real food.

Cats…Because you can never have enough rejection in your life. Dogs… When you have had enough rejection.

Logic says the screw I dropped should be somewhere by my feet, but experience says it’s under the couch in the other room.

The easiest way to see the various stages of life is to walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

Message for U.S. Citizens:Information on Panamanian Immigration Regulations

Following is the latest ACS message

U.S. Embassy in Panama

Message for U.S. Citizens

March 15, 2017

 

The U.S. Embassy in Panama would like to inform all U.S. Citizens in Panama that on March 6th 2017, the Panamanian Immigration Authority (Servicio Nacional de Migracion-SNM) announced new guidance for Panamanian immigration officials on the enforcement of pre-existing regulations.  According to the SNM, immigration officials have been instructed to be stricter about the enforcement of the regulation that foreigners entering Panama with tourist status prove that they are in fact entering Panama as tourists and not residing in Panama.  Since the announcement, the Consular Section has received many questions from U.S. citizens about this new guidance.  Below are the most frequently asked questions along with the responses the Consular Section received from the SNM.  Should you have further questions, please reach out to the SNM directly via phone at 507-1800 or visit their website at: http://www.migracion.gob.pa

 

In order to re-enter Panama on tourist status, does a U.S. Citizen need to return to their country of origin (the country from which they came into Panama) or can they return from a third-country (example: Costa Rica)?

Answer:  In the new guidance SNM does not specify if the tourist needs to return his/her country of origin. What is being implemented is that, in most cases, the person needs to leave Panama for a minimum of 30 days before reentering as a tourist.

In order for a person to re-enter Panama on tourist status, what is the minimum amount of time the person needs to spend outside of Panama?

Answer: The new requirement that is being implemented by SNM in reference to time spent out of Panama is a minimum of 30 days before applying for admission, in most cases.

In order for a person to re-enter Panama on mariner visa status, what is the minimum amount of time the person needs to spend outside of Panama.

Answer: According to SNM, mariner visas are valid for 90 days and must be renewed on the 90th day, or the day before, from the date of the previous mariner visa stamp.  Mariner visas can only be renewed once before the visa- holder needs to exit Panama. The amount of time the person with the mariner visa needs to stay outside of Panama is not specified by SNM.

If entering Panama on tourist status, does the method of entry need to match the method of exit (i.e. can a U.S. Citizen enter Panama on a plane and use as proof of exit evidence that they own a boat in Panama and plan to exit via boat)?

Answer: The method of entry and exit into and out of Panama does not have to be the same so long as the entries and departures are met legally by using established Ports of Entry – land, maritime or air and admitted by a Panamanian immigration officer.

Do U.S. Citizens with legal Panamanian residency status also require a roundtrip ticket when entering Panama?

Answer: No.  A foreigner with legal residence in Panama does not need to show proof of exit from Panama.

Is a person applying for Panamanian residency required to stay in Panama for the entire duration of time required to complete the residency process? If so, what happens if the process takes more than the allotted six months for tourist status.

 

Answer: If the person has an ID that shows that his/her residency is in process, the person is fine to leave and return to Panama.  If there is no ID, then the person should exit as a tourist (i.e., before the sixth month approaches).

 

How long does the FBI Identification Record process, required for purposes of obtaining residency in Panama, take? Can this process be expedited?

 

Answer: For information on the FBI identification record process, individuals may visit https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks.  According to the FBI website, the current turnaround estimate for these records is 12 to 14 weeks plus the amount of time the results may take to arrive in the mail.  Currently there is no option to receive the response electronically. For questions on this topic, individuals may call (304) 625-5590 or write an email to identity@ic.fbi.gov

 

Tourists are only allowed to drive in Panama for 90 days.  Is there an exception for this given that tourists are allowed to stay in Panama for 180 days?

 

Answer: According to the Transit authority (http://www.transito.gob.pa/sites/default/files/reglamento_decreto_640..pdf Artículo 110) foreigners that enter Panama as tourists are not permitted to obtain Panamanian drivers’ licenses and are only allowed to drive with a foreign license for 90 days.  There are no exceptions to this rule.

 

Can SNM waive the FBI Identification Record process if a person does not exit Panama for two years? If so, would there be an exception to the 180 day stay limit for tourists for a person trying to obtain this waiver?

 

Answer: If a person stays in Panama for more than two years then the FBI requirement does not apply.  The waiver of the FBI requirement applies to those people that stay in Panama two years, without exiting.  In these cases, a fine is paid by the person for overstaying their tourist visa and the person is only required to present a PNM police record rather than the FBI check.

 

For further information about Panama:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Panama Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler-Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Panama, located at Building 783, Demetrio Basilio Lakas Avenue Clayton, Panama, at +507-317-5030, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +507-317-5000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).