30 Day´s For Tourist Visa

A Chiriquí Chatter reader sent me the following link. If you are using the standard Tourist Visa to stay in Panama this is important to you. If you don´t read Spanish you may want to use the Google translation tools to read this.

Panama has changed Article 36 of Law 15 and the duration and limits of the Tourist Visa have changed. It basically says that the new tourist visa is valid for only 30 days and may be extended once for a total of 60 days.

14 thoughts on “30 Day´s For Tourist Visa

  1. Buenas Don,
    As ‘luck’ would have it, the wife & I did cross the border yesterday (5/28/07) from CR and low & behold…..a notice was posted on the window of the Pan immigration window announcing the new 30 day tourist visa law. The law’s effective date also turned out to be……….yesterday!

    We presented our passports to the Pan immigration guy and he looked them over, returned to the window and began speaking to me. He explained that the visa law had just been changed. He said we had 30 days to remain in Panama. He asked if I understood him and repeated ‘triente dias’ and asked me point blank (so to speak) and very seriosly, to repeat ‘triente dias’ back to him…which I did and I clearly understood his message, as I do speak enough Espanol to get by at this point and had already read the notice as well.

    My wife, sensing this man’s attitude, looked at me and said, “Well, to hell with these people and we’re out of here in less than 30 days anyhow.” To which I replied, “You ain’t kidding, we’re outta here”….(we had already made plans to leave).

    As you may remember, I’ve contacted you recently via email and referred you to information regarding Panama’s evolving ‘environment’.

    We felt this event presented itself as another confirmation that we don’t belong here at this point, being treated as second class tourists at the border, keeping in mind that we do have an immigration stamp in our passports indicating our (now former) intention to obtain resident status here. We’ve made friends here and are well liked among locals and gringos so I’m not crying about the ‘new country’ syndrome or any of that nonsense.

    Maybe this new law will be a minor inconvenience for some here who wished to remain as ‘perpetual tourists’. For us, it feels like it’s time to go.
    I know these guys are probably just trying to pick up a few extra bucks for tourist cards, stamps and possibly increased fines for laggard ‘tourists’ but we see this event as only a minor precursor of things to come.

  2. Hi KK. Sorry that this has caused you to change your decision on completing your resident status. My feeling is that the immigration authorities have been given instructions to make sure that the new law is understood and their communications style is poor, but not consistent with the intent of the law change.

    My feeling is they want to remove the ability to come and go freely with the main subjects being Dominicans, Colombians, Nicaraguans, etc. I could be wrong.

    Obviously this is a significant change to Panama´s visa policy. I am glad I have my Pensionado Visa. Nothing is forever and only time will tell what will happen.

  3. Don,
    Just to clarify on your comment above: A series of events, the border ‘incident’ cited above being minor in comparison with other much more serious considerations, was merely a further confirmation in our minds that we had made the correct decision to move out of Panama. This decision to move was made weeks before crossing from CR to Panama yesterday. Believe me, the tourist visa thing is a minor footnote when looking at the proverbial “Big Picture” here.
    We began our immigration exercise months ago. We are not Pensionados and will not be for years. As you know, other less accessible visa programs require much more capital investment and therefore, financial commitment. We were ready to complete the ‘Person of Means’ visa requirements and are now glad that we did not.
    In other words, this tourist visa tightening up did not ‘scare’ us away. I guess you’d call it a coincidence of no consequence since like you, we’ll not be affected by it.

  4. KK – I understand your thinking. Everyone needs to evaluate his or her best interests. I personally think that Panama is the best Latin American country to live in. To me this is an annoyance and bad judgment on Panama´s side if miss handled, but nothing more.

  5. Don Ray,
    The Panama Guide has more info and an interview with Senor Tomas Garcia Tobar, the National Sub Director of Panama’s Department of Immigration regarding the recent change in requirements for tourist visas. See:
    http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20070529182323397
    I have no problem with Panama trying to control their borders better, in contrast to the US which doesn’t appear to have the stomach for it. Nonetheless, this seems to be not the best approach to rolling it out. I would guess that drug & human trafficking are the primary targets.
    Rob

  6. This new law is one of the silliest laws enacted since I started researching Panama 5 years ago. It will cost Panama $100,000s in lost revenue from tourists who spend more in a day than most Panamanians make in a week. A good compromise would be a 60 visa with a 60 day extension possible. I guess I’ll have to start on my small business investor visa when I came back down in July. As I understand it, the law allows one 30 day extension after the initial 30 period then a 72 hour “sabatical”. The good news is that I’ll only be 25 minutes from the border.

  7. Ron – They are really cracking down. I really think this is a good thing. The bad thing is that they have done a terrible job of promoting what they are doing and they need to be sensitive to communicating as the example above shows.

  8. Don Ray, The USA would do well to enact some similar time period in their laws. I surfed the USA visa gov sites looking for a finite duration of visit number and came up empty.

    I was finally able to get Nena’s sister her permanent resident status after the having to repay several hundred dollars when the government lost her original card in transit so at least Panama is offering a very clear policy. It sure beats the maze of government regs that we have here in the US. My sister-in-law’s original request for permanent status was filed in 1992 and was granted just last year.
    JimAndNen

  9. Hi Jim. After thinking more on the subject, I tend to agree with you. I still think the PR wasn’t handled well, but nothing is perfect.

  10. Perhaps we are a little too sensative to “not nice” border control composure. Need I remind you all that our one beloved country treats all foreigners (residents and tourists alike) like hostile terrorists. Perhaps its time that we get a little taste of our own medicine. We can not push for exceptions to the new law based on what country you come from as this is extrememly unjust. Not everyone from Colombia is a drug lord. Buying into that belief is a straight up prejudice.

    Panama has open doors for many more options, investors, forestry, and pension visas for those with the finanacial abilities to buy in to Panama. There are worse things in this world (horror stories from US immigrations por ejemplo) than a cranky reception into Panama.

  11. Hi Sofia. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You are correct in that the US boarder interface is much different now than in the past. The world as a whole has changed greatly after 9/11.

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