Thoughts on The New Panama Tourist Visa

I have had a little more time to think about the new Tourist Visa changes since yesterday and now that my initial shock has passed, I am trying to look at it objectively. The Panama Guide has an interview with Lic. Tomas Garcia Tobar, the National Sub Director of Panama’s Department of Immigration regarding the recent change in requirements for tourist visas. It presents a better understanding of what the intent for the change is.

If you step back and think about it, the term Tourist Visa, pretty well says what the visaś purpose is. The new change allows a person to obtain a 30 day visa and then that person may extend it once for a maximum of 60 more days for a maximum time in Panama of 90 days. Whether the extension is 30 or 60 is determined by Panama on a case by case situation.

I, for one, think that 30 days time in a country is ample time for most tourists. Certainly 90 days should accommodate everyone. If a person expects to spend a large percentage of their life in Panama, then there should be no reason that they should not apply for one of the other visa programs.

Being a person who moved to Panama to live, I am pleased to see that the intent is to keep those that should not be here from staying indefinitely. There has been too much news of pedophiles, tax evaders, criminals etc. coming and staying in Panama and you find out about them after something bad has happened in Panama. This should also remove some sleazy project developers from coming to Panama, running up prices, taking advantage of naive gringos and even Panamanians, then after making their millions living in other parts of the world and not spending that money here.

As with anything of this nature happening, sometimes good people are affected negatively. Panama has a lot of good people living within Panama, earning money and contributing real dollars to the Panama economy, and they may be here on a tourist visa. This is similar to many of the illegal aliens living in the US that have been good for the economy, but none the less are there under the radar.

Well, Panama has improved its radar and is doing something to gain control of a real problem. The US could take a lesson from Panama. Now you can take a pessimistic view of the change and think the world is coming to an end and this change is a good reason to take Panama off your list of retirement locations. However, I think if you are the right type of person, this just might be a new reason to put Panama higher on the list of candidates.

The one thing I do not believe that Panama has done well, has to been to give ample notice to those already here that this change was coming. It should have prepared its border agents in the immigration office to communicate the limits of the visa, to those entering Panama, in a clear but non-belligerent fashion. This is a time when a little intelligent PR would go along way to make what many may take as a negative and present it in a positive light.

My feeling after sleeping on it, is that this is a good change. I want the people that come to Panama to live, to be assets to Panama and not detriments. Well those are my thoughts. I am sure there are other opinions that may differ from mine.

59 thoughts on “Thoughts on The New Panama Tourist Visa

  1. William. I think your statement is incorrect. Panama has mad no such decision, as I understand it. They have currently just reverted back to previous agreement that were mutual between various countries and apparently did not have such an agreement with the US or Canada.

    I think the subject is still under consideration. Personally, I preferred everyone having 30 and being required to have a more permanent commitment to Panama to have anything longer. But that is just me.

  2. Hello,
    My name is Mark Cohen and I’m from Montreal, Canada.
    I would like to retire to Panama to live near Boquete or Bocas del Toro.
    I am 56 years old and receive income on fixed investments in Canada. This interest income is $4100 US monthly, and I have been receiving it since 1996.
    I am not ready to invest $200,000 in Panama bank certificates, nor am I ready to purchase a house in Panama.
    I have a disability that necessitates me having a certified Guide Dog for the Blind which travels everywhere with me.
    I have worked as a volunteer in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a total of 18 months with various animal shelters and have trained dogs to work with people with disabilities.
    I would like to apply for extended Tourist Pensionado status and not have to leave Panama every 30 days for a 3 day period.
    When in Panama I would like to rent a room in a house or share a house with someone for a minimum 6 month period.
    I would also like to buy a used car.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    Mark Cohen
    +1 514 618-3483

  3. Hi Mark. It is my understanding that there are some special visas that may be applied for. I know nothing more than I have heard that. I am at a loss to know how to direct you to someone that might help in your situation.

  4. We are cruisers in the Bocas del Toro area. Still confused on this 30 day, 90 day thing. Is it currently 30 days and apply for 60 day extention? After that, do you get to apply for another extension or do you have to leave Panama and spend your $$’s elsewhere?

  5. I am not sure I understand what a cruiser is. In general, if you are entering Panama and are required to have a visa, then you will get either a 30 of 90 day visa based on if your country of origin is on the 30 or the 90 day list. If it is on the 30 day list you can apply for up to a 60 day extension. Checking with Panama’s website should be a source for the correct information.

  6. More bad news for investors in Panama I am afraid. According to La Prensa 12 Nov. A big shot at Bonlac, Marco Ameglio, is complaining that there is a shortage of local milk to produce their yogurt, Ice cream etc because farmers are selling their farms. He is calling for a confrontation of this situation.

    Well who do you think is buying the farms?– Foreigners
    And who may be suffering from that?–Him and his company.
    That farm, even lightly developed will likely provide more income to the community than the little one or 2 person handmilking operations so common in Chirique and Azuero. Does this guy have a valid point or is it just more anti -Norte Americanism?

  7. I thought I would fill people in as a Canadian traveler who rented a condo for three months to try Panama out. We are in the worrying process of obtaining a visa extension that is going to cost us almost $500.00. Had to obtain a lawyer, a sponsor and copies of everything under the sun and now drive over two hours to Panama City, stay overnight as immigration is so far behind only to be notified by friends that things have changed and they stamped visa extension at airport for 90 days upon arrival of another Canadian couple. Where does that leave us?????

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