Passport Requirement Question for Panama

I received a question from a Chiriquí Chatter reader that many of you will be interested in.

Here was the question:

As you are probably aware, the police now seem to have check stations on seemingly all the roads in/out of David all the time checking drivers license, car registrations, etc. The one on the road to Las Olas also routinely includes a DUI breath analyzer. One of the things that has also surfaced in the last couple of days is that the police at the stations are ‘jacking up’ people who are not carrying their passport (and not just the driver)- saying ‘no,no’ copies are not good enough.

When I got here 4 years ago I was told (and am certian I saw it in print ) that Americans did not have to carry the passport itself, just a copy of the ‘cover page’ and the page with the current stamp. Was that really the policy? Has there been a change in the policy or is this just the latest game?

Thanks (again)

Larry

I said I would get a current understanding from the U.S. Embassy. Here is the response I got today.

Thank you, Mr. Williams,

This is the information we have posted in our http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_994.html webpage related to acceptable identifications in Panama:

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Anyone not bearing identification at all times, including tourists from the United States, will be penalized by the Panamanian authorities. U.S. tourists need to provide an original, valid passport at entry in Panama. While in Panama, American tourists should carry either their original passport or an original, valid photo I.D. such as driver’s license with a photocopy of the bio-data page in their U.S. passport and a photocopy of the page in their passport that contains the entry stamp to Panama.

Please note that the information says …an I.D. ….“with” a photocopy of the bio-data…… The Panamanian authorities have the right to request proper identification to citizens in Panama when they deemed it necessary.

Regards,

There you have it.