I received the following from a Chiriquí Chatter reader and thought it would be of interest to some who are going to require getting a new passport. The ACS Unit comes to David usually once a year and can help during that time, but the rest of the time you have to go to Panama City and this reader’s experience is what you should expect. “Thank You” to the reader providing this detailed writeup.
Renewing your American Passport in Panama
For those Americans residing in Panama you may one day need the services of the US Embassy in Panama City for renewing your passport. The first thing that will need to be accomplished is to establish an appointment with the American Citizens Services Unit of the Embassy (ACS). You make an appointment by logging on to the Embassy web site at the following: http://panama.usembassy.gov from there you can access the Embassy’s new on-line appointment scheduling system. Once you have established an appointment there are a few things you must know about you task of obtaining a new American Passport.
First you can no longer park with in the Embassy grounds as new security measures are now in effect and anyone needing routine services for the Embassy must park their vehicle outside of the perimeter in a small parking lot that is quite small and doesn’t seem to accommodate all the parking needs so plan ahead in case you don’t locate a space to park. Next to enter the Embassy compound you must have documentation that proves American Citizenship, typically your Passport will do the trick.
Once allowed on the embassy grounds make your way to the central security building located out and away from the main building. Once you enter the security building you must be cleared by the security staff in order to precede. To clear the security check point all items you are in possession of will be X-ray just like Air Port screening including walking through a metal detector. The security personnel will remove any unauthorized items and hold them for you until you return from the Main Embassy building where the ACS lobby is located.
Once inside of the main lobby of the Embassy you will again have to clear a secondary security screening with metal detection equipment. Once you have cleared all of the Security protocols you are ready to do business. First thing to do is to go to the automated number ticked dispensing matching located in the front and center of the lobby just past the security screening area by the entrance. Looking at the ticket machine you select the first of top button for ACS. Service, the other buttons are for other types of services and are libeled accordingly.
The ACS service windows are #13 & #14 only and are clearly marked. Once your turner is announced you go to the designated window for service. To apply for a new passport you must submit the old pass port along with your renewal application that you fill out on the Embassy web site and print out. You must also provide a current color Photograph with the standard 2”x2” size. Once the ACS representative accepts your application you will be directed to the cashier’s window just to the left of the ACS service counters, there you must pay the renewal fee of $110 in cash.
According to the ACS unit you should receive your new Passport in approximately 2 to 3 weeks and you will be notified via e-mail when it arrives back at the Embassy.
In the States the normal protocol is to send in your old Passport with the application, however if you are located overseas like in Panama the Embassy will make a certified copy of your Passport and sent that copy with your application. They will then return your original Passport back to you so you have it with you at all times.
Enjoy your trip to the Embassy and I hope this information was helpful!