I received the following email from a reader:

Hi Don,

I was told by a Gringo that he was stopped on the road to the airport (check point) and when ask for his passport. He was caring only a copy of the main page with photo and the stamp page when he entered the country. The policeman let him go but told him he was not legal traveling around without the passport.

Do you know what is the fact? He was a tourist with no jubalado card.

I decided to see if the Embassy had an answer and forwarded the email to them.

I received the following reply:

Hello Mr. Williams,

Each person needs to have a valid I.D. However, in the case of the tourists, we learned that authorities usually, at their discretion, let them stay or travel within the country with the copies mentioned in the email below plus a valid I.D. as the foreign driver’s license. Hope this info helped.


I post this just for information purposes only. You may or may not run into problems when traveling in Panama. I have no knowledge if the problem is widespread or in some particular areas.

7 thoughts on “A FYI

  1. Excellent question, There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer to this long term issues. It helps to understand that Panama is continually evolving and some laws and how they are interpreted seem to be challenging at all times.
    I have a suggestion: Perhaps the Chiriqui Chatter web site can create a downloadable universal spread sheet for tourist or who ever to have and carry with them. They could print one out and have it with them before arriving to Panama and the Emergency Contact Sheet could contain information on Hospitals, Police, EMS, Immigration, Public Transportation and essential American Embassy contact information and maybe Wardens. This could also include several Panama related web sites for travel research, just a thought.

  2. I am not sure that CC is wide enough read. That sounds like a good request to make to the Panama U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

  3. Morning!
    I have always carried a US driver’s license, the international driver’s permit, and a photocopy of my passport data. While looking at my passport data, the official will invariably ask, when did I enter Panama and how long am I staying. Once I give him the answer, he hands all the paperwork back and sends me on my way.

    All of this is much easier if done in Spanish. Smiling a lot helps, too. 🙂
    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

  4. I was stopped at a highway check and showed a copy of my passport. The policeman said I had to show him the original. Fortunately, I had that with me too, presented it, and went on my way.

  5. Please, if you want your passport copies accepted without question : take them to a Panamanian notary to stamp them!

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