Information For Non-Residents of Panama Entering Panama at the Frontera

I was just at the TraCopa bus terminal in David and, while I was talking to the TraCopa bus driver and some passengers returning to Costa Rica, I learned about a problem many foreigners were having entering Panama at Paso Canoas.

At the Panama Customs area, the people were told they needed to have $500 and at least three months on their passport or they could not enter.

I have not heard anything saying that this is a new regulation but, as we know from living here for a fair period of time, laws change depending on who is deciding to enforce the law at that moment.

This is just a heads up for those readers that do not have a residency card (jubilado or other).

16 thoughts on “Information For Non-Residents of Panama Entering Panama at the Frontera

  1. Our last checkout-checkin, they made each of us show a credit card, but not cash (which we didn’t carry) and no bus ticket, but we carry our car registration through with us. Wouldn’t there be a rash of maleantes at the border to relieve those tourists of the $500 each they were known to be carrying? Especially if there is now easy crossing between Costa Rica and Panama… go to “work” from C.R. for the day by crossing the border, no visa required anymore, rob a tourist and go back to C.R.

  2. A while back,I was denied entry at Paso Canoas since my US passport expired within six months. It took some ‘persuasion’ to allow my entry into Panama with the condition that I would renew my passport ‘right away’. I called the Panamanian consulate in LA and they affirmed such requirement.

  3. I was wondering if I should carry 500 dollars in cash in Costa Rica in the little border town. I think I should also carry a 38 or 45 as well. Gee, I hope I don’t have to do this very more times. My residency card will be coming in a few months I hope.

  4. Just carry your cash, credit cards, passport, etc. in one of those $10-or-less cloth wallets with zippers that have a belt loop and reside inside your pants, and your items will be safe.
    (LIke this one for $9 on amazon, for example
    http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Hidden-Travel/dp/B00BJ8RCAI/ref=sr_1_29/189-6894469-2335007?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1376783005&sr=1-29
    This type is even better than the obvious ones which hang around your neck, or stick out because they’re worn like a belt (called fanny packs, I guess).
    Despite our sometimes irrational fears, maleantes are not crouching in every corner with weapons waiting to rob us in broad daylight in plain view.
    I have crossed the Panama/CR and many other borders and traveled many other countries for decades and have always used one of those ‘wallets’ and have never lost any money or been robbed (unless I did something really stupid and probably deserved it).
    Just don’t flash cash, stumble around drunk at 2 a.m. or make yourself an obvious target and you’re safe most places in the world, especially Latin America, in my opinion and experience.

  5. I go to CR on a regular basis, sometimes this is enforced, sometimes not. The requirement is for any ticket leaving Panama, bus,airline whatever.
    There is a poster on the window specifying financial requirements, different for other nationalities, again sometimes enforced, sometimes not.

  6. Hola.
    this is what I shared on a different forum. enjoy

    We made it back.
    Stressful to say the least.
    Of course leaving was no problem but the return was interesting, to say the least.
    We had bus tickets David to San Jose.
    Airline tickets for later in the year to U.S.
    Our car parked near the station and my registration in hand.
    Credit cards, Atm cards and cash though not the required $500 per person.
    We’ve been crossing at the same place for a while and have a rapport with the agents and guards there. but today was different.
    When we entered the Costa Rica office the agent was very intent to make sure we had and knew everything required by Panama. He would not stamp us out of Costa Rica until we had gotten a print out of our bank statement that said that we have at least $500 per person available. As we were short on the required $1,000 cash in hand. So while David waited with the Taxi (since he is wheelchair bound) I had to walk all the way into Panama to an internet cafe and go on line and access my account and have a print out done. Just for extra measure I had copies made of all our cards and my US driver license. then the long walk back up to the Costa Rica emigration where he was happy to send us on our way.
    Then we moved down to Panama. They did not want tot see our bus tickets, $45 wasted or our airline tickets. Not even interested.They briefly looked at the car registration, took the bank statement and stapled it to our passport copies, stamped us out and said adios.
    So here you go.
    Have the needed cash in hand or a recent copy of your bank statement. Transport out of the country they will probably want to see it. At least 2 copies of your passport and a calm, patience smile.
    This process cost about 3 hours and some extra cash for our taxi driver and the addition of more white hairs.
    Happy travels.
    ps…this is the cleaned up version of how I might tell this story.

  7. Hi Kersti,

    So your problem was on the CR side and not at the PAnama side? I guess I am understanding you are in Panama with the tourist visa and not a Pensionado visa.

  8. You read that right.
    Costa Rica wasn’t that much trouble, he was just trying to make sure we had what we needed before we tried to deal with Panama. He was protecting himself and us.
    Usually this is a easy and comfortable cross over. I understand there was a lot of cussing and anger by others trying to cross over.
    All I can say is be calm, friendly and jump through the hoops required.

  9. Hi Don Ray,

    I am a CR resident in the process of gaining my Panamanian residence.

    Can I renew my US passport here in Panama?

    thanks
    Karen

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