Clarification on length of time US Citizens may be in Panama as tourists

Following is the US Embassy’s clarification on the length of time US Citizens may be in Panama.

Based on multiple inquiries from U.S. citizens in Panama regarding Decree No.590 dated December 28, 2016, the Consular Section contacted the Panamanian Servicio Nacional de Migracion (SNM or Panamanian Immigration Office) for further clarification on the length of time U.S. Citizens are able to stay in Panama as tourists.  The SNM confirmed that U.S. citizens (as well as citizens of the UK, Canada, and Australia) are still allowed to enter Panama without a Panamanian visa and they can stay for up to 180 days as tourists. 


For more information regarding this matter, please visit the SNM’s Twitter account, which is available at the following link:

17 thoughts on “Clarification on length of time US Citizens may be in Panama as tourists

  1. Great minds… LOL. I have been following this closely also and wrote a post explaining what is going on in my blog It includes a link to the director of immigration explaining how the new decree affects things..

    Yes, nothing has changed for us from the US, Canada and other countries with a reciprocal agreement. Whew! It sure got a lot of us going for a while 😀

  2. I agree that nothing has changed in the rules for US Citizens. However, having watched the many changes in border personnel, it has definitely gotten a lot more stressful than it was in 2002. I still feel it will continue to become more stressful for those that choose to live as a border hopper.

    Life is much more tranquil for those having a permanent residency status. An E cédula also gets more resect than a pensionado card.

  3. Did anyone mention the 72 hour requirement for staying in Costa Rica? I would really like to find something in the laws that references that. All of the other requirements are listed except that one. I did email the embassy in English and Spanish but never got a reply.

  4. I agree it’s stressful. No one knows if you have to stay out for a day, or three. No one knows if the rules are going to change tomorrow. I’m also very glad to have my residency and cedula so I don’t have to worry about any of this. It’s good to be legal.

  5. Thank you for the clarification. I recently joined the site because I want to attend a school for immersion in Spanish. Depending on the cost plus housing I had hoped to stay up to six months, but now I am thinking maybe only two to three months. With the current ruling it appears that I will not need to apply for a special visa. I am an older person and am thinking of staying in one of the hostels that are listed on the school website. Any suggestions.

  6. Panama’s residency requirements are a cakewalk compared to the US. We waited 12 years on the first of Nena’s blood relatives to be granted a permanent visa status. And the costs were more as well. The hassle of border hopping is just too much trouble. Plus, I’m lazy.

  7. If you want to get an “E” Cedula with out a Lawyer, in one visit and in less than one hour, contact: Luis Arce, +507 6536-1179, He did it for us and several of our friends. In fact as we were walking out, the security guards said that he had not ever seen anyone in and out in such a short time.

  8. I did my Ecedula without an Attorney or Escort 1/16/2017 in 40 minutes. Solo. It’s not difficult now days and I had the spanish speaking guards direct me to the proper office. Save your money. It takes two weeks to complete from the time you get the photo and sign for the card and they will tell you to return then. Don’t do that and tell them where you live. And, they will send your Ecedula to the Tribunal Electoral nearest to your house, FREE. Just ask them. I started at 7am and when I finished very few people were in line. The cost of the Ecedula and two copies of Pensionado was $65.20….

  9. Best thing isbto do it in panama vity. David is jus a pouch . Eveeything is processed in panama. David just mails docs to panama. Our mistake when we did mark’s. When we finally got appointmenr in panama they told us david is just a mail service. We lostbone year until we contacted panama and realized we mised the marriwd couple interview and marks residency was denied due to no show up. We had to asknfor reconsideration. He applied as married to panamanian. He is not retired. Anyway its faster in panama.

  10. Old Timer; It Can NOT be done in David. You can start your Pensionado in David. Both the Pensionado and Ecedula have to be completed in Panama City with Immigration and Tribunal Electora.

  11. If you want answers, ask someone who knows the law: a.k.a. the US Embassy. Here is the email I received today about the Immigration changes for visitors to Panama:

    “Good afternoon,

    We understand that with the new law U.S. citizens are still allowed to stay in Panama as tourists for up to 180 days.



    Official – Transitory

  12. In peace, I offer one final comment on “extended stay tourism” in Panama. Some of us are less fortunate than others. We have only small modest pensions, and very little savings. However, that does not make us “illegal”, or “criminals running from the law”, or tax evaders. I am an honest person who can have a better life in a “second world” country than I could in my home country. Please remember God’s warning to us: “Judge not, lest you be judged”. Dios te Bendiga

  13. What are the 2019 updated rules on leaving panama for 30 days and re-entering for a U.S. tourist. Thanks

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