More Stuff

It looks like everyone is starting to realize that life in Paradise is changing if you were a border hopper.

I have seen a few say that they wouldn’t be hopping if they could get fingerprints. My advice is has never changed since I first came here.

First don’t consider moving here until you have lived here 6 months allowing experience in both the rainy and the dry season. Spend that time doing your research to see if Panama is for you. Talk to the doctors you think you would use if you were to actually live here.

Visit the hospitals and even spend a few minutes watching people enter the Regional Hospital emergency area. (That is where you will be taken if something serious happens to you unless you are lucky and can convince them to take you some where else.) Most critical accidents go there unconditionally.

Find a lawyer you trust to do your paperwork if you plan to return. Make sure you understand ALL documentation you need to get to begin the pensionado process. I know of at least 10 people who started the process and spent $1,500 to $3,000 either to have the lawyer disappear or to have Panama fingerprints not accepted by the FBI or to have the FBI lose the finger prints and then having to start the process again.

If you are here and say you can’t afford to return to the US to get the FBI report, then I will tell you that you cannot afford to live in Panama. You don’t move to Panama because it is cheap. It is not.

You move to Panama for the adventure of something different and for the weather. I don’t think there is better weather anywhere than here. However, it can be offset with cultural changes, annoyances, etc. Try it first. Panama is not for everyone.

This week, I had a Embassy case of another border runner who lived in a hotel in David. He died in Hospital Regional. The Embassy was finally able to contact family in the US and they said they could not or would not be responsible for his expenses.

The Embassy asked me to go to the hotel and get his belonging to see if there was anything of value that might help offset his debts.

Lilliam and I went and picked up 3 three suitcases. The contents contained old clothing not suitable for a tropical climate. No water, no passport no electronic good. Nothing of value. The best suitcase has a zipper that looked like it had been attempted to open ruining the suitcase.

Strange, there were no current clothing. It was if the gods had removed anything of value prior to my arriving at the hotel.

I think many would be amazed how many gringos are living in hotels or pensions or in marginal living conditions. I have run into many of their families when they have come to Panama to claim the body, or worse to identify the body via passport if the families would not come.

As I said, in the previous post, ending the perpetual tourist is a good thing for Panama. It removes an expense from Panama as opposed to losing tourist income.

As a side note, many living on boats around Panama need to take heed also.

38 thoughts on “More Stuff

  1. The comments seem to have been erased.

    Hmmm maybe some form of censorship…?? nah

    I fully understand Panama’s point that the border hoppers (legal) may have unpaid hospital bills.

    Fortunately, we in the US have never suffered a breach of our southern border during US history, and never an illegal entry…thus no unpaid hospital bills..and no billions in Medicaid fraud.

    And of course the DOS respects all foreign states, along with their laws…including the toppling of the Panamanian pres…cerca 1989

    Yes I did border hop….but I am a legal resident here…only hopped to renew my CR license.

    My attny told me to renew my US lic, and they would give me a Panamanian lic based on that.

    I spun the wheel…took the driver’s exam in Spainish…found out just priot it is via computer 60 seconds per question….

    if you need guess go with D…yes I have my license

    In a time of universal deceipt, telling the truth will be viewed as a revolutionary act.

  2. Thanks for the update, Don Ray

    For some reason on my laptop this post is coming up now with 0 comments, and only the prompt to leave a comment…whereas following my post it saw showing all 13 comments for about an hour…

    Maybe problem with my computer but it is a first…see the entire thread now though


    Keep up the great work

    Buy you a coffee next time at mcd

  3. Just reloaded, and while after my first comment this post was showing all 13 comments for about an hour, now the post is showing zero comments…still, and when I click on comment, it is merely showing our recent 3 comments….

    thanks, once again for all you do….

  4. As was posted by me and two others, on ‘Gringos in David’ who got the pensionado with the help of Monica Isaza, She is an attorney specializing in immigration. She has two brothers who are also immigration attorneys. I have known her for nearly six years. I’ve referred many people to her and never heard a complaint. I have heard about people getting ‘ripped off’ by shady people and can understand the hesitancy, but getting ‘legal’ is in your own best interest. Coming back to Panama is much easier since I got the E-Cedula. I really like the discount with the pensionado when I fly back to visit family, too. We can all be thankful that we have the privilege of coming here with so little effort. It definitely doesn’t work the other way around. A Panamanian friend applied for a visa for her daughter who was about 15. He father guaranteed her support 100%, while there to improve her English. She was denied. Her older sister had gone previously, so they didn’t understand why she was denied,but there was no recourse.

  5. Hi Don, Appreciate your info posts for sometime now. We did as you suggested….came for 16 days in 2011 & explored areas we had researched as possible pernanent location to retire. Came back in late 2012 for 3 months to try our preferred selection for a longer time. And came back June of 2013 full time. We had found a local attorney our second trip, who provided us with ALL info/requirements we would need to comply with. Got our fingerprints from the FBI, Secty of State office (in our US home city) to certify Soc. Security retirement statements or some such, as we were applying for our Pensionado residencies.
    Because of the mis-matched 6 month visa to live here, AND the 3 month expiration of foreign drivers licences, I had to do 2 border runs (Paso Canoas & Rio Sereno) before we finally got the Pensionado cards, and shortly later our Cedullas and Panama drivers license.
    Panama could help themselves AND everyone if they ‘matched up’ requirements……but been here long enough to KNOW……..ITS PANAMA!
    Often left hand doesn’t know what/where the right hand is!

    Maybe thid will help someone. BUT meantime, thanks for what you do.

  6. The Visitor / El Visitante
    Big Panama Tourist Visa Changes
    Rep of Panama 20-January-2017
    The Executive Decree No 590, sanctioned by President Varela said that the National Immigration Service authorities will issue valid tourist visas for a period no longer than 90 days (three months), when before they were for six months. The old tourist visa allowed foreigners to stay and even work during their six months in Panama. This has been modified.
    Don, what do you know about this?

  7. I see a referral posted before my post identifying a legal source. We used Lourdes Miranda of Miranda & Contreras, Attnys. at Law in Boquete. They also have an office in Panama City, and deal with Immigration & Real Estate, perhaps other fields as well.
    Their personnel literally led us by the hand thru the processes in David and Panama City at the Tribunal offices.

  8. Larson, it is my understanding that the visa is for 90 and you must apply to extend to a full 6 months. I may be wrong, but that is my understanding. Under any case, you are drivers license from outside Panama is only valid for 90 days.

  9. Received my pensionado and cedulla via Gray & Co. (Joan Villannueva) in PTY.
    I was referred to Gray &Co. from other gringos. Time window was about 18 months
    and I could not have accomplished the legal gymnastics on my own.

  10. 18 monts must have been a LONG TIME AGO. 4 months is the norm now. I just finished mine not long ago.

  11. We got our finger prints and fbi reports all done in Panama! All it took was processing time for less than $250

  12. Another vote for Lourdes Miranda and her group. They did not ask for tons of money up front, just as it was needed for each step. Several of our friends have used her and every time each thing went like clockwork.

  13. The issue with fingerprints and FBI history is a change that Panama made a few years back. Previously, Panama was allowing almost ANY police report from the USA as proof that the visitor had no previous criminal activity in one’s past. This meant anyone in the US could go to a county sheriff’s office and get a background check done which showed a clean record.

    Panama finally figured out that the FBI maintained a national collection from all law enforcement agencies and that if they wanted to learn of ANY criminal activity in the USA, that was the agency to provide the record. It added to the time required to get all the paperwork but it lessened the flow of US criminals from hiding in Panama.

    FYI, when Panamanians request entry into the USA, they must provide a police record and since the police are a national agency, that is the equivalent to an FBI report, so it puts Panama and the USA on equal footing. Getting a tourist visa to come to the USA is a MUCH more involved process than the reverse direction, and there is a $160 fee for each interview with the US embassy in Panama City. Nena’s niece met all the requirements and was denied a visa on 3 separate attempts. We personally took the niece to the embassy to get the official to grant her a visa to visit her mom living in the USA with permanent visa status.

    I am glad to see that Panama is finally taking the correct steps to close the loophole allowing “permanent” tourists. And please don’t use the argument about tourists supporting the economy with their spending. These are the same people who came to Panama for the cheap living so how can their spending be doing much for the economy if they are demanding their pensionado discounts at every turn?

  14. Now in the US you have people like univision exec Jorge Ramos speaking to his viewers, “This is our country, not theirs…”

    In reference to the US, and spoken in broken english. Graciousness personified.

  15. Jim, I’ll answer that…
    They are doing a hell of a lot more for the economy than the 11mm plus illegal border hoppers in the US where it costs 12k per year for each child in public school…along with medicaid, food stamps…etc….

    wt….Legal resident of CR, and Panama

  16. I laugh at the negative comments on this. I remember years ago when it was extremely hard to get a visa in Panama. Then there was no other way but to border hop. But, I ended up paying a fortune to get a Panama Cedula in a time when no foreigners had them. You had to marry a Panamanian, plant teak, or have a large sum in a bank to even get one. Now they give them away like candy for just a small deposit in the bank or owning a house or land. Now there is zero reason to not get residency. It is easy. The only reason I see why not, is that a foreigner is cheap and does not want to pay. This is the type of person Panama doesn’t want anyways and they can go to another country. I doubt they will be able to live like they have in Panama visa free. Every country has rules and no one is above the law.

  17. And another thing. I disagree about the hospital issue in the united states with visitors. I understand why they cant or wont pay the bill now. I was in the states with my wife and she went to the hospital for bad stomach pain. This was being there for a total of 45 min. Which turned out to be nothing. But the bill was $10,000!! That is a fact and not fake news. The system is broke and needs to be fixed. Who can afford 10,000 deductibles when the bills come out to that for nothing.

  18. You can only drive for 90 days without leaving, so if you only use public transportation it is 180. If you drive, it is effectively 90.

  19. Sorry…I was referring to your response to the message below..
    I am Canadian and can stay up to 180 days despite the decree No. 590..the regulation is re EU citizens..It is important people do not get easily misinformed about their legal status..
    The Visitor / El Visitante
    Big Panama Tourist Visa Changes
    Rep of Panama 20-January-2017
    The Executive Decree No 590, sanctioned by President Varela said that the National Immigration Service authorities will issue valid tourist visas for a period no longer than 90 days (three months), when before they were for six months. The old tourist visa allowed foreigners to stay and even work during their six months in Panama. This has been modified.
    Don, what do you know about this?

  20. I know no more than what we hear in the news. The Embassy has not sent out any follow up information. My assumption is that anyone that leave will have their passport history checked and if the official thinks that people have been using the loophole to live here, then they will not be admitted.

    Often the application of admittance or rejection will be determined by how the fellow making the decision feels at that time.

    One would be wise to assume if they leve, they will not be readmitted in 72 hours.

  21. You can get certain documents notarized for residency at the Embassy. I did and it saved a lot of money by not using FedEx or DHL sending docs to the USA or Panama City for notarization. I had the time to wait until they came to David. It will have to be a document signing trip by the Embassy to David or Boquete.

  22. hil, we are just starting the process and I am suffering from information overload! What docs did you have notarized at the Embassy? Did they do your fingerprints? We are going back to the states for a visit in May but I don’t want to wait that long to request the FBI report as we’ve heard that it takes the longest to get done. My understanding is that can submit it from here; it is returned to you and then you have to send it to the State Dept. I have my original marriage certificate but need to get a new certified copy as they don’t return it. Does the Embassy then notarize it? I am very confused. I would appreciate any information you can provide. Our lawyer gave us a list of what is needed but not exactly how to get everything. Thank you.

  23. You need to determine which documents need to have an Apostile. The Embassy does not do Apostiles and the fingerprints must be authenticated by the FBI, the Embassy will not have anything to do with your fingerprints.

    Your attorney should tell you what is required by the Panama government (Apostile of not required). Also most documents will need to be translated into Spanish by an authorized translator.

  24. In reference to Karen’s comment of March 9th: “They are doing a hell of a lot more for the economy than the 11mm plus illegal border hoppers ”
    Up to most recent, there was nothing illegal about border hopping. And, depending of the circumstances, there is still nothing illegal. There are many business-persons and non-business that enter and leave quite often. One of the criteria is to ‘pass the Immigration Officer’s interview.’

  25. Larson, please reread my entire comment and maybe you will grasp what I am speaking of…..and then again…maybe not.

  26. Terri, they notarized my Social Security document and my drivers license when they visited David on a document trip and the cost was $50 for each document total $100. Also a side note…………they took cash when I did mine. Not anymore. I had to get my Florida Retirement Notarized in Florida and then sent it to the Panamanian Consul in Miami to apostile it. Then they sent it to my DHL. I had to send them a paid for DHL envelope. I did all of it with DHL and not any problems. The ladies at the Miami Consul called me through the whole process. They have Panamanian cell phone numbers there that work as a local call in Panama also. Go to the local police or sheriffs department and get your finger prints. Then send them to the FBI. It took me two weeks to get mine back in 2013. I wouldn’t gamble with mailing them to Panama. DHL would work good but not the mail system in Panama. Might take longer now I don’t know. Hand carry the back ground check to Panama with you. It is good for 6 months according to my lawyer. You’ll need your lawyer for the other information.

  27. Thank you, hil! I have heard that, in some cases, fingerprints taken in Panama have been rejected by the FBI. My lawyer said that she found it was because of the paper stock they used. We are trying to decide whether to have them done when we go back to the states in May to one of their approved locations that can scan them in. We lose all that time but may be faster in the long run. Has anyone done this?
    I appreciate all the information on this site. Thanks Don & hil.

  28. If you are going to do your finger prints here in Panama, first go the FBI website. Download the finger print card. Take to Mail Boxes an have printed ,at minimum​ # 2 copies.
    Take the cards to the DIJ in Panama City. They will return them to you after about three days. For step two getting mine today 🤣

  29. Thank you so much, Bill Carmine! We will run to MBE today & aim to go the city on Monday. I will shoot off an email to you today and you can respond at your convenience. Do you have to p/u the prints or where do they deliver them? Thank you again for sharing.

  30. Yes the card stock is important. Then order from ebay sent to a family member and have them shipped ti your pty address. But I did mine locally

  31. I downloaded the forms & my husband is having it printed on the heavier stock. We are go to go! Thank you.

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