Category Archives: ACS Messages

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Tropical Storm Otto

Following is the latest ACS Message.

Emergency Message: Tropical Storm Otto
21 November 2016


U.S. Embassy Panama City alerts U.S. citizens in the Panama that a tropical storm watch associated with Tropical Storm Otto is in effect for Panama. Heavy rainfall is expected in parts of Panama over the next few days.  The combination of a dangerous storm surge along the coast with large waves could raise water levels.  Gusty winds, heavy rains, and possible flash floods and mudslides are expected to occur.  The Panamanian National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC) has planted red flags on beaches in the Caribbean to warn the public of strong currents and waves.  On November 21, SINAPROC evacuated members of the Guanabano community in Chiriqui and transferred them to a shelter in El Majagual.  Please visit the National Weather Service’s website for updates and to follow the storm’s path.  You can also find Panama-specific information on the SINAPROC twitter page at

Message for U.S. Citizens: Important Information for Federal Benefits Recipients

Here is the latest ACS Message.

U.S. Embassy Panama

Consular Section

Federal Benefits Unit

Important Information for Federal Benefits Recipients


2017 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

We are pleased to announce that there will be a 0.3 percent benefit increase in 2017 for Social Security Administration (SSA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) benefit recipients, effective December 1, 2016.  The increase will be reflected on payments made in January 2017.

SSA information:

  •             Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at
  •             If you are over age 65 and are not enrolled in Medicare Part B and wish to do so, the general enrollment period is from January 1st through March 31st.  The coverage will begin on July 1st.    You will need to complete the enrollment form, which you can download at:

OPM Information:

  •             OPM has announced that the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Open Season will begin on November 14th and runs through December 12th , 2016.    During Open Season, anyone eligible to participate in the FEHB Program may enroll, change health plans or options, or cancel their FEHB enrollment.  For instructions for making open season changes, please visit the following link
  •              For the 2017 health benefits open season information and premiums, please visit the following link:   The effective date of the open season changes and new premiums will be January 1st , 2017.  The changes will be reflected in the payment dated February 1st, 2017.

Please note that an appointment will be required for all services at the Federal Benefits Unit.  You can schedule an appointment by sending an e-mail to Panama-FBU@State.Gov.

Reminder on Voting: NO Embassy deadline on accepting ballots

I received the following message that was sent to all Wardens for the US Embassy in Panama City. I see nothing in it that should prevent it from being distributed.

Good Afternoon Wardens,

I hope you are doing well and are excited about election season. As we get closer to election day, we have been getting complaints from some U.S. Citizens stating that they are hearing that the Embassy is not accepting ballots after today, October 26th. If you get questions about this, please let people know that the Embassy will accept all ballots delivered to the Embassy after October 26, 2016. All ballots will be sent to the U.S. via the diplomatic pouch with transit time between Panama and the U.S. taking up to 7 days. People should take into consideration this transit time along with the deadlines set by their home state for receiving ballots from abroad. U.S. citizens can drop off an FPCA or completed ballot in person at the U.S. Embassy in Panama between 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday and between 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

Message for U.S. Citizens: Consular Section will be closed to the public the second Wednesday of each month

Here is the latest message from the ACS.

The Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City would like to inform U.S. Citizens living in Panama that the Consular Section will be closed to the public every second Wendesday of the month, starting November 9, for professional development and training. We will not schedule any appointments, accept routine calls, or return passports on these training days. Of course, consular staff will be available to provide assistance to U.S. Citizens in emergency situations.


The Consular Section

Message for U.S. Citizens: Final Opportunities to Return Voted Ballots

Here is the Latest ACS Message:

U.S. Embassy Panama City, Panama

Message for U.S. Citizens

Final Opportunities to Return Voted Ballots

14 October 2016
Don’t wait, return your voted ballot right away! Remember U.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.  The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 8.  U.S. citizens who want to participate in the 2016 U.S. elections should already have returned their absentee ballots to their local election officials


Never received your ballot?  If you registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot prior to your state’s registration deadline, but have not yet received your ballot, complete and return a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to ensure your vote reaches election officials by your state’s deadline.  If your regular ballot arrives later, complete and return it as well.  Your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot will only be counted if your regular ballot does not reach local election officials by your state’s deadline.  Your vote will not be counted twice.



The final date to return your paper ballot to your local election officials by election day for free via the U.S. Embassy Panama City is October 26, 2016 .  If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you place it in either a postage-paid envelope or envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials. All voting materials can be dropped off to the American Citizens Services Section


Missed the U.S. Embassy Panama City shipment deadline?  Consider returning your ballot to the United States via an express courier service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL or electronically if allowed by your state.  Ballots sent to local election officials via express courier service do not receive standard postmarks, so voters using this method should confirm delivery on or before November 8 prior to payment and shipment.  Check your state’s voting procedures at for guidance.


Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax.  If you have previously registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot but it has not yet arrived the following states allow voters to use email or fax to send signed, voted Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to local election officials:  Alaska (fax only), Arizona (contact election official first), Arkansas (fax only), Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (fax only), Hawaii (fax only), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana (fax only), Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska (fax only paper copy must also be mailed), Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma (fax only), Oregon (paper copy must also be mailed), Rhode Island (fax only), South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.  Review your state’s voting procedures at carefully for guidance.


Returning your ballot by international mail delivery.  If using Panama’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  Ballots sent via regular international mail from most countries at this late date are unlikely to reach local election officials by state ballot receipt deadlines.


HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING.  Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to start thinking about overseas voting.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting.


Need help?  You can get in-person assistance from our Embassy Voting Assistance Officers directly in the Consular Section daily from 8am to 12pm.  Voting Assistance does not require an appointment.

Have Questions?  Please contact Panama’s Voting Assistance Officer at 317-5000, or  You can also contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program directly if you encounter issues with local election officials by emailing or toll free by phone from many countries around the world.

Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at

Message for U.S. Citizens: October 12 Outreach in David and Boquete

Following is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in panama City.

U.S. Embassy Panama
Consular Section
American Citizens Services Unit

The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Panama would like to inform U.S. citizens that we will be visiting David and Boquete, Chiriqui on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 to provide passport, notarial, voting and federal benefits services to U.S. Citizens.


David: Wednesday, October 12th, 9am-1pm at La Camara de Comercio Industrias y Agricultura de Chiriqui (CAMCHI), Ave. 6ta. Oeste y Calle B Sur, San Mateo, David, next to the Asociación de Productores de Arroz de Chiriquí. Please RSVP for this event here.

Boquete: Wednesday, October 12th, 3pm-6pm at the Hotel Valle del Rio, Palmira Salon (Camino Valle Escondido, Bajo Boquete. Please RSVP for this event here.


The Embassy will only accept payment by local banker’s cashier check(known in Spanish as “Cheque Certificado”) made payable to “U.S. Embassy Panama”, issued within the past five months. The Embassy will NOT accept cash or credit card payments. The notarial fee is $50 per each signature of the Consular Officer. A list of passport fees can be found here. Other than passport and notarial services, all other services are no-fee.


Passports: For adult passport renewals (remember that you can complete passport renewals by mail!), in addition to the completed DS-82 application, provide one recent color photo with a white background that measures 5×5 cm (2X2 inches), your passport, and a photocopy of the photo page of your passport. The fee for an adult passport renewal is currently $110. If your previous passport was lost or stolen you will also need to bring a copy of the police report and the fee for the new passport is $135. For minor passport renewals, in addition to the completed DS-11 application, bring a copy of the photo page of the minor’s passport, a copy of both parents’ passports /cedulas, one recent color photo with a white background that measures 5×5 cm (2X2 inches) and a copy of the minor’s birth certificate, in addition to the original birth certificate and passport/ cedulas. The fee is currently $105.00 for a minor (under 16) passport renewal. The minor and both parents or guardians must appear in person. If only one parent is present in Panama, the “Statement of Consent from Absent Parent” Form DS-3053, notarized in the U.S., is required. Please note that the DS-3053 will not be accepted if notarized in Panama.

Notarizations: Here is the link with details. If you are requesting the notarization of your driver’s license, bring a photocopy of the front and back page of your license, as well as your license. If you are requesting notarization of benefits documents, bring the original and a copy of the document(s) showing the amount of benefits you receive monthly or annually. The notarial fee is $50.00 for each signature of the Consular Officer.

Voting: Bring your completed ballot! If you haven’t yet registered to receive your absentee ballot, here is a link with information on registering.

LPR Abandonment: Bring completed form I-407 and a photocopy of your Permanent Resident Card, as well as your Permanent Resident Card.

WHAT TO BRING FOR FEDERAL BENEFITS SERVICES (please bring legible copies of all documents to be submitted):

SSA Proof of Life: If you are required to comply with this requirement this year (i.e. your SSN ends in 00 thru 49; you receive benefits for someone else; you are age 90 or over), please bring your cedula or passport.

Medicare Enrollment/Cancellation: To enroll in Medicare, you should complete and sign this form and to cancel your enrollment please complete and sign this form.

Social Security Replacement Card: Bring a copy of your valid U.S. passport and completed form SS-5FS.

Social Security Card for child under 12: Bring a copy of the U.S. passport for one of the parents, the child’s “copia integra” birth certificate, and the child’s U.S. passport (as well as copies) as well as completed form SS-5FS.

Change of Address for Social Security: Bring your current passport or cedula.

International Direct Deposit Enrollment: If you wish to enroll, please send an e-mail to to request the form.

We look forward to seeing you there!


American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy Panama

Message for U.S. Citizens: SSA Proof of Life Form

Following is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. My original POL post is listed HERE.

U.S. Embassy Panama
Consular Section
Federal Benefits Unit

As part of the Foreign Enforcement Program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently informed us that there are still over 500 Social Security recipients residing in Panama who have not returned the required “Proof of Life” report to the U.S. Social Security Administration form. If you have not yet returned your proof of life form, please do so immediately. Please note that the Social Security Administration will suspend your benefits in February 2017 if they do not receive the completed form by December 31, 2016.

If you are receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration and wish to know if you are required to complete the proof of life form this year, please visit

As soon as you receive the form, please answer the questions applicable to you and sign it. Please make and keep a copy of the form for your records before mailing the completed and signed form to the SSA in the preprinted envelope that is included in the package along with the form.

All SSA recipients should receive the proof of life form in the mail by October. If by the end of October you have not received and returned your report to the U.S. Social Security Administration, please contact the Federal Benefits Unit by sending an e-mail to, to receive the form and instructions on how to submit the form.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Protests Expected on September 3

Following is the latest ACS message.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens in Panama: Protest Notification
September 1, 2016

The U.S. Embassy in Panama alerts U.S. citizens that large protests, organized by anti- and pro-government members, are expected to take place in Caracas, Venezuela and in cities throughout the region, including Panama City.

Marches and demonstrations are expected to take place on the Cinta Costera in Panama City on Saturday, September 3.

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

For further information:

· See the Department of State’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.
· Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
· Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
· Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Message for U.S. Citizens: Foreign Service Officer Test

Here is the latest ACS message.

U.S. Department of State

Invites you to take action…

Your career starts by visiting our website at where you can explore who we are, what we’re about, and more. It’s also where you can register for the next Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT).

All registrations for the Foreign Service Officer Test must be completed online. Registration for the test is available on the following website and the registration package must be submitted at least 72 hours prior to the opening of the window. The test will be offered quarterly, each year, and registration for the FSOT will be open on a continuous basis.

* Applicants must be citizens of the United States.
* Applicants must be at least 20 years old.
* Applicants must be available for worldwide assignment.
* No specific level in a foreign language is required for applicants.
* Next test at US Embassy Panama will be on October 4th, 2016 at 9:00 am.

Message for U.S. Citizens: Voting Outreach 2016

Here is the latest ACS Message.

U.S. Embassy Panama City
U.S. Citizens in Panama to an Absentee Voting Outreach Event for the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election

What: Representatives from American Citizen Services will be available to answer questions about absentee voting during the event.
When: Wednesday, August 31st from 2-3pm (doors open at 1:30 pm)
Where: U.S. Embassy Panama City, Consular Section Lobby
How: Please register here NLT Tuesday, August 30th. Space is limited to 120 guests.

IMPORTANT: After registering, you will receive a message confirming your participation. You must present this confirmation along with proof of citizenship to enter the Consular lobby. And remember, no telephones, video cameras, or video recording permitted.

We look forward to seeing many of you on Wednesday!

Looking for other options? Representatives from American Citizen Services will also be addressing additional U.S. Citizen civic groups in Panama including:
The Veterans of Foreign Wars at CELI: Friday, September 9th at 3pm,
The American Society at Inedito Rooftop Lounge: Monday, September 5th from 6:30pm to 8pm

Please contact these organizations directly if you are interested in attending.

Representatives from American Citizen Services will also visit David, Chiriqui in late September. Details will be sent out soon.