Tag Archives: ACS

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: National Sovereignty Day

Here is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

dos_imageNational Sovereignty Day is a Panamanian holiday which commemorates the January 9, 1964 riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone. The incident is considered to be a significant factor in the U.S. decision to transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama through the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama City advises all U.S. citizens in Panama that National Sovereignty Day will be observed this year on Friday, January 9, 2015. All U.S. citizens are reminded of the sensitivity of this day and urged to remain diligent in your personal security.

For up-to-date information on security, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov. Further information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Panama are encouraged to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency.

Message for U.S. Citizens: Foreign Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Overview

Here is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

dos_imageAmerican Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy invites interested U.S. Citizens in Panama
to a FOREIGN ACCOUNT TAX COMPLIANCE ACT (FATCA) Overview with IRS Representatives

When: January 27, 2015
Where: TRYP Hotel
Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm
Please register: https://fatcaoverview.eventbrite.com
Space is limited. Please register by January 10, 2015.

Please note: U.S. Legal Permanent Residents are also welcome to attend this event.

To submit a question for the IRS, please send it to Panama-ACS@state.gov by January 9, 2015 and it may be addressed during the event.

IMPORTANT: After registering, you will receive a message confirming your participation. You must present this confirmation along with proof of U.S. citizenship to enter the event. Thank-you for your cooperation.

Parking Information: Parking is available at the TRYP Hotel and at Albrook Mall

No Video Cameras or Video Recording Permitted

Message for U.S. Citizens: Update on water contamination in Tole, Chiriqui

Here is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

The American Citizen Services Unit would like to inform U.S. citizens that Panama’s Ministry of Health (MOH) notified residents of Tole, Chiriqui that since this past Friday, December 26th, it has been safe to use the water for drinking, cooking, and all housework. The Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN for its acronym in Spanish) recommends all residents run their faucets for two hours to guarantee the cleanliness of their water sources. For the complete notification from Panama’s Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), please visit:


Message for U.S. Citizens: Water Contamination in Tole, Chiriqui

Here is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

The American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Panama would like to alert U.S. citizens traveling to and/or living in Panama to the message below from IDAAN, Panama’s Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers:


Panama, December 23, 2014

The Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN for its acronym in Spanish) announces to its customers residing in Veladero, Pueblo Viejo, Portugal, El Matadero, La Mesa, part of Llano Limón and Tolé Cabecera, Chiriqui that as a preventive measure, the Tolé treatment plant is out of operation after the discovery of dead fish in the raw water intake, as recorded on Tuesday, December 23.

Specialized staff from the IDAAN Water Quality Department in Chiriqui are conducting surveys of the raw water intake, the distribution network and in the plant to ensure that they meet the quality standards required by law.

IDAAN seeks the understanding of all affected persons and urges them to take the necessary measures; IDAAN also reminds residents that they are supplying drinkable water by tanker trucks until the relevant entities determine the causes of the situation.

The original message can be found on IDAAN’s website at:

Please access the following links from the Panamanian Ministry of Health and IDAAN for updates on this situation:

http://minsa.gob.pa/noticia/ministerio-de-salud-se-traslada-planta-potabilizadora-del-distrito-de-tole-para-investigar and http://www.idaan.gob.pa/noticias/idaan-suspende-operaciones-en-planta-de-tole

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: TRAVEL ALERT – WORLDWIDE

Here is the latest ACS message from the U.S. Embassy in Panama City:

The lone wolf attack in Sydney, Australia on December 15, 2014, resulting in the deaths of two hostages, is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security. This Travel Alert expires on March 19, 2015.

An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship, and schools, among other targets, during or coinciding with this holiday period. U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorists groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website at travel.state.gov where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Security Tips and Suggestions

Here is the latest ACS Message.

The American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy would like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season. Now that the holidays are upon us, here are a few hints and tips that may help you to have a safe and secure holiday season.

Crime and Safety

As you are out and about shopping for gifts, criminals are out looking for targets. Unfortunately, regardless of country, there is usually an increase in thefts and robberies during the holiday season. Here are a few things you can do to make yourself a more difficult target:

· Be aware of your surroundings and watch for suspicious activity that may indicate that you are being targeted. If you note suspicious behavior, go somewhere safe, such as back into a store or mall, and consider informing store security of the person(s) you are concerned about.

· Keep control of your packages, purses, wallets, and other belongings. Do not over-burden yourself with packages and whenever possible keep a hand free.

· Be mindful that disturbances such as loud arguments, people bumping into you, or people dropping things near you may actually be used as distractions to allow an accomplice to steal from you. Ensure that you still have all of your possessions after someone bumps into you.

· When you place packages in your vehicle, ensure that the packages are not visible from the outside where they could be a source of temptation for a criminal. When driving, keep your windows up and doors locked.

· Your credit card information is both valuable and vulnerable. Please safeguard it accordingly and check your bank statements periodically.

U.S. Embassy Outreach in David – December 10th

Here is the information on the December U.S. Embassy Outreach in David. You will already have received this message if you are registered on STEP.

The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Panama would like to inform U.S. citizens in Western Panama that we will be visiting David, Chiriqui on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 to provide consular services to U.S. citizens.

We will be at the Ciudad de David Hotel in David, Chiriqui from 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. We will offer the following services:

– Applications for U.S. passports (these services will be processed in Panama)
– Passport Renewal (adults and minors)
– Adding Pages to Passports (requires surrendering passport)
– Lost or Stolen Passports
– Notarizations
– Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status (please bring from I-407 and Permanent Resident Card)
– Voting Registration (Please print and complete the form at: http://registertovote.org/index.html)

1. Please bring photocopies of all documents to be submitted.
2. Please bring the exact cash amount to pay for the service.
3. Please bring completed forms. Please access the following link for information on fees, and forms you need to download, complete and bring: http://panama.usembassy.gov/service.html

A representative from the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) will be offering the following services:
– Complete proof of life forms (copy of current passport or cedula will be required)
– Medicare enrollment/cancellation (copy of current passport or cedula will be required)
– Application for SS replacement cards (copy of current US Passport)
– Application for new SS card for children under age 12 (copy of US Passport for one of the parents, the child’s copia integra and passport)
– Change of address/residence (copy of current passport or cedula will be required)
– General inquiries

In addition, a representative from the Embassy’s security office will be providing a Presentation on Personal Security Practices on Thursday, December 11, 2014 from 9:00am-10:00am in the Ciudad de David Hotel in David, Chiriqui. This event will be open to the public and all interested U.S. citizens are encouraged to attend.

Please note: No visa services will be provided. Services will be provided on first come – first serve basis.

Thank you for your assistance. We look forward to seeing you.


American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Panama

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

U.S. Embassy Panama City, Panama
Message for U.S. Citizens
Final Opportunities to Return Voted Ballots
21 October 2014

Embassies and consulates are not polling places. The majority of states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 4. U.S. citizens who want to participate in the 2014 U.S. elections should already have returned their absentee ballots to their local election officials. U.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States.

Never received your ballot? If you have registered to vote and requested your absentee ballot prior to your state’s registration and absentee ballot request deadlines but have not yet received your ballot, should immediately 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, go ahead and 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. Continue reading Message for U.S. Citizens: Final Opportunities to Return Voted Ballots

September 2014 US Embassy Town Hall Question & Answer Transcript

I thought you might be interested in the Town Hall meeting in Panama City transcript.



The following questions were addressed during the Town Hall Meeting held at the Ambassador’s Residence on Wednesday, September 17, 2014. In addition to these general Q&A, a few audience members raised personal topics of concern that the Embassy will address privately.

Question 1) What is the likelihood that Medicare will be available to U.S. citizens residing in Panama, due to the large population of U.S. citizens here?

Answer: Medicare is only available to individuals who are residing in the United States. This is a world-wide policy; therefore it is unlikely that there will be any change to this policy.

Question 2) I have heard that I will need to take a written test (in Spanish) to transfer my United States pilot’s license to a Panamanian pilot’s license. Do we have a treaty with Panama that allows us to obtain a Panamanian pilot’s license just by presenting the U.S. license?

Answer: An audience member responded that holders of U.S. pilot’s licenses should be able to bring their license to the 2nd floor of the Aeronautica Civil Office and get the Panamanian license without having to take the exam in Spanish.

Question 3) I am a dual-national and I require a certification to keep my U.S. pilot’s license valid. I need a Certified Flight Instructor to process my pilot’s license.

Answer: An audience member indicated that he is a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) and would be willing to assist the individual. He also indicated that there is only one U.S. AI (Authorized Inspector) for aircraft in Albrook.

Question 4) What is the status of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) implementation in Panama? What impact is it having on U.S. citizens?

Answer: The United States and Panama reached an agreement on FATCA, but it has not yet been signed. However, Panama is currently operating as if the document were in effect and already signed. Anecdotally, we have heard of several cases from U.S. citizens where they indicated that opening a bank account or running a business overseas has become more difficult due to FATCA, and Panama is no exception.

Question 5) How do I get information on how to comply with FATCA?

Answer: You can visit the following IRS website to learn more about FATCA: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Corporations/Summary-of-FATCA-Reporting-for-U.S.-Taxpayers. If you have additional questions, you can also send an e-mail to the American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy in Panama at: Panama-ACS@state.gov and we will do our best to provide the requested information or direct you to the appropriate office. From time to time, local non-profit groups may offer information sessions and we will also direct these to the attention of U.S. citizens.

Question 6) I have had my credit/debit cards cloned in Panama on two separate occasions. Has this happened to anyone else? Is this common in Panama?

Answer: If this happens to you, we understand that the normal procedure is to go to your bank first and file a complaint. If you do not receive a reply in 30 days or if you are not satisfied with this initial response, you can go to the Customer Service office of the Superintendencia de Bancos located on the first floor of the old HSBC Bank in Obarrio across from Mercurio Jewelry. Please be suspicious of any online requests for money from individuals unknown to you.

Question 7) When you are admitted to Panama as a tourist, you are generally given permission to remain for 6-months. The length of time that tourists are allowed to drive in Panama on their foreign driver’s license is 3-months. Can you please bring awareness of the discrepancy to the Panamanian Authorities to have the driver’s license validity for tourists who hold foreign licenses extended to 6-months?

Answer: We can raise this issue with the relevant Panamanian authorities, but there is no guarantee that it will have an impact on their current policy. Each country and even each state in the U.S. makes their own rules relative to obtaining a driver’s license.

Question 8) I was told that if I don’t travel to the United States at least once a year to have a medical check-up, I will lose my Medicare benefits. I was told this by Blue Cross/ Blue Shield.

Answer: Medicare benefits should be valid in the United States unless the individual writes directly to Social Security indicating that they no longer wish to receive Medicare benefits. The length of time spent outside of the United States or the frequency of medical exams in the United States should have no impact on Medicare in the United States. However, an audience member answered that, if you have Blue Cross or another secondary insurance provider, they are free to institute their own standards and often do require that you be seen yearly by an approved Physician in their network.

Question 9) I noticed that you have a list of Panamanian physicians on your website. Do you have a list of Panamanian attorneys and accountants as well?

Answer: Yes—we have a list of Panamanian attorneys on our website at the following link:


Some of the attorneys listed specialize in tax law—please review the information below their names. In addition, we understand that Accountants are listed in the Panamanian yellow pages under “Consultores de Impuestos or Contadores”. Note: if any of the Physicians or lawyers on the list does not provide adequate service, please alert the U.S. Embassy so we can remove them.

Question 10) I was told by a friend that the DHL office in David, Panama requested a U.S. citizen pay double the required fee to send a pre-paid envelope to the Embassy.

Answer: We will contact the DHL office in David to ensure that U.S. citizens are charged the correct fee for this service. In general, passport applicants are required to mail a pre-paid envelope to the Embassy and include the following items in that envelope: their old passport (so we can cancel it), the cashier’s receipt from the Embassy showing their passport payment, and only one DHL way-bill so we can return the items to DHL in David. We do not require individuals to mail us the payment receipt that they receive from DHL.

In cases where there is no old passport to mail to us (replacement of a lost/stolen passport, adding pages, etc.), the applicant can contact DHL to arrange the payment and e-mail us the DHL account number to Panama-ACS@state.gov with a note indicating that we should return their passport to the DHL office in David in that pre-paid envelope.

Question 11) Why do checks from U.S. banks take so long to process in Panama?

Answer: An audience member mentioned that Panama’s Superintendencia de Bancos has recently passed a regulation minimizing the credit of money for personal checks from Panamanian Banks to T+1 (day of deposit plus one day) so, service should speed up. In addition, banks will standardize check sizes and will also include routing as well as account numbers in a standard format as in the U.S. Both of these processes should be implemented by March 31, 2015. U.S. checks deposited in local banks are not affected by this new procedure since they have to be processed through clearing houses in the U.S.