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Requirements for entering Panama are different for people of each country and are subject to change. It is highly advisable to contact the Panamanian Consulate in your home country to obtain the most up-to-date information on entry requirements. Some countries have special agreements with Panama that eliminate the need to get a visa or tourist card.

Everyone needs a valid passport, onward ticket, and proof of solvency to enter Panama. Visitors from the U.S. and Canada only need tourist cards, which are issued at border crossings, from embassies and consulates, and at the airport.

People with passports from certain countries will have to obtain a visa. If entering by land from Costa Rica, it is also a good idea to have a visa and onward ticket.

Extending Your Stay

To extend your stay (up to 90 days) you will need to visit the immigration office or Oficina de Migración y Naturalización. There are also offices in David, Changuinola, Santiago, and Chitré. You will need two passport-size photos, an onward air or bus ticket, you passport showing your most recent entry into Panama and $10. Next, you will need to fill out an extension form called a prórroga de turismo. It’s written in Spanish, so you may need help filling it out.

Leaving The Country

If you have stayed longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a permiso de salida (exit permit) to be able to leave the country. But first, you will have to obtain called a paz y salvo (peace and safety. It’s an official form stating that you do not owe the Panamanian government money. You can get this document from the Ministerio de Hacienda y Tesoro (tax department)

The next step is to take your paz y salvo form to the immigration office to obtain the permiso de salida stamp in your passport. If you do not have the time to spend the day running around, you can hire an attorney to the job for you. We also understand there are attorneys who hang out around the immigration office who can do this for you.

All foreigners with residency in Panama will need a re-entry permit to travel abroad and to return to the country. Permits of this type are good for multiple entry.
Work Permits/Visas

Foreigners planning to work for a local company must obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labor. The government will only let you work if there are no qualified Panamanians to do a specific job. To obtain a work visa you must have a letter from a local company offering you employment stating your work specialty.
To obtain a work permit you will need a series of documents. Since the requirements are subject to change, you will have to check with an attorney to see which documents and certificates are required. Once you have obtained all of the required papers your attorney will apply for the work permit through the Ministry of Labor. He/she then has to go to the ministry Labor to apply for a Visa. When the Ministry of Labor eventually grants the work permit, the Immigration department will issue a temporary Visa for a year.

Perpetual Tourist

Staying in the country illegally after your tourist card or visa has expired is not advisable. Bear in mind that it is always better to have your papers up-to-date because you may be deported almost instantly at the whim of a Immigration official or if you get into any kind of trouble and are in the country illegally.

Due to a lack of money for some other reason a few people try to live as a perpetual tourist in Panama or other Central American countries. They just leave the country for at least 72 hours every three months to renew their tourist visa.
You can repeat this process over-and-over again to stay in the country indefinitely. The only disadvantage is that as a tourist you may not work in Panama and it is almost impossible to become a legal resident unless you marry a Panamanian or have immediate relatives in Panama.

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