Panama City’s Immigration Office Can Cause A Lot Of Headaches
Though Panama does offer a variety of visa options, there is not always a solution for every expat wishing to spend an extended period of time in Panama. Unless you have some sort of other visa, when you arrive in Panama, you have to purchase a tourist visa for $5. This visa is good for 90 days. However, some people stay in Panama past the 90 day mark.
Panama’s government has placed the 90 day time limit on these tourist visas, but they seem to care little if you overstay the 90 days. Should you find yourself staying in Panama past the 90 day validity of your tourist visa, here’s an explanation of what you need to do before you can leave the country of Panama.
Panama has put in place a fine system for those people that occasionally stay past the expiration date on their tourist visa. The fine is $50 per month beyond the original 90 day period. A month is counted starting immediately following the expiration of the original 90 days.
To pay this fine you must go to Migracion in either David, Santiago or Panama City. I have never been to the Migracion office in David, but speaking from experience in both Santiago and Panama City, the process is much easier and less excruciating if you go to one of the smaller Migracion branches.
Once at Migracion, you need to show your passport with your last Panama entry stamp. The fine is calculated from that date. The Migracion employees will then take your money, make some photocopies and hand you a couple of receipts. Once you have paid your fine for staying beyond your tourist visa, you then have 8 days to leave Panama.
This process is a pretty simple one, yet necessary if you expect to leave Panama after overstaying your visa. One interesting point is that you very well may come across a Migracion official at the airport who has no idea what the fine payment receipts are. So yes, it is very possible that you go through the hassle of paying the fine only to find out the civil servant letting you out of the country has no idea what it is. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Though this is a pretty easy solution to overstaying your tourist visa in Panama, you also need to know, if you get caught in Panama beyond your visa date, you could be in trouble. Deportations do happen, though very, very uncommon for North Americans. If you do stay beyond your visa, lay low and don’t get in to trouble. You don’t want to be the first North American deported in recent memory.
|Written by Rebecca Tyre|
This post's rating:
Panama Backtracks On Yellow Fever Shot Requirement
Panama’s Immigration Battalion
Navigating Panama Tourism Visas
The Costa Rica-Panama Border Twilight Zone