Panama immigration issued a decree a week ago that resulted in a lot of confusion. I posted about it here. It said quite clearly that tourists will now have visas for 90 days, instead of the previous 180 days and we all got nervous. What does this mean for people here as tourists?
There was confusion everywhere. US and Canadian citizens were being told that they still had 180 days. But, there were also stories about people boarding planes to Panama being told to change their return tickets to a date less than 90 days out. There were discussions on the usual forums and Facebook groups as people tried to figure out what is going on, but nobody had any definitive answers from the authorities.
Immigration must have gotten too many calls because yesterday a link was shared to this TV program where the director of immigration was explaining the recent changes.
Director de Migración aclara decreto sobre visas para turistas extranjeros
Any of you native Spanish speakers who have the time, please check this out and make sure I understood it correctly.
First, he talks about the part where people who have submitted applications for residency get 6 months instead of the previous 1 year. He said this puts the responsibility on immigration to process and respond to the applications in less than 6 months. I think they are already doing this, but this is a guarantee that they will continue to get it done quickly.
Then, the more important part. Panama has reciprocal agreements with many countries such as USA, Canada, UK, and Latin American countries. Their citizens can visit Panama for 180 days, and Panamanians can visit those countries for 180 days. Nothing has changed with this. Other countries who don’t have an agreement, those citizens must apply for a visa before they can come to Panama. These visas will now be only 90 days, not the 180 days they were before the decree. This is the only thing that is changed by the recent degree.
There is a Wikipedia page HERE that list the countries with reciprocal agreements. I noticed that on this page also, they mention that visas are now 90 days, not 180. But, below, they list the countries that do not require a visa. I think there is where we all got so confused! If we aren’t required to get a visa, then the length of the visa doesn’t affect us.
Whew! I think we have it straight now. But, TIP (this is Panama), and Spanish is not my first language so I give no guarantees that these are the absolute facts. Even if they are, everything is subject to change at any time.