This article HERE was published today in La Prensa. It basically says that if a tourist is in Panama for 5 months, they must leave for 30 days before they will be allowed back into Panama. But, if they are close to their 180 day limit, they won’t be allowed back at all.
These are new changes and there is a lot of confusion, of course. The article says a tourist who is here for a brief period and then wants to come back later won’t have a problem. (define brief – a week, a month, 3 months?) If you are close to 180 days and aren’t allowed back, for how long? months? a year? ever? How close to 180 days is too close?
The feelings I have been hearing from Panamanians is that the people from Venezuela and Colombia are the problem. They work illegally, commit crimes, and deal drugs and Panamanians want something done, and done now! (Of course this is generalization and perception and I don’t know how much, if any is based on facts). Panamanians are very happy about these new regulations that close the “border hop” loophole. But of course, all expat-tourists affected by these changes.
There has been a lot of talk among the expats in the usual forums and discussion groups. How will this affect tourism? the Panamanian economy? Will many leave, and will Panama miss the money they spend here? Myself, I can’t imagine it will be a huge impact. All the homeowners I know are legal. Perpetual tourists generally don’t live in hotels and spend every day doing tourist things. Maybe lawyers will be busier with residency applications? Time will tell, and time will help sort out some of the confusion.