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International Travel

English

Country Information

Panama

Country Information

Panama
Republic of Panama
Last Updated: May 25, 2017
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Embassy Messages

Panama

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

3 months beyond date of arrival

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No

 

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow fever for passengers entering from countries with endemic yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

$10,000

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Panama

Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama

Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Fax: +(507) 317-5278

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Panama for information on U.S. - Panama relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Panama website for the most current visa information.

Requirements for Entry:

  • A passport valid for at least three months past the date of entry.
  • A return ticket to home country or onward destination.
  • Money - either $500 in cash or its equivalent, or credit card, bank statement, letter of employment or travelers checks.
  • Criminal Record Restriction - Panamanian immigration reserves the right to deny entry to any person with a criminal conviction.

Requirements for Exit:

180 Day Stay-Tourists can only remain in Panama for 180 days. This rule is strictly enforced by Panamanian immigration. Travelers must ensure that immigration officials place an entry stamp in their passport.  For further information contact the Government of Panama Migration Service.

Traveling with Minors- Minors (children under 18) who are Panamanian citizens (including dual citizens) or legal residents of Panama are required to present both parents’ identification documents, birth certificates, and notarized consent (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents. The consent must also be apostilled if it was signed in the United States. A child born in Panama may automatically obtain Panamanian citizenship. Non-resident foreign minors are excluded from these provisions. 

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Panama.  Panamanian immigration does not require an HIV/AIDS test. The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any U.S. citizens who have been deported due to HIV/AIDS.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Panama before you travel.

Arriving by Sea: The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit fee of $110 for sea travelers piloting their own boats and arriving as tourists. This fee allows entry into Panama for a period of three months, and can be extended for up to two years through an approved application with the immigration authorities in Panama.  U.S. citizens navigating private craft through the Canal should contact the Panama Canal Authority at (011) 507-272-4570 or consult the Panama Canal Authority web site to make an appointment.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Outside city limits, the Mosquito Coast (Caribbean side) and the Darien Region (Colombian border) are particularly dangerous due to their remoteness and the presence of criminal organizations.

In the Darien region, most travel is by river or by footpath due to the scarcity of roads.  There have been reports of narco-traffickers, and other smugglers and criminals operating in the Panama-Colombia border area.

Access to the “Mosquito Coast” region is almost exclusively by boat and/or aircraft.  Sections of this coastline are reportedly used for narco-trafficking and other illicit activities.

Demonstrations: There may be demonstrations to protest internal Panamanian issues or, more rarely, manifestations of anti-American sentiment.  While most demonstrations are non-violent, the Panamanian National Police have used tear gas and/or riot control munitions in response to demonstrations, particularly when roadways are blocked or aggression is used against the police. 

Beach and Maritime Safety: Some beaches, especially those on the Pacific Ocean and those in the Bocas Del Toro Province, have dangerous currents that cause drowning deaths every year.

Boaters should be wary of vessels that may be transporting narcotics, illicit materials, and illegal immigrants.  Packages containing narcotics have been found floating in the ocean or lying on remote beaches.  Do not pick up or move these packages, and immediately report their location to the Panamanian authorities.

Local maritime search and rescue capabilities are limited.  If you are experiencing an emergency at sea or know of someone who is experiencing an emergency off the coast of Panama, please contact the Panamanian authorities.

Crime: Panama City, Colon, and Chiriqui province have the highest crime rates.  Crimes include shootings, home invasions, rapes, armed robberies, muggings, thefts, and occasionally express kidnappings.  You should take the same precautions you would take in other big cities.

  • Remove valuables from your car.  Keep windows up and doors locked while driving.
  • Use only licensed and registered taxis.  Avoid taxis with passengers and instruct the driver not to pick up additional fares while en-route to your destination.  Regular taxis are yellow in color. Many hotels also have “tourist taxis” that are not yellow but only pick up passengers in front of well-known hotels.  Taxis in Panama do not use meters so agree on a fare before getting into the taxi.   

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police by dialing 104 (National Police) or 511-9260 (Tourist Police in Panama City) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +507-317-5000. 

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes that occur in Panama.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • Put you in touch with the Panamanian Oficina de Asistencia a Víctimas de Crímenes (Office of Assistance to Victims of Crime), located at the Policia Tecnica Judicial in the Ancon area of Panama City, which can be reached at 512-2222.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.  If you are in immediate danger, first contact the local police at 104.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some offenses are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. See our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

If you break local laws in Panama, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the Embassy cannot get you out of jail or prison.  Keep in mind, if you are arrested for an offense, tried and convicted, you must be sentenced before you can be transferred to the United States to complete your sentence in the United States. This process can last three or more years.  

Carry Identification: Anyone not bearing identification may be held and will be penalized by the Panamanian authorities.  You should always carry your passport that contains the Panama entry stamp in case it is requested by Panamanian authorities.

Drugs: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Panama are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Property: Exercise extreme diligence in purchasing real estate in Panama. The U.S. Embassy in Panama has received numerous property dispute complaints. The complaints include lost property, broken contracts, and demands for additional payments, accusations of fraud and corruption, and occasionally threats of violence. More information can be found here.

Customs Restrictions: Panamanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning importation into or export from Panama of items such as firearms and ammunition, cultural property, endangered wildlife species, narcotics, biological material, and food products. Contact the Panamanian Embassy for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available as you may also be breaking local law. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers:  Same sex marriages are not conducted nor recognized in Panama. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals enjoy full legal rights in Panama. However, Panamanian law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there is societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Panamanian law only mandates access to new or remodeled public buildings for persons with disabilities, which is being enforced for new construction. Handicapped parking is often available at many larger parking lots.  

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Panama City is known to have some good hospitals and clinics, but medical facilities outside of the capital are limited. Hospitals in Panama are either private hospitals or government-run public hospitals. Private hospitals typically require payment of the anticipated costs of hospitalization prior to providing services and require payment of any additional costs upon release from the hospital. These costs can be in excess of USD$10,000-$20,000, depending on the nature of the treatment. In Panama, most hospitals accept credit cards for hospital charges, but not for doctors' fees and do not accept international wire transfers or credit card payments over the phone.

Except for antibiotics and narcotics, most medications are available without a prescription.

The 911-call center provides ambulance service in Panama City, Colon, and the Pan-American Highway between Panama City and Chiriqui. However, an ambulance may not always be available and given difficulties with traffic and poor road conditions, there may be a significant delay in response. There are private ambulance services available on a subscription basis.

The U.S. Embassy does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid do not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Panama, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Travelers should carry identification with them at all times and be prepared to stop for unannounced checkpoints throughout the country, especially at night. Traffic lights are infrequently located on roads throughout the country, even at busy intersections. Traffic in Panama moves on the right, as in the U.S. Panamanian law requires that drivers and passengers wear seat belts.

Driving in Panama is often hazardous and difficult due to heavy traffic, undisciplined driving habits, poorly maintained streets and a shortage of effective signs and traffic signals. Use caution when driving at night; night driving is particularly hazardous on the old Panama City – Colon highway. Riding your bicycle on the streets is not recommended.  

Road travel is more dangerous during the rainy season (April to December) due to flooding. Rainy season occasionally makes city streets impassible and washes out some roads in the interior of the country. In addition, roads in rural areas are often poorly maintained and lack light at night.

There is often construction at night on Panama's portion of the Pan American highway. There are few signs alerting drivers to construction, and the highway is not well lit at night. When traveling on the highway, travelers should be aware of possible roadblocks. The Pan American Highway ends at Yaviza in the Darién Province of Panama and does not continue through to Colombia.

Traffic Laws: Current Panamanian law allows foreigners to drive in Panama using their valid foreign driver’s license for a period of only 90 days. Driving without a valid driver’s license is illegal in all areas of Panama. Drivers stopped for driving while intoxicated may face the loss of their driver’s license, a monetary penalty, and vehicle impoundment. Talking on a cell phone or drinking an alcoholic beverage while driving also carries a fine.

If you are involved in a vehicle accident, immediately notify the police. Third party liability auto insurance is mandatory, but many drivers are uninsured. If an accident occurs, the law requires that the vehicles be moved off the roadway. Failure to do so could result in a fine. If you are involved in an accident that did not cause injury, you should take a photo of both cars. If safe to do so, exchange information with the other driver and wait for the police to arrive.

Public Transportation: Public transportation should be used with caution. While we still receive reports of thefts and pick-pocketing, Panamanian National Police report the new metro buses with bigger windows and better lighting, have reduced the instances of violent crime.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the websites of Panama’s Tourism Authority, Transportation Authority, and the national authority responsible for road safety in Panama (Spanish-only) for helpful information on road conditions in Panama.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Panama’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Panama’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Panama should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal; select “broadcast warnings.”

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Panama

Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama

Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Fax: +(507) 317-5278

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General Information

Panama and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 1994.

For information concerning travel to Panama, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Panama.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Panama.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone: 1-877-407-4747
Outide the United States or Canada: 202-501-4444
Fax: 202-485-6221
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

The Panamanian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.  The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores performs the duties given to central authorities under the Hague Abduction Convention, including processing Hague Abduction Convention applications for return of and access to children.  They can be reached at:

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Dirección General de Asuntos Juridicos y Tratados
San Felipe. Calle 3. Palacio Bolívar. Edificio 26, Ciudad de Panamá. Telephone:  (507) - 511-4228 / 511-4129
Fax:   (507) - 511-4022/ 511-4008/ 511-4323
Email: avergara@mire.gob.pa
Website  

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Panama, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the Panamanian Central Authority, either directly or through the U.S. Central Authority (USCA).  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to Panamanian Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the Panamanian Central Authority.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the sole responsibility of the person hiring the attorney.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Panama.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Panama.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Although not required, the Panamanian Central Authority encourages a Hague applicant to retain an attorney in order to have his or her interests represented in court. The Fiscalia de Familia, under the Attorney General, or Ministerio Publico, represents the child in court.

Upon request, Panama may provide pro bono legal assistance to foreigners who demonstrate a lack of financial means to pay for an attorney in Panama.  The Panamanian Central Authority requires that the petitioning left-behind parent submit a detailed document outlining his or her lack of financial means, along with supporting documentation, such as a salary stub.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Attorneys may arrange for mediation through family courts; both parties must be present for mediation. However, there are currently no non-governmental organizations that offer mediation services for custody disputes in Panama.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Panama is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all intercountry adoptions between Panama and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

In order for an adoption application to meet the requirements of the Hague, a U.S. consular officer must review the case file and issue an "Article 5 Letter" to the Panamanian Central Authority before an adoption or grant of legal custody takes place. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents are cautioned to carefully follow in order the steps outlined in the "How to Adopt" Section below.

Currently, Panamanian laws also allow U.S. citizens who meet required eligibility requirements under Panamanian law to adopt under a "National" adoption process, which is a different process from the Hague intercountry process. Please note that any child adopted locally (i.e. outside the Hague Adoption Convention process described below) is not immediately eligible for an immigrant visa. Instead, the child must qualify for an immigrant visa as the child of the U.S. Citizen (IR-2). This visa category requires that the U.S. citizen adoptive parent fulfill a two year period of legal and physical custody in Panama prior to filing the petition for the visa to the United States. Additional information is available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Panama is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Panama, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Panama also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Panamanian courts allow U.S. citizens to adopt, however Panamanian citizens are given preference. There are no official residency requirements for adoption in Panama.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: There must be an age difference of at least 18 years and no more than 45 years between the prospective adoptive parent and the child.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive couples must have been married for at least two years.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: There is no minimum income requirement for prospective adoptive parents in Panama.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: No family line adoptions are allowed, meaning grandparents may not adopt their grandchildren and siblings may not adopt their minor siblings.

    Same sex couples are not permitted to adopt children.

    Most adoptions of Panamanian children by U.S. parents take place in Panama. Less frequently, Panamanian courts may grant the U.S. citizens guardianship, allowing for adoption following the family's return to the United States. There are no legal impediments to granting guardianship, but the Panamanian court system generally discourages this practice.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Panama is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Panama must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. In accordance with the Convention, the Central Authority of Panama determines whether possibilities for placement of the child in Panama have been given due consideration. In addition to Panama's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Under Panamanian adoption law, adopted children do not need to be orphans, though their natural parent(s) must have legally abandoned them and/or have had their parental rights terminated by a court.

  • Relinquishment Requirements: Only children who have been declared adoptable by Panama's judicial system can be adopted; relinquishment is contemplated during the Panamanian judicial process.
  • Sibling Requirements: Panamanian courts generally do not separate siblings. If a prospective adoptive parent would like to adopt one child, they must adopt the child's siblings.
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How to Adopt

PANAMA'S ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Panama's central adoption authority under the Hague Adoption Convention is the Secretaría Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (SENNIAF).

THE PROCESS

Because Panama is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Panama must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Panama before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more .

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Panama
  6. Bring your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider: 

    The first step in adopting a child from Panama is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Because Panama is a Convention country, adoption services must be provided by an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, supervised provider, or exempted provider. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Panama. In addition, the adoption service provider must also be authorized by the Panamanian Central Authority SENNIAF to provide services in Panama.

    Parents interested in adopting from Panama should contact SENNIAF for up-to-date information prior to initiating a new adoption process. As of December 2010, the following U.S. Hague accredited adoption service providers have also been accredited in Panama: A Helping Hand Adoption Agency in Lexington, KY; Families Thru International Adoption, Inc., in Evansville, IN; Faith International Adoptions in Tacoma, WA; and Hands Across the Water in Ann Arbor, MI. Learn more.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing authority in the U.S. State where the agency is located or licensed.
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.

    Once the U.S. Government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Panama. Panama's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Panama's law.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and Panama determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Panama may provide you with a referral for a child, through your adoption service provider. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

    After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for the child to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify Panama's adoption authority via an Article 5 letter. For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place. 

    Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
  5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Panama, you must have completed the above four steps. In addition, Panama's judicial system usually requires three months of cohabitation by adoptive parents and the child to ensure the match is a good one before the adoption can be finalized. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Panama.

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Panama generally includes the following:
    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: SENNIAF should be the first point of contact for parents interested in adopting a child in Panama. They offer the most up-to-date guidance as to the steps required, approved adoption service providers, and the final match of a child.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: The Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Children and Minors' Court) has jurisdiction over adoption cases of abandoned children, wards of the court (including children whose parents' parental rights have been terminated by the court), and orphans. There are 12 district courts throughout the provinces in Panama. The courts generally require proof from the U.S. government, such as the I-800 provisional approval notification provided on an I-797 approval form, that the parent(s) are eligible for adoption and the child has been approved for adoption, as well as proof of cohabitation totaling between one and three months.
    • TIME FRAME: Adoptions in Panama typically take 18-24 months.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Usually, the prospective adoptive parent(s) and their attorney will communicate with the judge's staff until the demanda is ready for review. If the judge approves the demanda, the judge will forward the documents to the "Registro Civil de Panama" (Civil Register). The adoption is not official until it is published in the Civil Register and the judge has signed a final decree.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Embassy in Panama discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted. "Donations" or "expediting" fees, which may be requested from prospective adoptive parents, have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Panama at risk.

      Attorney fees for an adoption in Panama range from $1,000 to $2,500. Government processing fees vary on a case by case basis. In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: For intercountry adoptions, the Government of Panama requires the below listed documents. Spanish translations of English documents are required. It is advisable to obtain several authenticated copies of the same document in case extra copies are requested or required.
      • Birth certificate of each adoptive parent;
      • Marriage certificate of each adoptive parent, and death or divorce certificate of prior spouse(s) if either parent was previously married;
      • Apostiled or certified copy of adoptive parents' passports;
      • Health certificate certifying good mental and physical health of each parent (the Panamanian authorities will accept a health certificate from the prospective adoptive parents' doctor in the U.S.);
      • Certificate of good conduct from local police in adoptive parents' state of residence (the I-800A does not fulfill this requirement.);
      • Letter from employer(s) stating position and current salary;
      • Two passport size photographs in color of each parent;
      • Two reference letters attesting to character, financial situation, and living conditions of adoptive parents;
      • Sociological home study report conducted by U.S. social worker or U.S.-certified investigative agency approved by the Panamanian courts (home studies conducted in the U.S. can be used if approved by the Panamanian courts.); and
      • Psychological evaluation conducted by authorized medical officer in Panama or a U.S.-certified medical official approved by the Panamanian courts.

      NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.

  6. Bring Your Child Home: Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate (short-form, as copia integra are not issued in adoption cases) for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. It usually takes at least five business days to acquire one. It can be acquired from the Tribunal Electoral de Panama, Dirección Nacional de Registro Civil (Civil Registry), Second floor, located on Calle 33 between Avenida Cuba and Avenida Perú in Panama City

    • Panama Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Panama. 

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa 
      After you obtain the new birth certificate and Panamanian passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

    Adopting Under Local Laws
    Some U.S. citizens who meet eligibility requirements under Panamian law may also be permitted to proceed with a "National" adoption, which is different from a Hague Convention adoption. A child adopted under a National adoption process is not immediately eligible to travel to the U.S. The type of visa you would seek is an IR-2, which requires two years of legal and physical custody of the child; this physical cohabitation must occur in the country of origin of the child. To pursue this avenue, you must file an I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS.

    If your adoption in Panama is nearly or already finalized, but you did not start the process with an I-600A filed before April 1, 2008, which has been extended and is still valid, you have not met the requirements necessary to obtain an adoption visa under either pre-Hague adoption visa processing or Hague Convention adoption visa processing. However, the IR-2 visa remains a path to bring your adopted child to the United States.

    Please visit the Department of State's website for more information regarding IR-2 visas and other immigrant visa categories.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident (with an immigrant visa).

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 typically allows your child to acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.

* Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Panama. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for Panama, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Panama, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Panama require of the adoptive parents after the adoption? 

In adoption cases where prospective adoptive parent(s) are granted legal guardianship of a child in order to adopt the child in the United States, a Panamanian judge must interview the prospective adoptive parent(s) and determine that an adoption outside of Panama is in the best interests of the child. This often includes a psychological evaluation of the parent(s) by a social worker. This evaluation can be performed by a comparable agency in the United States.

A judge must approve the departure of a child from Panama if the child is leaving without the child's birth parent(s) or legal guardian. The judge will grant the prospective adoptive parents guardianship for a trial period. This trial period can take place either in the United States or in Panama. If the judge determines that the child's adjustment has been successful, the adoption is finalized under Panamanian law. If the judge is concerned about the child's welfare, the judge may extend the trial period or cancel the process altogether.

Once the adoption is finalized, Panamanian law requires post-placement reports every six months for three years (for a total of six reports). These reports can either be delivered by the adoption service provider or via DHL or Federal Express sent to the following address:

Secretaría Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (Dirección de Adopciones) 
Plaza Edison
Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro
Segundo Piso
Panama City, Panama
Attn: Lic. Mauad
Phone number to place on package 500-6079

We strongly urge you to comply with the wishes of Panama and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Panama's history of positive experiences with American parents.

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption? 

Many adoptive parents find it important to seek support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Panama
Clayton Building #783
Ave. Demetrio B. Lakas
Panama City, Republic of Panama
Panama-Visas@state.gov

Panama's Adoption Authority
Secretaria Nacional de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (SENNIAF) 
Plaza Edison
Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro
Segundo Piso
Panama City, Panama
Tel: 500-6079
Fax: 500-6075
Internet: www.senniaf.gob.pa, or http://senniaf.100freemb.com/

Embassy of Panama 
Embassy of the Republic of Panama
2862 McGill Terr., NW
Washington , DC 20008
Tel: 202-511-3800
Fax: 202-483-8413

*Panama also has consulates in: Mobile, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Honolulu, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, and San Juan.

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None One 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 $90.00 Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B $60.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I $90.00 Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
L-2 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
R-2 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available for persons born since April 15, 1914, when the Civil Registry of Panama was established. Incomplete records of births prior to that date are compiled from secondary sources. The Registro Civil (a department of the Tribunal Electoral) provides a literal copy (copia integra), which is a legal size document that includes the date of registration of the birth and name and relationship of registrant, as well as the names of the grandparents. Copia Integra birth certificates are mandatory for cases in which the petition is based on a relationship by birth (parent-child, child-parent, or siblings).

Under Panamanian Law No. 60 of September 30, 1946, children born out of wedlock are legitimate if they are recognized by their natural father. As there have been cases of men recognizing children who were not their natural offspring, a literal copy (copia integra) of the birth certificate should be requested in all cases where it is necessary to establish paternity and to determine if the child was recognized at birth.

Death Certificates

Available. May be obtained from the same sources as birth certificates.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available since April 15, 1914. Only scattered records are available prior to that date.

Additionally, Panamanian nationals may obtain evidence of relationship status by obtaining a Certification of Unmarried Status (Certificado de Solteria) or a divorce certificate from the same sources as birth certificates. The Certification of Unmarried Status certifies that there are no marriages registered in Panama. Certificado de Solteria is availableto foreigners in possession of a cedula (Panamanian identification document).

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Panama.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Certificates

 

Available

Fees:  

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - USD $9.00

  • Canal Zone Certificate - N/A

Document Name: 

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Available through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Direccion de Investigacion Judicial (DIJ), which bears the apostille seal.  “Para Uso Internacional” is the acceptable version. 

  • Canal Zone Certificate - The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982.

Issuing Authority: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Dirección de Investigación Judicial (DIJ)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:

  • Police Certificate - Bears the apostille seal, “Para Uso Internacional” is the acceptable format.

  • Canal Zone Certificate - N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Dirección de Investigación Judicial (DIJ)

  • Canal Zone Certificate - U.S. Embassy Consular Section, Panama City

Registration Criteria:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Applicants 18 years of age and older, who have resided in Panama for more than six (6) months, should get a police record (historial policivo y penal) through the MFA from the DIJ.

  • Canal Zone Certificate - The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982.

Procedure for Obtaining:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - The processing time for this certificate is ten days. Requests for police records from the DIJ should be sent to the following address:

       

      Record Policivo
      Ministerio de Relaciónes Exteriores
      Departamento de Autenticaciónes y Legalizaciónes
      Plaza Suntower, First Floor, El Dorado, Panama City

       

  • Canal Zone Certificate - Complete the form "Application for Certificate of Good Conduct" and submit it to the Consular Section.


Certified Copies Available:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - None

  • Canal Zone Certificate - None

Alternate Documents:   The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982. Police records formerly held by the Panama Canal Commission are now held by the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section.  The Canal Zone Certificate of Good Conduct available from the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section. 

Exceptions: None

Comments: None

Military Records

Please check back for update

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Regular Passports issued on and after September 9, 1969, are valid for five years and are not renewable. There may be a fee for this service.

Salvo Conducto and Permiso de Regreso, when presented together, meet the requirements of INA 101(a)(30). Salvo Conductos are valid for a maximum of one year and are not renewable.

Note: Civil documents from the Registro Civil (birth, death, divorce and marriage certificates) may be obtained by writing to the: Director General, Registro Civil, Tribunal Electoral, Apartado 5281, Panama 5, Republic of Panama. There may be a fee for this service.

Civil documents from the former Canal Zone (birth, marriage, and death certificates) are available from 1904 to September 30, 1979. They should be requested from the Department of State at the following address: Correspondence Branch, Passport Services, 1111-19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, D.C. 20522-1705, Telephone number 202-955-0307.

Note: Under the Panama Canal Treaty, civil documents from respective depositories under former Canal Zone government must be transferred to the Republic of Panama. However, it is difficult to predict with any degree of certainty just when a transfer will be formally effected, and it is quite possible that applicants may initially encounter delays in obtaining these documents from the Panama Civil Registry. Documents from the former Canal Zone should be obtained directly from: Correspondence Branch, Passport Services, 1111-19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, D.C., Telephone number 202-955-0307.

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Panama City, Panama (Embassy)

UNIT 0945
APO AA 34002-9100

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Panama.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 483-1407 (202) 483-8413

Houston, TX (713) 622-4451 (713) 622-4468

Miami, FL (305) 447-3700 (305) 447-4142

New Orleans, LA (504) 525-3458 (504) 424-8960

New York, NY (212) 840-2450 (212) 840-2469

Philadelphia, PA (215) 574-2994 (215) 574-4225

San Juan, PR (787) 728-6688

Tampa, FL (813) 242-0310 (813) 886-1427

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Panama
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama
Telephone
+(507) 317-5000
Emergency
+(507) 317-5000
Fax
+(507) 317-5278
Panama Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Panama
Republic of Panama
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Embassy Messages

Panama

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

3 months beyond date of arrival

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No

 

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow fever for passengers entering from countries with endemic yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

$10,000

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Panama

Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama

Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Fax: +(507) 317-5278

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Panama for information on U.S. - Panama relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Panama website for the most current visa information.

Requirements for Entry:

  • A passport valid for at least three months past the date of entry.
  • A return ticket to home country or onward destination.
  • Money - either $500 in cash or its equivalent, or credit card, bank statement, letter of employment or travelers checks.
  • Criminal Record Restriction - Panamanian immigration reserves the right to deny entry to any person with a criminal conviction.

Requirements for Exit:

180 Day Stay-Tourists can only remain in Panama for 180 days. This rule is strictly enforced by Panamanian immigration. Travelers must ensure that immigration officials place an entry stamp in their passport.  For further information contact the Government of Panama Migration Service.

Traveling with Minors- Minors (children under 18) who are Panamanian citizens (including dual citizens) or legal residents of Panama are required to present both parents’ identification documents, birth certificates, and notarized consent (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents. The consent must also be apostilled if it was signed in the United States. A child born in Panama may automatically obtain Panamanian citizenship. Non-resident foreign minors are excluded from these provisions. 

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Panama.  Panamanian immigration does not require an HIV/AIDS test. The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any U.S. citizens who have been deported due to HIV/AIDS.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Panama before you travel.

Arriving by Sea: The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit fee of $110 for sea travelers piloting their own boats and arriving as tourists. This fee allows entry into Panama for a period of three months, and can be extended for up to two years through an approved application with the immigration authorities in Panama.  U.S. citizens navigating private craft through the Canal should contact the Panama Canal Authority at (011) 507-272-4570 or consult the Panama Canal Authority web site to make an appointment.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Outside city limits, the Mosquito Coast (Caribbean side) and the Darien Region (Colombian border) are particularly dangerous due to their remoteness and the presence of criminal organizations.

In the Darien region, most travel is by river or by footpath due to the scarcity of roads.  There have been reports of narco-traffickers, and other smugglers and criminals operating in the Panama-Colombia border area.

Access to the “Mosquito Coast” region is almost exclusively by boat and/or aircraft.  Sections of this coastline are reportedly used for narco-trafficking and other illicit activities.

Demonstrations: There may be demonstrations to protest internal Panamanian issues or, more rarely, manifestations of anti-American sentiment.  While most demonstrations are non-violent, the Panamanian National Police have used tear gas and/or riot control munitions in response to demonstrations, particularly when roadways are blocked or aggression is used against the police. 

Beach and Maritime Safety: Some beaches, especially those on the Pacific Ocean and those in the Bocas Del Toro Province, have dangerous currents that cause drowning deaths every year.

Boaters should be wary of vessels that may be transporting narcotics, illicit materials, and illegal immigrants.  Packages containing narcotics have been found floating in the ocean or lying on remote beaches.  Do not pick up or move these packages, and immediately report their location to the Panamanian authorities.

Local maritime search and rescue capabilities are limited.  If you are experiencing an emergency at sea or know of someone who is experiencing an emergency off the coast of Panama, please contact the Panamanian authorities.

Crime: Panama City, Colon, and Chiriqui province have the highest crime rates.  Crimes include shootings, home invasions, rapes, armed robberies, muggings, thefts, and occasionally express kidnappings.  You should take the same precautions you would take in other big cities.

  • Remove valuables from your car.  Keep windows up and doors locked while driving.
  • Use only licensed and registered taxis.  Avoid taxis with passengers and instruct the driver not to pick up additional fares while en-route to your destination.  Regular taxis are yellow in color. Many hotels also have “tourist taxis” that are not yellow but only pick up passengers in front of well-known hotels.  Taxis in Panama do not use meters so agree on a fare before getting into the taxi.   

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police by dialing 104 (National Police) or 511-9260 (Tourist Police in Panama City) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +507-317-5000. 

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes that occur in Panama.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • Put you in touch with the Panamanian Oficina de Asistencia a Víctimas de Crímenes (Office of Assistance to Victims of Crime), located at the Policia Tecnica Judicial in the Ancon area of Panama City, which can be reached at 512-2222.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.  If you are in immediate danger, first contact the local police at 104.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some offenses are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. See our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

If you break local laws in Panama, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the Embassy cannot get you out of jail or prison.  Keep in mind, if you are arrested for an offense, tried and convicted, you must be sentenced before you can be transferred to the United States to complete your sentence in the United States. This process can last three or more years.  

Carry Identification: Anyone not bearing identification may be held and will be penalized by the Panamanian authorities.  You should always carry your passport that contains the Panama entry stamp in case it is requested by Panamanian authorities.

Drugs: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Panama are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Property: Exercise extreme diligence in purchasing real estate in Panama. The U.S. Embassy in Panama has received numerous property dispute complaints. The complaints include lost property, broken contracts, and demands for additional payments, accusations of fraud and corruption, and occasionally threats of violence. More information can be found here.

Customs Restrictions: Panamanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning importation into or export from Panama of items such as firearms and ammunition, cultural property, endangered wildlife species, narcotics, biological material, and food products. Contact the Panamanian Embassy for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available as you may also be breaking local law. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers:  Same sex marriages are not conducted nor recognized in Panama. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals enjoy full legal rights in Panama. However, Panamanian law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there is societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Panamanian law only mandates access to new or remodeled public buildings for persons with disabilities, which is being enforced for new construction. Handicapped parking is often available at many larger parking lots.  

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Panama City is known to have some good hospitals and clinics, but medical facilities outside of the capital are limited. Hospitals in Panama are either private hospitals or government-run public hospitals. Private hospitals typically require payment of the anticipated costs of hospitalization prior to providing services and require payment of any additional costs upon release from the hospital. These costs can be in excess of USD$10,000-$20,000, depending on the nature of the treatment. In Panama, most hospitals accept credit cards for hospital charges, but not for doctors' fees and do not accept international wire transfers or credit card payments over the phone.

Except for antibiotics and narcotics, most medications are available without a prescription.

The 911-call center provides ambulance service in Panama City, Colon, and the Pan-American Highway between Panama City and Chiriqui. However, an ambulance may not always be available and given difficulties with traffic and poor road conditions, there may be a significant delay in response. There are private ambulance services available on a subscription basis.

The U.S. Embassy does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid do not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Panama, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Travelers should carry identification with them at all times and be prepared to stop for unannounced checkpoints throughout the country, especially at night. Traffic lights are infrequently located on roads throughout the country, even at busy intersections. Traffic in Panama moves on the right, as in the U.S. Panamanian law requires that drivers and passengers wear seat belts.

Driving in Panama is often hazardous and difficult due to heavy traffic, undisciplined driving habits, poorly maintained streets and a shortage of effective signs and traffic signals. Use caution when driving at night; night driving is particularly hazardous on the old Panama City – Colon highway. Riding your bicycle on the streets is not recommended.  

Road travel is more dangerous during the rainy season (April to December) due to flooding. Rainy season occasionally makes city streets impassible and washes out some roads in the interior of the country. In addition, roads in rural areas are often poorly maintained and lack light at night.

There is often construction at night on Panama's portion of the Pan American highway. There are few signs alerting drivers to construction, and the highway is not well lit at night. When traveling on the highway, travelers should be aware of possible roadblocks. The Pan American Highway ends at Yaviza in the Darién Province of Panama and does not continue through to Colombia.

Traffic Laws: Current Panamanian law allows foreigners to drive in Panama using their valid foreign driver’s license for a period of only 90 days. Driving without a valid driver’s license is illegal in all areas of Panama. Drivers stopped for driving while intoxicated may face the loss of their driver’s license, a monetary penalty, and vehicle impoundment. Talking on a cell phone or drinking an alcoholic beverage while driving also carries a fine.

If you are involved in a vehicle accident, immediately notify the police. Third party liability auto insurance is mandatory, but many drivers are uninsured. If an accident occurs, the law requires that the vehicles be moved off the roadway. Failure to do so could result in a fine. If you are involved in an accident that did not cause injury, you should take a photo of both cars. If safe to do so, exchange information with the other driver and wait for the police to arrive.

Public Transportation: Public transportation should be used with caution. While we still receive reports of thefts and pick-pocketing, Panamanian National Police report the new metro buses with bigger windows and better lighting, have reduced the instances of violent crime.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the websites of Panama’s Tourism Authority, Transportation Authority, and the national authority responsible for road safety in Panama (Spanish-only) for helpful information on road conditions in Panama.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Panama’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Panama’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Panama should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal; select “broadcast warnings.”

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Panama

Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama

Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(507) 317-5000

Fax: +(507) 317-5278

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General Information

Panama and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 1994.

For information concerning travel to Panama, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Panama.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Panama.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone: 1-877-407-4747
Outide the United States or Canada: 202-501-4444
Fax: 202-485-6221
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

The Panamanian Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.  The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores performs the duties given to central authorities under the Hague Abduction Convention, including processing Hague Abduction Convention applications for return of and access to children.  They can be reached at:

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Dirección General de Asuntos Juridicos y Tratados
San Felipe. Calle 3. Palacio Bolívar. Edificio 26, Ciudad de Panamá. Telephone:  (507) - 511-4228 / 511-4129
Fax:   (507) - 511-4022/ 511-4008/ 511-4323
Email: avergara@mire.gob.pa
Website  

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Panama, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the Panamanian Central Authority, either directly or through the U.S. Central Authority (USCA).  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to Panamanian Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the Panamanian Central Authority.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the sole responsibility of the person hiring the attorney.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Panama.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Panama.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Although not required, the Panamanian Central Authority encourages a Hague applicant to retain an attorney in order to have his or her interests represented in court. The Fiscalia de Familia, under the Attorney General, or Ministerio Publico, represents the child in court.

Upon request, Panama may provide pro bono legal assistance to foreigners who demonstrate a lack of financial means to pay for an attorney in Panama.  The Panamanian Central Authority requires that the petitioning left-behind parent submit a detailed document outlining his or her lack of financial means, along with supporting documentation, such as a salary stub.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Attorneys may arrange for mediation through family courts; both parties must be present for mediation. However, there are currently no non-governmental organizations that offer mediation services for custody disputes in Panama.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Panama is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, all intercountry adoptions between Panama and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

In order for an adoption application to meet the requirements of the Hague, a U.S. consular officer must review the case file and issue an "Article 5 Letter" to the Panamanian Central Authority before an adoption or grant of legal custody takes place. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents are cautioned to carefully follow in order the steps outlined in the "How to Adopt" Section below.

Currently, Panamanian laws also allow U.S. citizens who meet required eligibility requirements under Panamanian law to adopt under a "National" adoption process, which is a different process from the Hague intercountry process. Please note that any child adopted locally (i.e. outside the Hague Adoption Convention process described below) is not immediately eligible for an immigrant visa. Instead, the child must qualify for an immigrant visa as the child of the U.S. Citizen (IR-2). This visa category requires that the U.S. citizen adoptive parent fulfill a two year period of legal and physical custody in Panama prior to filing the petition for the visa to the United States. Additional information is available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Panama is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Panama, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Panama also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Panamanian courts allow U.S. citizens to adopt, however Panamanian citizens are given preference. There are no official residency requirements for adoption in Panama.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: There must be an age difference of at least 18 years and no more than 45 years between the prospective adoptive parent and the child.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive couples must have been married for at least two years.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: There is no minimum income requirement for prospective adoptive parents in Panama.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: No family line adoptions are allowed, meaning grandparents may not adopt their grandchildren and siblings may not adopt their minor siblings.

    Same sex couples are not permitted to adopt children.

    Most adoptions of Panamanian children by U.S. parents take place in Panama. Less frequently, Panamanian courts may grant the U.S. citizens guardianship, allowing for adoption following the family's return to the United States. There are no legal impediments to granting guardianship, but the Panamanian court system generally discourages this practice.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Panama is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Panama must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. In accordance with the Convention, the Central Authority of Panama determines whether possibilities for placement of the child in Panama have been given due consideration. In addition to Panama's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Under Panamanian adoption law, adopted children do not need to be orphans, though their natural parent(s) must have legally abandoned them and/or have had their parental rights terminated by a court.

  • Relinquishment Requirements: Only children who have been declared adoptable by Panama's judicial system can be adopted; relinquishment is contemplated during the Panamanian judicial process.
  • Sibling Requirements: Panamanian courts generally do not separate siblings. If a prospective adoptive parent would like to adopt one child, they must adopt the child's siblings.
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How to Adopt

PANAMA'S ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Panama's central adoption authority under the Hague Adoption Convention is the Secretaría Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (SENNIAF).

THE PROCESS

Because Panama is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Panama must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Panama before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more .

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Panama
  6. Bring your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider: 

    The first step in adopting a child from Panama is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Because Panama is a Convention country, adoption services must be provided by an accredited agency, temporarily accredited agency, approved person, supervised provider, or exempted provider. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Panama. In addition, the adoption service provider must also be authorized by the Panamanian Central Authority SENNIAF to provide services in Panama.

    Parents interested in adopting from Panama should contact SENNIAF for up-to-date information prior to initiating a new adoption process. As of December 2010, the following U.S. Hague accredited adoption service providers have also been accredited in Panama: A Helping Hand Adoption Agency in Lexington, KY; Families Thru International Adoption, Inc., in Evansville, IN; Faith International Adoptions in Tacoma, WA; and Hands Across the Water in Ann Arbor, MI. Learn more.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing authority in the U.S. State where the agency is located or licensed.
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.

    Once the U.S. Government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Panama. Panama's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Panama's law.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and Panama determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Panama may provide you with a referral for a child, through your adoption service provider. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.

    After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for the child to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify Panama's adoption authority via an Article 5 letter. For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place. 

    Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
  5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Panama, you must have completed the above four steps. In addition, Panama's judicial system usually requires three months of cohabitation by adoptive parents and the child to ensure the match is a good one before the adoption can be finalized. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Panama.

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Panama generally includes the following:
    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: SENNIAF should be the first point of contact for parents interested in adopting a child in Panama. They offer the most up-to-date guidance as to the steps required, approved adoption service providers, and the final match of a child.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: The Juzgado de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Children and Minors' Court) has jurisdiction over adoption cases of abandoned children, wards of the court (including children whose parents' parental rights have been terminated by the court), and orphans. There are 12 district courts throughout the provinces in Panama. The courts generally require proof from the U.S. government, such as the I-800 provisional approval notification provided on an I-797 approval form, that the parent(s) are eligible for adoption and the child has been approved for adoption, as well as proof of cohabitation totaling between one and three months.
    • TIME FRAME: Adoptions in Panama typically take 18-24 months.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Usually, the prospective adoptive parent(s) and their attorney will communicate with the judge's staff until the demanda is ready for review. If the judge approves the demanda, the judge will forward the documents to the "Registro Civil de Panama" (Civil Register). The adoption is not official until it is published in the Civil Register and the judge has signed a final decree.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Embassy in Panama discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted. "Donations" or "expediting" fees, which may be requested from prospective adoptive parents, have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Panama at risk.

      Attorney fees for an adoption in Panama range from $1,000 to $2,500. Government processing fees vary on a case by case basis. In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: For intercountry adoptions, the Government of Panama requires the below listed documents. Spanish translations of English documents are required. It is advisable to obtain several authenticated copies of the same document in case extra copies are requested or required.
      • Birth certificate of each adoptive parent;
      • Marriage certificate of each adoptive parent, and death or divorce certificate of prior spouse(s) if either parent was previously married;
      • Apostiled or certified copy of adoptive parents' passports;
      • Health certificate certifying good mental and physical health of each parent (the Panamanian authorities will accept a health certificate from the prospective adoptive parents' doctor in the U.S.);
      • Certificate of good conduct from local police in adoptive parents' state of residence (the I-800A does not fulfill this requirement.);
      • Letter from employer(s) stating position and current salary;
      • Two passport size photographs in color of each parent;
      • Two reference letters attesting to character, financial situation, and living conditions of adoptive parents;
      • Sociological home study report conducted by U.S. social worker or U.S.-certified investigative agency approved by the Panamanian courts (home studies conducted in the U.S. can be used if approved by the Panamanian courts.); and
      • Psychological evaluation conducted by authorized medical officer in Panama or a U.S.-certified medical official approved by the Panamanian courts.

      NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.

  6. Bring Your Child Home: Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate (short-form, as copia integra are not issued in adoption cases) for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. It usually takes at least five business days to acquire one. It can be acquired from the Tribunal Electoral de Panama, Dirección Nacional de Registro Civil (Civil Registry), Second floor, located on Calle 33 between Avenida Cuba and Avenida Perú in Panama City

    • Panama Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Panama. 

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa 
      After you obtain the new birth certificate and Panamanian passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

    Adopting Under Local Laws
    Some U.S. citizens who meet eligibility requirements under Panamian law may also be permitted to proceed with a "National" adoption, which is different from a Hague Convention adoption. A child adopted under a National adoption process is not immediately eligible to travel to the U.S. The type of visa you would seek is an IR-2, which requires two years of legal and physical custody of the child; this physical cohabitation must occur in the country of origin of the child. To pursue this avenue, you must file an I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS.

    If your adoption in Panama is nearly or already finalized, but you did not start the process with an I-600A filed before April 1, 2008, which has been extended and is still valid, you have not met the requirements necessary to obtain an adoption visa under either pre-Hague adoption visa processing or Hague Convention adoption visa processing. However, the IR-2 visa remains a path to bring your adopted child to the United States.

    Please visit the Department of State's website for more information regarding IR-2 visas and other immigrant visa categories.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident (with an immigrant visa).

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 typically allows your child to acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.

* Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Panama. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for Panama, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Panama, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Panama require of the adoptive parents after the adoption? 

In adoption cases where prospective adoptive parent(s) are granted legal guardianship of a child in order to adopt the child in the United States, a Panamanian judge must interview the prospective adoptive parent(s) and determine that an adoption outside of Panama is in the best interests of the child. This often includes a psychological evaluation of the parent(s) by a social worker. This evaluation can be performed by a comparable agency in the United States.

A judge must approve the departure of a child from Panama if the child is leaving without the child's birth parent(s) or legal guardian. The judge will grant the prospective adoptive parents guardianship for a trial period. This trial period can take place either in the United States or in Panama. If the judge determines that the child's adjustment has been successful, the adoption is finalized under Panamanian law. If the judge is concerned about the child's welfare, the judge may extend the trial period or cancel the process altogether.

Once the adoption is finalized, Panamanian law requires post-placement reports every six months for three years (for a total of six reports). These reports can either be delivered by the adoption service provider or via DHL or Federal Express sent to the following address:

Secretaría Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (Dirección de Adopciones) 
Plaza Edison
Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro
Segundo Piso
Panama City, Panama
Attn: Lic. Mauad
Phone number to place on package 500-6079

We strongly urge you to comply with the wishes of Panama and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Panama's history of positive experiences with American parents.

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption? 

Many adoptive parents find it important to seek support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Panama
Clayton Building #783
Ave. Demetrio B. Lakas
Panama City, Republic of Panama
Panama-Visas@state.gov

Panama's Adoption Authority
Secretaria Nacional de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (SENNIAF) 
Plaza Edison
Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro
Segundo Piso
Panama City, Panama
Tel: 500-6079
Fax: 500-6075
Internet: www.senniaf.gob.pa, or http://senniaf.100freemb.com/

Embassy of Panama 
Embassy of the Republic of Panama
2862 McGill Terr., NW
Washington , DC 20008
Tel: 202-511-3800
Fax: 202-483-8413

*Panama also has consulates in: Mobile, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Honolulu, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, and San Juan.

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None One 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 $90.00 Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B $60.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I $90.00 Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
L-2 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
R-2 $60.00 Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available for persons born since April 15, 1914, when the Civil Registry of Panama was established. Incomplete records of births prior to that date are compiled from secondary sources. The Registro Civil (a department of the Tribunal Electoral) provides a literal copy (copia integra), which is a legal size document that includes the date of registration of the birth and name and relationship of registrant, as well as the names of the grandparents. Copia Integra birth certificates are mandatory for cases in which the petition is based on a relationship by birth (parent-child, child-parent, or siblings).

Under Panamanian Law No. 60 of September 30, 1946, children born out of wedlock are legitimate if they are recognized by their natural father. As there have been cases of men recognizing children who were not their natural offspring, a literal copy (copia integra) of the birth certificate should be requested in all cases where it is necessary to establish paternity and to determine if the child was recognized at birth.

Death Certificates

Available. May be obtained from the same sources as birth certificates.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available since April 15, 1914. Only scattered records are available prior to that date.

Additionally, Panamanian nationals may obtain evidence of relationship status by obtaining a Certification of Unmarried Status (Certificado de Solteria) or a divorce certificate from the same sources as birth certificates. The Certification of Unmarried Status certifies that there are no marriages registered in Panama. Certificado de Solteria is availableto foreigners in possession of a cedula (Panamanian identification document).

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Panama.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Certificates

 

Available

Fees:  

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - USD $9.00

  • Canal Zone Certificate - N/A

Document Name: 

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Available through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Direccion de Investigacion Judicial (DIJ), which bears the apostille seal.  “Para Uso Internacional” is the acceptable version. 

  • Canal Zone Certificate - The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982.

Issuing Authority: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Dirección de Investigación Judicial (DIJ)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:

  • Police Certificate - Bears the apostille seal, “Para Uso Internacional” is the acceptable format.

  • Canal Zone Certificate - N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) from the Dirección de Investigación Judicial (DIJ)

  • Canal Zone Certificate - U.S. Embassy Consular Section, Panama City

Registration Criteria:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - Applicants 18 years of age and older, who have resided in Panama for more than six (6) months, should get a police record (historial policivo y penal) through the MFA from the DIJ.

  • Canal Zone Certificate - The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982.

Procedure for Obtaining:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - The processing time for this certificate is ten days. Requests for police records from the DIJ should be sent to the following address:

       

      Record Policivo
      Ministerio de Relaciónes Exteriores
      Departamento de Autenticaciónes y Legalizaciónes
      Plaza Suntower, First Floor, El Dorado, Panama City

       

  • Canal Zone Certificate - Complete the form "Application for Certificate of Good Conduct" and submit it to the Consular Section.


Certified Copies Available:

  • Police Certificate (historial policivo y penal) - None

  • Canal Zone Certificate - None

Alternate Documents:   The Canal Zone certificate is available for both citizens of Panama and third country nationals who were born on or before October 1966 and who resided in Panama before 1982. Police records formerly held by the Panama Canal Commission are now held by the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section.  The Canal Zone Certificate of Good Conduct available from the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section. 

Exceptions: None

Comments: None

Military Records

Please check back for update

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Regular Passports issued on and after September 9, 1969, are valid for five years and are not renewable. There may be a fee for this service.

Salvo Conducto and Permiso de Regreso, when presented together, meet the requirements of INA 101(a)(30). Salvo Conductos are valid for a maximum of one year and are not renewable.

Note: Civil documents from the Registro Civil (birth, death, divorce and marriage certificates) may be obtained by writing to the: Director General, Registro Civil, Tribunal Electoral, Apartado 5281, Panama 5, Republic of Panama. There may be a fee for this service.

Civil documents from the former Canal Zone (birth, marriage, and death certificates) are available from 1904 to September 30, 1979. They should be requested from the Department of State at the following address: Correspondence Branch, Passport Services, 1111-19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, D.C. 20522-1705, Telephone number 202-955-0307.

Note: Under the Panama Canal Treaty, civil documents from respective depositories under former Canal Zone government must be transferred to the Republic of Panama. However, it is difficult to predict with any degree of certainty just when a transfer will be formally effected, and it is quite possible that applicants may initially encounter delays in obtaining these documents from the Panama Civil Registry. Documents from the former Canal Zone should be obtained directly from: Correspondence Branch, Passport Services, 1111-19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, D.C., Telephone number 202-955-0307.

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Panama City, Panama (Embassy)

UNIT 0945
APO AA 34002-9100

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Panama.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 483-1407 (202) 483-8413

Houston, TX (713) 622-4451 (713) 622-4468

Miami, FL (305) 447-3700 (305) 447-4142

New Orleans, LA (504) 525-3458 (504) 424-8960

New York, NY (212) 840-2450 (212) 840-2469

Philadelphia, PA (215) 574-2994 (215) 574-4225

San Juan, PR (787) 728-6688

Tampa, FL (813) 242-0310 (813) 886-1427

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Panama
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas,
Building No.783
Clayton, Panama
Telephone
+(507) 317-5000
Emergency
+(507) 317-5000
Fax
+(507) 317-5278
Panama Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.