Immigration
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Panama welcomes hundreds of foreign scientific visitors every year. The country is supportive of STRI science and provides a generous framework to accommodate foreign researchers. Familiarizing yourself with immigration requirements will help get your visit off to the best start possible.

Immigration requirements vary depending on your nationality but most international visitors can stay in Panama for 90-180 days without applying for a visa. Please read the following information for specific entry requirements, how to extend your visit and for some essential tips on how to navigate immigration successfully.

Immigration regulations change without warning, so please review the following information even if you have visited us before. Our Legal and External Affairs Office is available for any questions.

Entry Requirements

The Republic of Panama is the host country for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The Panamanian government has generously granted certain special considerations to STRI that allow us to facilitate your visit.

Officials from Panama’s National Immigration Service control entry to Panama and enforce immigration laws and regulations. Regulations are modified regularly so, even if you have visited us before, it is important to review immigration requirements. All visitors to STRI must comply with current immigration regulations.

In general, foreigners can visit Panama for 90-180 days without a visa, depending on country of origin. Please see the country lists below for details.

If you are a scientific visitor to STRI and will conclude your visit to Panama within the allotted 90-180 days, you will not require a visa under normal circumstances.

If you are a scientific visitor to STRI and will require more than 90-180 days to complete your research, you will need to contact our Office of External Affairs to make arrangements. Please see our Visas, Extensions and Driver’s License page for details.

Please note:

On the first business day after your arrival in Panama, visit STRI’s Visitor Services Office at the Tupper Center in Panama City to register your visit. This will greatly facilitate your visit to Panama and any research activities that require immigration services or scientific permits.

Panamanian police officers may request your identification papers, including your passport, when you travel through the country or within Panama City. Please see our Immigration: Essential Information page for more information.

If you plan on staying in Panama for 90-180 days AND driving during that time, you will need a license issued in Panama. Please see our Visas, Extensions and Driver’s License page for details.

Required documents for STRI visitors to Panama

Upon entering Panama, you will need the following documents and information:

  • A passport that is valid for at least three months after date of entry.
  • A round-trip bus or plane ticket as proof that you plan to leave.
  • Proof of solvency: either $500 USD in cash, traveler checks, or credit card or debit card with most recent monthly statement.
  • A certified police record from your country of permanent residence, in case there is a chance you will stay longer than 180 days in Panama. This document is an essential requirement for obtaining a short-term scientific visitor visa. See Visas Required Documents for more information.

Additionally, STRI strongly recommends you bring:

  • A letter from STRI stating that you have been invited here as a scientific appointee or research visitor
  • The address of where you will be staying while in Panama
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccinations depending on country of origin, please see our Health and Vaccinations

Information for specific nationalities

The citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter Panama and can stay for 90 days or less:

 

The citizens of the following countries do not require a visa to enter Panama and can stay for 180 days or less:

 

The citizens of the following countries need to obtain a stamped tourist visa (visa estampada) before visiting Panama. Term of stay 30 days.

 

The citizens of the following countries require an authorized visa to enter Panama:

 

For Visitors Who Need a Stamped or Authorized Panamanian Visa Before Arrival

If you need a special Panamanian visa in order to enter the country, the application should be made at your nearest Panamanian Embassy, or contact STRI –Legal and External Affairs Office for assistance at least three months in advance of your intended arrival.

 

Visa Exemptions

According to the Executive Decree No. 521 of August 06, 2018, the National Immigration Service has established that it will not be necessary to request a visa to enter Panama, regardless of your nationality, in the following circumstances: If the person has a multiple-entry visa, duly emitted by Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, the United States of America, Corea, Japan, Singapur or any other state of the European Union, with a validity of at least six (6) months before coming to Panama, and that the visa has been used previously in that territory.

Under this visa exemption decree, you are only allowed to stay in the country for 30 days as tourist and will need to apply for a visa extension at the Immigration Office when you are approaching the 30 days, even if your time approved to stay in STRI Panama was granted for three months or any other term. The Office of External Affairs in STRI can assist you with this process.

Additional information

Please register at the Visitor Services Office at STRI on the first business day after your arrival in Panama.

Immigration information is subject to change without warning. We recommend that you consult your nearest Panamanian Consulate, travel agent, airline or call Panama’s National Immigration Service at +507 507-1800 for updated information.

Contact

For questions and issues related to immigration:

Please note:

All information regarding immigration is subject to change without notice. Please remember that you are ultimately responsible for checking your travel documents upon arrival for expiration dates, needed extensions, documents/permits or exit requirements before departure. Failure to comply with applicable laws is subject to fines or deportation.

Celideth De León

Office of Legal and External Affairs
+507 212-8050
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