Panama

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Advisories

Advisories

PANAMA - Exercise normal security precautions

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Panama. Exercise normal security precautions.

Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Colón and some areas of Panama City, where high crime rates exist.

 

Regional Advisory for the region beyond Yaviza

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel beyond the town of Yaviza in Darién Province. The area begins at the end of the Pan-American Highway (past Yaviza, about 230 kilometres southeast of Panama City) and ends at the Colombian border. This area includes parts of Darién National Park and privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts. Due to the presence of Colombian guerrilla groups and drug traffickers, the level of violent crime in this zone is extremely high, with numerous reports of kidnappings, armed robberies, deaths and disappearances.




Security

Security

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Crime

Petty theft is common in rural and urban areas of Panama, especially in Panama City and Colón. Violent crime is rare, but does occur throughout the country.

Theft from hotel rooms occurs in both urban and resort areas. Stay in busy, reputable and well-protected hotels and always verify the identity of a visitor before opening your door. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

In Panama City, high-crime areas include Calidonia, San Miguelito, Rio Abajo, El Chorillo, Ancón, Curundú, Veracruz Beach, Parque Soberania and Tocumen, as well as bus stations and shopping areas on Avenida Central. Do not walk alone after dark in Panama City and stay within well-known tourist areas. Remain vigilant in all public places, especially at airports and bus terminals.

Avoid displaying signs of affluence or carrying large sums of cash, and be alert to your surroundings when using automated banking machines. 

Demonstrations

Demonstrations and protest marches over various social and political issues occasionally occur in Panama City near the university, and on main streets and highways. These demonstrations are unpredictable and could potentially lead to violence. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, and monitor local news reports.

Road travel

Poor road conditions, dangerous driving habits, and poorly lit streets and vehicles are hazards. Keep car windows closed and doors locked at all times.

Night construction on the Pan-American Highway is frequent. Be prepared for possible roadblocks.

Marine travel

The southeastern coast of Comarca Kuna Yala, on the Caribbean, and Coiba Island as well as the entire length of the Pacific coast, are known as transportation corridors for narcotics. To visit the national park on Coiba Island, you must obtain special permission from the Panamanian Ministry of Government and Justice and the National Environment Authority.

Public transportation

Travelling by local bus is not recommended, as these vehicles do not follow a permanent route, and are relatively unsafe.

Registered taxis are the safest way to travel in urban centres. Sharing a taxi with strangers is not recommended, and passengers should sit in the back of the vehicle. Taxis are not metered, and fares are calculated according to the number of zones crossed to get to a destination. Agree to a fare before departure, as many fees are inflated for tourists.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Some beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts can be dangerous, as there are strong currents and undertows, and drownings have occurred. Most beaches lack sufficient rescue equipment and are not adequately monitored or marked.

Emergency services

Dial 104 to reach local police and 103 for firefighters.

Entry/Exit Requirements

Entry/Exit Requirements

It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Panamanian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Panama or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.

Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.

Passport

Canadians must present a passport to visit Panama, which must be valid for at least three months after the date of entry into Panama. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.

Visa

Tourist visa: Not required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required

Canadians staying in Panama for less than 180 days do not require a visa.

You must obtain a correctly dated entry stamp from immigration officials upon entry into Panama. Failure to do so may result in a fine, as immigration officials have begun strictly enforcing entry and exit regulations.

When they enter Panama, visitors are required to have the equivalent of US$500 or a credit card, plus a return or onward ticket.

Airport tax

A US$40 airport tax is charged upon departure, and is payable in cash only. This tax is often included in the price of the airline ticket.

Children and travel

Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.

Yellow fever

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.

Health

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

The Government of Panama offers free health insurance to foreigners arriving through Tocumen International Airport.

Panama City has very good private hospitals and clinics. Public hospitals and clinics do not offer services comparable to Canadian facilities. Medical facilities outside Panama City are limited. Expect to pay in advance for medical services, including emergency care.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

Laws & Culture

Laws & Culture

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for use or possession of illegal drugs in Panama are very strict. Offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Laws

Panamanian law requires all individuals to carry official identification documents at all times. Failure to produce identification upon request may result in travellers being taken to jail and charged a fine.

Under the Panamanian penal code, knowingly infecting others with a sexually transmitted disease is a crime.

Although homosexual activity is not illegal, discretion is highly recommended in public places since homosexuality is not socially acceptable in all areas.

There may be curfews for minors (under 18 years old) in Panama City. Minors circulating alone late at night in Panama City may be detained by police until their parents can be contacted if the police deem that they are involved in suspicious activities. Fines may be imposed.

Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals, particularly of children and women. When taking pictures of indigenous persons, it is normal to be asked to pay a small fee.

Canadian tourists can use their provincial driver’s licences in Panama for a period of up to 90 days.

Although vehicle insurance is compulsory, many Panamanians drive without it. In the event of an accident, call 104 to reach the police, and do not move the vehicle until you are advised to do so by a police officer.

Money

The official currency in Panama is the Balboa (PAB), which is used interchangeably with the U.S. dollar (USD). Because of problems with counterfeit US$50 and US$100 bills, carry small denominations of U.S. dollars.

Natural Disasters & Climate

Natural Disasters & Climate

Hurricane season

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from April to December. Occasional flooding can occur, making some city streets impassable. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

Seismic activity

Western Panama is located in an active seismic zone.

Help Abroad

Help Abroad

Panama - Embassy of Canada
Street Address Torres de Las Americas, Tower A, 11th Floor, Punta Pacifica, Panama City, Panama Postal Address P.O. Box Apartado 0832-2446, Panama City, Panama Telephone (507) 294-2500 Fax (507) 294-2514 Emailpanam@international.gc.caInternetpanama.gc.caServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookEmbassy of Canada to Panama

For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Panama City and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.

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