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Panama

If you’re travelling to Panama our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Health
  • Entry requirements
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Slovakia

Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves.  The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling.  Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Overview

Security Status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 15 March 2020

Latest travel alert

COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus in Panama

As part of its emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis, Panama has suspended all international flights to and from the country until at least 22 August, and possibly longer, depending on how well the virus is contained. We strongly urge any Irish citizens without residency status in Panama to contact the Irish Embassy in Bogotá for assistance and advice on returning home. 

The Panamanian government has introduced strict quarantine measures in order to combat the spread of the virus. Those resident in Panama should consult local authorities and the Ministry of Health’s dedicated webpage on COVID-19 (see below) for more details.

See links below for further information.

Panama Ministry of Health website for COVID-19

Panama Ministry of Health: Website

Panama Ministry of Health: Twitter account

World Health Organization

Tocumen International Airport: Panama’s main international airport

If you are in Panama, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities. 

COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus: Symptoms and Precautions

Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Please be wary of these symptoms and seek immediate medical attention should such symptoms occur.

International travellers: practice usual precautions

HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is below. 

Do:
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands

Don’t:
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Additional information on the Coronavirus can be found via the following links:

 

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

 

Health Protection Surveillance Centre

 

Emergency assistance

 

There is no Irish Embassy in Panama, so we may be limited in terms of the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consulate in Panama or the Irish Embassy in Colombia, which has responsibility for Panama.

EU Directive on Consular Protection

Under the EU Consular Protection Directive, Irish nationals may seek assistance from the Embassy or Consulate of any other EU member state in a country where there is no Irish Embassy or permanent representation.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the TravelWise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and Security

Safety and security

The Panama-Colombia border (Darien Gap) is particularly dangerous. There have been reports of violent crime, kidnapping and murder in this area.

Crime is also an issue in the Mosquito Gulf, where criminal organisations, such as dissent groups and drug traffickers, may be present.

These areas are particularly dangerous due to their remoteness.

Crime:

Always take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings against the risk of crime.

Street crime is a problem in areas like Panama City, Colon, and Chiriqui province. Such crimes can include shootings, home invasions, sexual offences, armed robberies, pick-pocketing, muggings, and thefts. 

Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Public transportation should be used with caution.

Petty crime:

Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, is relatively common in Panama, especially in busy areas, on buses and at bus stations. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth. Avoid using your mobile phone on the street.

Only use ATMs in banks or shopping centres.  Do not carry large sums of cash or valuables in public.

Lost or stolen passports:

Take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. If your passport is lost or stolen, it can take up to three weeks to get a replacement, due to time and distance factors. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies or scans of your passport.

Reporting crime:

If you're a victim of crime while in Panama, report it to the local police immediately. Many insurance companies will only compensate loss from theft if you can provide a police report. Contact us at the Embassy or Honorary Consulate if you require assistance.

Driving: Exercise caution if you are planning to drive in Panama. You can use your Irish driver’s license for a period of up to 90 days.  If you want to drive:

  • Ensure your license is valid for use in Panama and ensure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching when stopped in traffic

Taxis:

Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination and only use pre-booked taxis. We strongly advise against hailing taxis from the street. In general, taxis in Panama do not use meters, so it is advisable to agree on a fare before getting into the taxi.

Hiring a vehicle

If you're hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Safe swimming

Be careful when swimming or taking part in water sports on Pacific and Caribbean beaches as in some places there are strong currents, rips and undertows. Panamanian beaches may not have lifeguards on duty.

Swimming in the Bay of Panama is not recommended as it is thought to be polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste.

If you wish to go swimming, always check the signage before getting into the water. Avoid swimming in water where there are no other swimmers.

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquakes can occur from time to time in Panama. Tsunamis can also happen. Make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.

Panama is prone to heavy rains. The rainy season runs from April to December, but October and November normally register the heaviest rainfall. Occasional flooding and landslides occur in rural areas. Some city streets and rural roads can become impassable due to flooding.

In Panama, the hurricane season is from June to November, but storms can happen year-round. They can cause flooding and landslides, particularly in rural areas.

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal. 

Illegal drugs:

Drug trafficking is a very serious crime in Panama and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long terms of imprisonment.

Merely being in the company of someone who is using drugs is grounds for arrest.

Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don't carry anything through customs for anybody else.

LGBTI Travelers:

Homosexuality is legal but may not be widely accepted in some parts of the country, especially in rural areas.

Taking photos:

It's illegal to take photos of official buildings. Ask for permission before photographing anyone.

Health

Health

Vaccinations

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Panama.

Medical facilities

The standard of healthcare facilities in Panama City is generally good, but medical facilities outside the capital are limited. If you need emergency medical assistance dial 911.

Before you travel, you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad or repatriation.

Malaria

Malaria is relatively common in parts of Panama, including in some outlying areas of Panama City. You are advised to take medical advice on anti-malarial medication prior to travel. After arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

Dengue fever

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.

Zika Virus

A moderate risk of transmission of the Zika virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) exists in Panama. Irish citizens considering a trip to Panama, especially those with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/, and to consult their GP for further information if necessary.

Chikungunya

Cases of chikungunya virus have been reported in Panama. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, all precautions should be taken to avoid bites.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Visa/Passport

Irish citizens don't need a visa to visit Panama for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of three months from the date of entry into Panama. Entry requirements change from time to time, so check these requirements with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Panama.

Passports

It's advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport, the passport page containing your Panamanian visa (if applicable), and the passport page containing your entry stamp, at all times.

Arriving by sea

Those arriving in Panama by private boat are advised to contact Panama’s Servicio Nacional de Migración for information on entry permits and associated fees and conditions.

 

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

The Embassy operates an out of hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency assistance on weekends and public holidays. If you are in need of emergency assistance during these times, you should leave a message on the emergency message system by calling +57 1 657 6060. The emergency message system is checked regularly outside of office hours and a member of the Embassy staff will contact you as soon as possible.

When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).

Alternatively, you may contact the Duty Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin at +353 (0)1 408 2000.

Embassy of Ireland in Colombia
Edificio Tierra Firme
Ak 9 #115-30
Bogotá DC

Tel: +57 1 657 6060

Monday to Friday 09:30-13:30

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Dr. Juan Carlos Rosas
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Via Espana 122
Torre Delta, 14th Floor
P.O. Box 0834-01774
Panama
Republic of Panama

Tel: +507 264 6633
Fax: +507 264 0269

Email: Email us