Important Information for Traveling in Panama

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Airports

Immigration: The directions and requirements for a Tourist visa applies to US Citizens Only
When you first arrive to Panama you will have to pass through Immigration on your way to baggage claim.  Here you will be required to furnish your passport and a Tourist Card (90 visa)  which must be purchased before you enter the queue.  Just before the line begins for Immigration you will see a small wooden desk with an airport personnel selling Tourist Cards.  Each card costs $5.00 and grants you a 90 day visa for your stay in Panama.  You must purchase this card to enter the country. 

Customs:
Customs operates in the same fashion as other airports worldwide.  Upon collecting your baggage you will be required to pass through customs and present the customs form supplied to you in flight by the airline.  Here you will make any necessary declarations.

Limitations:
For all domestic flights passengers are limited to two pieces of luggage – one checked bag and one carry on.  The weight limit for the checked bag is 25lbs and the weight limit for the carry on is 10lbs.  Should your baggage exceed the weight limits you may be charged a nominal over weight fee.

Identification:

All persons are required to carry identification while in Panama.  Visitors are required to carry a passport at all times.  If you are hesitant to carry your passport and would rather carry a copy, this will suffice; however, the copy must include the page with your entrance stamp given by immigration when you enter the country. 

Currency/Banks, Credit Cards, and Currency Exchange:

While referred to as the Balboa, the currency of Panama is the US dollar. US coins are used along with Panamanian coins and look exactly like American coins except for the imprint. Credit cards are accepted at hotels, major stores, and most restaurants in Panama City. Outside Panama City, cash will be necessary.  Using your debit card and PIN, you can withdraw funds from an American bank account in Panama City at the ATM machines that have "Cirrus" or "Plus" sign on them.

Climate: 

Panama, located between Central and South America at 8.5 degrees latitude has a tropical climate with weather conditions vary depending upon elevation, location and season.  Temperatures are around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 25-30 degrees Celsius) and humidity is always high. There are only two seasons, the “dry season” from November to April and the “rainy season” from May through October.

Time zone:

Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (EST).  No day light savings is observed.

Language:

Spanish is the official language.  English is widely spoken.

Public Services:

Electricity is 120V / 60 Hz. US electrical items can be used without adapters. The water is of good quality and is potable throughout the country with the exceptions of San Blas and Bocas del Toro. Panama has the most advanced private telecommunications systems in Latin America. It is inexpensive and convenient; direct-dial calls can be made to any country in the world. Post offices can be found in almost all cities and towns, and public telephones are nearly always accessible.

Taxes & Tips:

The hotels, in accordance with the law, charge a 10% consumer tax on the price of the room. In restaurants a 10% service charge is expected. If the service is excellent, an additional tip is recommended. Tourists must pay an airport tax of US$20.00 at the airport upon leaving the country.

Health:

No vaccinations are required in order to enter Panama.  Public health services in Panama are very good.  Excellent medical facilities, hospitals and clinics, can be found in all large cities.

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