How long must you stay out of Panama to reset your visa???

This question has many different answers and the most frequent one I’ve heard of lately is  24 hours, from various close friends Holly’s Blog  – Cindy who were kept from re-entering Panama recently. Our last experience was of the “in and out the same day” type and quite unlike our friend’s experiences. And now the local forums have threads regarding the issue and what to do.

So what’s the low down, the skinny? I did some internet research and found precious little to go on until I stumbled onto an old and interesting (to me) article from Don Winner at  The Panama Guide.


From Don Winner, circa 2011 entitled : The Panama Perpetual Tourist Border Hop Two Step – Separating Fact From Fiction

Snap Quiz (No Cheating…) How long do you have to stay in Costa Rica when you exit the country in order to reset your tourist visa status? Almost everyone is going to say “72 hours” – because that has become standard practice. Most of the people who go across the border stay out of Panama for at least 72 hours. Well, I checked the lawit’s not in there. No where is there any requirement to remain out of Panama for 72 hours. And in addition there is no time period specified at all, be it 72, 48, or 24 hours. This was a complete and total shock to me. I was sure I “knew” this one. Nope, wrong, it’s not there.”…….Panamanian authorities can do whatever they hell they want at practically any time.”

More from the same article….

“Immigration Is Heavy On “Common Practice” I bounced all of this off of Carlos Neuman, a long time friend of mine and an attorney with the Panama Relocation Attorneys. He explained that Immigration is “heavy on common practice.” He explained how they always require some documents when processing Pensionado (retiree) visas, for example, that are not required in the law. He said the 72 hour waiting period in Costa Rica is one of those things have become a “common practice” for immigration border inspectors, and all it would take is for a single inspector to decide that you’re not doing the right thing, and he can refuse entry. So just because something is not specifically in the law, does not mean it won’t come up.


The article was written in 2011. That was then, this is now….What should a person do???? I think I’ve figured out the best plan for us………………

“Go with the flow.” Relax, smile, don’t fight City Hall. Yup, that’ll work for us!

Kris and I are planning to stay a night or two in Costa Rica at a nice little place that a friend recommended. That way we make the inspectors happy and get a mini vacation at the same time! That is, unless the inspectors decide to change the time limit requirement again. I just remember to smile and keep on saying, “This is Panama”!!!

If you are going to make the hop soon, let me know how things worked out for you.  And good luck!




4 thoughts on “How long must you stay out of Panama to reset your visa???

  1. Recent experience at Rio Serano as of yesterday…they are enforcing a 24 hour stay out of the country…plus all the standard requirements like $500, ticket back out of the country, credit/debit card, etc. checking back in

  2. While visiting Panama in May 2016, I took an overnight excursion into Costa Rica. First, I had to leave my rental car at the border and rent another in CR. Note: do not rent the cheapest, but the mightiest vehicle for Costa RIca’s mountains. Upon returning the next day, I was denied re-entry into Panama because I had obtained a Costa Rican entry and exit stamp on my passport. According to the border agent, one must stay outside the country three days. Since my flight to the US departed Tocumen in two days, that presented a problem. Fortunately, I was able to get around the bureaucracy by walking around the booth and entering Panama “illegally” and returning to my Panama rental car, also parked illegally. You gotta be flexible in Central America! BTW: with the exception of this one bitch-in-a-box, Panamanians are fantastic!

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