A proposed new law in the works aimed to reduce tourist visa/stays to 30 days


Deputy Elias Castillo is working on a legislature to modify the tourist visa time limits to a maximum of 30 days as a tourist with the option to extend it another 60 days.

This comes amidst discontent for the large number of Colombians and Venezuelans who overstay their visas, commit criminal acts while in Panama or pretty much abuse of their status and have problems with nationals.

Although the new law is aimed at everyone entering the country as a tourist, being allowed a maximum of 30 days and having proof of paid hotel stay and income, the article mentions that some nationalities will still be allowed to stay 6 months.

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What Panama needs to do is impose high exit taxes on the foreigners that are causing the  problems. Costa Rica is doing this at land and air border crossings and making good money on the border hoppers that are coming from Panama now. Just a thought and much simpler than changing and enforcing tourist visa regulations. Panama does not charge exit taxes for people hopping the for CR visa renewals.I do think this should be limited to tourist visas and not for nationals or permanent residents. The tax rate could be applied differently to different nationalities. 

Costa Rica does not charge high exit taxes for people leaving by land.

I didn't say they charged a high tax at border crossings, but ti is 8 times higher than what Panama charges. My suggestion was to charge high exit taxes to tourists from countries like Columbia and Venezuela where they are having problems with people on tourist visa working and stealing jobs from the nationals. This would be simple to implement and have the power of dissuasion. If you are from a non-problematic country the exit fee is $5, if you are from a problematic country the exit fee is $50. This would also generate revenue for Migracion so maybe they could pay the poor people that work at the border crossings a decent wage and put them in a better mood. If done like CR, it would also create jobs as their exit taxes are collected by privately owned companies. If they change the visa stay to different amounts of time for different countries this will put an extra burden on the police, who are already over burdened, to enforce.

Keep in mind that there is reciprocity. The other country can retaliate like Brasil did with US visitors needing to get visas at Brasilian embassies and consulates,and fingerprints. At one time Australians only received 30 day visas to Panama. I wonder who they pissed off in Panama.

Yeah, I know all about that. My wife is Brazilian. This is one reason I think a departure tax would work better. i would much rather pay a reciprocal departure tax than go through the hassle and expense of securing a visa. Brazil is $175 plus the expense of couriering the documents which amount to as much. 

Well actually you did say they charge a high tax at border crossings but moving on. A high exit tax might encourage people to stay longer. Maybe the tax should be based on how long someone is in the country? I believe Colombia does this with stays of several months. But Pahtah is right it will just become a war between countries of exit taxes.

Costa Rica does charge a high exit tax and I don't see migration workers there in a better mood than Panama.

Bacas del toro,

 I simply said that CR charges a land and airport exit tax. Panama does not charge a land border exit tax and I suggested that Panama charge a high exit tax on countries that are problematic with citizens working here on tourist visa. It is already expensive for them to return to their countries by air so they hop the border which costs relatively little to extend their visa's. Increasing this tax would hopefully deter the illegal workers and be more politically acceptable. 

Olga, we crossed the border at Paso Canoas recently and the exit tax was $8/person. They have set a couple of private companies across from Migracion where you can easily pay the tax. The extra dollar is probably a fee for processing and collecting.

Yes you are correct, if you pay the ladies in the mini-vans there is a $1 fee, but if you make it to the bank window at the border crossing, it's $7, their hours are not always convenient, so paying the extra $1 is worth it

Yes its $7 for leaving by land and $29 by airport

I too think that the "rules" are being abused by many.  However, if the "rules" are changed such that those who take advantage of them can no longer stay here, then a portion (I don't know the percentage) of expats would have to go back to whence they came.  The question is begged, then, is this good or bad?  I for one don't think it's bad ... nor do I think it's good.  I'm rather in a situation where I don't care one way or the other.  Any others have thoughts on this?

I don't think that there is abuse being committed. If they didn't want border hoppers, they would have put rules in place like some other countries have where you get a 30 day, or 90 day visa, and then you have to leave the country for 3 months or longer before you come back in. Panama is allowing you to come in and out in 3 days. That sounds like it is specifically set up for border hopping, why else would it be this way? Also I imagine if there are people from Columbia, Venezuela, etc working here illegally they are quite possibly not even concerned with border hopping. They are probably living here illegally as well on expired visas.

Sheila is right, first enforce the laws for expired visa and working illegally then see what the problem actually is. And Mike Costa Rican border hoppers would probably end up always going to Nicaragua or flying to other countries than spend 3 days in Panama.

Hopefully they think this through carefully before any action.


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