I'm wondering if anybody went to Costa Rica recently. If so, were you able to return to Panama the same day or did you have to spend three days in Costa Rica? We are getting conflicting information. A friend told us that he heard rumors that everybody had to stay for three days, while our attorney told us that that rule was only enforced at the Colombian border, but not at the Costa Rican border. We need to leave the country to get our passports stamped (waiting for our permanent carnets) and would like to know what to expect. Any info is much appreciated!

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Our Panamanian attorney specializes in immigration and corporate law. She helped us with our temporary, multi entry visas and we are waiting for our permanent resident visas. She specifically told us that we have 3 months from each stamp date before we need to obtain a Panamanian driver's license. An officer from Policia Nacional told us the same thing.
It seems someone is misunderstanding something. We had 30 days from the time of obtaining our temp Pensionado until we obtained a Panamanian license.
I can only tell you what our lawyer and the officer told us. Our lawyer told us that most people make several trips to Costa Rica to get their passports stamped before they get their permanent visa and then obtain their driver's license, otherwise the license is only valid for the duration of the temporary carnet. Most people wait to get their license until they get their permanent visa, that way the license is good for four years.

A requirement of residency in Panama is obtaining a Panamanian DL whether it be temporary or permanent. This was explained to us by our attorney, Sertracen and by reading the law from Migracion. Sertracen is the agency responsible for issuing DL's. Maybe you should stop by there and ask if this has changed recently. We had to renew ours 6 times before we got the four year license.

Setracen and Migracion are next door to each other in the shopping plaza next to Pricemart. There are English speakers at both and would certainly be worth an hour to check as this could cause problems with your residency and could possibly get your car confiscated.

90 days is correct. It seems like it would be easier to go to the embassy and get your license apostle and then go to Sertracen and get your Panamanian license. You have to do it anyway within 90 days if you hold a temporary visa. A recently stamped passport will not work if you have a temporary residency. You have 90 days from the time your temporary carnet was issued not the last time you entered the country.

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