Border Run


Becoming a legal resident is an important part of the expat experience in Panama. When we first arrived here two years ago, one of the first things we did was engage our attorneys, Miranda and Contreros in Boquete, for advice about getting our residency visa. There are a few options available, but we chose to wait until John could start collecting Social Security, which would give us the pension income we needed to apply for the pensionado visa. Why? The pensionado is less expensive and carries many financial advantages. Driving Legally and the Tourist Stamp Visitors without visas who arrive in Panama receive a “tourist” stamp, which entitles them to remain in the country for 180 days. The stamp also entitles you to drive using a valid license from your home country, but here’s the catch – the driving privilege is only good for 90 days. (FYI, only folks who hold a permanent…

Editor’s note: Since we posted this entry, Panama has begun enforcing its immigration and visa laws more tightly. Officially, it’s no longer feasible to do a “quick” border crossing in order to renew your visa. Rio Sereno and San Vito are still worth a visit, though! With another three months having flown by, we just completed our second border run to Rio Sereno on the Panama/Costa Rica border and then on to San Vito, CR for a weekend of R&R. For the absolutely gripping, edge-of-your-seat account of our first trip, check out our previous post here. We’ll let that one explain the whats and whys of this particular rite of passage for new Panamanian expats. This time, we knew what we were doing and where we were going. In Rio Sereno, we drove straight to the secure parking lot across from the Costa Rica police building and then walked the hundred paces to…

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