Clients from around the globe need to visit the Panamanian immigration office a few times to start and complete a permanent residency process. Whether in Panama City, Santiago, or David, these visits are usually quite the experience.
Since 2008, we have accompanied clients to the immigration office, and we’d like to share first-hand experience to set the right expectations, discuss the dress code, and help you better prepare for a typical visit.
It might be a long day
Panama is a popular expat relocation destination, and It is very common for the Panamanian immigration office to be crowded. So, expect long lines.
Immigration officers have an important responsibility to verify every application’s documents, and they take this job very seriously. Therefore, lines are not only long but they also move slowly. We have seen people whose application is rejected for minor details and they come back later during the day – or the following day – to do the same line and file their application a second time.
At Kraemer & Kraemer, we strive to dot all i’s and cross all t’s to give your application the highest chance of acceptance in the first attempt. And we have a good success rate.
Upon application submission, an immigrarion officer will take a photo for your provisional, temporary, or permanent residency ID. This means visiting another cubicle with its own line. Although it’s also a long line, people usually feel more hopeful and enthusiastic because they see the progress.
Given the circumstances, we recommend you bring a book or electronic device with you. If you come with family – particularly children, bring something they can use to keep entertained. Coloring books might be a good idea.
Be mindful of the dress code
If you plan to visit any Panamanian government office, you need to be aware of the dress code. And immigration offices are no exception. In fact, you can be asked to leave if your clothing does not meet the requirements.
Avoid problems. You will be better off wearing pants, long skirts, closed toe shoes and non-shoulder baring shirts. We also recommend bringing a sweater or jacket, since immigration offices have a reputation for being chilly.
We can’t stress this enough: Panamanian government offices have a strict dress code. You may be turned away for wearing shorts, tank tops, skirts, dresses shorter than knee length, flip flops, sandals, jeans with rips, off-the-shoulder tops, or athletic wear.
Is it mandatory to wear a mask?
As of October 2022, Panamanian government offices still require you to wear a face mask covering nose and mouth. Without a mask, you may not be allowed to enter any government office – and this includes immigration offices.