Citizenship for Zonians Americans born in the Former Panama Canal Zone

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Panama provides citizenship to those born in the former Panama Canal Zone between 1904 and 1979. This group of people, also known as Zonians, need to provide the following documents to obtain Panamanian Citizenship:

  • Original of Birth Certificate (valid only for 6 months), issued by the U.S. Department of State. This document must be apostilled afterward
  • Spanish translation of the birth certificate, issued by an authorized Panamanian translator
  • Passport Copy
  • Second identification, e.g., driver’s license

All documents must be presented to the Office of Foreign Registry and Judicial Acts at the Panama Civil Registry.

Obtaining the birth certificate

Between 1904 and 1979, the Government of the Canal Zone (managed by the U.S.) registered all civil acts, births, marriage, and death records. In 1979, the Commission of the Panama Canal Zone (a joint effort between the U.S. and Panama) was created to govern all activities related to the Canal and it was responsible for all civil records of the Canal Zone.

However, the Commission ceased activities in December 1999. As a result, all civil records were transferred to the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

The following documentation is necessary to obtain a birth certificate from the U.S. Department of State:

  • Notarized letter requesting the birth certificate. This letter needs to include: full name at birth, any other names or aliases, date of birth, place of birth, full name of parents, current address and phone number
  • Copy of a valid ID in the U.S.
  • USD $50 Check, payable to the U.S. Department of State

All documents must be sent to:

  • U.S. Department of State
  • Passports Vital Records Section
  • 44132 Mercure Cir.
  • PO Box 1213
  • Sterling, VA 20166-1213

Please note that each requested copy of a birth certificate has a cost of USD $50.00.

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