This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Panama set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Furthermore, you should consider clarifying whether there are any testing requirements or measures put in place by your airline or countries you are transiting that may affect your travel.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
International flights have resumed to and from Tocumen International Airport.
An electronic affidavit of good health for all travellers entering the country needs to be filled in upon arrival. The affidavit form will be available at the website: https://www.panamadigital.gob.pa/RegistroPacoViajero. The completed affidavit will generate a QR code, which will needs to be scanned on arrival at Tocumen Airport.
Panama encourages the use of the IATA Travel Pass app. This app will have up-to-date information on travel restrictions, authorised labs for COVID-19 tests and vaccine information. It will have the option to enter personal data, such as vaccination information and tests undertaken. The government will accept the “OK to Travel” certification from this app as a validation for COVID-19 tests on travellers.
Entry restrictions to Panama
Since 30 August, all travellers arriving from low-risk or high-risk countries are not required to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival if you have done the following:
- registered digitally
- physically present your vaccination card with two doses, with the last dose being at least 14 days old
The vaccines approved in Panama are those approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If you travel from a country classified as a low epidemiological risk and you do not have a complete vaccination schedule:
- you will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test, taken 72 hours before arrival. This will exempt you from the 72-hour preventive quarantine
If you travel from a country classified as a high epidemiological risk and you do not have a complete vaccination schedule, you will have to do the following:
- present a negative PCR or Antigen test taken 72 hours before arrival or have a test carried out at the airport at your own cost
- complete 72 hours of quarantine at home or at an approved hotel at your own expense. At the end of the quarantine, you must undergo either a PCR or antigen test, with a negative result bringing an end to your quarantine
Countries considered to have a high epidemiological risk include the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and the countries in South America.
Children under 12 years of age are exempt from any type of testing and quarantine if their parents, care givers or guardians comply with the requirements according to the level of epidemiological risk of the country of origin.
The official list of pre-approved quarantine hotel facilities can be found on the Visit Panama website.
When quarantining at a hotel, you will not be allowed to leave your room until the 72 hours are complete.
The local authorities have prohibited take away deliveries for travellers required to quarantine at a hotel.
Travellers that have completed the 72 hours quarantine will be required to undergo another COVID-19 Antigen test at a government-approved laboratory.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 status
Panama will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
It is now possible to transit Panama. You will need to have the following items:
- Negative COVID-19 PCR test results. The test must be taken within 48 hours of your travel to Panama
- Confirmed onward flight
Unless you meet entry requirements, you will not be allowed to leave the airport during your transit.
You should check the requirements for your country of final destination as requirements may vary.
You will be required to give address details of your accommodation and a contact telephone number. You will also be required to download a tracing application to your smartphone.
Regular entry requirements
British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Panama except if arriving by sea. You must have a return or onward ticket and the equivalent of USD 500 or a credit card.
If you enter Panama by land from Costa Rica, and are not a legal resident of Costa Rica, the immigration authorities may ask you to show proof of onward or return travel to your country of legal residence.
You may be detained by immigration officials if you attempt to renew your tourist visa by visiting a neighbouring country, including Costa Rica. You must follow the relevant rules and procedures when seeking to extend a visa. The British Embassy can’t intervene in decisions made by the immigration authorities. For more information visit the Panama National Migration Service website.
A 180-day tourist visa is stamped on your passport to mark entry to Panama. Extensions are not normally allowed unless you apply to change your immigration status within the 180 days (for business purposes, marriage, etc). For further information on entry requirements, check with the Embassy of the Republic of Panama in London.
When transiting the Panama Canal, if you disembark the ship, your passport will be stamped by the immigration authorities. You do not need a visa unless you are staying in Panama for more than 90 days. Immigration officials do not board transiting cruise ships to check passports.
If you arrive in Panama by sea, except via a cruise line, you will need a visa. There is a fee of USD 100 plus USD 5 registration per person for passengers and crew members of vessels. Other fees may be charged, for example for cruising permits. Make sure immigration officials properly stamp your passport with the date of entry into the country. Check with the Embassy of Panama in London for further details.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of exit from Panama. Your passport must also have several unused pages.
A USD 40 airport tax is charged on departure. This is usually included in the airline ticket fare. Check with your carrier.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Permanent Residency Law
The Government of Panama has created a subcategory of permanent residency for foreign nationals of 22 countries with which Panama has especially friendly relations, including the UK. The decree allows British nationals to apply for a permanent residency permit to undertake commercial or professional activities (subject to certain limitations). For more information contact the Panama National Migration Service on (507) 507-1800 or contact a local solicitor prior to your arrival in Panama as a number of the documents required must be legalised (issued with an apostille), which can only be done by the Legalisation Office in the UK.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Panama. Your ETD must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Panama.