The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to 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.
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 US$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.
An initial stay of 180 days is granted on 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 $100 plus $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 US$40 airport tax (payable only in cash) 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.
New 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.