Before leaving your country to relocate to Panama here is a useful Checklist of things you need to do:
1. Research Panama Immigration Visas to see which one would be the best fit for your family. Panama has numerous permanent residency programs for entire families including pensioners, investors, businessmen, job offers, and even for citizens of 47 “friendly nations”. While Panama’s embassy and consulate websites can provide general information it is better to find a Panama immigration lawyer’s web site to learn about specific immigration visas. Read our Immigration web pages to learn more about Panama Immigration.
2. Research the Types of Vaccines needed to relocate to Panama. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends contacting your doctor to determine what vaccines are necessary depending on your health, vaccine history and which part of Panama you will relocate to. For instance, make sure you are up to date with routine inoculations for mumps/measles/rubella (MMR) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine. The CDC website has a map of the world indicating Panama has an intermediate risk of Hepatitis A virus but no risk of contracting Hepatitis B Surface Antigen. Some areas east of the Panama Canal Zone heading towards the border with Colombia may require a Yellow Fever vaccination. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/panama.htm
3. Research Customs Duty and Taxes for new vehicles and luxury items being shipped to Panama.
4. Bringing Pets to Panama requires rabies vaccines and specific forms from your vet and other documents. See our web page Pet Immigration for this information.
5. Medical Health Insurance covering travel to Panama may be purchased. However if you plan to fly to Panama City’s International Airport (Tocumen), you will receive a brochure explaining the government of Panama’s free medical insurance program covering you and your family for the first 30 days. After that period you can purchase health insurance plans in Panama.
6. Gather Important Documents to take with you and have them Apostilled by your government within 3 months before applying for a Panama immigration visa, a Panama driver’s license, and opening a Panama bank account. These documents include:
- Marriage and birth certificates
- Passport, naturalization document, green card, proof of citizenship, etc.
- Social security cards
- Vaccinations, dental and medical records
- Insurance policies
- Academic records and diplomas
- Employment records
- Proof of residency (utility bills with your name and address)
- Driver’s licenses
- Original reference letter from your bank (two banks would be better) addressed to a specific Panama bank and signed by a bank official.
An Apostille is an internationally recognized method of authenticating government issued documents such as birth and marriage certificates and driver’s licenses. In the U.S., a state’s Secretary of State Office can do the Apostille.
7. Moving & Shipping: Locate an international moving & shipping company.
8. Vehicle Insurance which can be used in Panama.
9. Property Insurance during shipping and relocation. There are international insurance companies who can provide coverage for expats and their relocation.
10. Maintaining Bank and Credit Card Accounts requires notifying them of your move so they won’t treat you like an identity theft fraudster.
11. Prescription Drugs requires taking a quantity with you and obtaining the pertinent medical records which need to be kept in a safe place.
12. International Driving Permit must be obtained which will be carried with your original driver’s license.
13. Cancel Subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and anything else which will be delivered or mailed to your former home.
14. Hotel & Flight Reservations should be made as soon as you verify your travel date.
15. VOIP Phone Service (Voice Over Internet Protocol) like the free Skype account to make free international calls.
16. Research the culture, neighborhoods, things you need which are not available (so you can stock up), schools, job opportunities, real estate prices, Spanish language schools, and Panama’s expat community groups and forums for networking.