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Panama Useful Information
Currency & Local Taxes

Since 1904, the U.S. dollar has been legal tender in Panama. The Balboa, Panama's monetary unit, trades at parity with the dollar. Panama does not print bank notes, except for collector or commemorative purposes, but it does mint its own coins. The Government-owned Banco Nacional act as the nations bank and clearing house for the banking system. Prices may be written in Balboas (B/.) or dollars ($). Travelers' checks and credit cards are widely accepted. International departure tax, at present is US$20.00 collected at the airport. Hotel taxes are 10% The Value Added Tax on goods and services, other than food and drugs, is 5%.


Spanish is Panama official language. English is widely spoken among business, banking, retail and international communities. Hotels, restaurants and tourist-oriented activities have English-speaking personnel.


There is complete freedom of worship in Panama. The majority of Panamanians are Roman Catholic. Because of the wide diversity of the country, there are numerous churches, temples and synagogues everywhere.


Panama is a free port for tourist goods from all over the world. There are jewelry, precious stones, embroidered tablecloths, oriental crafts, watches, perfumes, photographic and electronic equipment, electric household goods, fine crystal and porcelain, all at reasonable prices. Most stores are open from 9:00am to 8:00pm. Monday through Saturday. Many are open on Sunday and special sales are frequent throughout the year. Supermarkets are modern and well stocked; many are open 24 hours. There are large, modern shopping centers in Panama, with a wide variety of specialized shops.

Panama City is a shopper's paradise. Via Espana and Central Avenue offer everything from the latest fashions to the most complex computers and low costing handicrafts. Handicraft shops offer a variety of wood and straw wares, embroideries and paintings, in addition to the famous Molas, hand-stitched by the Kuna Indians.

Credit Cards

The most common international credit cards used in Panama are: Visa, Master Card, American Express and Diner's Club. They are widely used and accepted in the majority of establishments.


Light-weight clothing is recommended. Dress for business is formal; a lightweight suit for men, while dresses or pantsuits for women are recommended. A wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are necessary if going to the coast or countryside.


Panama City offers a variety of restaurants serving virtually every international cuisine - French, Chinese, Peruvian, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Indian, American and much more. Be sure to try native dishes like Sancocho, Ceviche, and the Carimanolas, Gallo pinto and others. And it's a pleasure to taste our beers and national liquors. It is not usual for a service charge to be included on the bill in restaurants in Panama. Check with management if you are in doubt. 10% to 15% of the bill would be acceptable.

Power and Communications

Practically the entire country is served by the National Electric Grid (110V) and the automated telephone System, which allows immediate national or international communication from any part of the country. There are public telephones in cities, towns and highways that used 5, 10 and 25 cents coins as well as electronic cards (Smart chips Phone Cards) purchased in Panama.





Country Code
National Collect Calls
National Directory Assistance
International Operator Assisted Calls (person to person, station to station and collect). International collect calls my be placed from public phones as well
IPAT (Pamana Tourism Boureau)
Red Cross
Police Department
International Automated Service Information (MIDA)
International Automated Dialing
Climate & Time

The country has a pleasant, tropical climate and an average temperature of 80F, which drops comfortably in the evening. Humidity averages 70%. The rainy season lasts from May to December, though it never rains for an entire day. During the dry season, trade winds constantly keep the air fresh. In the mountains the average temperature is 50F to 60F.

Panama is on U.S. Eastern Standard Time all year. (GMT -5)

Internet Services

Internet services in Panama are completely privatized, thus there are a host of companies offering a full range of services. Most internet service providers, work on a "flat fee" basis, meaning there is a monthly charge for unlimited time spent surfing the web. The cost associated with this service varies from company to company, however, the price tends to hover between $24.00 and $40.00 per month.

Panama City has several cyber cafe's from which to choose. Prices vary from one cafe to another, but the average price is between $2.50 - $4.00 per hour.

Drivers License

Visitors may drive in Panama with the official driver's license of their country of origin for a maximum period of three months.


Panama has a number of very up-to-date private hospitals and clinics the principals being Clinica Paitilla, Clinica Nacional, Clinica America and Clinica San Fernando. For ambulance service call Alerta (tel. 263-4522).

Entry Requirements

A valid passport, and a visa or tourist card, which can be obtained through the airlines, as well as a ticket to leave Panama, and/or documents to enter another country are required to entry. Tourist cards are good for 30 days, renewable in Panama for an additional two months. There is a Departure Tax of $20.00 Customs: Travelers may bring three bottles of liquor an one box (10 packs) of tobacco, into Panama.

The Tourist Card will be given to citizens of independent countries of the Western Hemisphere, except citizens of Cuba. In addition, it will be given to citizens of European countries, except citizens of Yugoslavia and Europeans who previously were citizens of non-democratic countries. Every tourist should carry a valid passport, except citizens of the United States of America, who only need proof of citizenship to obtain a tourist card.  The following persons do not need a tourist visa. Citizens of Costa Rica, Honduras, Spain, Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden. Citizens  of countries not listed above can obtain a tourist visa from Panamanian consuls abroad and costs $10.  Citizens of countries with a special agreement with Panama may obtain visas free of charge.


There is an entity, the IPAT or "Instituto Panameno de Turismo" (Panama Tourism Bureau), that regulates and promotes the Tourist Industry in the country. This government institution has many visitor information centers spread throughout the territory.

Importing Pets

The following is a list of requirements needed for the importation of domestic animals in Panama:

  • To enter Panama, every domestic animal needs a certificate of vaccination against Rabies and a health certificate issued by a qualified veterinarian. Both documents must be sealed at the nearest Panamanian consulate.
  • Three days before the pet's arrival, an import application must be submitted to the Department of Control and Prevention of Zoonosis. The document should include the pet's information (breed, age, color, sex, name, origin and particular signs), flight number, airline, hour and date of arrival; and the owner/guardian's data (name, Passport or ID number, address and telephone). The application must also specify the length of stay of the animal (temporary or permanent).
  • A total of $130.00 must be paid for quarentine expenses to the National Bank, located on the first floor of Tocumen International Airport, from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Present the bank's receipt and all the other documentation to the Veterinarian of the Quarantine Department of Tocumen International Airport, in order to get the pet.


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Last modification August 31, 2006.