Traveling to Panama. What are the current requirements?

Because of my job, I am a frequent traveler. However, in times of a global pandemic, aviation brings new challenges and experiences. In the past 20 years, I’ve never seen airports empty the way they are now. It reminds me a lot of the 1990s when I traveled to England on my own, without my family. So at times like these, there are some important details to keep in mind when planning your trip to Panama.

Important recommendations for travelers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, USA, Canada, etc.

If you are traveling to Panama from any of the countries of the European Union, the United States, Canada, etc., you must present a negative PCR or Antigen (Rapid) test of no more than 48 hours upon your arrival at Tocumen Airport. This means there is no need to do another test at Tocumen Airport or to meet any type of quarantine.

If you cannot submit such a test, or your test has expired, or if your test does not meet the minimum requirements set by the health authority, you will need to take a rapid test for COVID-19 on-site at Tocumen Airport (at your expense).

Requirements for travelers arriving from South America, the United Kingdom, India or South Africa

The Panamanian health authorities have established the following entry requirements for travelers from the United Kingdom, South Africa, India or South America, who have resided in, or have been through, in the past 15 days. To enter Panama, you must have a PCR test or negative antigen test that must not be older than 48 hours.

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In addition, passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa, India or South America, or who have traveled through these countries in the past 15 days, must take a COVID-19 test at Tocumen Airport at their own expense after registering with the National Immigration Service in Panama (cost $ 85).

If this test is negative, You must adhere to the quarantine for a period of three (3) days (Keep in mind that this only applies to passengers who have originated in or resided in these countries from South America, the UK, India, or South Africa.) If you are a Panamanian or foreign resident in Panama (and you have the appropriate documents, such as an immigration ID or cedula and proof of Panama address such as a lease or title deed), you can quarantine your residence in Spend Panama.

Otherwise, travelers not infected with COVID-19 should be quarantined at state expense. Quarantine can also be spent in hotels approved by the Health Authority at your own expense. In this case, you will need to show the relevant reservation with the airline before boarding the plane to Panama.

Regardless of whether you are quarantining at home or in a hotel, in both cases a PCR test or another antigen should be done at the end of the three days. This test must be performed at the expense of the health authority in a laboratory with an operating license from the Health Technical Department and certified by the Gorgas Memorial Institute. If the test is negative, then the quarantine is considered complete.

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Passengers who tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Panama COVID-19 RT-PCR testing and ICGES + analysis should be done, with mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Getting to Panama: step by step

First, before planning your trip, find out where to get a PCR or Certified Antigen Test for Travel. At present, laboratories for such tests already exist at major airports. Depending on the day of the week, the PCR test can take around 24 hours (I know a lab in Vienna where you can get results within 90 minutes) and the antigen test result can be available in about 15 to 30 minutes. When traveling by air, please note that not all countries accept entry antigen testing. Panama accepts an antigen or rapid test, Spain, for example, only accepts polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. You will usually receive your COVID-19 test result via email so it will be available on your mobile phone during your trip.

Choose a lab in advance and make an early appointment to receive test results well in advance of your departure. It occurred to me that I arrived at the airport on a Sunday and thought I could do a quick PCR test before I left, and no, of course it wasn’t possible … but that’s another story.

When arriving at Tocumen Airport in Panama, you must wear a mouth and nose mask. Your temperature will also be taken by airport staff. The passport and customs control waiting area is properly delineated on the ground. Immigration and customs officers will serve you with protective windows to ensure the necessary clearance.

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To enjoy your trip and reduce your stress levels, we recommend the following:

  1. Inquire in a timely manner about the travel regulations for the country of origin and destination.
  2. Check online and download the mobile boarding pass.
  3. Make sure to bring the protection of your mouth and nose with you. The use of FFP2 mask is not mandatory in Panama.
  4. Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight departure time.
  5. Note that at some airports, only passengers wishing to make a flight are permitted to enter the airport.
  6. Remember, you can have snacks on board to meet your personal needs.
  7. Have your boarding pass, passport, and COVID-19 test ready when boarding.
  8. When going through passport control in Panama, be sure to show your passport and immigration ID or e cedula (if applicable). When entering Panama as a tourist, do not forget to book your hotel or accommodation close at hand.

Filiz Fiji! Have a good flight on the plane!

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