I am not a usually a source of news of Panama, today I will pass one two tidbits, well one bit of ceviche and the other a whale. Fisherman shut down the port of Pedregal near David today, protesting a new law proposed to ban longline fishing. While they were making ceviche the freshest fish in Pedregal, the French announced the whale, Noriega is being extradited to Panama. Panamanians I spoke to today were not pleased to hear the ex-dictator is returning. He is still both loved and feared depending upon which side of the fence you sat and still sit.
I heard all of this as I jumped through the confounding bureaucracy of Panama one more time. In November my passport was stolen, in January I received a new passport and remembered a boquete.ning post by Keith Woolford, the car guy, about needing to change car registration when you have a new passport. I called Keith and he prepared me for the gauntlet, after my experience I think I should prepare you with my slightly different experience.
If you have a Pensionado Visa and receive a new passport take it, a copy of it and two passport photos with you and visit immigration. Their new hours in David are 9am -3pm. You need to register your new passport number if you have a Pensionado Visa. We offered them a copy of my new passport, but they refused it and made their own, I think they preferred black and white to my stunning color copy. It was a little scary when the clerk had to ask what country issued the US Passport. If I did not offer a copy, I am sure they would have asked for one, so be prepared. There was no cost and only about fifteen minutes of paper shuffling, now my passport has a new stamp saying registered. I expected they would want to do a new Visa with the new number, but they said no. I was told if I want a new Carnet (visa) I need to go to Panama City and pay $100, but I was assured I do not need one. The only thing I am sure of is that sometime in the future this will bite me in the posterior.
Next I needed to change my car registration to reflect the new passport number. Keith prepared me for part of this insanity of bureaucracy, let me provide you a checklist so you can prepare the correct pile of papers.
- Go to National Bank of Panama and deposit $20 in the account of the ATTT, 050200078, keep your yellow copy of the deposit slip
- Go to ATTT in Chiriqui mall and request a Paz y Salvo from the ATTT cashier using your old passport number, cost $0.25
- Find your original Resistrario Unico de Propiedad Vechicular, take it,
- Find your Certificado de Inspeccion Vechicular, the one you needed to get license plates. Make a copy of your new passport, the inspection document, the paz y salvo.
- Next step depends upon where your car is registered, mine is in David so I went to the Municipo building
- In the Municipo I paid the Municipal cashier $10 for a document called a Certification Placa and I took that the window where they distribute plates. They disappeared for a while and then returned with still another piece of paper I needed.
- Finally I took the original Registration document with my old passport number, the various copies, the document from the Municipo and my tired bones to the ATTT window in the Municipo not the ATTT in the mall.
- After a few minutes I had a new Registration with my new passport number in the block for my cedula number. My cedula number which is the number on my Visa has not changed so I wonder why I did any of this. Before the numbers matched, now a day and $30.25 later they no longer match. Enter the agent of confusion of Panama.
Finally I went with all the papers, a copy of the passport, my Visa (carnet) and drivers license to the Sertracen office back in the Chiriqui mall to get a new drivers license., something else I was told must change. They looked at the pile of papers, asked why I was there. The clerk then consulted some one locked in a broom closet, she returned and said, “come back when your license expires”. At least the number of my drivers license matched my Visa, which does not match the passport. Unfortunately the spelling of my name is different on each document, but I will leave that for still another day in David.
Welcome to Panama where the procedures change daily with no notice to anyone.
Update: When my drivers license expired I took it, the copy of my old passport and the new passport to Sertracen. The clerk scrutinized all, disappeared into the same broom closet, emerged and continued the process of issuing a replacement license. They tested my eyes, my ears and my patience waiting.