Search Results for: panama

Border Hopping

Many expats who live in Panama never apply for any form of permanent residency. They enter the country and then leave periodically so they can re-enter and stay legal. In my seven years here I have seen the enforcement of the law change significantly, sometimes very lax, sometimes very strict.

The actual law in Panama says tourists from the US, Canada and may other countries may enter without a visa and stay up to 90 days, it also says they can drive on a non Panamanian drivers license the same 90 days.

There are so many different versions of the tourist visa law online that it is hard to sort out what the current law might be but here is the current enforcement and that is what matters.

  1.  A passport stamped with date of entry is valid as a tourist visa in Panama 180 Days.
  2.  You can only drive for 90 days without a Panamanian license and you cannot get a Panamanian license as a tourist.
  3. When you enter Panama they may ask for the following:
  4. A return ticket to your point origin, meaning US passport return to the US.
  5. $500 cash or a credit card to show solvency
  6. If you are border hopping they now might ask you to stay out of Panama for a least 24 hours.

There may be more hurdles I have not heard yet, please comment if you hit another wall.

Some of these are in some of the versions of the immigration law, some like the return ticket to point of origin, and 24 hours out of the country are not in any version of the law I can find, still you have little choice but to comply.

This is the last year of the current government and if it follows what I saw in the last year of the prior government many things change rapidly to maximize political gain before the keys to the government are turned over to the next regime. Expect the unexpected.

If you are considering staying in Panama I suggest you look into some form of long term residency. The government is money hungry and has made several paths available. All cost money but so does border hopping. Consider the pensionado Visa if you have a pension of over $1000 a month, consider the “friendly nations visa” if you have a business or job offer. One more option if you have been here five of more years of border hopping is buying a two year visa when Immigration has their special visa events. That visa makes you legal, allows you to get a work permit and after two years in theory you can become a permanent resident, no lawyer necessary.

If you need so legal advice click on the the icon for BoqueteLaw.com on the right column.

British Embassy Info

Consular Section
Open 9am -11am, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday

Contact Tel 297-6550
Fax 297-6588
Email Consular.panama@fco.gov.uk


To make an appointment: Http://www.britishembassyinpanama.clickbook.net

Politics 103: The politicians

Panama has a ever changing group of political parties, they come and go depending upon how many voters they can register and how many votes they receive in elections.

This is a list from Wikipedia

Parliamentary parties

Name Ideology Deputies
Democratic Revolutionary Party
Partido Revolucionario Democrático
PRD Social democracy 17
Panameñista Party
Partido Panameñista
PP National conservatism 13
Democratic Change
Cambio Democrático
CD Liberal conservatism 36
Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement
Movimiento Liberal Republicano Nacionalista
MOLIRENA Liberalism 4
People’s Party
Partido Popular
PP Christian democracy 1

The three major players this year are Cambio Democratico (CD) the current party in power, Partido Revolucionario Democratico, (PRD) the party that has won every second election since the US invasion in 1989 and Partido Panamanista, party of the current Vice President. Each of these parties is fielding a candidate for president in 2014.

Wikipedia through it’s links suggests each party has a different ideology, that might be, but the reality of politics in Panama is far more transparent.

The government is the single largest employer in Panama, most jobs from Ministers to janitors are political appointments. Most contracts are political plums, who wins the election effects how people live and eat for a five year period. If you back the right horse you can win big, if oyu pick the nag of the year you might have a tough five years of drought.

All the parties work hard in in-script voters, they work hard to get their voters to the polls on election day and they each try to out maneuver the other on consolidation of power. The past five years have witnessed a transition of parties that started with an empty treasury and has developed into  possibly the most productive government Panama has ever seen.

Over the next week some of what this government has done and what the three major contenders for President are saying about the next five years.

A Unique Legal Service Team

As many expats have learned finding a good lawyer in Panama can be a challenge. Yet when you need a lawyer you need one who can communicate with you and understand your needs as well as the law.

When I first arrived in Panama my first lawyer spoke English and attended Law School at Tulane in Louisiana, he made things happen and understood my perspective on legal issues. Most Lawyers in Panama do not have the same international perspective on legal issues.

I have had many people ask me about legal issues in Panama from their North American perspective. I have always referred them to licensed lawyers in Panama. Still the need for communication often persists.blind-justice

After the Tuesday meeting at the BCP 17 August 2013 a number of people asked me to meet with them and help them understand the laws on Foundations and Corporations in Panama. Julio Espinosa a licensed attorney had just presented all the information they needed but they had questions from their North American perspective of the law. I deferred to Julio.

Later I thought there might be a void I could fill. After discussing it with Julio we have decided to work together, him as the licensed attorney and me as a legal consultant. Clients can now request both Julio and I in the same meeting. I can help both Julio understand your needs and I can also help him explain the laws of Panama in a understandable way.

This is a great opportunity for newcomers and people who have been here before to have a good local lawyer who understand their needs. There is more information and contact information at this link to BoqueteLaw.com

Legal Services

The best legal team in Boquete!

 Civil and Criminal Law

Specializing in: Immigration, Corporations, Real Estate, Foundations, Municipal disputes and Criminal Law.

Licensed to practice in Panama
Edificio Don Alejo, Oficina No. 8
(Edificio de la Caja de Ahorros y El Constructor),
Boquete, Chiriquí, República Panamá,
Telephone  (507) 6677-5077
*Skype: juliojulio19741

Consulting with Julio is:

Lee Zeltzer, JD 1980 Univ. Arizona, College of Law
(Not licensed in Panama)
Telephone 6728-4643
Email: Boquete Law

The team concept helps to explain, interpret and provide relevant advice and resources in the US to expats who need help on legal and tax issues in the US. By providing this service you have two contacts available both of whom speak English.

We are affiliated with legal specialists in tax law in Both Panama and the USA and can provide consulting in both areas.




Where is Lee?

Sorry about the long pause, it will continue a bit longer. I am in Panama City meeting people, asking questions and learning things many expats never ask about my adopted country.

While doing that I am of course eating, drinking and having a wonderful time with new friends. Panama City has become a city of contrast, extreme wealth and extreme poverty, like most cities. The change from Boquete is of course dramatic as is any rural to urban transition.

This is my longest stay ever in the Capital and it appears to be productive. This visit will inspire many very insightful posts in the next few months. So live life to the fullest and I should be back writing early next week.




More of the wedding

I am sitting at the Hotel Continental in Panama City waiting for the beginning of the second wedding ceremony for Dinesh and Johana.

Last night we were invited to a small family celebration that included immediate family except the bride. A Hindu ceremony wishing for good luck for the groom and the marriage. I did not understand a word that was said. My reading says that I was probably hearing Sanskrit.

A wonderful experience with wonderful people. I love the diversity of culture. Here are a few photos.





Cultural immersion

My life in Panama has been rich with new opportunities to learn. This time I am in Panama City for the second half of the wedding of Johana and Dinesh, the Hindu wedding.

Yesterday was a small almost all female lunch event that prepared the women for the main event Saturday. Amazing henna tattoos for all the ladies in the wedding party and excellent Indian food for all.





Car troubles

Last Monday as I was driving to a meeting my car decided to throw a fit, the power steering went, the battery light came on and the temperature gauge moved up. Under the hood was a shredded fan belt. After the meeting and with a cooled car I started it and drove to Auto Servicios Boquete.

I have evolved a policy of not writing anything negative about Boquete businesses, so in the past I held back on my comments about what was Franklin’s garage. I had nothing good to say, but now that Franklin is gone, and the team of Juny, George and Sebastian are there all I can do is say good things.


Monday night I called Juny and told him the car was there, Tuesday morning they called and told me the bad news. The belt disintegrated because the alternator seized. In any normal Boquete garage I would have had the task of finding the alternator and belt, a challenge without a car. George is the official parts buyer and although it took a day to find a new alternator, he found one. It took more time to find the correct belt but he did that too. Finding parts for cars here is not always easy, as I learned not even for the common Toyota and Hyundai. A Rexton is always a challenge.

During my carless period I rented a car at Thrifty and Yvette was great, I turned the car in after two days determined to saw a few dollars. A tribute to my neighbor Kent he drove me into town for two carless days and yesterday I declined several offers for a ride home and decided to join a few other neighbors of the 5pm bus up Jaramillo. The bus must have been on Panamanian time and we surrendered and shared a taxi up Jaramillo. The taxi took my as far the road went and I walked the last kilometer.

Today I am grateful to have my car back, grateful to my neighbor Kent, grateful for the three woman who joined me in the taxi and made it clear to the driver that I was one of them and not to gouge me, he didn’t. Grateful to George, Juny and Sebastian because considering where I live being carless and horseless is a real drag.

I will now recommend Auto Servicios of Boquete, the management is on the ball and the skills are there.

Buyer and property owner beware

It is possible much of the expat community is unaware of a current unfolding drama in Boqueron Chiriqui Panama that could happen anyplace in Panama. Ricardo Sitton discovered his property, inherited from his father had been sold to the Hosanna Apostolic Community church. The problem was he never sold it.

The thirteen hectares have now been returned to Sr. Sitton, but the question remains of how the land was sold without the owner even knowing. I listened to an attorney on TVN accuse the Registrario Publico of fraud claiming hundreds of forged, backdated and incorrect documents are recorded weekly. Fraud! in a public agency! Shocking! Unbelievable!

According to La Prensa,

“Lawyer Sidney Sitton (lawyer for the buyer) explained that the pastor bought the property on behalf of the congregation for the installation of antennas and that the sale was done with due diligence in the Public Registry.

“The lands were bought in good faith and were investigated in the public record,” he said, adding that no problems were found.”  La Prensa

The government took a stand that the Pastor could not leave the country until there was a resolution to how this amazing transfer happened without the owner having knowledge of the sale. La Prensa

The Pastor himself  refused comment and said;

“I Prefer not to feed the curiosity,” he said to excuse and not talk about a prosecution which resulted in him banned from leaving the country and forced him to report twice a week at the court office.

He went on stage and sang invoking the protection of God, challenged the media that, in his view, lies disseminated and promoted homosexuality. “Any explanation will give Hossana through Vision, which is the means God has given us,” he said, ending his attention to television journalists approached him for his version of the complaint.”  La Prensa

I guess the homosexuals, the media and the government are plotting against him?

But fear not the President of the Republic of Panama, has said:

“Pastor Edwin Alvarez has been “unfairly treated” in the investigation into fraud charges regarding the sale of 13 hectares of land in Boqueron, Chiriquí.”

“The president said he was giving the benefit of the doubt to the leader of the Hosanna Apostolic Community, saying he is certain his actions “were in good faith.” La Prensa

So now you know if you represent a very large group of voters in Panama and are accused of stealing land by fraud the President of the Republic will stand up in public and say you were unfairly treated.

The only amazing part of this story is that the rightful owner ,after I am sure considerable time and expense, is getting his land in Chiriqui back despite fraudulent documents being filed in another province.

Cavet Emptor and keep checking the Public Registry to be sure you own what you think you own.



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