Permanent Visas for Panama
We received an email from our attorney week before last. Our permanent visas (Carnet’s) were ready in Panama City. We decided to take the bus from David. We bought our tickets with our “Jubilado discount”. So our tickets were $10.80 each instead of $15.25. Big savings for the 7 hour bus ride. We stayed in our favorite part of the city, El Cangrejo. It is a good neighborhood, lots of restaurants and hotels and a nearby grocery store.
We met our attorney at the immigration office at 9AM Wed morning. They had already gotten us a ticket. We were 3rd in line to get our pictures taken for the permanent visa card. We actually got in first as the first two numbers were not there. So before 9:30 we had our new permanent visa’s. Wow.
We actually began this process with our attorney back in March of 2012 with gathering documents together. We made a trip to Panama City in July and set up the needed bank account and other preliminary paperwork for her to apply for the temporary visa.
In October we spent a week in Panama City before heading to Boquete. In that week we got our temporary visas. I am not sure why they have temporary and then permanent visas. So since October we have been waiting to hear about our “Permanent Visas.”
Having this Permanent Visa means we can now leave the country and that we can use this visa for our Jubiliado discounts. We still need to always carry our passports too, because the visa card is not considered a form of id. What is the form of id?
The Panama Cedula or National ID (Carnet)
Until just recently this id which is given at birth to Panama citizens was unavailable to foreign residents. Now however, anyone who has received their permanent visa can apply for the Panama Cedula. It is not required but it can make your life easier in the long run. Our attorney is going to charge us $100 to do this for us. She took copies of our new visas and will apply at the Civil Registry Office in Panama City. We were told it takes about a month and a half before we will have to go back to Panama City again to get our pictures taken for our new cards. The cost for the cedula itself is $65.00 each.
This cedula has a number for each person like our social security number. This number never changes. Right now, anything we do whether it is a bank account, electricity or even car registration is done with a passport number. And as we all know, when a passport expires and you get a new one, it has a new number. Trying to change that number on everything in Panama is a nightmare and can take time. Using the new cedula will also require us to change our id numbers on all the same things, but we will never have to do it again. Plus it is much easier to open new accounts using a cedula just like all Panamanians do. They also say you do not need to carry your passport with you anymore when you have a cedula. I may carry ours anyway for awhile.
This card entitles us to all the benefits of a Panama citizen except voting. It is also a requirement to have if at some point you want to apply for citizenship. But that is another story.