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An acquaintance just returned from a very problematic border hop at Rio Sereno, where he has hopped before. He left Panama on Monday and was told he could not come back until Thursday.

On returning he showed showed his airline reservation as before. No good, reservation must be paid. Migration was asked if it could be onward travel. They said no, it must be to the US. (this runs counter to what the US and UK embassy states on their webpages). He managed to get a paid reservation after a few stressful hours. His ATM statement showing a balance in six figures meant nothing.

This person shares his time between Panama and another Latin American country, with no intention of returning to the US anytime soon. He is considering bailing on Panama if he has to go through this again.

Anybody have any Panamanian government connections to put an end to this idiocy.

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Probably better to defer to the information on Panama's own immigration website rather than those of foreign governments.

Article 43.7 clearly states 'return passage to country of origin or residence'.

http://www.migracion.gob.pa/images/Noticias/Fotos%20e%20imagenes/articulo%2043%20Requisitos%20entrada%20.jpg

articulo%2043%20Requisitos%20entrada%20.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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5 hours ago, Pantah said:

An acquaintance just returned from a very problematic border hop at Rio Sereno, where he has hopped before. He left Panama on Monday and was told he could not come back until Thursday.

On returning he showed showed his airline reservation as before. No good, reservation must be paid. Migration was asked if it could be onward travel. They said no, it must be to the US. (this runs counter to what the US and UK embassy states on their webpages). He managed to get a paid reservation after a few stressful hours. His ATM statement showing a balance in six figures meant nothing.

This person shares his time between Panama and another Latin American country, with no intention of returning to the US anytime soon. He is considering bailing on Panama if he has to go through this again.

Anybody have any Panamanian government connections to put an end to this idiocy.

Your last sentence was an interesting question that actually provides the solution to their self-inflicted problem. I suggest that there are several government "connections" who can end this idiocy. They are called employees in the immigration department. Approach them with a packet of the required documents and tell them (via an attorney) that the packet is being submitted for legal residency. It might help to end the request for residency with a "Thank you, sir."

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Ouch Bud........Some folks seem to think that Panama is one of the U.S. States and expect everything to be provided, including medicare.  Of course, they dont expect to hsve to pay U.S. taxes.  Apparently soverignty is an unclear concept to some.

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Two problems here. Re: Article 43.7 clearly states 'return passage to country of origin or residence. The US persons residence is Mexico. The 3 day stay out is for $2000 duty exemption, not the physical person.

The issue is that they are applying rules that are seemingly by whim. 43.7 in particular causes grief to onward travellers. I understand other countries embassy comments on this are now incorrect, as far as the practice in Rio Sereno, but they were correct before. This new border policy has been in effect for two months.

This person does not wish to apply for Panama residency, as he is waiting for US social security.

To summarise, two new strict rules not supported by law.

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I have been unable to find any definitive statement of exactly what things an embassy can do on behalf of its citizens in the subject country. Generally--outside of purely administrative matters like passport renewals, help with federal benefits issues, etc.--embassy responsibilities are confined to matters of security and emergency. It is not the role of the embassy, as I understand it, to intervene in the adoption and enforcement of a country's internal laws, even if those laws impact American citizens in the country. While it might be argued that immigration issues are within the realm of embassy functions, let's not forget that "border hoppers" essentially are tourists, and I found at least one website that specifically named "tourism services" as an example of an issue the embassy does not involve itself with. Bottom line: I wouldn't get my hopes up that the U.S. Embassy can or would be any help in resolving enforcement consistency at the border. It's an issue of sovereignty.

One other thought. Panama just may have made the decision to come down on the "perpetual tourists," those who live here for extended periods of time without having attained residency status. There is collateral damage to those who are trying the country out before committing and those whose residency visas are delayed for one reason or another.

Edited by Bonnie
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Bonnie, I in no way expect foreign embassies to get involved with this.

My main reason for posting is to give a heads up for border hoppers and onward travellers that they can't go by what Panamanian law says, and what the new changes are nothing more.

I don't desire to get into a dialog on what people "should do". It is too much a case by case, and individual decision.

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5 hours ago, JohnF13 said:

Ouch Bud........Some folks seem to think that Panama is one of the U.S. States and expect everything to be provided, including medicare.  Of course, they dont expect to hsve to pay U.S. taxes.  Apparently soverignty is an unclear concept to some.

No "ouch" intended, unless someone has an issue that would stop them from formally applying for residency.

3 hours ago, Bonnie said:

My post was in response to Bud's. I'm assuming that he had the embassy in mind as one of the potential "connections." I should have be clearer.

Bonnie, I think you have misinterpreted my reply. I had no thought of any consular staff involvement in my writings. My suggestions was plain and simple: go through the formal process of applying for residency and avoid the border hopping excursions. Another way to say this is to "play by the rules". I understand that some may feel that these recent changes are unwarranted and/or overly burdensome, but that draws little sympathy from me unless that process is abused according to the published law.

The above are my views on this subject. Everyone has the right to make their own choices and do what they believe is best for them.

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The point I am making is Panama is not following their own laws. They are not "playing by the rules" My second point is a "pay it forward thing" as a heads up to be prepared for the changes if it affects you. It has nothing to do about getting residency. The people it affects are those who are passing through, and the tourist businesses that cater to them, among others.

Some years back, Migracion dropped the stay to 30 days without warning (twice), causing major cancellations of trip packages at the time. The then Minister of Tourism, Ruben Blades was not happy.

I may add, my post was an advisory to others that your travel plans will be impacted by unpublished rules and adjust accordingly. Not complicated really.

 

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Panama Immigration can apply their regulations when and as they see fit and can even refuse people entry if they want. It's just that they are not following them in the manner you'd like them to.

Where does it say in the Act that a person can leave the country and be immediately re-admitted?

'Those who are passing through'?  The term 'onward travel' gets thrown around a lot in these discussions.

Every traveler has to return to his country of origin or residence eventually and should be able to provide an itinerary for it  ..otherwise they're not a traveler.

Bouncing back and forth between two countries without having residency status in either, isn't it.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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Rules (laws)  change and can change to our disadvantage when residing in a foreign country.  Conditions can change ( I'm thinking a change from crimes of opportunity to home invasion crimes of a more violent nature  happening more often) .  When my husband and I decided to retire outside of the USA we studied quite a bit.  When we chose Panama, the first thing we did was to engage an attorney for immigration as well as property possession.  We applied for residency immediately.  One thing that we did decide on that was fairly important for both of us was.....if we had to suddenly pick up and leave Panama ( lets say for good) we would be OK financially if we never saw another cent out of our investment in our home here ( lets say we could not sell or decided to not bother with renting it out).   I'm not saying that's the preferred way we would want to exit...but...we could if we had to and be OK with it.

Pantah said: The point I am making is Panama is not following their own laws. They are not "playing by the rules"

Listen ( I agree with Keith)....Panama can play by the rules they choose and as well change them as they desire.   How their rules are applied is as well their option.   ( I'm thinking about the informal change of the visa renewal from 90 to 180 days without changing their own law in their own court)    Keeping abreast of the changes in laws ( I'm thinking now about the holding of a home in a corporation with  anonymous Bearer Shares....well, that changed) is our responsibility.  Accepting change as it happens makes your life easier than getting bent out of shape because of it. Heck when we moved here FACTA was not a fact-a....that's change.  It is what it is.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

Panama Immigration can apply their regulations when and as they see fit and can even refuse people entry if they want. It's just that they are not following them in the manner you'd like them to.

Where does it say in the Act that a person can leave the country and be immediately re-admitted?

'Those who are passing through'?  The term 'onward travel' gets thrown around a lot in these discussions.

Every traveler has to return to his country of origin or residence eventually and should be able to provide an itinerary for it  ..otherwise they're not a traveler.

Bouncing back and forth between two countries without having residency status in either, isn't it.

Keith, Thanks for providing the law expanding the definition Article 43.7 clearly states 'return passage to country of origin or residence'. This person had Mexican residence, and a ticket to Mexico was not acceptable, contrary to the law you cited.

This is not about me. I applied for pensionado status in 2005. This is a heads up about how things work here. Brundegabe pointed out the same. It comes with the terratory. It is in my opinion not good for the tourist industry, but that is another thread, Again, for me just advising people that may be affected by this. I have a few friends that I will advise, as it will affect them. 

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Unless I'm mistaken here, I don't believe that anyone is arguing that Panama doesn't have the right to adopt its own laws and follow them as they see fit. It's the whimsical nature of the enforcement that is frustrating for those who, for one reason or another, must border hop periodically.

It's easy to say that this could be avoided by getting a residency visa. But some people can't because they are not yet ready to commit, some can't because their required pension income hasn't kicked in yet or their visa has been delayed, and many are genuine tourists out to explore Central America. Rather than make it hard on everybody, it seems to me that the government would change the law so as to allow only so many border hops within a specified period of time and then treat everyone equally. That would take care of the perpetual tourists without penalizing everyone else. While I have sympathy for expats (other than perpetual tourists), my heart really goes out to the young backpackers and other tourists who get caught up in the border imbroglio.

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1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

...

Every traveler has to return to his country of origin or residence eventually and should be able to provide an itinerary for it  ..otherwise they're not a traveler.

...

Keith,

Not trying to be picky here, but your assertion that "every traveler has to return to his country of origin or residence..." is not correct. For the vast majority of the people in the world that is a correct statement -- probably more than 99.999%, yes. However, there is a very small category of people who are, primarily by choice, "nomadic" in nature. I actually know three such individuals. I never could live a life like that. I need roots and some quiet time. But for three whom I do know, they spend three or four months here, and then four to six months there, and the cycle never ends. Yes, they have citizenship in at least one country and legal passports to document such; and they have legal residence in at least one country other than their country of citizenship. They have to go back to their citizenship country or the closest consular office for passport renewals every so many years. It is a lifestyle they choose. Few, but they do exist.

Two of the three I know work through the Internet. The third is essentially independently wealthy and doesn't worry about creating revenue.

Again, not for me.

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1 hour ago, Pantah said:

Keith, Thanks for providing the law expanding the definition Article 43.7 clearly states 'return passage to country of origin or residence'. This person had Mexican residence, and a ticket to Mexico was not acceptable, contrary to the law you cited.

This is not about me. I applied for pensionado status in 2005. This is a heads up about how things work here. Brundegabe pointed out the same. It comes with the terratory. It is in my opinion not good for the tourist industry, but that is another thread, Again, for me just advising people that may be affected by this. I have a few friends that I will advise, as it will affect them. 

No problem  ..a good heads up and folks should plan accordingly.

I was just pointing out that the land entry rules haven't really changed since I arrived years ago. It's how they're applied that varies.

It would seem that enforcement of regulations at border points becomes stricter during migratory crises. The last time I remember a clampdown was a few years back when there were busloads of illegal workers entering from Nicaragua and points further north. At this time I believe there's still a major Cuban refugee issue.

In my opinion, the '180 day maximum allowable stay' (by decree) for visitors is a real bonus that people sometimes take for granted. Costa Rica, for example, allows only 90 days.

Also  ..I'm fine with people hopping if they want to.

 

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If Panama really wanted to stop the border hoppers, they could do what New Zealand does, allow two re-entries, then you have to stay out 1-1/2 years before you can come back.  It makes it impossible to live there as a perpetual tourist.  Or Panama could build a really high wall, the absolute biggest and best wall anybody has ever seen, and make the U.S. pay for it.

Edited by JudyS
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21 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

No problem  ..a good heads up and folks should plan accordingly.

I was just pointing out that the land entry rules haven't really changed since I arrived years ago. It's how they're applied that varies.

It would seem that enforcement of regulations at border points becomes stricter during migratory crises. The last time I remember a clampdown was a few years back when there were busloads of illegal workers entering from Nicaragua and points further north. At this time I believe there's still a major Cuban refugee issue.

In my opinion, the '180 day maximum allowable stay' (by decree) for visitors is a real bonus that people sometimes take for granted. Costa Rica, for example, allows only 90 days.

Also  ..I'm fine with people hopping if they want to.

 

Keith

 

You are right and I am glad that you are really engaged in studying our laws and our procedures.   Laws dont change frequently as some people imply here.  It takes a lot of a bureaucratic procedures to change a law in Panama at the Asamblea Nacional de Diputados.   

The subject here is the enforcement.  It is not consistently done according to the law.   Sometimes you are so lucky that the immigration officers will not see your documents thoroughly and completely and will not take care or attentions on some details requested and needed.  Sometimes you are not so lucky and you have found an immigration officer that would like to follow all the procedures requested and will enforce the law rigidly.  

So.  Border hoping is not illegal.... but it is not a correct way to be in a country as a resident.   You are abusing of your luck until the day immigration place strict officers to enforce the law.  The law is clear..... of course for those who speak spanish.

 

 

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Roger, I fear for the travel industry. The law Keith provided is not being followed, and he said it is how they are applied that varies. Migracion will not let you book a return ticket to your residence country, and the 3 day stay over as far as I can tell is only to reset the $2000 duty exemption on re-entry, nothing to do with the person transiting.

This is not an issue for me, but my observation is that many countries let you do an immediate turnaround and for tourist who want to visit several countries with Panama on their itinerararies are going to have a problem. Researching ones trip to Panama is dicey as the policy (not the law) changes without warning. I have friends here in the travel business and they are getting complaints. 

I am curious as why the change, and how does Panama benefit? For sure Costa Rica is getting the tourist spending for the 3 days the tourist have to be out of Panama.

 

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2 hours ago, Pantah said:

Roger, I fear for the travel industry. The law Keith provided is not being followed, and he said it is how they are applied that varies. Migracion will not let you book a return ticket to your residence country, and the 3 day stay over as far as I can tell is only to reset the $2000 duty exemption on re-entry, nothing to do with the person transiting.

This is not an issue for me, but my observation is that many countries let you do an immediate turnaround and for tourist who want to visit several countries with Panama on their itinerararies are going to have a problem. Researching ones trip to Panama is dicey as the policy (not the law) changes without warning. I have friends here in the travel business and they are getting complaints. 

I am curious as why the change, and how does Panama benefit? For sure Costa Rica is getting the tourist spending for the 3 days the tourist have to be out of Panama.

 

Pantah

 

Most of the tourist enter Panama first by the international airport in PC, I would say more than 80%, and the problems mentioned of "border hopping" is not an issue there.  Even that this government is being accused of being so "slow" and having the economy in a bad situation there is a report posted by Central American Data that showed a statistics that the number of tourist that visited Panama increased in comparison to previous years and was almost the same that went to CR in the same year 2015. The difference was that tourist in Panama spent almost double the amount of money.

As a representative of US based corporations I received visitors from US and other countries and never have received from them any complaint. Their immigration process at the airport was quick and easy.  I have observed that when traveling and returning back to Panama.  The only place where I have heard about this issue is at Paso Canoas and Rio Sereno.  I have also to admit that it was at the forums at BN when I heard for the first time the term "border hopping" and its extensive use by some expats. 

Why this issue has not made the news and has not been a complaint in the Tourism Chamber?  Because it is not an issue for "real tourist".  Au contraire there are huge complaints of Panamanians regarding the easy way some" tourist" stay in Panama illegally, specially from some South American countries.

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I find this topic fascinating for several reasons. One reason is that I see some really fantastic posts by intelligent and articulate people having an interesting dialog about one aspect of life in our part of the world. Another reason is that this topic is about an aspect of human nature, a subject that I freely admit still baffles me at times even though I have passed the 70+ years marker.

In a conversation yesterday, I was challenged about my stance against border hoppers. I was not prepared for that question, simply because I am not opposed to border hoppers. It seems that some have interpreted my prior postings, especially the above one suggesting a trip through immigration procedures to get legal residency, meant that I was opposed to border hoppers. For the record, I am not opposed to border hopping -- for others; I am opposed to it for my wife and myself, but only because that is how we choose to live our lives. Here I refer to reducing complications in our lives. I believe in free choice, and given my personal set of priorities for my life, legal residency works best for us. Others get to have their own set of priorities, and I am totally okay -- nay, quite pleased -- that such is the case. One example of how it works better for us is regarding the recently successful registration of our US marriage on the Registro Civil here in Panama. Marcelyn has wanted that from the time she arrived here, and it turned out to be relatively simple given that we both have cedulas, albeit E-cedulas. We understand it to be more complicated without such status.

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There is a world of difference between "legitimate" tourists and chronic border hoppers.  I don't think any legititimate tourist is going to be bothered by any of this and the noted increase in numbers and amount of money spent seems to provide proof of that.  Personally, I am not a fan of the border hopping lifestyle, just seems to me, from both a moral and monetary security point of view that it would be preferable to obtain some kind of legitimate residency.  The requirements are quite simple and the monetary demands very low, so why not?

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9 hours ago, Roger B said:

Pantah

 

Most of the tourist enter Panama first by the international airport in PC, I would say more than 80%, and the problems mentioned of "border hopping" is not an issue there.  Even that this government is being accused of being so "slow" and having the economy in a bad situation there is a report posted by Central American Data that showed a statistics that the number of tourist that visited Panama increased in comparison to previous years and was almost the same that went to CR in the same year 2015. The difference was that tourist in Panama spent almost double the amount of money.

As a representative of US based corporations I received visitors from US and other countries and never have received from them any complaint. Their immigration process at the airport was quick and easy.  I have observed that when traveling and returning back to Panama.  The only place where I have heard about this issue is at Paso Canoas and Rio Sereno.  I have also to admit that it was at the forums at BN when I heard for the first time the term "border hopping" and its extensive use by some expats. 

Why this issue has not made the news and has not been a complaint in the Tourism Chamber?  Because it is not an issue for "real tourist".  Au contraire there are huge complaints of Panamanians regarding the easy way some" tourist" stay in Panama illegally, specially from some South American countries.

Roger, thanks for your informed response. Last year, I stumbled across a Wikileaks document talking about "irregularities" in Chiriqui province by governmental authorities. The situation at the border may be related to that. Quien sabe! I don't want to speculate on that. I do know from past experience that the policy has been different at different crossings.

Again I just want to make a heads up on Chiriqui policy change only to those that are unaware. I don't want to discuss the merits or lack thereof.

 

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37 minutes ago, Pantah said:

Roger, thanks for your informed response. Last year, I stumbled across a Wikileaks document talking about "irregularities" in Chiriqui province by governmental authorities. The situation at the border may be related to that. Quien sabe! I don't want to speculate on that. I do know from past experience that the policy has been different at different crossings.

Again I just want to make a heads up on Chiriqui policy change only to those that are unaware. I don't want to discuss the merits or lack thereof.

 

 

It is always my pleasure to have intelligent conversations with the amount of friends I have made in these forums.  

Regarding your comments.... well we have to deal with persons that have their own personal issues, frustrations, problems and also some that are involved in the corruption illness that is hurting some agencies of government.   I dont support those individuals and when I have the time I file a complaint against them.  The only way to stop bad service and bad ethical practices and corruption is not supporting them and denouncing them.

 

 

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