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Forum Post
11/01/07 16:19
West Virginia

Going through customs

Thank author of this post/commentWe plan a visit to Panama in January for a lengthy stay to see if we want to relocate or not.

How tough is going through customs and how long does it take. I would like to know about U.S. customs as well as Panama customs - leaving U.S. and arriving in Panama and leaving Panama and arriving U.S.

I read somewhere that an expat preferred flying through Houston instead of Miami since the Houston customs seemed less of a hassle. Thaks in advance.

Archived Replies

This post has a total of 28 replies. The most recent 25 are shown below, you can view the complete archive here: Going through customs archive. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 11/01/07 through 12/22/12, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

Comment 4
12/19/07 04:11
New York
Thank author of this post/commentI think the United States breeds people who are afraid. Maybe it is the US's overly agressive police, immigration and law enforcement that makes American's belive the rest of the world is like that.


Comment 5
12/10/08 13:30

you show a pretty good point Jim.
Comment 6
12/12/08 11:06

We have traveled several times to Panama. Customs in Panama are great. No issues. On our return trips, we have been through Miami and Houston. The trick is to allow at least 1.5 or 2 hrs at least between connecting flights from Miami or Houston to home. Then if you have delays in line, you won't be pressured to get to your connecting flight. The longest we have waited in Miami is 45 minutes same with Houston. Oh yes, don't forget, if you purchase liquor or perfume or something in Panama, make sure when you Pick-up your luggage in the US for inspection, that you transfer your purchases to your suitcase or you won't get it through the US's gate inspection. They adhere to the 3 ounce rule for carry-ons. We purchased some really good scotch in Panama at duty free and when we got to Miami, we transfered it to our luggage before rechecking it. Other wise they would have made us toss it, as you can not take that as a carry-on in the US. It's over 3 ounces.
Comment 7
03/03/09 23:40

Jim, your point is very well stated.
Comment 8
07/02/09 07:48

I beg to differ wit Jim and the rest of you. The fact that you visit the United States is enough reason that you already like the place so pay no attention to how they run their country. I guess they are aggressive enough to ensure the country's sovereignty is not intefered with. If it were me, I would'nt be less cautious especially after 9/11.
Comment 9
08/19/09 04:09

You have heard that customs there are hassle free..Dar, quite a good point you have there. I would not as well mind delaying my flight for a few hours if it achieves whatever purpose you have talked about.

Even though you have mentioned that going through customs is not that hard, I still think anyone with an intention of traveling to the place should have an open attitude. Things can never be smooth anywhere.

Comment 10
09/04/09 23:21

You had a point there moy, certainly passengers must be aware of that setting. However, the proper authorities might have done their part very well to prevent such scenarios.

Hassle free it may see, but to some it is not, there are actually people who got caught up badly with wrong and inappropriate assessment and they got stuck.

I think people must be aware and oriented with how the customs really works.. you know what i mean :)

Comment 11
09/06/09 18:20


No one was saying that customs was a bad thing. This is a forum where people can be "Informed" and letting people know how to go through customs can save them hassle and time. Knowledge is power. I certainly understand why they are extra cautious and so does everyone else. After all I am an American and never want to see anything like 9/11 again.....!!!

So for all of those traveling between countries, please allow time for connecting flights. You will not be sorry.

Comment 12
11/20/09 00:34

I hate to go through customs no matter where it is that I may be headed.
Comment 13
12/09/09 22:13

I am wondering on what papers i will be needing to be able to enter Panama. How hard it is to pass the immigration? Please help me out with this matter. I terribly need some advice. Thanks a lot guys. I am hoping for a response soon.
Comment 14
12/11/09 10:00



You will only need your passport. Have your Drivers Lic. as well or voters registration. May not need the last two docs. but great to have in case. You will receive paperwork on the plane to fill out to enter Panama. When you get off the plane, you will have to go to a stand they have set up to pay your 5.00 or 10.00 fee to enter the country (can't remember if its 5 or 10) You will then get in line to show your papers that you just paid your entry fee. You will then pickup your luggage go through customs and be on your way. Does not take much time at all. Very easy to do. Remember, try to have exact change for them. When going to Panama you will need lots of one dollar bills, five dollar bills and ten dollar bills. They don't always have much change. This will be very helpful. No $50. or $100. Hope this info helps you.

Comment 15
12/18/09 22:18

Thanks for posting those useful information Dar. I found your post really really helpful. I guess Monni also finds your post helpful and would probably answer all his questions.

Thanks a bunch Dar. Let us see if there would be more post regarding this matter on this forum.

Those information would be very useful for those who are thinking of entering Panama.

Comment 16
12/31/09 07:38
Paul of Cannes


Hey this site is great! and you seem like the kind of guys I need to be talking to.I shall probably be heading for Panama City next week as I have bought an appartment at Bahia del Golfe and wish to make contact with a series of professional advisors.Firstly, as I may wish to retire there in the summer I am interested in establishing residency.Secondly, I should wish to talk to someone whom is qualfied to advise on entering the Panamainian tax system.Also, if there is anyone who has good experience with a property letting agency....must be English speaking and lastly, I trade financial instruments on the L.S.E via the internet how good is the communications infrastructure in terms of access, availability and efficiency?I would be most heartened by your response as it would save a great deal of time and effort for this non-spanish speaking englishman.Many thanx in anticipation of your kind response...Paul.
Comment 17
01/02/10 14:48

Why does immigration give people with dreadlocks so very much trouble when it is that they are traveling. Especially so when it is that the victim is interested in keeping himself looking sharp and in style. They immediately flag the person as a, gang leader, murderer, drug dealer or what have you.
Comment 18
01/03/10 06:10
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Just hassled!"

Be glad you are just hassled and not denied entry. Some countries have rules that prohibit the entry of "hippie looking" people.
Comment 19
01/21/10 07:46

Hmmmm.. I have not heard of such stories before until now. And why do those countries do not accept those who are hippie looking? Do their style harm people? I guess not. What are the countries that do this practice of not letting hippie people in their territory? Just curious and would want to know more about this matter. Hope to hear from all of you soon, thanks a bunch guys.
Comment 20
01/22/10 07:15
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"No Hippies"

Here is a link to one such story...
  • [Links not shown for inactive users]
Comment 21
01/22/10 07:19
New York
Thank author of this post/comment"Morroco too!"

Entry may be refused to travellers with a 'hippy' appearance.
  • [Links not shown for inactive users]
Comment 22
02/14/10 22:36

That is a bit strange, I wonder why they would not want people with that kind of look be traveling in their country. So they would only allow those who have a clean cut hair?

That sounds a little silly to me, so those people who are having that hippie or gypsy look should consider changing their physical look? That is something. Anyway, have a good day ahead everyone and keep posting.

Comment 23
02/16/10 15:33

"Hippie look"

I saw lots of "long haired Americans" traveling down there. Didn't have tyDied shirts on, but look very 60's. I've never heard of such a thing.
Comment 24
04/23/10 23:09
Tom Heimer

"retired "

Where can I contact to find out which (if any) seashells are prohibited by Panama Customs from leaving Panama?
Comment 25
04/25/10 10:21
International Citizen :-)
Thank author of this post/comment"Not sure who you would ask"

I am not sure who you would ask about this, I would assume Panama customs. There is a customs office at the duty free shop in Amador, so they might be able to tell you what the laws are before you drive all the way to the airport. This would probably be your easiest approach. If nothing else, they can tell you who to ask.

But, I would be concerned about entering the US with seashells as well.

The US might have a problem with out of country shells. They are pretty about anything "natural" like that. I would check with them before you fly all the way there.

Comment 26
07/14/10 21:46
Thank author of this post/comment"Customs"

Panama customs was a breeze , June 17, 2010. got stamped smiled and that was it. Los Angeles was slow only because you have to take a bus to customs from were you get off the plane but once there took maybe 20 min.
Comment 27
11/22/10 08:17

"Customs Form"

I just came back from Panama in August and they no longer charge the $5 tourist visa fee. I was looking around to give my $5 to, but there was no one handing out Tourist Visas. It seems that the new government, now that Martinelli is President, did away with the tourist visa fee. It's free to get into Panama now, not that $5 would have stopped me.

I was wondering if anyone might have a copy, scan, or image or the Panama Customs Form. I went to Panama in August with my grandfather (86), so I was able to help him fill out the form...i.e. Passport #, Flight #, Date of Birth, Address in Panama etc.

He is now going again in January, but by himself. I would like to get a copy of a form, so he has a duplicate to work off of and copy, and so it'll be less confusing for him on which information goes where. Being in English & Spanish, it's a little hard for him to read and write in the small space provided, especially while cramped in a plane. Thanks for the help.

Comment 28
12/22/12 14:31
Thank author of this post/comment"Why worry?"

You all are not smuggling anything so why get stressed out about customs. Remember it is latin american and not the USA. The police are not stressed out, angry zombies, read to explode and instead take it out on you.

Just get in line, relax and in a moment you'll be on your way.

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    Archived Replies

    This post has a total of 28 replies. The most recent 25 were shown above, you can view the complete archive here: Going through customs archive. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

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