- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Additional information
- Embassy Contact
High Degree of Caution
General Travel Advice
Irish citizens do not require a visa to enter Panama for periods of up to 90 days.
A valid passport is required for travel to Panama. Irish passports should have a minimum validity of six months. Passport cards cannot be used.
For more information on visas and passports, please see the Additional Information tab.
Visitors to Panama are advised to follow the guidance of national and local authorities and stay fully informed of what is going on by monitoring local news and social media.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Panama by dialling 911. Specific emergency numbers are:
- Police: 104
- Fire brigade: 103
- Ambulance: 911
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
As there is no Irish Embassy in Panama, we are limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Colombia.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
The Panama-Colombia border (Darien Gap) is particularly dangerous. There have been reports of violent crime, kidnapping and murder in this area.
Crime is also an issue in the Mosquito Gulf, where criminal organisations, such as dissent groups and drug traffickers, may be present.
These areas are particularly dangerous due to their remoteness.
Street crime is a problem in areas like Panama City, Colon, and Chiriqui province. Such crimes can include shootings, home invasions, armed robberies, pick-pocketing, muggings, and thefts. Areas such as San Miguelito, El Chorillo and Juan Diaz are known to have greater levels of crime as most of these crimes are between members of rival drug gangs.
Personal attacks, including sexual assault, can occur in tourist destinations across Panama.
Always take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings against the risk of crime. Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination. Public transportation should be used with caution.
Petty theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching, is relatively common in Panama, especially in busy areas, on buses and at bus stations. Take care of your personal belongings and avoid obvious displays of wealth. Avoid using your mobile phone on the street.
Only use ATMs in banks or shopping centres. Do not carry large sums of cash or valuables in public.
Lost or stolen passports:
Take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. If your passport is lost or stolen, it can take up to three weeks to get a replacement, due to time and distance factors. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies or scans of your passport.
If you are a victim of crime while in Panama, report it to the local police immediately or dial 911 from any telephone. Many insurance companies will only compensate loss from theft if you can provide a police report.
Political demonstrations may occur at short notice, which can lead to road blocks and occasionally turn violent. You should avoid protests and demonstrations, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Driving: Exercise caution if you are planning to drive in Panama. You can use your Irish driver’s license for a period of up to 90 days. If you want to drive:
- Ensure your license is valid for use in Panama and ensure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching when stopped in traffic
Where possible, plan how you will travel to and from your destination and only use pre-booked taxis. We strongly advise against hailing taxis from the street. In general, taxis in Panama do not use meters, so it is advisable to agree on a fare before getting into the taxi.
Hiring a vehicle
If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Be careful when swimming or taking part in water sports on Pacific and Caribbean beaches as in some places there are strong currents, rips and undertows. Panamanian beaches may not have lifeguards on duty.
Swimming in the Bay of Panama is not recommended as it is thought to be polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste.
If you wish to go swimming, always check the signage before getting into the water. Avoid swimming in water where there are no other swimmers.
Natural disasters and climate
Earthquakes can occur from time to time in Panama. Tsunamis can also happen. Make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.
Panama is prone to heavy rains. The rainy season runs from April to December, but October and November normally register the heaviest rainfall. Occasional flooding and landslides occur in rural areas. Some city streets and rural roads can become impassable due to flooding.
In Panama, the hurricane season is from June to November, but storms can happen year-round. They can cause flooding and landslides, particularly in rural areas.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.
Drug trafficking is a very serious crime in Panama and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually receiving long terms of imprisonment.
Merely being in the company of someone who is using drugs is grounds for arrest.
Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don't carry anything through customs for anybody else.
Homosexuality is legal but may not be widely accepted in some parts of the country, especially in rural areas.
It's illegal to take photos of official buildings. Ask for permission before photographing anyone.
Before you travel, you should make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad or repatriation.
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Panama. You can find out more information about vaccinations on the HSE’s website.
The standard of healthcare facilities in Panama City is generally good, but medical facilities outside the capital are limited. If you need emergency medical assistance dial 911.
Malaria is relatively common in parts of Panama, including in some outlying areas of Panama City. You are advised to take medical advice on anti-malarial medication prior to travel. After arrival, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.
There have been outbreaks of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens especially those with a weakened immune system or women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Cases of chikungunya virus have been reported in Panama. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, all precautions should be taken to avoid bites.
Irish citizens don't need a visa to visit Panama for periods of up to 90 days. When entering the country, you may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Panama and contain at least one unused page. Entry requirements change from time to time, so check these requirements before departure with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Panama.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport, the passport page containing your Panamanian visa (if applicable), and the passport page containing your entry stamp, at all times.
Arriving by sea
Those arriving in Panama by private boat are advised to contact Panama’s Servicio Nacional de Migración for information on entry permits and associated fees and conditions.
The Embassy operates an out of hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency assistance on weekends and public holidays. If you are in need of emergency assistance during these times, you should leave a message on the emergency message system by calling +57 1 657 6060. The emergency message system is checked regularly outside of office hours and a member of the Embassy staff will contact you as soon as possible.
When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).
Alternatively, you may contact the Duty Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin at +353 (0)1 408 2000.
Embassy of Ireland in Colombia
Edificio Tierra Firme
Ak 9 #115-30
Tel: +57 1 657 6060
Monday to Friday 09:30-13:30
Honorary Consulate Contact
Dr. Juan Carlos Rosas
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Via Espana 122
Torre Delta, 14th Floor
P.O. Box 0834-01774
Republic of Panama
Email: Email us
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
We don’t have a resident Irish Embassy in Panama but you can contact our Embassy in Bogotá if you require consular assistance. You can contact us by email, or in case of emergency, you can contact us by telephone on +57 1 657 6060 (from an Irish phone), (1) 657 6060 (from a Colombian landline), and 031 657 6060 (from a Colombian mobile number).