5 Ways To Have A Smooth Border Crossing Into Panama

Aug 31, 2014


1)   Schedule your departure out of Costa Rica for a weekday or maybe just not a holiday weekend. We were forced to pay our exit tax at the sketchy van because the bank and post office were both closed. It was only an extra dollar and change, but that tends to add up and there’s only one place I can think of that the extra money goes to.

2)   If you have to use the sketchy van, have exact US money on you for this exit tax. This way you don’t have to worry about the shit exchange rate they’re going to hit you with. Try starting with the $7, stating that the official at the window said that’s how much it was and that’s all that you have on you. If they absolutely do not budge, play like you have some hidden stash that you completely forgot about and present them with the extra dollar.

3)   Get your exit tax receipt before getting in line to have your passport stamped to exit Costa Rica so as not to waste precious time

4)   Have a bank statement and credit card handy to present to the Panamanian officials with a minimum of $500 available

5)   Have proof of onward travel in the form of an airline ticket out of Panama available. From what I’ve been told, having a bus ticket back to Costa Rica or a flight out of another country will not suffice in this situation. It must be a flight out of Panama. See below for how this may be possible without actually purchasing a ticket.

How to obtain proof of onward travel without paying for onward travel….

[Disclosure: we do not condone lying or being untruthful to government officials. This method is one that we have heard of from other travelers and to use it is to do so at your own risk.]

First you’ll want to get your hands on an old flight confirmation e-mail, copy and paste that into a new e-mail. Next, search for a flight out of Panama back to your home country within a few weeks to a month of your planned departure, depending on how long you plan on spending in the country. Basically, just give yourself enough time to play if you decide you’d like to stay longer, just to be safe. Third, replace all the details of the old flight with the details of the new flight and a new flight purchase date and confirmation date. Be sure to go through the entire e-mail with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that everything is correct and you didn’t miss anything. Lastly, add “Fwd: [Insert Original e-mail subject]” to the subject of your new e-mail and forward it to either another travel companion or someone back home. It is important that your new e-mail is loaded onto your phone so that you can actually pull it up when it is requested. To be extra certain that you will have it upon request, you may want to take a screen shot of the flight details and confirmation. And not to be too obvious, but make sure your phone is charged!

Again, this is a method that we have heard of from other travelers and do not condone using false information with authorities. Should you choose to use this, you do so at your own risk.


Roam on!


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