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Political Status: Democratic independent republic.
Language: Spanish is the official and most widely used language. English is spoken or understood mostly around the capital city and the Caribbean coast.
Currency: The Balboa is the official currency. The Balboa is exactly equal to the U.S. dollar, and the dollar is accepted everywhere in Panama. The Balboa is only used for metal change. It can be difficult to find change for $50 or $100 dollar bills, and I.D. must be shown when spending them so bring small denominations. Credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are not easy to find and the Cirrus system is not compatible everywhere.
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles in all parts of the republic. Same as U.S. Outlets take standard U.S. plugs. No voltage converter needed for U.S. appliances.
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time Zone (EST). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Communication: Calling from the U.S. dial 011 + 507 + 7 digit local number. Internet access is available at most hotels and internet cafes. Contact your cell phone provider about coverage. Long distance telephone charges in Panama can be quite expensive. It is recommended to make a collect call or use your calling card. Service charges may apply when calling from your hotel room.
Drinking Water: It is recommended that you drink bottled water while in Panama. Most hotels offer bottled water in your hotel room and can also be purchased in the hotel's shop and in grocery stores. The ice and drinking water served in the hotels are generally made from purified water.
Transportation: Taxis are readily available as are colorful local buses and train service between the two coasts that takes about an hour. It is also possible to rent a car or 4-wheeler. Must be 25, have a valid U.S. driver’s license and a credit card.
Local Customs: The legal drinking age is 18. Generally, taxes are automatically added to purchases. The tipping percentage is similar to that at home. If you receive good service, please express your gratitude and offer a tip.
Getting Married: U.S. citizens can legally get married in Panama. Please contact a Vacation Express representative for details on resorts offering special wedding packages and to discuss your particular wedding requirements. Our experienced group department will be happy to assist with travel arrangements for all attendees.General Requirements:
Getting married in Panama is relatively simple, providing you supply all the necessary paperwork and follow the required procedures. Below, are requirements for U.S. citizens who wish to be married in Panama:
• Valid Passport that clearly shows the date you entered into Panama
• Medical examinations in Panama (can be done at any clinic) - General Health Certificate is sufficient
• Two (2) witnesses that are not part of either family (if witnesses are foreigners they must provide valid passports that contain entrance stamps).
• Some judges may request a birth certificate, translated into Spanish, which must be authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate in the U.S.
• If you want the judge to travel to a resort in order to perform the wedding ceremony, the cost ranges from $125.00 - $150.00.
What to Pack: Panama has a tropical climate. Temperatures are around 80-90º F and humidity is always high so pack accordingly. Take along a small back-pack or fanny pack for holding personal items while on tour. Incidentals: binoculars; camera (w/extra batteries, etc.); hat or cap; insect repellent; and sunscreen.
Note: A valid passport is REQUIRED for entry into Panama from the U.S.
Hotel Cancellation Penalties:
We understand the unexpected can happen and choosing to cancel your vacation is never an easy decision. For that reason, we are providing you with a chart of estimated cancellation penalties for our partner hotels. Visit https://www.vacationexpress.com/hotel-cancellations/ for more details.