Panama

Driving

The basic information about driving in Panama is that the correct side of the road on which to drive is the right side. For those from Canada, U.S.A. And most of Europe this is welcome news. An added bonus for American visitors is that the traffic signals and and signs are identical. For older people from France and to some extent Italy the other familiar aspect will be the use of the horn. Noise, once a feature round the Arc de Triomphe and in central Rome, is normal still in Panama. There is even a language for this monotone instrument here. Don Winner's piece on this subject is both amusing and informative.

Driving Licenses

The United State's Embassy provides a detailed procedure for US citizens and residents for obtaining a Panamanian driving license. For some getting a local driving license is not a simple procedure. The experience can vary from the cheap and simple to the bizarre and expensive. It may well be a good idea, as is usual in Panama, to employ the services of a lawyer. Even lawyers have difficulties. The requirements for obtaining a Panamanian driving license are explained on the web site of one local legal firm together with an apology for a poor translation into English. This may be thought to be an odd comment until it is seen that the reason is because the original Spanish is so bad.

The provisions of the tourist visa/card are generous in terms of the length of stay initially allowed and of the extension that can usually be obtained. This sometimes makes it necessary for a tourist to get a driving license if car hire and touring is undertaken. A temporary license can usually be obtained which will expire at the same time as the tourist card. Considering what has been said above it may be as well to allow at least a day to complete such an application.

The links provided at the "Resources" tab on this site will prove to be helpful on this subject as will information in the book "How to Retire in Panama" by Les Johns which can be bought directly from this site.