Temas Especiales

26 de Sep de 2023


Laws of the Land

PANAMA. It terrifies me to think that one day I may lose my wallet as I have five valuable personal identity cards in it. To any futur...

PANAMA. It terrifies me to think that one day I may lose my wallet as I have five valuable personal identity cards in it. To any future villain please just take the small amount of cash I carry. Here’s why:

When I first came to live in Panama like all foreigners I had to change my status from a tourist to a resident. I thought wrongly that this would be somewhat of a formality as I had been married to a Panamanian for almost twenty years. However, after three years of residency and much bureaucracy and expense I eventually received my all important permanent ‘Cedula’.

I then had to apply for a Labor permit entitling me to work in Panama. This surprisingly was more bureaucratic than the Immigration Office. Could someone please tell me why two Labor Ministry officials had to come to my residence to ensure that I was married and not trying to illegally immigrate into your country? They wanted to see family photographs, presumably to confirm that we actually knew each other! They checked our closets and our sleeping arrangements.

I thought wrongly that the Labor office was responsible for work related issues not immigration as I had already received my residency!

Eventually after more bureaucracy I received my work permit. However, as a foreigner I have to renew it every year for a total of ten years. The only people possibly happy with this arrangement are the attorneys who get paid $75 for a signature and probably to a lesser extent the $20 which goes to the government.

Next, after risking life and limb by catching Diablo Rojos and taxis for years to socialize and work we applied for a personal loan to obtain a vehicle. Like my fellow columnist we bought a Hyundai Tucson.

You should note that no one would lend me money only my wife who is a Panamanian citizen. Fortunately as I already had a current U.K. license I only had to obtain a blood sample to test my glucose level, one would think that an eye test would be more important. I paid more money and obtained a permit to drive.

Unfortunately the saga continued as four months after obtaining this I was now advised it would be invalid shortly as they were converting to a digital license. Why they could not renew it when my present one expired is beyond my comprehension.

This instruction meant a tour of the most scenic places in Panama namely El Crisol and Pedregal! After four barren attempts I again received my Panamanian license.

You should note I am not complaining about following any procedure to become legal in a foreign country but, why make it so cumbersome?

In England it may surprise you to know we have NO identity cards. Yes, we have to obtain a driving license however, once you have passed your test it is valid until you are 55. The only time you need to amend it (at no cost) is when you change residency.

The only other identification one may have (which is not compulsory) is a passport. Unlike Panama we have a meaningful mail system so these two documents can be obtained through mail, as oppose to doing everything in person.

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