Identity cards to be changed

  • 30/08/2008 02:00
  • 30/08/2008 02:00
PANAMA. Around 85,000 foreigners residing in Panama will have to change their identity cards by August 2009.

PANAMA. Around 85,000 foreigners residing in Panama will have to change their identity cards by August 2009.

The process to replace their documentation is likely to start at the beginning of the year, said the Director of The National Identity Cards Department of the Electoral Tribunal Luis Bermudez.

The changes are part of the new immigration law that came into effect on August 26 and is aimed at giving all foreigners living in Panama a unique number that they can use in all their legal, business and commercial transactions.

Bermudez said that the identity cards for foreigners will not be changed immediately, because the production of a legal document is a delicate process, which could produce a lot of consequences if a mistake is made.

Therefore, his department has to organize itself and create a schedule to replace them in an orderly fashion to prevent the system from clogging up.

Until the replacement process begins foreigners will continue to use their current identity cards.

He added that the service that regulates aliens in Panama is Immigration and the Government and Justice Ministry.

They give residency to foreigners and the Electoral Tribunal only gives identity cards once that process has been completed.

“Once we are ready to introduce the new identity cards we will announce it through the media, giving the proper instructions about how they are going to be replaced as well as the locations.”

People who have to obtain the new cards will be divided into groups, so there will not be a repetition of the chaos that reigned when digital driving licenses were introduced across Panama.

Talking about how much money is going to be allocated to the changing of identity cards, Bermudez said that currently he did not have a figure, because they are under the normal production of documents for nationals and foreigners.

But regardless of the cost implications the Electoral Tribunal is going to go ahead with the plan.

Regarding a possible extra charge for replacing the old identity cards with new ones, Bermudez added that it is likely that foreigners will have to pay but it is not yet clear yet how much, because the system itself defines the amount to pay.

At the end of the day the Agreements Courts will decide how much is going to cost or if the new cards would be provided for free.

“Currently I do not have any information about this.”

The new identity card for foreigners will be different from the ones given to nationals.

For starters it will have a blue background with the image of the globe.

It will carry the personal details of the person such as name, sex, date of birth, nationality and the number given to them by the Immigration Services.

For those people who already have a cedula (identity card) they will keep their old document number.

“It would be impractical to change the numbers of those foreigners who already have an identity card.

“It would cause all sorts of problems for the individual and the Electoral Tribunal.

“ We want to improve the identification system, so they can have one number, which they can use for everything,” said the director.

The reason for this new identification card is to identify foreigners more easily.

However, one must question if this realistically is going to make any real difference or if it is just another method of obtaining extra funds from foreigners.

Many long term residents have described the proposed new cards as a governmental cash grab, and question why they need a card to identify them as foreigners, when the current cedula does that quite clearly with the letter E.

In the meantime they view with dread the likelihood of returning to the Immigration Offices on Avenida Cuba, with its long lines and long waits.

There is concern too, that they will be asked to use the services of a lawyer, as with their original applications for residency.

There have been multiple complaints over the years about immigration lawyers who do little but charge much.

Only time will tell, but be sure all foreigners will be getting new cards, and don’t hold your breath about there being no charge.

Lo Nuevo
comments powered by Disqus