Who needs a consent letter?
A consent letter is needed for under age children –
- travelling alone, or with
- one parent/guardian
- a group (such as sports/arts/competitions)
If you are travelling abroad (from Panama) with a child who was born in Panama (even if they are travelling on a foreign passport, and not their Panamanian passport) or you have residency in Panama, then you should go through the process (online as of the 1st of April, 2018) of getting a consent letter from the other parent/guardian of the child. This is especially important if you are travelling with a child that is not your own (nephew, neice, friend’s child).
As of April 1st, the system will change, so I will provide details of how to proceed at the moment (before April 1st) at the bottom of this article, and at the beginning I will deal with the new system that will come into play shortly.
You do not need a consent letter if both parents are travelling together with the child/children. In this case, at immigration you need to have at hand: passports, birth certificate (for the child/minor), and a little patience while they review/compare the passports with the birth certificate.
If they have a “cédula infantil”, you can replace the birth certificate with a copy of the cédula (both sides – because on the reverse are the names of the parents), and you need to also carry the original cédula infantil. They will probably keep the photocopy.
When do you need it?
My experience has been that the only time I need this letter is leaving Panama, not once I am internationally travelling. I usually make, however, two letters, because it is my experience that they KEEP the birth certificate and letter each time I leave the country. So, I make sure I have a second one with me for the rest of the trip, just in case. In Panama, this is a legal requirement: if you don’t have it, you will miss your flight.
Also, I would suggest, if you have a foreign birth certificate, that you make numerous notarized copies of it, so that you don’t give them your original each time. For a Panamanian child, the cost of a birth certificate is $3.00 and can usually be obtained from El Rey. Otherwise, you need to get it from the Electoral Tribunal.
What do you need for the online consent letter?
You need to include with the online application the following documents (NOTE PDF format, maximum 10MB)
- Child’s passport or cédula
- Passport or cédula for EACH parent/guardian
- Passport of the third party that is travelling with the client, if they are not travelling with a parent/guardian
Instructions for how to proceed:
First, you need to sign into the portal: Migración en Línea and then go to “solicitudes”. This will look like this:
And, as you can guess, you need to click on the image of the parents and child for travelling abroad and the online consent letter.
This will open you up to the instructions, which state (in Spanish, of course):
Pulse el botón “LLENAR SOLICITUD” que aparece abajo en esta página. a. Coloque toda la información que se solicita en el formulario. b. Debe adjuntar a su solicitud todos los documentos requeridos escaneados en formato PDF con un tamaño máximo de 10MB.
El sistema le emitirá al completar el formulario un documento con el Número de Solicitud.
Con el Número de Solicitud impreso debe proceder a notariar dicho documento.
What this says is: Push below on the button that says “LLENAR SOLICITUD” (complete application), and complete the information requested in the form. Then attach to the application the documents requested in PDF format, with a maximum size of 10MB.
The system will then issue a completed form which has a Request Number. With this printed request number, you should go to the notary office to get it notarized.
Step one of the form is quite easy and straight forward. You complete the details of the minor: name(s), last name(s), nationality, cédula or passport number, and gender. Then in the second section, you complete the details of the trip or holiday: destination, type of transport (air, sea or land), date they will leave the country, date they return to the country, person who will be accompanying them, and your email address.
Then simply press “siguiente” / Next.
Here, you complete the details of the father and mother (or guardians). Once again, this is pretty simple: name(s), surname(s), nationality, cédula or passport number, relationship with the child (father, mother, guardian) and your gender (male/female). And then simply press Next/siguiente.
Upload your PDF file documents, and then press “send/ENVIAR”. At that stage, you should get a document to print out with “Número de Solicitud”, which is your Request Number. You take this print out to the Notary, and they will go online and verify the information submitted, and then notarise it. This is then what you need for the airport (they may, or may not, ask for it, but you should have it with you).
Who needs to go to the Notary office?
- Minor – travelling alone, with friends, a group or another family member: both parents
- Minor travelling with one parent/guardian – the consenting parent – the one authorizing the other to travel alone with the child.
What should you take to the Notary office?
- The form/print out from the system
- The passport(s)/cédula(s) for each person
In case you need more information:
Contact Joan Villanueva in our office, or maybe just watch this video from Immigration regarding this process (and don’t worry that you can’t understand the words, they are pretty self-explanatory):
I’m leaving before April 1st – what do I do?
In that case, you should prepare the usual consent letter, have it signed by the parent/guardian that is NOT travelling, get it notarised, and take it to the airport with you (and don’t forget the birth certificate).
Immigration Update: June 2017
Of particular note, in this immigration update is that the Friendly Nations visa is available to immigrants from Europe, North America and other countries listed. There have been no major changes in the requirements for work permits under Friendly Nations. We have been hearing a lot in the news regarding the change to 90 tourist permits for citizens of Venezuela, Colombia & Nicaragua, but the updates at immigration do not affect European or North American citizens.
In recent years, Panama has been careful with immigration policies, to not be seen as favoring or discriminating against a particular nationality. Nevertheless, the current climate in the region is pushing a wave of immigrants into Panama. And there has been a “push back” against this wave. Panama is not, obviously, the only country where refugees and illegal immigrants are being rejected. Many European nations have made it clear that they are not willing to welcome many newcomers, despite obvious crises pushing the waves of refugees and immigrants to seek safe havens.
The work permit tied to the Friendly Nations visa is very simple to apply for. After applying for immigration status, it is necessary to apply separately to the Ministry of Labour for this permit. The requirements to be met at the Ministry of Labour are:
- Power of attorney (to the lawyer) and application
- Certified copy of the immigration resolution, granting residency
- Immigration Status certification
- Certified copy of the immigration card – Permanent residency
- 4 passport photos
Joan Villanueva is available for more information regarding this application process.
Back in 2016 and in early 2017, there was a lot of debate on the issue of work permits. Panamanians complained that too many work permits being granted to foreigners under the friendly nations visa program. The complaints were based on the fact that Friendly Nations work permits appeared to bypass the rules on 10% rules (no more than 10% of employees in a company should be foreigners) or 15% for certain professions or executives. See, for example:
- Panamá: Cambiarían reglas de permisos de trabajo
- Restringen permisos de trabajo de países amigos y profesional extranjero en Panamá (comunicado)
- In particular, this latter article indicated that the 10% rule would have to be complied with even in the event that the applicant was applying under the friendly nations visa.
However, this has not be put into effect so far.