Panama launches online visa system for countries where it does not have consulates

Panama made  the official launch of a new and modern electronic visa application system online, which was successfully tested during the World Youth Day (WYD) held in the Central American country last month.

The initiative, which is part of a strategy to promote tourism, is aimed at those foreigners who do not have Panamanian consular offices and require a tourist visa in their countries, said official sources who offered details of the plan approved by executive decree 100 of February 21, 2019.

The online visas are intended to encourage the flow of visitors and strengthen commercial exchange with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have direct air connections, and nations that belong to the so-called Falcon Policy that seeks to strengthen Panama's links with countries of Southeast Asia, India and Africa, and the Middle East.

The measure is accompanied by strict security and migration controls.

Applicants must complete the form that will be available on the website www.migració and send it along with the required documentation.

The petitioner will receive via e-mail a reference number that must be printed and displayed upon entering Panama. For this modality, the cost of $ 50 for migratory services is excepted.

The visitors will not only go through verification processes and systems at the entrance gates to the country, but they will also be made in place of security reviews of each applicant by officials of the National Security Council (NSC), National Migration Service (NMS)) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mire).

The Panamanian Vice Chancellor, Luis Miguel Hincapié, said that with this new system the tourist would not have to go to any consulate, but just fill out a form in an inter-institutional office that will be located in Mire of Panamá.

Hincapié added that this office, which will be integrated by officials of the NMS, NSC and Mire, will verify compliance with the requirements to then approve or disapprove the visa.

«Basically we would have a consulate in the chancery to process this type of visa, which is basically the same as it is used in countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, China, where we have officials from these three institutions to review the applications of the visas», said Hincapié.

With this, said the vice chancellor, «we hope to collaborate a little more with the possible visit to Panama of tourists and merchants from emerging economies, very hand in hand with the Falcon Policy (to strengthen relations) with nations in which Panama does not count with consulate».

The Security Minister, Jonattan Del Rosario, said it is an «innovative, modern, safe and reliable» system, which, he said, «we put to the test on the occasion of WYD 2019», and explained that the online visa is part of the National Security Strategy (ENS) 2017-2030.

The ENS aims to strengthen the capabilities of the Panamanian State to ensure citizen security and protect our platform of air, sea and land connectivity, with new technologies so that they are not used for any type of illegal activity, he added.

He stressed that the new system is complemented by facial recognition, collection and comparison of biometric data, as well as the exchange of information in real time with more than 20 countries.

These controls facilitate identification through the Tocumen International Airport, the main one in Panama, and at the border control posts.

«We are confident that with these new technologies we will take a new step forward, to continue positioning our country as the safest connectivity hub on the American continent», said Del Rosario, who told that this initiative will benefit some 35 countries.


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