Panama, Balboa: Diablo Heights now the only official Immigration Office
Published: 2013-07-09 01:00:00
For yachts arriving in Panama from the Pacific and clearing in at Balboa, there has been a new development with immigration.
Apparently Immigration at the Balboa Yacht Club and Flamenco Marina are now considered Branch Offices (like the situation on the Caribbean side of Panama with Portobelo and Porvenir) and all cruisers must go within 72 hrs of arrival to the main office at Diablo Heights to obtain a visa.
Cruiser Kay Langley reports that the Branch Immigration offices can stamp your passport with an "entry to the country" stamp, but this is only valid for 72 hours, after that you are in the Country illegally. If you want to stay longer you need to go to the port Captain first and after that to Immigration at Diablo. She recommends, "Don´t give any originals to the immigation at Balboa or Flamenco. They will be lost and can create problems. I paid for the visa 105USD."
Take a taxi to the Immigration Office in Balboa's El Diablo district (Near the Supermercado El Rey on the other side of the airport, upstairs from a Mercado Gourmet). Be sure to ask the taxi driver to wait for you.
In typical Panama fashion, the immigration rules remain inconsistent and not clear. See this report for more information from cruisers about clearing into and out of Panama.