Visitors are no longer able to enter Panama using visas for the EU’s Schengen zone. The policy change came into effect on 13th January 2017 after a similar step was taken by Costa Rica in December 2016, where visas for Schengen zone countries or Japan were also made ineligible for entry.
The moves, however, do not affect most nationals of EU countries, the United States or Japan, who are able to enter both Central American countries without visas for short stays. Both countries will continue to accept visas issued by the United Kingdom, which is outside the EU’s visa-free internal Schengen zone.
As the migration policy currently stands in Costa Rica:
- It continues to waive the requirement of a Tourist Visa for Americans, holders of multiple-entry visitor visas from the United States or Canada, and holders of legal residence in the US, Canada (e.g. permanent residence, student visa, work visa), provided certain conditions are met.
- Nationals of Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates have been added to the list of countries whose nationals may enter Costa Rica without a visa.
Panama continues to accept certain visitor or residence visas for United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, for entry and stay in Panama for 30 days (renewable for an additional 60 days). Visitors seeking entry using one of the above listed visas must also be sure that the visa is valid for multiple entries, is valid for at least one year from the day of entering Panama, and has been used at least once to enter the issuing country before travel to Panama.
Foreign nationals travelling to Costa Rica or Panama and their employers should contact an immigration advisor to check the latest visa requirements.
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