Immigration Paperwork

Well, today I had my first taste of official paperwork and such. To date, passing all those borders, we haven't had any issues or problems at all. None of those horror stories you hear about crossing borders in Central America. No bribes, no corruption, no paperwork. We had to wait an hour for the border official to come back from lunch in Panama. Not too bad.

But in Panama they (seem to) only give you 30 days in the country. It's marked very clearly on our paperwork. So since I'll be here a tad more than 30 days (with Nancy home helping her dad) I went down to the immigration office today to do the deed. I figured it would take a little time.

First I waited in a long line to get a number and they took my passport number and told me I had to go across the street and get copies of my passport, the entry stamp, and the tourist card, along with 2 photos of myself.

I went and got the copies and the pictures from the very busy little stand across the street.

Then I went back and looked at the "next serving" sign, seeing that it would be a couple of hours at least before mine came up. So I started asking around what I needed to do. They told me that I couldn't apply for the extension until I did the registration, and that I'd have to get and fill out forms for both registration and the extension. So I went and stood in the line for the copier, which is where you get the forms.

Then I went back across the street to buy a pen, and filled out the forms.

Then I went back in and started asking everybody who looked competent what I should do. They told me to go to one line. While waiting there I asked somebody else who looked competent. He said to go to the other side of the room and wait in that line. While waiting in that line I asked the only actual available person who actually worked for the migration department, and he informed me that the law has changed and I can legally be in the country 90 days regardless of what the paperwork says. And he pointed to a little sign above the window that did seem to confirm this.

So I folded up all my paperwork and left. I hope I understood correctly!