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PANAMA and COSTA RICA – Entry Restricted for Schengen Visa Holders

Effective 13 January 2017, Schengen Area visas are no longer accepted for entry into Panama.

The policy change came after a similar step was taken by Costa Rica, where visitor visas for Schengen Area countries or Japan were also made ineligible for entry from 14 December 2017.

The moves do not affect most nationals of EU countries, the United States or Japan, who can enter both Central American countries without visas for short stays.


Panama continues to accept certain visitor or residence visas for United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, which is outside the Schengen Area.

Those entering Panama on one of the visas listed above 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.

Travelers who have met these requirements will be permitted to stay in Panama for 30 days, renewable for an additional 60 days.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica continues to accept holders of multiple-entry visitor visas for the United States or Canada, or legal residence in the US, Canada or a European Union member state (e.g. temporary or permanent residence, student visa, work permit), valid for at least six months from entry into Costa Rica.

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.


The Schengen Area consists of 22 European Union Member States and four non-members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not yet part of the Schengen Area, but nonetheless have a visa policy that is based on the Schengen area.

Action Items

  • Foreign nationals travelling to Panama or Costa Rica and their employers should contact an immigration advisor to check the latest visa requirements.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by BDS Asesores and BLP.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.