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Panama’s E-Cedula – Is It Worth the Effort?

Article Summary:

Those residing in Panama under the Pensionado visa program are now eligible to obtain an E-Cedula, Panama’s national identity card. For some, this is more than a ID number change, but also a step on the path toward full Panamanian citizenship, as found blogger Lee Zeltzer. He is the author of the website, Boquete Panama Guide, which offers practical information for residents and tourists to Boquete, Panama.

Photo Credit: Channel One

Original Article Text From Boquete Panama Guide:

TCM: Cedula for Extranjeros, Take Two

Take one of this adventure was when I started the process of getting a E Cedual myself. That experience is documented here in this POST. What I learned was that a person with a Jubilado proclamation can do the entire process of getting a E (extranjero) cedula themselves if they have extraordinary patience and a working knowledge of Spanish. It is more complicated than it appears to be. What I did not completely understand were the benefits of getting the Cedula.

Today at the BCP attorney Enrique Arrocha did an excellent job explaining why many people with a Jubilado Carnet would want an E Cedula. He also made it clear that for most people it is worth hiring someone to do it for you.

The benefits are simple. Despite the fact when we applied for Pensionado Visas we were told we were not on a path to citizenship the law has changed, for now. If you are a Pensionado and jump through the hoops to get a E Cedula and desire Panamanian citizenship you can apply for it five years after the date of the resolution granting you Pensioado status in Panama. For many people, including me, that means now.

This is a big change. If you want a Panamanian Passport and the right to vote in Panama you can now have them. There are too many steps and a boatload of expenses, but the end game is you can be a dual citizen of Panama and the US or Canada, maybe more countries.

Step one is to get the Extranjero Cedula. That requires going to Panama City and submitting two copies of your carnet and two passport sized photos to immigration. They take twenty five days to send your paperwork to the Tribunal Electoral. If everything works properly you then return to the Tribunal Electoral in Panama City pay your $65, get your photograph taken and have a cedula sent to your local Tribunal Electoral Office.

Once you receive the cedula you need to visit the ATTT office in David in the Municipo and change your car title to have your new cedula number and then your need to get a new drivers license with the new number. The benefit you will never have to do it again. See this post for the reasons and steps.

All of that done your cedula will allow you to open a bank account and do other things without the normal pile of papers. No more needing a passport to sneeze in a bank. In addition you are then setup for citizenship and a passport if you want them.

The process of requesting citizenship is tedious. Once you have the E cedula you need to wait five years from the date of your resolution for Pensionado status. I have those years, so I am going to do the steps and report back on the my various levels of frustration at each step.

Enrique enumerated the steps and the costs which add up to over $1,000 in government fees as well as time. You will need to have at least rudimentary Spanish as you will be interviewed in Spanish and given a multiple choice examination covering Panamas history and geography in Spanish. A good excuse to study now.

When it is all done, if ever, you can then request a Passport, you must be a citizen to get the passport. The E cedula alone is not sufficient for a passport.

Link to Original Article:

From Boquete Panama Guide

  • Eduardo Achurra

    As a lawyer i will like to know on what legal basis they are letting the pensionado to obtain the E-Cedula. I ask this because the migratory law states that the the pensionado and rentista retirado residency program are “special” programs that never leads to E-Card. This fact is confirmed by means of the amendments done to D.E. 320 of 2008 by means of D.E. 26 of 2009 that confirms that this programs remains as Special residency programs (with no authorization to E-Card).

  • Ross R Blankert

    Then as an abrogado in Panama you know that you must check weekly with immigration as to the changes in the law and regulations and fees. It changes all the time. So God only knows what the law will be in 5 years.

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