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It seems having the right attorney is part and parcel of moving it along.  That said you will have to go to Panama City to finalize the process.  We had an attorney here in David do the paper work.  We were not happy with how that went.  We finished the process and got another attorney firm to do all our future legal work.
 We use Panama Offshore Legal.  Check out their web page for information and FAQs.  http://www.panama-offshore-services.com/ 

 

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The paperwork can be done from here, but you have to go to Panama once to finalize it.  No getting around that that I know of, but you can ask to have the card sent to Boquete and pick it up from the Registro Publico (on the street behind Sugar&Spice) when it's ready, rather than making a return trip.

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The paperwork can be done from here, but you have to go to Panama once to finalize it.  No getting around that that I know of, but you can ask to have the card sent to Boquete and pick it up from the Registro Publico (on the street behind Sugar&Spice) when it's ready, rather than making a return trip.

Thank you, Deborah.  I guess I was hoping against hope it could be done locally.

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This is Panama.    We had to go to Panama City to get a copy of my wife and son's passport "authenticated".   The passport office in David, where we requested and received new passports from them, "wasn't authorized".     What should be very simple processes are often not so simple here.   But it's slowly getting better.

The hardest part of obtaining the E-cedula was getting the required documentation from Immigration (in PC, of course).   I never received the document acknowledging my pensionado visa, and that was a major effort requiring multiple trips to PC.   Immigration never seemed to be able to find the paperwork that I submitted several times to get the original document, so it was like deja vu each time.    Then you need another letter from Immigration before you can apply for the E-cedula.   I ended up hiring an attorney in Chiriqui, Marcos Kraemer (abogado@cwpanama.net) who had runners that took care of Immigration.   Still took a couple of months.    The process at Tribunal Electoral is pretty straightforward, and easy to do with some Spanish.   Otherwise, it was worth it to me to hire an attorney due to the Immigration paperwork issues.    We were in and out of TE in a few hours.   Would have been quicker if the computer system hadn't gone down while we were there, and if there wasn't an extra step required because I'm married to a Panamanian.

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  • 2 months later...

Can anyone here explain the value of getting a cedula?

I have a permanent residency visa.  It shows my passport number and date of birth.  So far, I've used it for identification for credit card purchases and at police checkpoints without a problem.  I assume I could use it to show that I am a Jubilado.

I've read the horror stories of what happens to your drivers license and vehicle registration when your passport expires and you get a new passport number on the new passport and the cedula no longer has the correct passport number.  Fortunately, I have a few more years before my passport expires, but it begs the question.  Why go through the hassle of getting a cedula?

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1 hour ago, Dottie Atwater said:

Your E-cedula does not reference your passport, so when your current passport expires, it does not affect your cedula.

When your passport expires, all you have to do is go to Immigration and have the new passport number linked by computer with your Jubilado/Pensionado carnet, for which there is no charge. There is no requirement to get a new card.

Other benefits I hear touted are that an E cedula makes it easier to open a bank account and easier to deal with government agencies. The bank account issue may be important for newcomers who are facing increased hurdles with opening an account with a bank, but I already have a relationship established with a bank and therefore wouldn't benefit in this respect. And I don't know exactly how an E cedula would make things go more smoothly with government agencies. (My guess is that nothing will go smoothly with a government agency regardless of your type of visa.)

I haven't found these reasons sufficient to go to the expense of time and money involved in getting an E cedula. If I have suffered in any way from not having one, I'm not aware of it.

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An E cedula is a permanent residency card, like a social security card. It is not a pensionado indefinido visa. It is not related to immigration. I was at an airport coming here and I showed my Cdn passport. They said I couldn't enter Panama because it would expire too soon. I pulled out my cedula. There was a big AHA and I was in. I do not carry my passport here. I get waved through checkpoints, show it in restaurants for jubilado discuenta, no hassles. It is the same card every 18+ resident carries but with an E. It indicates a degree of legitimacy to Panamanians that I don't just have a permanent tourist visa but have gone through the process of becoming a resident. It is registered on title with our corporation. It was a hassle getting it 4 years ago but I'm sure glad I have it. 

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Ok. People looks like it is time for me to jump in.

The Cedula de Identidad personal or simply the CEDULA is the legal identification document in Panama.   It gives some rights, benefits to locals and foreigners that posses one.  It is a legal proof of your identity and residence in the Republic of Panama.   It is the main document that will be require to you for doing any legal and commercial transaction as a proof of your identity and legal status in Panama.   

As panamanians we should carry this document at all time with us as an identification proof.  It is a document needed for any kind of business we should do with government agencies and also with private organizations or business.   

The benefits for an expat of having an E Cedula is briefly well explained with one incident by Doug Tyler.  It gave him some benefit as a legal resident in Panama.  For others it will be easier and swifter to do some transactions with banks and financial institutions.   If you asked me about it I will tell you:  If you can get one, do it.   You will see the benefits when you have one and use it in your transactions.    

Below are links of some places where you will get some answers about E Cedulas

https://tombseekers.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/is-an-e-cedula-necessary/

http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20041019142508902

http://www.boqueteguide.com/?p=8508

http://playacommunity.com/panama-articles/community-news/5358-how-to-get-your-e-cedula-without-a-lawyer-and-why.html

 

 

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I've lived here 11+ years without one.  Never had any of those problems dealing with banks, govt. offices, or private businesses with just my passport and pensionado card.  I'm doing a lot of legal work now and am finding no problems with that either.  Why should I go to the trouble and expense of getting something I do not seem to need?  Just more embroiling in the Panamanian bureaucracy IMO.

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It is easy to get if your lawyer is in PC and you have your Pensionado through them. They already have all the info needed for it and can do all the necessary paperwork. My lawyers husband did the running for us and the cost was minimal. You do need to make the trip to PC once for your picture and to finalize the paperwork. You have some work to do after you get it, all your car papers, licenses, etc. need to be updated, but after that everything is easy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you have a Friendly Nations visa you also have a Carnet that says "Residente Permanente." Therefore, there is no need for an E Cedula.

 

Folks with a Pensionado Visa are regarded as "Permanent Tourists." Bonnie, you're probably fine with what you have. I agree, why go to the added expense and time (hassle) to get a Cedula?

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  • 1 year later...

I am new to this site and may be committing a mistake posting this here, but could not find any information.  My husband and I have our permanent pensionado visas and our renewed, two year drivers license. We are not buying a home here or any other significant financial commitment beyond a car and living.  Now that we have our permanent visa, is there any reason we need to also get our cedulas?  I have asked many people and cannot get any solid answers, and of course rules change. Even the Embassy sorted does not explain why I even need  a cedula.  Thanks for your help!

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  • Moderators

Welcome aboard. No need to be timid here. Yours is a good question and one that is frequently asked.

I am confident other CL members will provide their version of the "correct answer," but each person's circumstances are different. You need to do what is right for you.

Our (Marcelyn and my) experiences are such that we do recommend getting the cédula. If you intend to be a long term resident here, then you will find doing business in Panama is a lot easier. For instance, your drivers license is keyed to your cédula number, and that number never changes. Otherwise a drivers license is keyed to your passport, and when your passport gets renewed then there is a lot of paperwork, hassles, and some expense. Same with car titles. Same with opening bank accounts. Same with buying property, should you decide to do that. Same with getting Internet or cable TV service. Same with xyz. I am NOT saying that you can't do those things without having a cédula, but it is just easier (and in some cases cheaper) because everyone knows what a cédula is. Even though you are not a Panamanian citizen, you are treated as such in business and governmental procedures because you have a permanent identity document that is based on Panamanian systems.

Only you know if you intend to be here only a year or two, mas o menos, and how much business you intend to get involved in, so look at your situation and decide for yourself.

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Hi Julia & Sam

Everyone has different experiences which is why it is often times hard to get solid answers.   It always ends up being "it depends" or "my experience was".   I lived in Panama for 8 and half years.   It took my 5 years to get my resident visa and at the end of that process I was promised a cedula.    The lawyer conveniently lost my paperwork and failed to respond to my requests to get the cedula, so I lived with just the carnet (the resident visa).   I never ran into difficulties with it, tho I already owned a car and had a bank account open.   I did both of those without a cedula.  I had expected some issues since my passport was renewed after I got my carnet.  My passport number changed and does not match the number on my carnet.   I simply held on to my old cancelled passport in case there were any questions about the numbers being different from my passport to my carnet.   To date, there have been no issues, I have never been questioned and showing my carnet has always sufficient even for jubliado discounts.

So, my experience has been there were no difficulties living with just the carnet (resident visa) and not having the cedula.   That was my experience for what it is worth.

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Hello Julia & Sam:

Obtaining your Cedula is the next progressive step in working towards your Panamanian citizenship, if you so choose to do so.  As stated by Moderator_02, having your Cedula does simplify your day-to-day transactions - businesses use your Cedula number versus using your passport number (although you possess a pensionado visa).  The cost to obtain the Cedula is very minimal ($65.00 each), but you must go to Panama City to obtain it - we just got ours in June.  Your attorney should have a letter for you and should offer to go with you in PC to get your Cedula (ours did).  Best of luck to ya'.

 

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You got a cedula for $65?  Did you do it yourself without an attorney?  Mine was considerably more than that. 

I had a pensionado card for 13 years, but decided to get the e-cedula when my husband died, because my pensionado was tied to his pension.  I didn't want anyone telling me I had to apply for my own pensionado, so I separated myself from being a dependent on his pensionado by getting my e-cedula.  It's nice having a card that says "Permanent Resident"  instead of "Indefinite Tourist".  I never had any issues with the pensionado card.  However, because the number does not agree with your passport when you renew your passport, you need to take your old and new passports to migracion in Chiriqui Mall and get your new passport stamped "Registrado".  Migracion looks for that stamp when you leave and enter the country.

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Although I had a few inconveniences associated with the pensionado carnet (a clerk not recognizing it as a form of I.D., a bank requiring my passport rather than carnet for signing some papers, having to change my car title and card when I got a new passport, one hassle at the airport when I inadvertently had a copy of my carnet rather than the original), I found that the pensionado was fine for most purposes. I decided to go for the E cedula when the government started changing or enforcing the immigration rules in what I perceived to be a whimsical manner. As I do own property here, I thought it best to become a permanent resident. I have no designs on citizenship.

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Judy - yes, the government fee for the Cedula was $65.00 each at the Civil Registry in Panama City.  We did pay our attorney a $60.00 fee to accompany us to assist in the process. Then we picked them up in 7 days at the Tribunal Electoral in Boquete.

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to E-Cédulas - Should I Get One, How Much Does It Cost, How Long Do They Last, etc.

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