How to Get a Panama Driver’s License: A Complete Guide for New Residents
Everything You Need to Know About Legally Driving in Panama as a Foreigner

Relocating to Panama involves several essential steps, one of which is obtaining a Panama driver’s license. This blog post will guide you through the process, ensuring a smooth transition for your relocation to Panama. Google should love this detailed, informative, and keyword-rich guide.


Foreigners can use their country’s driving license to operate a motor vehicle in Panama legally for up to 90 days. After this period, they must obtain a Panama driver’s license. Once a tourist becomes a temporary resident of Panama, applying for a Panama driver’s license is mandatory, even if it’s within the initial 90 days.

The Panamanian government has contracted with a private company called SERTRACEN to handle the examination and issuance of driver’s licenses.

Process for Obtaining a Panama Driver’s License

For U.S. Citizens

  1. Visit the U.S. Embassy: Head to the American Citizen Services (ACS) office during working hours to request an affidavit. This standard form is necessary for applying for a Panama driver’s license. The Consular cashier will charge $50, which includes a public notary to authenticate the affidavit signature.

For Citizens of Other Countries

  1. Contact Your Embassy or Consulate: Obtain the necessary forms and an affidavit similar to the one provided by the U.S. embassy.

Authentication by Panama Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  1. Authenticate the Affidavit: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will authenticate the embassy’s affidavit and a copy of your original foreign driver’s license.

Blood Type Requirement

  1. Blood Type Test: If your original driver’s license doesn’t list your blood type, visit a medical laboratory certified by Panama’s Transit Authority (ATTT). SERTRACEN’s website provides a list of certified medical labs.


  1. Required Documents: Bring the following to a SERTRACEN service center:

    • Proof of blood type medical report
    • Passport
    • Original driver’s license
    • Residency immigration documents (if applicable)
    • Notarized affidavit and MFA documents
  2. Exams and Fees: At the service center, you will:

    • Take an eye exam and a hearing test
    • Pay a $40 USD fee

After passing the exams, your photo will be taken, and your new Panama driver’s license will be issued within an hour. The license is valid for four years.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Certify the License at Your Embassy or Consulate: Obtain an affidavit.
  2. Authenticate the Certification: Get it authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  3. Prepare Your Documents:
    • Original and copy of your passport
    • Original and copy of your immigration card
    • Original and copy of your foreign license
    • Blood type test results from a certified lab (if necessary)
  4. Visit SERTRACEN: Complete visual and auditory exams, pay $40 USD, and provide the necessary documents.
  5. Receive Your License: After passing the exams and submitting your documents, your Panama driver’s license will be issued within an hour.

Special Considerations for Seniors

For those 70 years old or above, specific requirements must be met to ensure the safety and well-being of all road users:

  1. Certificate of Good Physical and Mental Health: Obtain this certificate from a doctor specializing in internal medicine or geriatrics.
  2. Required Information on the Certificate:
    • Full name
    • Unique identifier number
    • National identity card or passport
    • Fresh seal and signature of the physician

This certificate is valid for six months and must be renewed every two years for license renewal after the age of 70.


Obtaining a Panama driver’s license is a straightforward process if you follow the steps outlined above. Ensuring all your documents are in order and understanding the requirements will make the process smoother. For the most current information, always refer to the official SERTRACEN website.

Road safety is a shared responsibility, and adhering to these requirements helps create a safer driving environment for everyone.

For further information, please visit the SERTRACEN website.

How to Get a Panama Driver’s License: A Complete Guide for New Residents
Adam Phillips 14 June, 2024
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