September 9, 2015
I neglected to write about the final step in my residency process in Panama. On the way back from my trip to Medellin, I stopped in Panama for a few days to get my cedula. If you’re not familiar with what this is, it’s just a national identity card. It is used in many countries in Central and South America.
My next step will be to get citizenship and then a passport…if I decide to move forward with it. My qualification for Panamanian citizenship is still several years down the road.
Getting the cedula was very easy. I set up an appointment with my lawyer in advance, of course. I showed up for my 8:30am appointment. I waited around for a bit because another gentleman was also getting his cedula that day and he was a little late. They took us together to the office that handles the administration for the cedula, which is different from the office that I went to for the residency card.
When I arrived, I had to fill out a form. Then, I waited for them to enter the information. I was asked to check the document they printed out with my information. My lawyer’s representative told me not to worry about it if they got the name or birth date of my parents wrong. It would just delay things. The main thing was to check if my information was accurate.
Everything was correct; even my parents’ information. After a bit of a wait, I was taken up to another room to have my picture taken for the card.
I didn’t have to wait long to be called to a cubicle. My picture was taken and I was done. I was told that the card would be ready in about 10 days. I wasn’t going to be there that long, but my lawyer’s office said they would pick it up and send it to me.
My lawyer’s office sent it to me via Fedex. It cost about $67. When I received the package, I noticed it had been opened and re-sealed by customs. There are no secrets when it comes to customs.
As far as the timing, I was processed for my cedula on June 17. I received it on August 6. There were a few days delay because I had to figure out how to pay the cost of shipping the card. One option was to send a check to my lawyer’s office for $80. I would have had to pay Fedex a similar amount to send the check to Panama, which seemed kind of silly.
I would have been paying for shipping 2 ways instead of just 1 way. It turned out to be very easy to set up a Fedex account. Then, I just gave the account number to my lawyer’s office and Fedex charged my credit card for the cost of shipping.