Here is current information sent to me by a client about the procedures for an Expat to obtain a drivers license:
As a foreigner, you can drive in Panama legally for up to 90 days with a foreign drivers license. Stay longer than 90 days and you need to have a Panama drivers license. Follow the Procedure below. Expect all of this to take 2 days.
• Resident Card
• Driver’s License from Country of Origin
• Blood Test
• Glucose Test (To show that your blood sugar levels are not outside the standard range)
Obtain Blood Test Results
• Obtain your blood and glucose test while fasting (en ayunas). Go to a laboratory authorized by Sertracen (http://www.sertracen.com.pa/laboratorios-clinicos.pdf). Mention that the tests are for your “licencia de conducir.” Make sure you get the original of the results. Emailed results are not acceptable to Sertracen.
Foreign License Notarized by your Embassy/Consulate
• You must notarize your foreign driver’s license at your embassy. If you have an American license, then this costs $50 at the US Embassy and takes approximately 20 minutes, depending on how busy the embassy is. Just take your Passport and your Drivers License. Make sure you check their office hours before you show up.
Notarized Foreign License authenticated by Ministry of Foreign Relations
• Go to Edificio Sun Tower, Ave. Ricardo J. Alfaro, El Dorado. Go to the “Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores” which is located on Level 1. Get a ticket and wait until your number is called. Tell them you need your notarized copy of your driver’s license to be authenticated by them. They will take your documents, and give you a deposit slip for their account with Banco Nacional de Panama. The account number is 040300872. They will advise you when to return for your authenticated document. Tip – Go first thing in the morning when they open. The traffic is a nightmare later in the day.
• Go to the Banco Nacional de Panama (on the Ground Floor of the same building) and deposit the $2.00 into the account of “Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores” and purchase 2 one dollar stamps (“estampillas,” they are pinkish).
• At the time advised, return to “Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores”, take a ticket and wait until your number is called. Hand them the deposit slip and stamps. After another wait, you will be given your authenticated document.
Panama Drivers License issued by Sertracen
• Go to the Sertracen office in Albrook. Remember to bring all your documents! Take a photocopy of your passport, foreign drivers license, and Resident Card. To get to their office, turn right before El Rey (after the turn to the Albrook Airport), and make your first left, where Union Fenosa is located. Follow that road for a minute or two and you will see the office on your right. There is a little map on their website: http://www.sertracen.com.pa/ Tip – go early in the day. Less people in the queue and less traffic on the road.
• Go into the office and tell the receptionist that you are there to get your Panamanian license and that you have a foreign one. They will go over your documentation and put you in the queue. You will first provide your data (contact details, photo, signature), then be given a vision test, then a hearing test. You then queue to pay. The cost is $20 for the license and $20 for the hearing and vision tests, totaling $40. You then wait a bit more and you will receive your Panama Drivers License. The expiry date will be the same date as your Resident Card. You need to renew your License each time you renew your Resident Card. You can now drive legally in Panama after staying for 90 days!