A valid passport and a Panamanian tourist card is all that is required for most visitors to Panama. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from the country, and tourist cards may be purchased in advance from your travel agent or airline. Tourist cards may also be purchased upon your arrival into the county. The tourist card (also referred to as the tourist visa) is only valid for 30 days. Should you wish to extend your stay beyond 30 days, you may apply to the Panamanian government for an extension. Visitors are also required to have the equivalent of USD$500 or a valid credit card, as well as a return or onward ticket.
Yellow Fever is a danger in Panama's jungle regions. If your plans include travel to one of the country's lush jungle regions, a vaccine is recommended for yellow fever, which is spread by mosquitoes. Depending on the level of risk, you may be required to present a certificate of vaccination upon entering the country. While this is no longer required, it may be in the future.
MMR is fancy CDC lingo for measles, mumps and rubella. Because these diseases have remained relatively prevalent in Central America, it is recommended that all travelers update their shots prior to visiting Panama. On May 26, 2009, the CDC reported a significant rise in the cases of measles in Panama. Although not required, all travelers should update these routine shots prior to leaving the country.
Because the risk of contracting Hepatitis A and B remains high in Central America, it is recommended that all travelers not previously vaccinated protect themselves from both types. Because exposure can occur through both food and water, this vaccination is important for anyone traveling to Panama.
While not common in Panama, cases of Typhoid still occur in smaller, rural regions of the country. Especially for those visiting more rural regions, or those specifically going to do volunteer work with those less fortunate, vaccinations are recommended. Cases of typhoid are present especially among those who cannot afford or access treatment.
Since June 11, 2009, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have had the H1N1 flu virus listed as a Phase 6 pandemic throughout the world. Reports of the virus' spread have dwindled significantly then, but as of their April 1, 2010 update, the WHO still lists the tropical zones of the Americas as the most active countries in the region. Even so, their data suggests that the activity of the virus is low and localized to specific areas. They currently do not recommend any travel restrictions due to the H1N1 virus. Visit the CDC or the regional Pan American Health Organization for more information.