Panama Flag 3D Rendering on Blue Sky Building Background

New Entry Requirements for Panama (updated)

Updated entry requirements for Panama as of August 30, 2021

 

  1. Fully vaccinated travellers (14 days after the last dose) registered digitally or who show their vaccination card upon entry are exempt from getting a COVID-test on entry and from the 72-hour preventive quarantine.
  2. Non-fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries: Must present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry.
  3. Non-fully vaccinated travellers from high-risk countries: Must present a negative COVID-19 test and undergo a 72-hour preventive quarantine.

Residents and nationals can quarantine at home, while tourists must quarantine at authorized hotels.

Passengers under 12 years old are exempt from taking the COVID-19 test and preventive quarantine if their parents, tutors or caretakers comply with the requirements established according to the risk level of their country of origin.

Former update – New entry requirements for Panama as of July 26, 2021

 

For Fully Vaccinated passengers as of Monday, July 26, 2021:

  1. Passengers must present a COVID-19 vaccination card that indicates the record of the last dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Panama. Passengers must upload the COVID-19 vaccination card in the health declaration form before traveling. In addition, upon arrival, the traveler must physically present the vaccination card or the Digital Certificate issued by the competent authority.
  2. Passengers must upload a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) in the health declaration form up to 72 hours before entering Panama. Additionally, the passenger must present the negative test upon arrival.
  3. Passengers who meet requirements 1 and 2 ( vaccination and negative test) from Non-High-Risk countries will not need to carry out a second COVID-19 test at entry or to quarantine.
  4. For passengers who meet requirements 1 and 2 (vaccination and negative test) from countries that the Ministry of Health of Panama (MINSA) identifies as *High Risk, a second COVID-19 test must be performed at the country’s entry points, at the passenger’s expense, and if negative, they will not need to quarantine.
  5. If the traveler does not have a negative COVID-19 test performed a maximum of 72 hours before traveling, it will be mandatory to undergo testing at the country’s entry points. The passenger must cover the cost of this test. If the test is positive, the passenger must comply, at their own expense, with the quarantine established by the MINSA.

 

For Unvaccinated Travelers:

  1. The passenger must upload a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) in the health declaration form up to 72 hours before entering Panama.
  2. Passengers traveling from Non-High-Risk countries must present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) performed up to 72 hours prior to arrival. If they do not present the test, they will have to carry out a test at the country’s entry points upon arrival, at the traveler’s expense. If the test result is negative, they will not have to quarantine.
  3. Passengers traveling from High-Risk countries must undergo a second COVID-19 test at the points of entry to the country, and if negative, they will have to comply with three (3) days of quarantine at the cost of the passenger as of Monday, August 9, 2021.

 

Surveillance Hotels authorized by the government to carry out the 3-day quarantine:

  1. Westin Panama
  2. Westin Playa Bonita
  3. The Bristol Panama
  4. Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall
  5. Sortis Hotel
  6. The Santa Maria Hotel

 

* To date, Panama considers India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and countries in South America as high-risk countries.  

Panama Flag 3D Rendering on Blue Sky Building Background

New Entry Requirements for Panama

New entry requirements for Panama as of July 26, 2021

 

For Fully Vaccinated passengers as of Monday, July 26, 2021:

  1. Passengers must present a COVID-19 vaccination card that indicates the record of the last dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Panama. Passengers must upload the COVID-19 vaccination card in the health declaration form before traveling. In addition, upon arrival, the traveler must physically present the vaccination card or the Digital Certificate issued by the competent authority.
  2. Passengers must upload a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) in the health declaration form up to 72 hours before entering Panama. Additionally, the passenger must present the negative test upon arrival.
  3. Passengers who meet requirements 1 and 2 ( vaccination and negative test) from Non-High-Risk countries will not need to carry out a second COVID-19 test at entry or to quarantine.
  4. For passengers who meet requirements 1 and 2 (vaccination and negative test) from countries that the Ministry of Health of Panama (MINSA) identifies as *High Risk, a second COVID-19 test must be performed at the country’s entry points, at the passenger’s expense, and if negative, they will not need to quarantine.
  5. If the traveler does not have a negative COVID-19 test performed a maximum of 72 hours before traveling, it will be mandatory to undergo testing at the country’s entry points. The passenger must cover the cost of this test. If the test is positive, the passenger must comply, at their own expense, with the quarantine established by the MINSA.

 

For Unvaccinated Travelers:

  1. The passenger must upload a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) in the health declaration form up to 72 hours before entering Panama.
  2. Passengers traveling from Non-High-Risk countries must present a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) performed up to 72 hours prior to arrival. If they do not present the test, they will have to carry out a test at the country’s entry points upon arrival, at the traveler’s expense. If the test result is negative, they will not have to quarantine.
  3. Passengers traveling from High-Risk countries must undergo a second COVID-19 test at the points of entry to the country, and if negative, they will have to comply with three (3) days of quarantine at the cost of the passenger as of Monday, August 9, 2021.

 

Surveillance Hotels authorized by the government to carry out the 3-day quarantine:

  1. Westin Panama
  2. Westin Playa Bonita
  3. The Bristol Panama
  4. Wyndham Panama Albrook Mall
  5. Sortis Hotel
  6. The Santa Maria Hotel

 

* To date, Panama considers India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and countries in South America as high-risk countries.  

Panama extends validity of residence permits for foreigners

Resolution No. 636 of January 27, 2021

 

Through Resolution 636 of January 27, 2021, Panama’s National Immigration Service extends the validity of residence permits issued to foreigners, which expired on March 13, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Any expired permit or stay during this period will not generate fines due to expiration.

 

The processes include:

  • Provisional permit cards
  • Non-resident visas
  • Judicial Stay Cards
  • Immigration Regularization Cards
  • Tourist stays

 

Birth and marriage certificates previously issued until June 30, 2021, and that have expired during the period from March 13, 2020, to January 31, 2021, will be recognized as valid.

 

For more information or assistance on immigration matters

Are you getting the corporate support you need?

If not, Icaza, Gonzalez-Ruiz & Aleman can assist you

 

Our offices in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Anguilla, The Bahamas, and Belize, fully licensed to provide registered agent services, have remained operational with uninterrupted service during the COVID-19 pandemic, following guidelines by local health authorities.

 

If your agent has not managed your entities at your satisfaction and you are searching for a new provider, let us assist you. Through our firm, transfers are managed by an experienced team that will make sure the process is smooth and efficient.

 

Are you concerned about transfer costs and company fees?

We are open to evaluating the most cost-effective fee schedule that adjusts to your needs and can attempt to match your current fees.

 

If you are considering changing your registered agent, feel free to contact us for assistance.

Le contrat déchiré

Force Majeure in a Hypothetical Case

By Carlos E. Villalobos Jaen – Associate

 

The concept of “force majeure” has acquired a certain relevance in these times of “COVID,” and we are obliged to analyze, with regard to the effectiveness and enforceability of the obligations, its application with the different existing contractual relations; to determine in such a way if this fact justifies the unaccountability of the debtor in the performance of the obligation.

 

Everyone seems to agree that the application of the concept of “force majeure” as a suitable ground for the breach of obligations must be checked against each contract individually, as each has different characteristics. Such distinctions may relate to the persons, the subject-matter of the obligation, the conditions, and the time period fixed in each. Also, to assess whether there is any clause in the various contracts which contains the exclusion of force majeure or Acts of God as justification for the breach of the obligation.

 

To make an effort in abstractions is difficult, we must try to be as pragmatic as possible, and make the specific contrast with each contract, to be able to anticipate positions regarding each one.

 

Take, for example, the labor agreements which have been suspended. These agreements, I understand, were suspended using “force majeure” as an appropriate ground, caused by a government provision (Executive Decree No. 500 of March 19th, 2020), which ordered the closure of some companies. In these cases, for the employer, the order of the authority constitutes an event of force majeure, as provided for in article 34-D of the Civil Code, as this is a compelling event, the provisions of paragraph 8 of Article 199 of the Labor Code, which is the suspension of labor agreements, are applicable. For this publication, we understand that the provisions of articles 198 to 208 of the Labor Code on suspension have been complied with.

 

Thus, in labor matters, the objective event of “force majeure” applies to both the employer and the employee; the employee is exempted from rendering the agreed service and the employer is exempted from paying the wages for those periods, as provided for in article 208 of the Labor Code.

 

Now, what about the employer, which is the business establishment and company (legal or natural person) whose closure was ordered, with regard to its civil and commercial obligations? Does the same event of force majeure, which served to suspend labor agreements, serve to justify his breach of civil and commercial obligations? And for the employee, does “Force majeure” which succeeded in suspending his labor agreement, serve to exempt him from the payment of his commercial and civil obligations?

 

For the labor issue, force majeure operates as an objective event applicable to all cases, always subject to the regulations of the Labor Code.

 

In the case of civil and commercial obligations, we are in the field of the subjective, while the event of Force Majeure or Acts of God must be compared against each contract, verifying, all related to the subject-matter, conditions and terms agreed.

 

Thus, for example, it would be worth examining those single and continuing performance obligations—the former consists of a single act, such as a purchase and sale. I sell you a pencil, and you pay me for this pencil. Some questions arise about this type of obligation, concerning the claim of force majeure as an exclusion of liability:

  1. If the obligation was determined to be fulfilled on such a day, being already affected by the event of force majeure caused by the COVID, how much did the event of force majeure affect the fulfillment of the obligation for the designated day?
  2. Was it relevant to fulfill the obligation on the designated day?
  3. Or would it have been worthwhile having fulfilled it later?

 

On the other hand, what happens with continuing performance obligations, which are those that require a continuous attitude from the debtor, for example, in loan contracts payable by installments. In such agreements, the debtor assumes responsibility for paying an obligation within an agreed term, making monthly payments as agreed. The impact of an event of force majeure on this type of obligation is worth considering:

  1. Did the event of force majeure affect the fulfillment of the obligation in its entirety, or did it merely lead to a delay in the payment of the obligation as agreed in the contract?
  2. That same event of force majeure, which gives the debtor the possibility of being late, is the same event that serves to prevent the obligation from being enforced in advance for lack of timely payment.
  3. Once the condition of force majeure is no longer present, the effects and execution of the obligation, in the terms agreed upon, are activated. The debtor is again liable with his present and future assets, as provided for in Article 1653 of the Civil Code.

What happens if this economic pause, caused by “force majeure,” has led to the bankruptcy of the company, so much so that they cannot meet their obligations? Shall the exception of force majeure be valid to exempt you from the payment of your agreed term obligations and with a defined period for their full payment?

 

The bankrupt condition of the company must be proven, not merely saying that the company was affected by an event of force majeure and that the closure has resulted in the company not being able to pay or meet its obligations. The review, on a case-by-case basis, shall be to ascertain the debtor’s assets and then to determine whether or not the debtor can settle its obligations with its present and future assets, as provided for in Article 1653 of the Civil Code in connection with the payment of its debts.

 

With regard to contractual equilibrium, and its effect on the condition of force majeure, it suggests invoking the theory of unforeseeability, or the “Rebus sic stantibus” principle, in terms of the possibility of modifying certain clauses to return to the performance balance lost, thus modifying, in some way, the principle of Pacta sunt servanda (what has been agreed obliges).

 

It is highly suggestive that both debtor and creditor in the context of their specific contracts aim to reach understandings which seek the contractual balance that has been lost, by reason of “force majeure” caused by COVID, emphasizing the principle of good contractual faith that must govern any type of contract or obligation. Otherwise, the saturation of lawsuits in the courts shall disrupt the judicial system, which, before COVID, was already flawed.

COVID-19 Regulations: Recent provisions related to lease agreements in Panama

Ayleen QuinteroBy Ayleen Quintero – Associate

 

(Executive Decree No. 145 of May 1st, 2020)

Due to the State of National Emergency, new provisions related to lease agreements have been enacted in order to guarantee compliance with the rights and obligations of both parties under the contractual relationship. The following is a summary of these provisions.

 

Leasing fees
In accordance with the new provisions, for the duration of the State of Emergency and until two (2) months after the lifting of said measure have elapsed, the amount of the rent (in leases for residential, commercial, industrial, professional, and educational use) frozen, as well as all contractual clauses related to the following matters shall remain unaltered:

  1. Increases due to unilateral termination of the agreement.
  2. Penalty for unilateral termination of the agreement.
  3. Interest on arrears.

 

About the conflicts that may arise between the Lessor and Lessee due to rent not paid
The Lessor and Lessee may reach a mutual agreement on the conflicts that arise between them due to unpaid rent and must register said agreement with the General Directorate of Leases of the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Ordering. These agreements shall have a validity of two (2) years, effective from the date on which it is registered with the General Directorate of Leases, and will remain in force as long as the Lessee does not breach the agreement.

 

Expiration and validity of lease agreements
If the lease expires during the period of suspension of the eviction measures, its validity will be extended for the same period as the Executive Decree that has established these new provisions (Executive Decree No. 145 of May 1st, 2020), and the other contractual conditions will be maintained.

 

Actions that will give rise to the respective sanctions

  • The Lessee refuses to pay rental fees even though the effects of the declaration of the State of National Emergency have already ceased.
  • Tenants whose income has not been affected by the effects of the State of National Emergency and, despite of this, do not comply with the payment of the rent.
  • Lessors that use pressure mechanisms against lessees to vacate the property, such as the suspension of the supply of public services (gas, water, electricity, among others).

 

Suspension of the eviction proceedings

All the eviction proceedings are suspended, without distinction of the amount of the rent or the purpose of the use of the property, be it residential, commercial, industrial, professional, or educational, while the State of National Emergency lasts.

Container with alcohol gel, gloves and surgical mask on the ligh

Counterfeits amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Fernando González- Ruiz M.By Fernando Gonzalez-RuizAssociate

As expected, counterfeiters do not rest, even amid the pandemic that affects us all worldwide.

 

According to statements from the Ministry of Health, the spread of Covid-19 can be caused by contact with an affected person who coughs or sneezes, or also by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued some basic protection measures to avoid infection, which have been adopted by the Panamanian government, such as maintaining physical distance, washing hands frequently, and wearing face masks in public places, among others.

 

As a consequence of the adoption of these preventive measures, many people ran to supermarkets and pharmacies to buy hand sanitizer, household disinfectants, face masks, thermometers, and gloves, which caused the volume of sales of these types of products to skyrocket. In many countries, including ours, the use of face masks is mandatory when you leave the house. In others, businesses make this a mandatory requirement to be able to enter their establishments. Because of this, there has been a shortage of these products in pharmacies and/or stores in general. The phrase “if you want face masks, thermometers, gloves or hand sanitizer, I have a friend who sells them”  has become overly familiar.

 

Due to the problem that has been seen in other countries, where illegal websites, social network accounts, and other online sales channels offer medicines that even promise to cure Covid-19, which the WHO and our health authorities have warned that do not exist yet,  the National Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs issued a statement warning the population not to buy drugs from unauthorized vendors, since these drugs may be contaminated -during their production-, false or incorrectly labeled.

 

In recent days, INTERPOL coordinated Operation Pangea XIII, in which the police, customs, and health regulatory authorities from 90 countries participated. In this operation, counterfeit face masks, substandard hand sanitizers, and unauthorized antiviral medication were seized. The operation resulted in 121 arrests worldwide and the seizure of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals worth more than US$14 million.

 

Panama is not far behind in this new scheme. During this health crisis, we have been able to observe a large number of Instagram accounts in which face masks of all kinds, hand sanitizers, thermometers, and gloves are promoted and sold, even as packages recklessly called “KIT AGAINST COVID-19”.

 

After analyzing several of these accounts, we could see that many of them misuse the term PHARMA in their name, some describe their business as “home delivery pharmacies,” and others use logos similar to that of a legally established pharmacy. The latter is undoubtedly misleading for the consumer, since it implies that it is an authorized pharmacy, which to be able to legally operate in Panama requires, after complying with a series of requirements, a special License to Operate issued by the National Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs.

 

It is important to note that many of these face masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves that are sold through these accounts, mostly do not carry any type of brand or label that guarantee that they are genuine products or that they comply with the sanitary regulations imposed by Panamanian legislation.

 

The vast majority of the hand sanitizers offered do not indicate on their labels the name of the manufacturer or the Sanitary Registration number issued by the National Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs.

 

Fake face masks, gloves, thermometers, and hand sanitizers can pose a threat to the well-being of medical workers and anyone who uses them, as they are not made from the correct materials or ingredients, or in sterile environments. In the specific case of face masks, according to industry experts, they lack the specifications that prevent the entry and exit of pathogens that disperse through the airways.

 

These masks are often manufactured in countries like Turkey, India, and China. In Turkey alone, police reportedly raided an unauthorized factory where they seized one million face masks. Another example is that of the Spanish government, which bought thousands of kits to carry out coronavirus tests manufactured in China, which were found to be defective and, therefore, ineffective. They were purchased from a company to which the Chinese government had not granted the required authorization.

 

The sale of these products in Panama, can not only be considered a crime against Intellectual Property, but also a crime against public health, both typified by our Criminal Code that carry penalties of between three to six years in prison. By offering, without being legally authorized, these products that do not have the corresponding registrations to be sold in our country, consumers, thinking of being protected, could contract this disease, which in some cases could be lethal.

 

It is essential to be aware and very alert when we buy these types of products, to avoid being deceived, and to ensure that we are purchasing high-quality sanitary products that will truly protect our health and that of our families.

COVID-19 Regulations: FAQs – General Directorate of Public Procurement

Adolfo A. González-Ruiz AriasBy Adolfo Gonzalez-Ruiz – Associate

 

1. Is the General Directorate of Public Procurement (DGCP) working?

DGCP had closed its offices as of March 23rd, but they maintain a telephone support service at (507)515-1500. Additionally, you can send written inquiries to the following emails:

Customer Service: info@dgcp.gob.pa.

Policies and Purchase Management Directorate: conveniomarco@dgcp.gob.pa

Legal Directorate: legal@dgcp.gob.pa

Contractor´s Selection Procedures Supervision Directorate: fiscalización@dgcp.gob.pa

Exceptional Procurement Procedure Directorate: dipec@dgcp.gob.pa

 

2.  Any law or decree has been published related to Public Biddings?

The Ministry of Health, through article 9 of Executive Decree No. 507 of March 24th, 2020, ordered the suspension of all deadlines within administrative proceedings pursued by various institutions. Following Executive Decree No. 507 of March 24th, 2020, the DGCP published Resolution No. DGCP-056-2020 of March 26th, 2020, ordering the suspension of the deadlines stipulated in the Single Text of Law 22 of June 27th, 2006, ordered by Law 61 of September 27th, 2017, for the different stages of the contractor selection procedure currently in progress.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Health amended Article 9 of Executive Decree No. 507 of March 24th, 2020, by means of Executive Decree No. 513 of March 27th, 2020, including exceptions to the suspension in the case of contractor selection procedures that have passed the proposal stage, carried out for the contracting of works, purchases of equipment, hospital supplies, medicines; and other goods, services or items, which have passed the proposal stage.

By means of Executive Decree No. 534 of April 16th, 2020 a new Article is added to Executive Decree No. 507 of March 24th, 2020, adding Article 9-A whereby the suspension of deadlines of administrative proceedings does not apply in procurement procedures of the Ministry of Health, the Social Security Institution (CSS) and all their agencies.   whose purpose is the ordinary operation of the health system.

In relation to the Pre-Contractual or Contractual formalities convened for the acquisition of services or works, described in the previous paragraph, the formal requirements for participation may be temporarily adjusted, by reason of the Procedures Handbook issued by the DGCP.

For the purposes of the provisions of Article 9 of Executive Decree 534 mentioned above and when necessary, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to reactivate the operation, activity and mobility of the awarded bidders, who so require in accordance with what is established in numeral 34 of Article 2 of Executive Decree 507 of March 24th, 2020. This numeral deals with specific companies whose reactivation are authorized by the Ministry of Health by means of a resolution, for their operation, activity, and mobilization.

 

3.  Is it possible to carry out requests online?

Yes, DGCP is processing online requests related to certification of registered shares, claim action filings and Registration of Bidders on the web page of “PanamaCompra”.

 

4.  Is it allowed to file claims against public procurement proceedings before the DGCP? How do you file a Claim Action?

Yes, it is allowed to file a Claim Action online against the public acts in progress.

The procedure to file a Claim Action is the following:

  • You must send an e-mail to fiscalización@dgcp.gob.pa where you must attach the claim action, power of attorney and evidence, legibly and following the formalities provided by Law.
  • The email must have as subject heading: Filing of Claim Action.
  • As of the date of sending the e-mail, the DGCP shall proceed with the publication of the claim action and the term for the admission or non-admission of such claim shall start counting.
  • In the event that it is admitted, the bidding entity has a period of 3 working days counted from the day following the publication of the resolution to submit the Conduct Report.
  • The other procedures established by law are followed.

Panama COVID-19 Regulations Report

The Panamanian government has adopted several regulations to protect and support its citizens, entities, and businesses during the State of National Emergency declaration due to COVID-19.

For your easy reference, we have compiled the regulations in a report, where you can find them listed by each governmental entity. To download the report, click on the following link: Report of Regulations implemented in Panama – updated May-8.

This document will be updated as the government implements new regulations.

If you have any questions about how you may be affected by these measures, please email us at igranet@icazalaw.com.

COVID-19 Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions on Immigration Status of Foreign workers

Ayleen QuinteroBy Ayleen Quintero – Associate

 

Given the situation that our country is facing, the National Immigration Service and the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development have adopted measures that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Based on these regulations and in response to the most frequent questions that companies, expatriates and their families, and other foreign workers have, we have prepared a frequently asked questions guide.

 

What will be the validity of the migratory cards, both pending and approved?

All the expiring cards, including the ongoing process cards and those approved in general, will be valid until April 30, 2020, as long as the expiration date is March 13, 2020 or later.

 

What will be the validity of the approved work permit cards?All approved work permit cards will be valid until April 30, 2020, as long as they expired on March 12, 2020 or later.

 

What happens if I was notified of my approved Resolution, but I do not have the corresponding ID card?

For Resolutions issued by the National Immigration Service:

Even if the corresponding ID cards have not been obtained, the effect of the resolution protects the foreigner during its validity. If it expires during this period, its validity will extend until April 30, 2020, or for the period that the authorities may establish.

 

For Resolutions issued by the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development:

Similar to the previous case, even when the corresponding ID cards have not been obtained, the effect of the resolution protects the foreigner during its validity. If it expires during this period, its validity will extend until April 30, 2020, or for the period that the authorities may establish.

 

What happens if I have a Resolution issued, but I could not be notified?

For Resolutions issued by the National Immigration Service:

The ongoing process card will be valid until April 30, 2020, or for the time that the authorities may determine in the future. Once the extension period of validity ends, the foreigner may proceed to be notified. Otherwise, the fine for the expiration of the processing card, which is fifty US dollars (US$50.00) per month expired, may come into effect. The period for purposes of the penalty would be taken into account from the expiration of the last extension period established in the regulations, this is without prejudice to the fact that the authorities may determine a different treatment later on.

 

For cases of Resolutions issued by the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development:

If it is a Resolution that approved a work permit, in case the interested party has not been notified, it is not in effect. Therefore, for purposes of their labor immigration status, the foreign worker will maintain the validity of the previous work permit until April 30, 2020, or the effective date determined by the authorities in future regulations, as long as the last work permit expired on March 12, 2020 or later.

 

Curfew and identity document to carry

Regardless of immigration status, all foreigners have the right to use their passport during the hours established by the authorities as a result of the decreed total curfew. Given that the last number of the passport will determine the hours during which the foreigner can leave his/her home, in case of passports that have a letter as the last digit, the last number right before the letter shall be the relevant number.

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