Operating to Panama – Part 3: CIQ Clearance and Security

PT 2 M minute read
Operating to Panama – Part 3: CIQ Clearance and Security

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled “Operating to Panama – Part 2: Airports and Operational Tips.”

Clearing Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) in Panama is a fairly simple and straightforward procedure for business aircraft crew members and passengers. There are times and locations, however, where you’ll need to make special arrangements in advance.

The following is an overview of what you need to know about CIQ and security in Panama:

1. General CIQ considerations

When clearing CIQ in Panama, plan on having four inbound and three outbound general declarations available. Your ground handler can prepare these upon request. For clearance it’s also important to have copies of crew licenses and medicals, owner’s address and phone number, and a copy of your landing permit request. Panama requires submission of arrival/departure cards, and your handler can assist in completing these.

2. Specific CIQ considerations

At Tocumen Intl, Panama City (MPTO), passengers/crew members clear CIQ within the main terminal, and this process usually takes less than 20 minutes. The general aviation parking area at MPTO is located approximately 100 meters from the main terminal. CIQ clearance for Marcos Gelabert Intl, Panama City (MPMG) is accomplished within the fixed-base operator. There’s a VIP lounge available to passengers at this location, and passengers may wait in this area during the CIQ process. Clearance at both David (MPDA) and Bocas del Toro (MPBO) is within the main terminal. Normal CIQ hours are 0800-1500 local for MPBO. Prior to operating to MPDA, you must have written confirmation that CIQ will be available for your arrival. Advance CIQ arrangements will also need to be considered. In Panama aircraft documents are not usually reviewed by CIQ, but should be available if requested.

3. Passport and visa particulars

Passengers and crew members must present passports, valid for at least three months after arrival date. For tech stops if passengers/crew members do not deplane, they are not required to present passports. Airports without sufficient fire protections, however, are required to deplane passengers/crew members during fueling; therefore, passports will need to be presented in this case. Always confirm passport and visa requirements prior to arrival.

4. Airport and off-airport security in Panama

Security screening is in place for passengers, crew members, and luggage at all airports in Panama. When airside, crew members should always have a security or company ID with them. All airports in Panama screen 4th-party vendors – in-flight caterers, cleaners, fuelers, etc. – prior to allowing airside access. Note that private armed security for your aircraft is not possible to arrange for stops at MPTO. The general security rating for Panama is moderate, which is the same rating as for the U.S. It’s important to be aware, however, of current security concerns in the Darien region of Panama – swamplands and forests close to the Colombian border. Violent crime has, and does, occur here, and the region has an absence of reliable communications and medical infrastructure.

5. Additional reading: Operating to Panama – Series Index

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


With the exception of Panama’s southern Darien region, security concerns are mostly limited to minor crime and pickpocket risks. If you require additional aircraft security, be sure to confirm what’s available and set this up with your ground handler well in advance.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Panama, contact me at justinmurray@univ-wea.com.

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