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Panama....proof of onward travel?

EMH

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  • Added on: December 7th, 2010
Hi, I'm going to be entering Panama in a few weeks via bus from Costa Rica. Will I be required to show proof of onward travel? (I ran into this when I crossed into Costa Rica from Nicaragua and had to pay $20 for a bus ticket that I'll never use).
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busman7

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  • Added on: December 7th, 2010
Two years ago when I entered Panama from Costa Rica by bus I had to show proof of onward travel, fortunately I had a plane ticket as I was flying out the day before New years & didn't want to take a chance on not getting one.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
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Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
Hit or miss. My anecdotal advice is that the more unkempt you appear, the more likely you'll be asked for proof of adequate funds and/or onward travel. A credit card and airline itinerary home from Colombia have satisfied them in the past.

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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
Felix the Hat wrote:Hit or miss. My anecdotal advice is that the more unkempt you appear, the more likely you'll be asked for proof of adequate funds and/or onward travel. A credit card and airline itinerary home from Colombia have satisfied them in the past.



I certainly wasn't unkempt however from talking to others at my hostel in Panama City it appears that when arriving by air it is not an issue but when arriving by bus it is a normal situation! :sus:
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
busman7 wrote:
Felix the Hat wrote:Hit or miss. My anecdotal advice is that the more unkempt you appear, the more likely you'll be asked for proof of adequate funds and/or onward travel. A credit card and airline itinerary home from Colombia have satisfied them in the past.



I certainly wasn't unkempt however from talking to others at my hostel in Panama City it appears that when arriving by air it is not an issue but when arriving by bus it is a normal situation! :sus:



The last time I entered Panama, it was on foot from Colombia. They only checked me for drugs, not onward ticket or funds or yellow fever certificate.

Otherwise, my experiences generally match what you heard about plane vs bus.

EMH

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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
Thanks for the info! I do plan on going to Colombia after Panama but not sure when or how. So I guess I'll "prepare for the worst" when I get to Panama and see what happens.
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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
We did this crossing just 2 months or so ago, in early October. It was on an international bus all the way from Nicaragua. Im sorry I can't remember exactly but Im pretty sure (98%) it was Ticabus.

Of all the border crossings we've experienced coming from Mexico to Ecuador (where we are currently), this was the only one that DID REQUIRE proof of onward travel.

Every single passenger on the bus was forced to supply proof of onward travel, and we were forced to purchase TIcabus tickets on the spot for around $30 each.

The only other advice I can give is that if you do need to buy a ticket, Ticabus wll refund 85% of the ticket price, but this has to be done at the Ticabus office in Panama City at the bus terminal and we had to supply TO TICABUS photocopies of our passports which AND proof that we had a ticket to leave Panama! We printed "airline reservations" at our hostel in order to do so and made the photocopies at the supermarket near the bus terminal. All in all, a gigantic pain in the ass.

It's not certain you will be asked, but the Ticabus driver seemed to be accustomed to selling us these refundable tickets. He also seemed pretty friendly wth the customs officials.... I am not accusing any shenanigans just making an observation. You never know, he seemed like a nice guy.

We had two friends who crossed on bicycle, and were not asked for proof of onward transport.

Not sure if taking an int'l bus makes a difference but that was our experience.
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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
I wasn't on Tica Bus, can't remember the company off hand, caught the bus in front of their office in San Jose, mostly locals on the bus & as far as I know myself & another backpacker couple were the only ones bothered. So it's not a Tica bus scam, Panama just has a thing for bus riding back packers.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: December 8th, 2010
The worst that'll happen is they will make you buy an international bus ticket. Unfortunately, you can't buy a paper ticket in Ciudad Neily - it will have to be for one of the major routes, probably David to San Jose. Not the end of the world though.

EMH

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  • Added on: December 9th, 2010
bakpakaddict wrote:We did this crossing just 2 months or so ago, in early October. It was on an international bus all the way from Nicaragua. Im sorry I can't remember exactly but Im pretty sure (98%) it was Ticabus.

Of all the border crossings we've experienced coming from Mexico to Ecuador (where we are currently), this was the only one that DID REQUIRE proof of onward travel.

Every single passenger on the bus was forced to supply proof of onward travel, and we were forced to purchase TIcabus tickets on the spot for around $30 each.

The only other advice I can give is that if you do need to buy a ticket, Ticabus wll refund 85% of the ticket price, but this has to be done at the Ticabus office in Panama City at the bus terminal and we had to supply TO TICABUS photocopies of our passports which AND proof that we had a ticket to leave Panama! We printed "airline reservations" at our hostel in order to do so and made the photocopies at the supermarket near the bus terminal. All in all, a gigantic pain in the ass.

It's not certain you will be asked, but the Ticabus driver seemed to be accustomed to selling us these refundable tickets. He also seemed pretty friendly wth the customs officials.... I am not accusing any shenanigans just making an observation. You never know, he seemed like a nice guy.

We had two friends who crossed on bicycle, and were not asked for proof of onward transport.

Not sure if taking an int'l bus makes a difference but that was our experience.


So Costa Rica didn't require you to show proof of onward ticket? Weird. Cause at the immigration office there's a sign saying everyone has to show proof.

Also interesting about the refund. I bought a Tica Bus ticket to get into Costa Rica. I'll have to see if I can get a refund once I get to San Jose.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

Wiskee

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  • Added on: December 9th, 2010
EMH wrote:
bakpakaddict wrote:We did this crossing just 2 months or so ago, in early October. It was on an international bus all the way from Nicaragua. Im sorry I can't remember exactly but Im pretty sure (98%) it was Ticabus.

Of all the border crossings we've experienced coming from Mexico to Ecuador (where we are currently), this was the only one that DID REQUIRE proof of onward travel.

Every single passenger on the bus was forced to supply proof of onward travel, and we were forced to purchase TIcabus tickets on the spot for around $30 each.

The only other advice I can give is that if you do need to buy a ticket, Ticabus wll refund 85% of the ticket price, but this has to be done at the Ticabus office in Panama City at the bus terminal and we had to supply TO TICABUS photocopies of our passports which AND proof that we had a ticket to leave Panama! We printed "airline reservations" at our hostel in order to do so and made the photocopies at the supermarket near the bus terminal. All in all, a gigantic pain in the ass.

It's not certain you will be asked, but the Ticabus driver seemed to be accustomed to selling us these refundable tickets. He also seemed pretty friendly wth the customs officials.... I am not accusing any shenanigans just making an observation. You never know, he seemed like a nice guy.

We had two friends who crossed on bicycle, and were not asked for proof of onward transport.

Not sure if taking an int'l bus makes a difference but that was our experience.


So Costa Rica didn't require you to show proof of onward ticket? Weird. Cause at the immigration office there's a sign saying everyone has to show proof.

Also interesting about the refund. I bought a Tica Bus ticket to get into Costa Rica. I'll have to see if I can get a refund once I get to San Jose.


Yeah in Costa Rica they did not. Technically, every country (here) requires proof of onward travel, it's just rarely asked for. Not sure about Busman's info about them only bugging backpackers... he's experienced for sure but on our bus had locals as well and everyone needed to show something. I am sure things change depending on who's working and what kind of mood they're in.

If you go for a refund, you still need to show proof you're leaving the country. If you have to doctor something up to do that, might as well just bring it to the border in the first place. As for your ticket you bought in Costa Rica not sure if there's a max length of time...
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busman7

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  • Added on: December 9th, 2010
That's strange about entering Costa Rica as I had no problems there, was traveling by chicken bus at that point though + did hire a tout to help me exit Nicaragua & enter CR.

Panama was the only country since Mexico where I needed proof, wasn't even asked when I entered Cuba from Panama!
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

purplepixie

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  • Added on: December 10th, 2010
I crossed CR-Panama on foot earlier this summer, was asked for proof of onward travel but just told them that I had an e-ticket and made up a date for a flight, and it was fine. I speak near-fluent spanish though. 3 of us got away with that.

Nica-CR on ticabus, one line was asking for proof, one wasn't, and luckily mine wasn't!! Ticabus tried to sell us tickets before immigration telling us we would need them, some people bought them, but my crew decided to risk it and only buy them if we were asked, and we didn't end up needing them.

EMH

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  • Added on: December 10th, 2010
bakpakaddict wrote:
EMH wrote:
bakpakaddict wrote:We did this crossing just 2 months or so ago, in early October. It was on an international bus all the way from Nicaragua. Im sorry I can't remember exactly but Im pretty sure (98%) it was Ticabus.

Of all the border crossings we've experienced coming from Mexico to Ecuador (where we are currently), this was the only one that DID REQUIRE proof of onward travel.

Every single passenger on the bus was forced to supply proof of onward travel, and we were forced to purchase TIcabus tickets on the spot for around $30 each.

The only other advice I can give is that if you do need to buy a ticket, Ticabus wll refund 85% of the ticket price, but this has to be done at the Ticabus office in Panama City at the bus terminal and we had to supply TO TICABUS photocopies of our passports which AND proof that we had a ticket to leave Panama! We printed "airline reservations" at our hostel in order to do so and made the photocopies at the supermarket near the bus terminal. All in all, a gigantic pain in the ass.

It's not certain you will be asked, but the Ticabus driver seemed to be accustomed to selling us these refundable tickets. He also seemed pretty friendly wth the customs officials.... I am not accusing any shenanigans just making an observation. You never know, he seemed like a nice guy.

We had two friends who crossed on bicycle, and were not asked for proof of onward transport.

Not sure if taking an int'l bus makes a difference but that was our experience.


So Costa Rica didn't require you to show proof of onward ticket? Weird. Cause at the immigration office there's a sign saying everyone has to show proof.

Also interesting about the refund. I bought a Tica Bus ticket to get into Costa Rica. I'll have to see if I can get a refund once I get to San Jose.


Yeah in Costa Rica they did not. Technically, every country (here) requires proof of onward travel, it's just rarely asked for. Not sure about Busman's info about them only bugging backpackers... he's experienced for sure but on our bus had locals as well and everyone needed to show something. I am sure things change depending on who's working and what kind of mood they're in.

If you go for a refund, you still need to show proof you're leaving the country. If you have to doctor something up to do that, might as well just bring it to the border in the first place. As for your ticket you bought in Costa Rica not sure if there's a max length of time...


Yeah, not sure why I got "targeted" when entering Costa Rica. I met some Norwegians who entered Costa Rica via Panama and they weren't required to show anything. Oh well, it was only $20.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

EMH

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  • Added on: December 10th, 2010
busman7 wrote:That's strange about entering Costa Rica as I had no problems there, was traveling by chicken bus at that point though + did hire a tout to help me exit Nicaragua & enter CR.

Panama was the only country since Mexico where I needed proof, wasn't even asked when I entered Cuba from Panama!


I was traveling via chicken bus as well and also had a tout helping me (though he abandoned me before we got to CR immigration)
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com


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