It was 48 hours
Then it was 96 hours
Now it is back to 48 hours.
That is, starting October 12th, Panama requires that you be tested for Covid within 48 hours of your arrival in Panama.
Specifically, starting October 12th, travelers are required to present a negative COVID PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours prior to their arrival time in Panama.
Antibody tests are not acceptable. (FYI: If you get your blood drawn, that is an antibody test. It determines whether you have had Covid in the past, not whether you currently have Covid.)
Covid Test Requirements Thru Oct 11th
This change in timing for the Covid test from 96 to 48 hours does not kick in until October 12th.
Until then, you must be tested for Covid-19 within 96-hours of boarding a plane to Panama.
Keep in mind, until October 12th, only citizens and legal residents can enter Panama.
For more information on pre-October 12th Covid test requirements for travel in Panama, click here.
Another Covid Test Requirement Change
I want to point out another change. Previously, you had to have your test no more than 48 (or 96) hours prior to boarding your plane to Panama.
As of October 12th, you must have the test no more than 48 hours prior to your arrival in Panama.
When you try to get an appointment to get a pre-travel Covid test, you will realize how logistically tricky it is to meet the required timeline. When and where you can get a Covid test, and your results, are critical factors to consider when booking your flight.
It seems also that you don’t need the results of that test until your arrival in Panama. However, that is not clear. For instance on Copa Airline’s website, it states that starting October 12th:
- Passengers must show proof of negative COVID-19 swab/PCR or antigen test performed within 48 hours prior to flight departure.
- Passengers without a negative COVID-19 swab/PCR or antigen test are subject to rapid COVID-19 test. Such passengers will be required to have a rapid test performed, prior to going thru customs and immigration at the Panama airport and at their own expense.
These timing changes make it even harder to accomplish Panama’s Covid test requirements.
Covid Test At Airport in Panama & Quarantine Potential
It is not just Copa stating that you may be required to have a rapid antigen test at the airport.
Panama’s official tourism site, VisitPanama.com, announces that if you arrive in Panama with a Covid test older than 48 hours, you will be required to receive a rapid antigen Covid test at the airport. Then depending upon your result, you may or may not be put in quarantine.
- Negative Result: You will not be placed in quarantine
- Positive Result: You will be placed in mandatory isolation in a hotel hospital designated by the Ministry of Health. After 7 days, an antigen test will be performed, if the result is positive, the 14-day isolation must be completed. If the result is negative, the isolation is over.
Before You Get A Covid Test In Your Home Country
Before you get tested, ask when you can expect to receive the results and what type of test they do.
- Remember Panama only accepts the PCR or the antigen test
- The test must occur within 48 hours of your arrival in Panama.
- You must have the results of the test by the time you arrive in Panama.
Ideally, you would get your test results before you board your plane to Panama since it is unclear if need to show a negative test result before you board the plane to Panama.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get your test results quickly, especially if you are in the US.
If you must choose between getting your test results before you board your plane or meeting the 48-hour timing, I would choose to make sure you have your test results (negative!) at the time of boarding the plane. And if you can, take your Covid test no more than 48 hours before you board the plane.
Covid Test Locations In USA
US Department of Health and Human Services has a database of testing sites in the US.
You can start searching for a testing site in your State by clicking here.
Flight Check In
Prior to check-in, all incoming travelers will be required to complete an Electronic Affidavit (sworn statement) agreeing to:
- Comply with all sanitary control measures outlined by the Ministry of Health of Panama.
- Provide how you can be contacted while in Panama.
- Confirm that you are healthy (no symptoms of any respiratory illness) and that you have not been exposed to COVID-19 within the last fourteen (14) days.
Airline officials may request to see the results of your Covid test prior to you boarding a plane to Panama.
Although, VisitPanama.com states that a Covid test needs to be done within 48 hours of your arrival in Panama, They are unclear about when you need to show the results of that test. However, Copa Airlines states you must prove you have a negative test result before you board a plane to Panama.
In case an airline official insists you meet the testing requirements before you board, I suggest you keep 2 items available to show to airline officials.
- Document showing that you were tested for Covid within 48 hours of your expected arrival time in Panama
- Document (or VisitPanama.com page) stating that the negative test result of that test is not required until you arrive in Panama
Since Panama is providing Covid testing for travelers who don’t meet the requirement to be tested within 48 hours of their arrival in Panama, it indicates they are not requiring it to be met before boarding the plane.
Will you get your test results emailed or available to you by the time you arrive in Panama, but not before you board the plane? Most likely airport officials in Panama will give you time to download your test results upon your arrival. Keep in mind, that if your results are positive, you will be put in quarantine.
More Testing, Travel Details & Updates
You should visit Panama’s official tourism site, VisitPanama.com, for up-to-date Covid-related Panama travel requirements and information.