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International Driver's License In Panama: Travel And Rent A Car

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IDP is essential when driving abroad

driving abroad with idp

International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.

documents needed for international driving permit

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.

How to get your IDP


Fill in the forms

Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy


Verify your ID

Upload pictures of your driver's license


Get approved

Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!

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How do I get an international driver's license in Panama?

There is no such thing as an International Driver’s License. The proper document which translates your home country driver’s license is an International Driving Permit (IDP), so whether you’re driving license is in Spanish or not, it is highly recommended to get one. And getting one online is relatively easy.

You only need to fill out the application form, attach a copy of your valid driver’s license and your passport-size photo, along with your credit card details to pay for the IDP application fee.

Our IDP is recognized in 165+ countries worldwide including the following:

  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Congo
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay

Can you drive with a US license in Panama?

You can certainly drive a motor vehicle from a rental car company in the country with your U.S. driver’s license, as long as it is accompanied by an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) within three months. However, if you extend your stay and plan to continue driving, you will be required to get a Panama Driver’s License.

Top Destinations of Panama

Panama is widely recognized for its attractive tourist sites and phenomenal natural scenery. With an adjacent border nearing the Caribbean coasts and the azure Pacific, it is no surprise that thousands of tourists per year have frequented the iconic shipping waterway found within its region. Aside from this, the country is also famously known for the Panama canal - an artificial aqueduct that serves as a commercial transport system for large cargo vessels going to the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

Among the countries in Central America, Panama has been one of the most exciting places to visit. From the towering mountain villages and coffee plantations to the crystal clear beaches, there is always something that will surprise in this place. But if you ever plan to visit this place someday, you surely would want to do it via car.

El Valle de Anton

An attractive getaway vacation with an idyllic setting, this little Panamanian Village is located within the Cocle Province of Central Panama. It is regarded as one of the best places to visit in the country. Moreover, It has been famous for its uniquely captivating ancient calderas that have continuously paraded the beautiful towns in the location. For decades, it has been known as a local tourist site where families could enjoy climbing and swimming activities.

If you are going to ask about El Valle de Anton, most of the locals will take you to the numerous canyons and spectacular ridge trails surrounding the region. The best time to visit the place is between April, March, and February, where the warmest temperatures are recorded. You can generally enjoy outdoor activities during these months.

Pearl Islands

The Pearl Islands are known as a cluster of islands located southeast of the capital. The location highlights its crystal clear beaches and forested islets featured in some reality TV shows. If you want to have a unique travel experience, you can also visit the isolated Contadora Islands, where you can find two luxury tourist resorts.

You can relax and do sunbathing activities in the area while exploring the old shipwrecks found in Playa Larga. Interestingly, the ideal time to visit Pearl Islands is somewhere between April and February. It is recommended to visit the place during these months as the weather is perfect for island hopping activities.

Gulf of Chiriqui

The Gulf of Chiriqui is located in the Pacific coastline between Costa Rica and the Azuero Peninsula. The place is also famously known for its booming tourism due to its tropical rainforests and towering mountain ranges. Tourists can do various outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, scuba diving, snorkeling, and sightseeing.

If you are an adventure lover and like water rafting activities, you should definitely visit this place. Generally, tourists are advised to visit the region during the hot weather months of December and July. Consequently, it is recommended to refrain from any outdoor activities during the cold month of October since it is the time when there is an expected heavy rainfall.


The Boquete village is located proximal to the Chiriqui province in the western Pacific region. Tourists frequent the location due to its magnificent coffee plantations and luxury spas. Widely recognized as the “The Land of Eternal Springtime,” tourists can enjoy a plethora of pleasurable outdoor activities ranging from zip-lining to white water rafting. If you are up for a fun-filled adventure, then you should try visiting this place.

Ideally, it is best for tourists to visit the location via land trip during the warm months of mid-December to mid-April to experience the resplendent sceneries and captivating sights fully. Although you can visit the place anytime you want, it is best to avoid going there during the coldest months of the year.

Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina is widely recognized as one of the country’s top tourist spots. Popularly known for its resplendent beaches and surfing activities, the place has become a significant landmark for nature lovers. If you want to enjoy sightseeing activities and spend most of your time with nature-themed attractions, then you should drive by Santa Catalina.

The most important thing to remember when visiting Santa Catalina is the onset of favorable weather conditions. It is recommended to visit the place during daylight and during the warm months of December and April to fully appreciate its facade. Avoid traveling here during night time as cattle can cause sudden dangerous roadblocks.

Most Important Driving Rules

Driving in Panama is straightforward when you're familiar with the Panama driving rules. As a tourist, it's essential to understand the country's specific driving regulations and road signs to navigate confidently.

Always bring your travel documents and license

When traveling to the country, always remember to bring your travel documents with you at all times, such as your foreign driver's license. Moreover, if you are planning to have a car trip within the Panamanian border, it is important to bring your IDP with you. As a foreign driver, this will save you from any potential travel-related inconveniences!

Although you can drive in the country with your local valid driver’s license for 90 days, it is still recommended to secure an IDP.

Seatbelt Laws

You must adhere to the seatbelt laws imposed in Panama to ensure your road safety. The driver and front-seat passenger must wear seat belts. Moreover, children under five years old must be seated in a special car seat in the rear.

Most importantly, if you have received a traffic ticket while driving in Panama, you must process the payment of the fine within a 48 hours time-frame at the Autoridad del Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre office. It is also a best practice for tourists to always check if they have their international driving license with them as one of the driving requirements for fine processing.

Parking in Panama

You can easily park in Panama if you are in the designated parking space. Different road signages with color-coded designations like the red or yellow paint on the sidewalks assist motorists in parking properly. In Panama City, there are several hourly parking meters that can be found in different street locations. If you are given a parking ticket in the capital, the first thing that you should do is locate Municipio De Panama to process your payment.

You can also inquire about the parking restriction and regulations by calling the Panama City Police Department’s number (850-872-3100). They would help you have easy access and an instant credit card payment for your parking fines. However, always carry your International Driver’s License since they would most likely look for this during your transactions.

Car Insurance Policies

Every car in Panama must have 3rd party liability insurance. This means that the car being used is insured from any potential damages which may incur during your travels. You can look online for any recent updates regarding Panama’s car insurance coverages to know more about this. To be updated, you can also check the official website of Panama to check for additional information while you are still waiting for your international driver’s license for Panama.

Panama is a wonderful country to drive around. With relaxing beaches and charming villages, you’ll sure enjoy driving in this country, especially with your loved ones. Before you start your trip, make sure you have your driver’s license, IDP, and passport with you in case authorities need to check for identification. Get your IDP from the International Driver’s Association for faster processing!

Ready to check if an IDP is accepted in your destination?

Use the form and find out in seconds whether you need an international permit. Documents vary, based on the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic.

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