How to apply for asylum in Panama

You can apply for asylum in Panama at:

Refugee Assistance Office (ONPAR).


In the Balboa:

Rómulo Escobar Bethancourt street;

building 766 in Panama City;

from Monday to Friday, from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm.

You must apply within six months after arriving in Panama.

Panamanian law defines refugees similarly to:

The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees in Article 5 of Executive Decree No. 5 of 2018.

But, if you cross Darien, be careful. Find out how to get refuge in Panama and why you can’t cross the Darien below.

Most websites or apps linked below are in English. Use Google TranslateTarjimly, or any other translation service if you need it.

Who can apply for asylum in Panama

Can apply for asylum in Panama any person who:

Have a fear of persecution based on ethnicity, social group, gender, race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs; you can’t get protection from your home country because you’re outside.

You had to leave your nation or current location due to widespread violence, foreign aggression or occupation, terrorism, internal conflicts, substantial human rights violations, or other severe disruption of public order.

Who the refugees are

People who are considered refugees are people who have been forced to leave their place of origin or permanent residence for:

Fear of retaliation due to one’s beliefs, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or other identifiers,


Violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, enormous human rights violations, and other events severely undermined public order.

How to seek asylum in Panama

Anyone seeking refuge in Panama must apply for the ONPAR.

When you get to ONPAR:

You must show a copy of your identification (passport or driver’s license) at the front desk.

In the same way, you must show your basic family members’ IDs.

The applicant will be informed of their rights and obligations as a refugee applicant and the process in line with Panamanian law.

The applicant will next complete the application process by submitting an online form.

After that, the applicant and family will be photographed, and the application data will be verified.

You’ll get an asylum seeker’s certificate that you must always keep on you.

Your registration interview will take place on a particular day.


After submitting your application, do not leave the country, or you will be thought to have abandoned the procedure.

The interview

To validate your online application, an ONPAR representative will interview you. Answering questions truthfully is crucial. Bring all your documentation from home.

After registering your application, you must produce the asylum seeker certificate with your picture and QR code.

Even if you bring a spouse or other adult family, each person must complete the interview independently.

After the asylum application, what happens

Officials from ONPAR will review the papers once the interviews are complete.

For more clarification, ONPAR may seek further interviews (termed “extension interviews”) throughout this procedure.

After reviewing the paperwork and conducting any necessary interviews, the ONPAR will decide whether or not to proceed with processing the application.

What will come next

Once the application is accepted:

The National Migration Service will issue the asylum seeker a six-month, renewable provisional identity card.

Each family member will obtain a personal document if the asylum seeker is with them.

If a person is found to be a refugee:

The National Migration Service will provide them with a valid document for one (1) year.

During this time, they can apply for a work visa.

Read more about your Rights and Duties as an asylum seeker.

What happens if the asylum request is rejected

If your refugee status recognition application is refused:

You may submit a written reconsideration petition at ONPAR and;

sent to the National Commission for the Protection of Refugees within five working days of receiving the Resolution.

If the reconsideration resource decision confirms a negative resolution:

You have five business days to file an appeal with ONPAR addressed to the Minister of Government.

After that:

ONPAR will provide a case summary to the Ministry of Government for the appeal decision.

This decision marks the end of the governmental process.

If you wish, you have the option to appeal further to the Third Administrative-Contentious Chamber of the Panama Supreme Court of Justice.

Be aware of some risks if you cross Darien to other Region Countries

Darien is a risky entry point into Panama. The region has no path and is dangerous.

Who Manages Darien’s migrant

Panama’s government manages Darien’s migrant influx and coordinates ETRMs.

In addition to its headquarters in Panama City, the UNHCR maintains a presence:

At the ETRMs in the Darien Region (southern border) and;

Chiriqui (northern border).

How dangerous is it to go through Darien


Temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius

Wild animal assaults or bites

Abuse, either physically or sexually


Slavery and other forms of exploitation of humans

Disappearances and segregation within families

Drowsiness hazard

Weakness after lengthy, perilous treks in the forest

Accidents caused by the environment

Are there locations to get help crossing Darien

People entering Panama through the Darien Region can use the:


Managed by:

The Government of Panama via SNM and SENAFRONT.

There are three ETRMs:

San Vicente

Lajas Blancas and

Los Planes.

The first two are at the southern border (Darien province), while Los Planes is in Chiriqui province near Costa Rica.

Do you want more information?

Go to:

Where to find help

Sources: UNHCR Help Panama

The cover image is in Panama. Photo by Regina Bordon on Unsplash