Many felons can recall having the desire to travel back when life was different and simpler, before their felony conviction.
They may have dreamed of traveling abroad before their conviction, and for some this may have been a reality.
This blog post will address the question of whether a felon can travel to Panama.
- Travel Restrictions
- Why Panama?
- Traveling to Panama
- Requirements to Enter Panama
- Encouraging Felons to Travel to Panama
Upon release, felons must complete the terms of their sentence, which typically involves being on probation, reporting to their probation officer in person or checking in online monthly.
During the probation period, felons are restricted from leaving the district in which they reside without permission from their probation officer.
Of course, travel outside the U.S. is out of the question until the conditions of probation have been satisfied entirely.
Once this is accomplished, travel beyond the U.S. border is possible.
They must obtain a passport, which is a form of identification from the federal government allowing international travel. Felons are able to obtain a passport.
Being convicted of drug trafficking or a crime of treason against the U.S. may prevent felons from being able to obtain a passport, as well as for anyone owing at least a certain amount of child support.
Having current legal charges pending can also prevent having a passport. This is because leaving the country will be interpreted as an unlawful attempt to avoid prosecution, which is itself a federal crime.
Traveling to another country with a passport is very possible.
Why would felons want to visit Panama? Well, for the same reasons anyone wants to travel there. Felons may have served time in prison, but they have the same interests as any other U.S. citizen.
Traveling to Panama is no exception.
First, Panama is very close to the U.S. By air, Panama is only 2.5 hours from Miami and 4 hours from Houston.
The nation has served as the bridge between North America and Central and South America for centuries. The Spanish carried gold back and forth across the country.
With the influence of the U.S., their currency is the dollar.
The weather in Panama is always summer, since it is a tropical country.
There are a number of Indian tribes in Panama. Snorkeling and other water sports are very popular.
Traveling to Panama
Flying to Panama shouldn’t pose a problem for felons.
The only restriction for them flying would be if they have a felony warrant outstanding against them.
The other possible issue would be if their name is on what is called the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for those suspected of being terrorists.
There are about 3500 names on this list at any time. So, felons are probably OK for flying.
Going on a cruise is a popular means of travel to Panama.
There are two types of cruises, closed loop and open loop. A closed loop cruise is one that starts and ends in the same U.S. port while an open loop cruise has different starting and final port city locations.
Felons may sail on either type of cruise, although the requirements for a closed loop cruise are less restrictive than for open loop cruises.
U.S. citizens going on a closed loop cruise can depart and enter the U.S. with only proof of citizenship. This proof consists of an original or copy of a birth certificate and a government issued photo ID.
Open loop cruises require a passport, regardless of the starting or destination port.
Requirements to Enter Panama
Panama has several requirements all U.S. citizens, regardless of whether they are felons or not, must meet in order to gain entry.
First, the law in Panama states that they must have at least six valid months remaining on their passport when entering the country.
Those U.S. citizens who stay in the country less than 180 days need to have only a passport. No visa is required.
Any stay by a U.S. citizen of more than 90 days will require a visa, which must be obtained prior to departing form the U.S.
Felons would do best if they plan their stay in the country to be limited to less than 180 days in order to not have to be subjected to having their criminal record checked.
For felons especially, their conduct while in Panama is critical. Of course they will want to stay out of legal difficulties.
This would obviously result in significant problems for felons who may find it extremely difficult to gain their release. For those felons ending up in jail, good legal counsel will be necessary.
It is best to strictly obey all laws and be able to leave the country as planned.
Encouraging Felons to Travel to Panama
Families of felons who visit Panama can be helpful to those felons by encouraging them to travel outside the country for a sense of peace and relaxation. A trip to Panama can also be a great opportunity to re-connect with their family.
Once the decision has been made to travel to Panama, be supportive of their making the trip.
It is important to remind them that as a traveler to a foreign country, just being there as an American will bring them under more scrutiny. For this reason and others, they must obey the laws and not draw the attention of the legal authorities to themselves.
Remind them of their commitment to live an honest life and how legal difficulties while in Panama will only defeat these efforts and may result in returning to prison.
Approximately 69% of those released from prison return within the first two years. Don’t let them be one of those statistics.
So what do you think about this blog post about how a felon can travel to Panama? Have you or someone you know traveled to Panama with a felony? What was that like and were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.