The minimum age to drive in Panama is 18. However, a provisional driving license can be applied for at the age of 16.
If it is not possible to exchange a foreign license in Panama, the process to obtain a new license is fairly simple.
There are a few government-authorized private driving schools in Panama. Auto Depot is one of the most popular in Panama City because everything can be done in one place. The Panama Road Transport Department (Autoridad del Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre - ATTT) where tests are taken and licenses are issued is across the street.
It is necessary to complete driving courses in both theory (36 hours) and practical training (20 hours) with an authorized driving school.
There are also several health tests, including vision, hearing and a blood test to check blood type. Health exams can be carried out at any major laboratory associated with a hospital.
A Paz y Salvo is also required, declaring that the vehicle is free of any outstanding tickets or dues. The car does not have to belong to the applicant but it needs to be free of outstanding debt. A Paz y Salvo is available online.
Once the theory and practical courses are completed, the applicant receives a certificate from the driving school which is then presented to the offices of the ATTT.
The following documents also need to be provided:
At the ATTT, the applicant has to complete an onscreen driving theory test and is then assigned to an inspector who conducts the driving test. During the test, the applicant has to complete a three-point turn, reverse park and show familiarity with good driving practices such as seat belt and mirror adjustments.
The process is the same for motorcycle or scooter licenses.
There is no point system for licenses. Drivers caught driving without a valid license are fined.
Driving licenses are valid for four years, as long as the residency permit does not expire before that time.
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