Dealing with emergency situations in Panama

Hello everybody,

Dealing with unexpected situations abroad can be a very difficult matter. In order to better help expats and soon-to-be expats in Panama face such tricky situations, we invite you to share your advice and experience.

What are the key emergency numbers you should know by heart?

In the event of a legal problem, an accident, a natural disaster, an injury or the death of a close family member, what are the first things to do in Panama?

What are the things to plan ahead in order to better cope with such unexpected situations (registration at the Embassy, transport, medical, comprehensive insurance for instance)?

If you have gone through such experiences in Panama, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!


Effective May 1 you need a purchase order for your meds from the States or anywhere else. MBE informed me that ADUANA is holding my meds from the VA until they get clearance from SALUD about my meds/ Now I have to deal with 2 of the most incompetent agencies in Panama and God knows how long that will take.

1st of all it's none of their business what meds I'm getting. I've been getting them for more than 10 years and NOW all of a sudden they need a purchase order!!!! What a bunch of asshats!!! Tons of cocaine and pot pass thru here and NOT a peep from them. Now they want to stick it to the gringos again with this stupid law...WHY ???? Just another make work project. Varela and his cronies SUCK as bad as martinelli !!! They'll do anything to stick it to the GRINGOS here!!!  :huh:

Right now I'm out of 2 meds that are very important. MBE can't answer or won't bother checking on my meds. There's another rip off operation for gringos....If you can find another mail/package service for your stuff. MBE is VERY expensive and slow as sh*t too.  :sleep

If anyone has another mail service please let me know.

Good luck,

I must disagree with Jim about MBE. There must be some extenuating circumstance in his situation. We have an MBE account & mail box in Las Tablas. My husband orders his meds from the VA and has never had those problems as described, as recently as one week ago. We receive his meds and many other things ordered from the states in a timely fashion. As for my prescriptions, I go to our local farmacia and get them without any prescription and with the 20% jubilado discount. 
As far as other emergency situations, you should get the phone numbers of the local police, alcalde (mayor), bomberos (fire dept.), etc. in the area for which you live. Attend town meetings if possible. Ask other local expats. Get to know your neighbors; our local Panamanian neighbors are very helpful. If you have a car, your insurance should have a number for roadside assistance (although it may take awhile to come with a tow truck if needed). We have friends throughout Panama who can help us when in need. Know where the local salud (health center) and Regional hospital is. If you have medical insurance, find out which hospital will accept it. Find out who your embassy warden is for your area, and you can always call or email the embassy in PC.

Totally agree.
Also have emergency contact vet for your pets. is an excellent resource for pets and medical references

I may suggest that Panama is just not a good fit for Jim

Hi Jim,
You are making me very nervous about receiving my meds once I arrive in October since they are very important and needed in a timely way.  If you figure something out please let me know.
I saw what a ripoff Mail Boxes Etc. was while I was researching my move to Panama.  Have you checked into Global Mail (  It's $12.00US per month, they scan all the letters so you can decide what you want them to ship and what junk mail you want them to throw out, they even deposit benefit checks into your bank account here in the US.
The only problem I have is that I've heard it's impossible to get a post office box at the local post offices so it looks like I might have to have them ship it to Mail Boxes, etc once a month and pick it up from there and they charge for that, of course, but it still might be less expensive than using their mailing services which are about $30.00Us per month and without the additional services!
If you or anyone else has some good ideas, please let me know. Thanks!

Maybe Jim's real problem is being an intolerant homophobe. Maybe he is being jerked around just for the fun of it.

Be nice Stevie!  Some people are just miserable by nature and then wonder why life is  so intolerable.....and it is.

Stop crying and leave guy! Sound like a nagging wife

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