Getting the Cedula

Although swearing I’d never do this sort of thing in retirement, I got up at 5AM today. Our contact in the City, Luis Arce, notified us that our cedulas were now approved, necessitating a trip to the other end of the country for signatures and photographs.  Earlier we had sent him powers-of-attorney along with copies of our passports, jubilados and “resoluciones”, the latter being a by-product of our jubilado applications.

While the jubilado applications had to be done through an attorney, the cedula did not. Our attorney would be happy to handle it for us, for about $1000. But Luis knows his way around with this sort of thing and got it done for $375, $130 of which went to the government.  We had to pay for r/t transportation to Panama City but that would have been the case with the attorney as well.

Actually, there’s nothing to prevent an individual(s) from handling this process on their own, if they’re sufficiently masochistic. In Panama, like any other country I’ve become familiar with, the bureaucrats are subject to making you jump through unnecessary hoops, just because they can. Luis knows the people and knows his way around. The little that he charges is worth the money. Without question.

You may very well ask, what is a cedula and why get one? As explained to me, a cedula is roughly equivalent to a social security card in the US. It is a national ID card. Though not strictly required, as is the pensianado for permanent residents, it makes life a whole lot easier. Given what we had already spent on the pensianado, I figured, “What the hey!” Maybe the most important part of having a cedula, to me, is that one can eventually achieve Panamanian citizenship with it. There are other requirements, but the cedula is the only thing we can put in place at this point in time.

Luis was waiting for us when our plane arrived at Albrook airport. It was just a short drive to the Tribunal Electoral where the business was to take place.


We went to an office on the third floor where Luis turned in some papers.


In about 30 minutes we were called back to the counter. Jan and I each signed something and we went down one floor to have our photos taken.  That took maybe 10 minutes.


After all was said and done, we were finished with the business we came for in scarcely an hour after landing. As our flight back to David didn’t leave until almost 5PM, we had some time on our hands. Jan has long wanted to see the Canal and Luis, as usual, was happy to accommodate.

The tour of the Canal will be the subject of the next post.


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