Licencia de Conducir

I am shouting “Hallelujah” again. Mikkel finally received his Panamanian driver’s license. He is finally legal to drive in Panama. It took 2 times in Panamá; first time he didn’t have the required health certificate from a doctor because he is over 70 years old; second time the doctor who issued the certificate was not an internist, only a general practitioner. Then it took 4 times in Las Tablas; first time the doctor certificate did not state “in good health physically and mentally”; the second time the doctor typed in a “-” instead of a number for his passport; the third time the doctor again deleted one of the numbers on his passport for the certificate. This was very frustrating, but there was nothing he could do but ask the doctor for another one.
The doctor works at a hospital in Chitre and comes to his office in Las Tablas a few evenings per week. And this is a month of many holidays, so the office was closed a lot of the time. Eventually I asked our Spanish teacher if she could call the doctor office for us, since we had not heard from anyone, and confirm that the certificate with the correct passport number was ready for pickup. Finally the fourth time all info on the certificate was correct. The Sertracen center (Panama’s equivalency to the California DMV) knew him well now. So when he came in, he was kindly helped by an English-speaking employee through the whole process. They knew he had all the other correct documents: California license notarized by US Embassy and authenticated by Departmento de Autenticacion y Legalizacion (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) and lab blood test results. We both did these our first week in Panamá. So he was led through the rest of the process after they checked that he had the correct doctor certificate, helping him fill out another application, taking a vision and hearing test and his picture. He only had to pay $20 instead of the usual $40, not sure why, but won’t complain. And then he finally got his driver’s license in hand, no temporary, but good until his temporary carnet (pensionado visa) expires next August. We should have our permanent visa way before then, and then I guess we both have to renew. Next time should be much easier.

Anyway, he is a legal driver now. Panamanian law states you have 90 days once you enter Panama to obtain a Panamanian “licencia de conducir”, so since Nov. 1st, he was driving illegally. Thank God he wasn’t caught by the policia and given a ticket; it would be another series of procedures. We are in a different country where things might seem a little antiquated and redundant at times. It is best to just accept that this is just the way things are done here and not get too upset; just go with it. On to more adventures.


4 thoughts on “Licencia de Conducir

  1. JK Mikals says:

    Congratulations. Just FYI for renewal, which will be in TWO years – the doctor should be, specifically, AN INTERNIST who is acceptable to the Panama DMV. It says so in the manual. ( Count your blessings – I had to take the written test. In Spanish.) In Las Tablas you can go to Dr. Rogelio Nunez (tilde n, my computer won’t do it in WordPress) 994-6832. He charges $20, but he doesn’t speak English. However, he WILL get your numbers right. The license is $20 because it’s only for 2 years instead of 4, since Mikkel is over 70.

  2. Guy Mendenhall says:

    Having similar medical cert probs here in ME, without the language challenge. Not driving illegally yet but it may come to that. ????Guy

  3. Lorraine Keeffe says:

    Good for you Mikkel… you are legal……As time goes by, let’s hope things get a little better and not so much frustration. I would never be able to do what you guys have done. I am spoiled with all the necessary things around me everyday….and if I complain here…..I would be the worst over there.Oh, well God knows every trial is for your good! It contributes to character building….of course! Love, Lorraine Keeffe

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