Though UK driving licences are valid for 90 days from entering the country, individual car hire companies may require an international driving permit. You will need a valid photo-card licence. They will not accept the old paper licence.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office describe the road network in Panama as reasonably good but warn about unfinished repairs and pot holes in particular so driving can be quite an adventure! They warn that traffic is heavy and driving standards poor with frequent road accidents.
There is a lot of inconsistency in what insurance is included and what is extra so it is important to delve into the terms and conditions of car hire to understand what you're getting.
We often find that when collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft waivers are included as standard, the excesses charged are lower than if you have to pay for the CDW cover. These excesses can be high, often nearing $2,000.
It is definitely worth running a comparison of car hire insurance policies, so you can see just how much cover is available and how little it need cost.
Do check how much third party liability insurance is provided, Panama has a very low minimum amount that you must have of $10,000. This may be all that is provided by the rental company potentially leaving you exposed should you be involved in an accident.
Worldwide car hire insurance policies including supplementary liability insurance (SLI) cover can top up any locally provided cover to a more comfortable $1 million. Note that some policies restrict SLI cover to the USA and Canada so be sure to choose one covering the Americas or full worldwide cover.
This content was last reviewed on 26/09/2023