Panama Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Panama
Panama drives on the right and you can use the photo driving licence of most countries for up to 90 days.

Around half the country’s 15,000km of roads are unpaved but Panama has a well developed road network with four toll- expressways-

Corredor Sur: Panama City to the Tocumen International Airport, 26 km.

Corredor Norte: Panama City to Colinas de Cerro Viento, 20 km.

Autopista La Chorrera: Panama City to La Chorrera, 44 km.

Colón Expressway: Panama City to Colón, 59 km.

The Pan American highway passes through Panama as Highway 1 and varies in condition. Some stretches have been upgraded to a multilane road including the 250km stretch between Panama City and Santiago, but some sections are in a less satisfactory state of repair. Panama is also the location of the only break in the highway between Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and Ushuaia, Argentina. This is the 60 mile interlude passing through the Darien Gap in Panama and Colombia which is impassable in a vehicle for safety and political reasons. To the annoyance of those attempting the drive, the only solution is to ship the vehicle between Panama and Colombia.

Driving can be stressful in Panama City due to dense traffic, undisciplined driving habits, poorly maintained streets, and a lack of effective signs and traffic signals. Many roads outide main urban areas have poor lighting so you should avoid driving at night if you can.  Flooding during the April to December rainy season occasionally makes city streets impassible and washes out some roads in the interior of the country..Road travel is more dangerous during the rainy season and during holidays, especially from Carnival through to Good Friday. Carnival starts the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday and goes on for four days. Road maintenance throughout the country is variable and drivers need to take precautions to avoid unseen holes and unfinished repairs.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Panama Car Rental –
Hertz, Alamo, Europcar, National, Avis, Budget,Dollar,Thrifty,  have offices in all big towns. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites  and Web discount sites such as

We currently have no local car rental partners in Panama. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Panama Self Drive Rules-
National and Budget don’t allow cars to be taken out of Panama. Europcar say there are restrictions to certain countries but don’t give details. The other companies don’t specify.


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