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Safety & Awareness


WYD 2011 - Young woman wrapped with U.S. flagWhen traveling to Panama for World Youth Day 2019, all pilgrims should be incredibly conscious of security and safety issues. The following information provides some resources for pilgrims and their families, group leaders, and parish and diocesan authorities regarding the safety of all World Youth Day pilgrims while in Panama. 

Safety Updates

  • No direct threat to World Youth Day exists, to our knowledge at this time.
  • The State Department has issued an advisory to "exercise normal precautions in Panama." Read the full travel advisory here.
  • U.S. citizens should express caution and vigilance at all times while traveling abroad. Be fully aware of your surroundings.
  • NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Panama will be available at their offices in the city throughout the WYD week. Please consult their website ( and their WYD webpage.

Safety and Security Resources for WYD Panama

For specific safety and security information, we recommend that you read the information provided on the State Department's Panama Country-Specific Information Sheet.

The sun sets over World Youth Day pilgrims as Pope Francis attends a July 30 prayer vigil at the Field of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The U.S. State Department continuously updates travelers on advisories and provides resources for safety while traveling outside of the country. The U.S. Embassy in Panama also has safety resources for those planning to travel to Panama.

IMPORTANT NOTICE from U.S. Embassy in Panama as of October 2018: (see "news and updates" page for further updates) Panama's Foreign Ministry of Affairs has confirmed that all U.S. citizens will be required to present evidence of their measles vaccination to be allowed entry into Panama. This evidence can be in English, and will be checked when passports/visas are verified by Panamanian immigration officials. This documentation does not need to be notarized, and can be obtained from primary care physicians.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends being up-to-date on all routine vaccinations. Consult the CDC's website for further information.

If you have any questions or concerns about safety, please feel free to contact the WYDUSA office by phone, 202-541-3044, or email, You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive the most recent updates about resources concerning pilgrim safety.

Tips for Personal Safety and Security

  • Always travel in a group. Traveling alone creates a personal safety risk. Group leaders should know exactly where their pilgrims are at all times.
  • Exercise extreme caution when walking and crossing streets. Please use designated crosswalks and be mindful of fast-moving, heavy traffic.
  • Do not leave your valuables at your lodging site or hotel.
  • Inquire about fire safety procedures at your lodging site.
  • Do not make jokes or threats about weapons, bombs, or dangerous acts.
  • Do not venture out, especially alone as well as in groups, at night.
  • Stay close to official WYD event locations; do not veer outside those boundaries.
  • Please report anything suspicious to the local authorities and WYD staff.
  • If you are lost or in the event of an emergency, seek out World Youth Day security and volunteers - or contact the local municipal authorities/police.

Panama Emergency Numbers

Via landline or a public phone:
104: National Police Department
103: Fire Department
999: Ambulance

511-9260: Tourist Police in Panama City

Via mobile phone:
112: All Services (You may also dial this on a landline, if you are unsure of the department you need)

Panama Embassy Info

U.S. Embassy in Panama
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas, Building No.783
Clayton, Panama
Telephone +(507) 317-5000
Emergency +(507) 317-5000
Fax +(507) 317-5278

Proper Identification

While in Panama, it is important that you carry a picture ID such as an original passport or a scanned color copy.

Pilgrims should also be sure to keep their Registration Certificate with them for the duration of their trip. This certificate with the ecclesial stamp and signature is important, because it verifies your status as a WYD pilgrim.

Things to Remember for WYD Panama

  1. Passport: required for entry to the country (N.B. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Panama)
  2. WYD Registration Certificate
  3. WYD badge (you will receive this in Panama)

Also, your WYD Registration Certificate and WYD badge (which you will receive upon check-in at WYD) are your ticket to enter WYD events. Please, do not lose or forget to have them with you at all times.

Your credentials, badges, or certificates may not be transferred—and should not be shared or given away or lost. Missing credentials create a security risk. Lost credentials are not easily replaced. In case of an emergency, please proceed (with your group leader) to a WYD Information Center located throughout the city. Also in addition to this, remember that all participants from the United States are reminded to act in a Christian manner and adhere to the codes of conduct of their local dioceses.

Creating a Safe Environment

At WYD Panama, there will be thousands of group leaders, trained volunteers, and staff on hand to ensure safety and security.

WYD greeters and security personnel will be at the entrances to all events. Each pilgrim must have valid WYD credentials (i.e. pilgrim badges and registration certificate) for entry. Also, due to the high volume of pilgrims, please plan for additional wait times in your schedule for the lines to enter events.

Backpacks, Bags, and Purses
Traditionally, many pilgrims carry a backpack throughout WYD. As a result, pilgrims and group leaders are encouraged to travel light. If possible, try to carry only those items you will need for that day. Please do not leave your backpack unattended, for any reason.

Emergency Exit
If emergency evacuation is necessary, please follow the instructions of police, security personnel, WYD volunteers, and/or any of the public announcements.

In the unlikely event of widespread sustained crisis, each group leader should have a designated a crisis check-in location. Report to this location, if instructed to do so by security, law enforcement, or event personnel.


Other Helpful Resources

United States Embassy in Panama: WYD Webpage!

U.S. State Department - Travel Details for Panama
with links to travel requirements and other valuable info

Centers of Disease Control (CDC) Travel Info for Panama
with details about medical information for Panama pilgrims

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