Panama Knife Laws

Panama Knife Laws

Panama’s crime rate is increasing and a big portion of this happens through knives. One of the biggest reasons could be to this is, there is no constitutional law against knives.

So, you may hear there are several news stories regarding tourists and locals being robbed by knife-wielding men. Not handguns, mind it, just knives!

It forced us to check Panama Knife Laws, and how the people deal with this law.


Below are some facts regarding knife laws in Panama that might surprise you.

  • There is no particular amendment related to knife possession and carry in Panama
  • There are no officially listed illegal knives in Panama
  • You can carry any sort of concealed knife. Here, the term “concealed” is considered “covered” and is not restricted by the standard 4-inch blade size.
  • We don’t recommend open carrying a knife in public
  • In remote areas, heavy-duty knives are very common (check documentaries on Panama, especially village life)
  • Carrying an exposed knife (other than a pocket knife) in a city area is considered issue-critical. This act will drag you into a police problem.
  • Amazingly, you can carry a knife in your car in Panama. Be aware that if police chase you for another reason and find the knife in your car, it will be a problem for you (It is totally common sense)

List of Illegal Knives in Panama

While almost every country provides us with a list of illegal knives, Panama didn’t. Well, when we researched about it, Panama was quite easy going when it comes to knives.

Additionally, we don’t recommend you carry a dangerous knife with you. For example;

  • Push Daggers
  • Machete
  • Ballistic knives

No, the laws haven’t mentioned these knives as illegal. It’s just us recommending that you don’t carry any illegal knives and these are just examples. If you ever get caught and don’t have any proper explanation, you will be in trouble.

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Open Carry Vs Concealed Carry in Panama

Let’s check how people and police treat carrying a concealed knife.

Concealed Carry In Cities

Police and people in the cities of Panama are very tolerant of concealed knives with 4-inch blades. The size that is mentioned here is the only blade size, not the entire knife.

You can easily roam around the streets with a knife in your pocket without any problem. Also, not to mention, there is no problem peeling fruits in public with this type of knife.

It should be mentioned that there is no legal provision regarding a child carrying a concealed knife. However, it is not very common, as parents do not allow it in most cases.

Also, the social norms prohibit carrying a knife (even a simple blade without academic purposes) inside the school.

Concealed Carry In Rural Areas

As mentioned in the previous section, you can easily carry a concealed knife on the city streets. The same goes for the not-so-busy cities. You shouldn’t be surprised if you see children on the street slashing or peeling fruits, crafting toys, etc., with a small knife.

You cannot carry a covered knife inside any establishment with a security checkpoint (equipped with a metal detector or full body scanner).

Concealed Carry In Remote Places

Whatever you are—a tourist, an aid worker, or a local in Panama—in remote places, a concealed knife is more than essential. It can be a vital tool for self-defense.

Also, there are several other reasons to carry a concealed knife in the remote places of Panama.

  • Peeling and chopping cooking materials
  • Opening a can
  • Cleaning fish or meat
  • Cutting firewood
  • Leaving tracking marks for fellow personnel, and many more

Open Carry

When it comes to open carry, the Panama law book hasn’t mentioned anything to us. Yet, we recommend that you don’t do that anywhere there are people around.

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Anyone can feel insecure seeing a knife in their hand which will not turn out to be good. As a result, call the police and report you as a danger.

Illegality In Certain Areas

However, you are not permitted to carry such items in the following locations.

  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Airports
  • Bars and pubs
  • Government buildings
  • Museums
  • Consider any establishment with a guard post (metal detector)

Carrying Knives on The Beaches of Panama

If you go to the beach to sunbathe and play, you can carry a pocket knife for general purposes.

But don’t even think about carrying an exposed heavy-duty knife unless you are going to perform the below activities.

  • Scuba diving at great depths
  • Going to the open ocean
  • You are involved in life-saving activities (talking about shark attacks, etc.)
  • In short, you must have a to-the-point reason to carry a heavy-duty knife

List Of Legal Knives In Panama

If you ask what size knife is legal to carry in Panama, the knife laws do not mention the allowed blade size, material type, etc.

However, below is a list of some popular knives in Panama.

Small Knives

The list contains some concealed pocket knives that are commonly seen in Panama

  • Automatic knives
  • Butterfly knives
  • Flick knives
  • Gravity Knives
  • Double-edged folding knives

Heavy-Duty Knives

The following are the common heavy-duty knives in Panama for professional use

  • Cheapos
  • Any sort of kitchen knife
  • Butcher knives, etc

Penalties And Punishment for Carrying Illegal Knives

As mentioned earlier, no definitive provision regarding legal and illegal knives exists. However, you can consider carrying an exposed heavy-duty knife illegal.

And in such a case, you may face the below-listed consequences.

  • You have to answer to the police
  • Police can take you to a nearby police station for further investigation regarding your identity
  • If you use a knife to physically harm someone (except in self-defense; this must be proven), you may face imprisonment or financial penalties, depending on the victim’s situation
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Stabbing Death Rate In Panama

For a country with such few laws regarding knives, it still has major concerns with it. The country is ranked 48th in the world in terms of the stabbing death rate.


Here, we answer some common questions regarding Panama’s knife-related laws.

Q: Is there any particular section with regard to knife legislation in Panama’s constitution?

No, there is no particular legislation regarding knife carrying. However, carrying a concealed pocket knife is not a big deal.

Q: Can police arrest me if I carry a large-blade knife in public?

They will stop you and question you about your actions. If they are not satisfied, they may take you to the police station for further investigation.

Q: Can I use a knife for self-defense in Panama?

Yes, you can use such for self-defense. However, if the police arrive, you must prove that (self-defensible act) to avoid imprisonment.

Bottom Line

Panama is a shiny and colorful country with often-happening minor crimes, and most of the involved criminals use knives as their primary weapon.

So, apart from the Panama knife laws, we suggest you not carry a heavy-duty knife in public. It is essential to avoid getting odd looks and becoming suspicious.

It is better to carry a pocket knife (4-inch) if you need it. It is fully legal, and the country’s culture supports it.

However, if you are bound to carry a large knife, you should contact the respective area’s police department to avoid inconveniences.

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