World Youth Day (WYD) is a celebration organized by the Catholic Church and it unites young people (ages 16 to 35) and church leaders from more than 150 countries. Many youth and young adults from the United States have participated in each international World Youth Day. The United States anticipates 10,000 participants will come to Panama in January 2019.
What is World Youth Day?
WYD is an encounter of young people from all around the world with the Pope amidst a festive, religious, and cultural atmosphere. The international WYD is held every two or three years and the last one was held in Krakow (Poland) in 2016. The official information hub for pilgrims and leaders from the United States is the World Youth Day USA (WYDUSA) office at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, DC. Go to www.wydusa.org for more details. You can also follow updates via Twitter and Facebook through @WYDUSA.
How does one participate in WYD?
Event organizers and government officials emphasize that to participate in most events, you must register in advance and receive tickets. Organizers and government officials have also noted that, rather than registering as individuals for World Youth Day, most people are registering through local church ministries or apostolates, or in groups of five or more people.
Traveling to Panama:
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends that before leaving the United States, travelers take a few minutes to sign up with STEP (the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). In fact, it is highly encouraged that group leaders ensure all group members have registered for STEP enrollment. There is a convenient way for leaders to submit their entire group for enrollment by “creating an organization/group account” at the bottom of the enrollment webpage and uploading a spreadsheet. This system makes it easy for travelers to receive updated information about safety conditions and it helps travelers and their families connect with the Embassy in case of an emergency. Enrollment is easy at https://step.state.gov/step/. While every trip is different, we also recommend that in advance of traveling, all travelers review the State Department’s Traveler’s Checklist at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-checklist.html
The WYD “Pilgrim’s Package” may provide some medical coverage for registered participants. However, because insurance coverage and the medical infrastructure do not work identically in Panama and the U.S., the Embassy strongly encourages participants to confirm or arrange for health insurance that will cover them while in Panama. For more information, please see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/your-health-abroad.html
To enter Panama for this event, travelers must comply with Panamanian visa requirements. For more information see https://www.migracion.gob.pa/ (Note: this website is available in Spanish only).
Note that U.S. passport holders do not require visas to enter Panama. As its name suggests, World Youth Day is a global event expected to bring over 100,000 youth and young adults (ages 16 to 35), along with their guides, group leaders, and pastors to Panama. This large influx of people will have an impact on availability of transportation, tourist services, and lodging. Travelers should expect that during WYD, the capital city and much of the country will be focused on the events surrounding the Pope’s visit, and that the resources that normally exist for tourists may not be available.
Travelling participants should make three copies of their passport. Leave one at home, one at the diocesan, parish, or group leader’s U.S. office, and one with the group leader to take to Panama. Should WYD participants lose their passport abroad, they must immediately contact the United States Embassy in Panama.
ONLY during WYD you need just to contact us within the schedule specified below:
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakas
Building No. 783
Telephone: +(507) 317-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:
Fax: +(507) 317-5278
Hours of Operation:
Mon- Thurs 8am-5:30pm
For additional information on visiting Panama including U.S. travel advisories and alerts, vaccinations required, and much more, please see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Panama.html
Note to families of travelers:
If you are not travelling internationally, but you are a WYD participant’s family member or loved one, be aware of situations in which you may need emergency assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Panama:
• your loved one becomes a victim of crime
• you are concerned that a loved one has gone missing abroad
• you need to locate a loved one in a crisis abroad (manmade or natural disaster)
• your loved one becomes detained or arrested abroad
• your loved one needs emergency financial assistance abroad
For more details and proactive measures visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies.html
Please visit the official international site of the World Youth Day in Panama for more information about the WYD event itself, and follow @wyd_en or @jmj_es for regular updates on social media platforms.
For other WYD questions not covered on this website, or the official World Youth Day Panama website, please check the USCCB’s WYDUSA web page: http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/index.cfm or email your questions to WYD@usccb.org.