Regardless of how well you plan and how much money you budget, you may find yourself low on cash while on vacation or business in Panama. Perhaps you did not bring your credit card and debit card so you cannot charge or withdraw money from an ATM. Perhaps (and hopefully this is not the case) you lost or had your wallet or purse stolen. Regardless of the reason, you may contact someone in your home country to have them wire you money via Western Union. I have regularly used Western Union to send money to my Panamanian husband when he has remained in Panama while I traveled to the United States and find their service incredibly useful, safe, and efficient. However, with improved security come some things to be aware of as you send or receive money.
One can send money online, by phone, or in person via Western Union. If you are planning to just send money once and want to do it quickly, I would recommend stopping by a place with Western Union services. These offices are quite common and usually are found in places giving quick loans, major department stores, banks, or grocery stores; look for their black and yellow logo. You can find a location near you by searing on their website. If you would like to regularly send money, then it will be worth it to set up an online account so you can quickly process the wires in the future.
In person you will be asked to fill out a form including your information and that of the person to receive money and which country where they will receive it (you do not need to specific a town or province within that country.) If you are sending money online you will be walked through a series of pages with drop-down boxes and areas to fill in.
The most important thing is to list the name of the recipient EXACTLY as it appears on the form of identification they will present when they pick up the money (their passport or ID card/driver's license.) You must include middle name and any suffix, such as Jr., Sr., etc. If so much as one letter is wrong the person will not be allowed to collect the money. Rather, they will have to contact the sender to have them call Western Union to make the correction.
Western Union will charge a fee for wiring the money and the fee depends on the amount you wish to send and to where it is sent. In most cases you will choose to have the money delivered "in minutes." Once processed, you will receive a confirmation code. This code must be given to the recipient. along with the amount sent and the name of the sender.
The recipient can then visit any Western Union office in Panama (there are many, even in some relatively small towns) by presenting their identification, the confirmation code, and answering any questions regarding who sent the money, from which country, and the amount. Upon passing these security steps the money will immediately be handed over to the recipient.
If the sender used the online method they will receive an email when the money has been picked up.
Western Union provides a quick, secure, and efficient way to send money to someone in need as they travel. Just be sure to complete all of the information accurately, in particular the name of the recipient.