Panama Residency Programs

Effective Alternatives to Obtain Residency in Panama

The Panamanian government has created over the years, a series of visa programs to obtain residency, and to promote tourism and investment in the country.  Each of these programs offers special benefits for foreign residents and retirees who wish to obtain temporary or permanent residency, Panamanian citizenship, or special Panamanian passports.


The following is a list of the main visa programs that offer permanent residency in Panama:

Qualified Investor visa
Friendly Nations visa
Self-Economic Solvency visa
Panama-Italy Treaty
Pensioner visa


I. QUALIFIED INVESTOR VISA
(the most recent of the programs offered by Panama).

To encourage and reactivate the Panamanian economy, the National Government, through Executive Decree No. 722, dated October 15, 2020, created within the category of Permanent Resident for Economic Reasons, a new visa known as Qualified Investor Visa, for those foreigners who can contribute to the development of investments in the Republic of Panama.

To demonstrate the purpose of establishing permanent residence under this category, the interested party will have the following investment alternatives in Panama:

  1. To invest in the purchase of real estate, which may be for a value of not less than US$ 300,000.00, during the first 24 months of effectiveness of Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15, 2020. After this time, that is, as of October 15, 2022, the value of the real estate must be for an amount not less than US$ 500,000.00.  This amount must come from abroad and the property must be free of encumbrances. The investment will be proved with the title of the property issued by the Public Registry and with the certification of the National Land Authority (ANATI) that accredits the value of the property.
  2. For reason of Real Estate Investment by means of a Contract of Promise of Purchase and Sale. For which the investor must present a) Authenticated copy of the contract of promise of purchase and sale of the property, for US$300,000.00. b). Authenticated copy of the Trust Contract detailing the disbursements to be made by the trust for the purchase-sale.
  3. To invest the sum of five hundred thousand dollars (US$500,000.00), through a Brokerage House with a license approved by the Superintendence of the Securities Market of Panama, and with the commitment of the investment for a period of five (5) years.
  4. To invest in a Time Deposit in the amount of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars (US$750,000.00), for a period of five (5) years, in any Bank with a general license, authorized to operate in the national territory.

The investment can be made personally, (in your name, as a natural person), or through a corporation, where you are the holder of 100% of the shares of the Corporation, or through a Panama Private Interest Foundation if the investor is the ultimate beneficiary of such foundation. The invested funds must come from banks outside the Panamanian territory.

Spouses and minor children and dependents up to 25 years of age if they are in full-time education may be included in the application.

Key benefits:

  • The process is expeditious, the request must be resolved in a period of 30 working days, counted from the presentation of the documentation.
  • In addition, it has the advantage that the investor is not required to be present in Panama for the attorney to file the application. The application may be submitted through a special power of attorney duly authenticated by Apostille or by the Panamanian Consulate in the country where the investor granted such power of attorney.  Subsequently, the visa applicant must travel to Panama to finalize the process and will be issued a permanent residence card with his or her photograph.
  • Will be entitled to the Panamanian Personal Identity Card.
  • The applicant will have the option, if desired, to apply for Panamanian citizenship through the naturalization process, after having lived for five years as a permanent resident in Panama.

II. PANAMA FRIENDLY NATIONS VISA
(updated requirements)

The Government of Panama, through Executive Decree No. 226 dated July 20, 2021, modifies Executive Decree 197 dated May 7, 2021, and offers new alternatives to apply for permanent residence for foreign nationals of specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic and investment relations with the Republic of Panama.

The following is the list of Friendly Countries, whose citizens may apply for this Residence Permit:

1.Andorra, 2. Germany, 3. Argentina, 4. Australia, 5. Austria, 6. Brazil, 7. Belgium, 8. Canada, 9. Costa Rica, 10. Croatia, 11. Chile, 12. Cyprus, 13. South Korea, 14. Denmark, 15. Ireland, 26. Israel, 27. Japan, 28. Latvia, 29. Liechtenstein, 30. Lithuania, 31. Luxembourg, 32. Malta, 33. Mexico, 34. Monaco, 35. Montenegro, 36. Norway, 37. New Zealand, 38. Netherlands, 39. Paraguay, 40. Peru, 41. Poland, 42. Portugal, 43 Czech Republic, 44. San Marino, 45. Serbia, 46. Switzerland, 47. Sweden, 48. Singapore, 49.Uruguay. (Italy is not included, due to it already has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation with the Republic of Panama).

THERE ARE THREE (3) ALTERNATIVES TO APPLY FOR THIS VISA, AS FOLLOWS:

1.FOR LABOR REASONS. In case of being hired to work for a company in Panama, for which you must provide, among other things: a. Letter of employment on letterhead, signed by the legal representative of the employer. b. Certificate of the Public Registry of the employer company. c. Notice of Operation of the employer company.

2. FOR REASONS OF INVESTMENT IN THE PURCHASE OF A REAL ESTATE, whose value cannot be less than two hundred thousand dollars (US$200,000.00). A Certificate of Public Registry of Panama must be presented that proves the ownership of the real estate, in personal title of the applicant or in the name of a juridical person, in which the applicant is the final beneficiary.

3. FOR REASONS OF DEPOSIT OF A FIXED TERM DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF US$200,000.00.

The deposit must be made in a Bank of general license that operates in the national territory, and for a term of three (3) years.  This investment may be made personally by the applicant, or through a legal entity, in which the applicant is the shareholder or final beneficiary.

PROCEDURE:

This permit will be granted in 2 stages. A first stage that grants provisional residency for a period of 2 years and a second stage, which grants permanent residency.  Once the two years of the provisional permit have elapsed, the applicant may file the application for permanent residence, complying with the same requirements established initially, except for the Police Record and the payments required by the government.

– Applicants will have the option to apply for Panamanian citizenship after 5 years of having permanent residency, through the naturalization process, and once citizenship is received, they may apply for a Panamanian passport if they wish.

Key Benefits:

  • Right to a Panamanian Personal Identity Card.
  • The amount of the investment is lower than that required for other residence permit applications.
  • Spouse and children under 25 can qualify as dependents.
  • Permanent residency after 2 years of the provisional residency permit.
  • Entitlement to a Panamanian Personal Identity Card.
  • Applicants will have the option to apply for Panamanian citizenship after 5 years of having permanent residency, through the naturalization process, and once citizenship is received, they may apply for a Panamanian passport if they wish.

III. SELF ECONOMIC SOLVENCY VISA

This program was created for those foreigners who have their own capital coming from abroad to invest in Panama.

The interested party may choose one of the three alternatives to apply for this visa, as follows:

  1. Time Deposit: Establish a Time Deposit (Term Deposit) for Three Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$300,000.00) in a local Bank in Panama for a minimum period of 3 years.
  2. Real Estate Investment: Buying a real estate property in Panama without financing. The property must be purchased under your personal name, for the minimum amount of Three Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$300,000.00). You must also provide proof of financial solvency to cover your living expenses in Panama.

3.Time Deposit + Real Estate Investment: Acquire a real estate property in Panama without financing and establish a Time Deposit (Term Deposit) in a local Bank in Panama, for a minimum period of 3 years, both equivalent to a minimum of US$300,000.00.

Key benefits:

  • Permanent residency after 2 years of the provisional residency permit.
  • Entitlement to a Panamanian Personal Identity Card.
  • Spouse and minor children and dependents up to 25 years of age, if they are in full-time education may be included as dependents.
  • Applicants will have the option to apply for Panamanian citizenship, through the naturalization process, after 5 years of having obtained permanent residency, and once citizenship is received, they may apply for a Panamanian passport.

IV. PANAMA-ITALY TREATY

Italian citizens, covered by the treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation between the Republic of Panama and Italy, and whose purpose is to exercise economic, professional or investment activities of any kind in Panama (except for the restrictions of the law) apply for this visa.

The applicant may apply for Panama permanent residence if he/she proves to have a professional, economic or investment relationship in the country.  This professional, economic or investment link can be fulfilled by the incorporation of a company for any business of lawful commerce, or by investing in the country, in the purchase of real estate, or’ if hired to work in a company duly established in Panama.  The applicant must also prove his economic solvency, by presenting a bank certification from a local Bank in Panama, confirming that he is a client of the Bank and that he has a deposit of not less than US$5,000.00 plus US$2,000.00 for each dependent, (if applicable).


V. PENSIONER VISA

The applicant must be a pensioner or retiree of a foreign government, private company or international organization, and there is no minimum or maximum age requirement to qualify for this category.  The pensioner must receive a guaranteed monthly income or pension for life of at least US$1,000.00 and an additional US$250 for each dependent (spouse and children). 

Key Benefits:

  • Obtaining Permanent Residence within 5/6 months.
  • Right to a Panamanian Personal Identity Card.
  • Exemptions of the payments to the government for the amount of US$250 and US$800, for the application of the visa.

Additional benefits:

  1. Total duty-free allowance for the importation of articles for domestic or personal use, up to the amount of US$10,000.00.
    2. Total duty-free allowance every two (2) years for the importation of a motor vehicle for personal or family use.
    3. 50% discount in Cinemas, Concerts, Sports.
    4. 30% discount on public transportation.
    5. 25% discount on airline tickets.
  2. 50% discount on hotels from Monday to Thursday.
  3. 30% discount on hotels from Friday to Sunday.
  4. 25% discount in Restaurants.
  5. 15% discount on Fast Food Restaurants.
  6. 15% discount in Hospitals (if Insurance does not apply).
  7. 10% discount on medicines.
  8. 20% discount on Medical Consultation.
    13.15% discount on eye exams and dental exams.

    Subsequently, after having lived five years as a permanent resident in Panama, the applicant will have the option, if desired, to apply for Panamanian citizenship through the naturalization process.


Other visa options:

VI. RETIRED RENTIER

To qualify for this type of visa, the interested party must establish a Time Deposit in the Banco Nacional de Panama, or in the Caja de Ahorros de Panama, free of encumbrances and for a period of 5 years.  The minimum interest amount of such certificate of deposit must generate a monthly interest of approximately US$850.00, which will depend on the interest rates applicable at that time by the bank.

Key Benefits:

This Permit shall be granted for a period of five (5) years, which may be extended for an equal term, for which the applicant shall provide the same requirements initially demanded, except for the Criminal Record Certificate.

The applicant will be granted a Panamanian Special Passport, valid for five (5) years.  The nationality of the applicant’s country of origin will be included in said passport.  This passport does not grant Panamanian citizenship.  If the applicant decides to withdraw the funds of his fixed term, before the five years, the passport and the residence visa will be cancelled.  Dependents (spouse and children) may be included in the visa application.

VII. MACRO ENTERPRISE INVESTOR VISA

This visa may be requested by foreigners who wish to invest in a macro business in Panama, with a minimum capital stock of US$160,000.00 dollars, declared and paid, for each applicant, being a shareholder and dignitary of the company.  The notice of operation of the company may only include legal activities, which are not reserved for Panamanian nationals.

If the investor wishes to incorporate dependents under this program to opt for Permanent Residency, he/she must increase his/her investment, including US$2,000.00 for each dependent. This amount that can be proven with a bank reference from his/her bank in Panama.

To apply for this visa, the following conditions must be met:

  1. a) Minimum capital stock of US$160,000.00 paid and paid up.
  2. b) Notarized Affidavit of an Authorized Public Accountant, where it states the capital that has been invested in the company, the shares, and their class, and that they are paid and released.
  3. c) The applicant must be a director or shareholder of the company and holder of the shares reflected in the capital.
  4. d) The company must have an initial payroll of five (5) Panamanian employees, working full time and with a salary not less than the minimum established in the Law for each region, and detailing the position or activity that each one performs. In addition, it must register its employees with the Social Security Fund and comply with the respective obligations.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR VISA APPLICATIONS

  • All visa applications must be made through a Panamanian lawyer or law firm.
  • There is no age limit required for applying for any of these visas, save for the minimum legal age of 18 years. Young people under 18 years will qualify for a visa as dependents of their parents.
  • All foreign documents to be presented to the authorities in Panama must be certified by a Notary, and in addition by a Panamanian consulate or apostille.
  • All documents must be recent (within three months of visa application) and passports must have at least one year for expiration.
  • Dependents: Bring a marriage certificate. If your children under 18 are to be covered by your visa, you’ll need to bring recent birth certificates.
  • All visa applications require the applicant to obtain a health certificate and HIV test in Panama.

IMMIGRATION INQUIRIES IN PANAMA

For cost information or further information about the different visa alternatives and retiring in Panama, please contact us and speak to one of our experienced lawyers. One of our Panama visa immigration lawyers will contact you as soon as possible to guide you through the requirements and process to obtain Panama residency.