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Residency in Panama

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    The government of Panama, over the years, has introduced several types of visa programs to make residency applications easier and to encourage investment in the country. There are many options for retirees and international residents who want to apply for Panamanian citizenship, temporary or permanent residency, or special passports; each of these programs offers exclusive privileges. All visa applications should be carried out by a Panamanian lawyer

    Basic Documentation Required

    Panama has several residency programs, each with its requirements and advantages. For all types of visas listed below, the following basic documentation is required:

    • Valid passport for at least 6 months starting from application date.
    • Valid 2nd ID for at least 6 months starting from application date.
    • National criminal background certificate, authenticated by a Panamanian Consulate in the issuing country or apostilled in your country of origin – valid for 6 months.
    • Health certificate from a Panamanian clinic or hospital.
    • Marriage and birth certificates (if applying with family), duly apostilled or authenticated.

    Panama Retirement Visa (Pensionado Visa)

    Aimed at retirees, this program requires proof of a stable monthly pension or income of at least $1,000 and an additional $250 for each dependent (spouse and children). It offers discounts on services and entertainment. Panama is now rated as one of the first retirement countries in the world! Read the full guide here: Retire in Panama

    Panama Friendly Nations Visa

    Designed for citizens of specific countries with which Panama conducts, professional, economical, investor-like relationships and considers “friendly”. Executive Decree No. 226 dated July 20, 2021, modifies Executive Decree 197 dated May 7, 2021.

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

    AndorraCosta RicaLatviaNorwayPortugal
    GermanyCroatiaLiechtensteinNew ZealandCzech Republic
    ArgentinaChileLithuaniaNetherlandsSan Marino
    AustriaSouth KoreaMaltaPeruSwitzerland

    (Italy is not included, the Panama-Italy Treaty applies to Italian citizens).

    There are 3 ways to apply for this visa: employment in Panama, investment in Panamanian real estate, and fixed-term deposit.

    1. Employment in Panama: For employers that are willing to work for a company in Panama. The required documentation is:
      • Letter of employment on company letterhead that is signed by the employer's legal representative.
      • The employer company's certificate from the public registry.
      • Certificate of the Public Registry of the employer company.
      • Notice of Operation of the employer company.
    2. Real Estate Investment: With an investment of at least $200.000 you could obtain this kind of Visa. The Certificate of Public Registry of Panama to prove the ownership of the real estate, in the personal title of the applicant or in the name of a juridical person, in which the applicant is the final beneficiary, is required.
    3. Fixed Term Deposit of $200.000: The deposit must be placed for 3 years in a bank with a general license that conducts business within the country. The applicant may choose to make this investment directly or through a company in which he is the ultimate beneficiary or stakeholder.

    Government Fees:

    • Payment of the fee per certified check issued to the National Immigration Service $800.
    • Payment of the fee of $250 per certified check issued to the National Treasury $250.

    This procedure is divided into two parts, in the first phase, you obtain two years of provisional residency, and then in the second part, you get permanent residency.

    1. After the two-year period of the provisional visa has passed, the applicant may apply for permanent residency, with all original requirements except for the Police Record and any government-mandated fees.
    2. After five years of permanent residency, applicants may choose to apply for Panamanian citizenship through the naturalization procedure. Once granted citizenship, they can then, if they so want, apply for a Panamanian passport.

    Principal Advantage

    • Panamanian Personal Identity Card (Cedula).
    • Lower investment required
    • Children under 25 and a spouse may be considered dependents.
    • Possibility to get Permanent residency after two years with a provisional resident visa.
    • Possibility to get Panamanian citizenship after five years of permanent residency.

    Panama Qualified Investor Visa

    Designed for wealthy foreigners, the Qualified Investor Visa, through Executive Decree No. 722, dated October 15, 2020, grants you permanent residency.

    One of the following investment options apply for this kind of Visa:

    • Real Estate Investment: Minimum investment of $300.000 until October 2024, or $500.000 afterwards. The property must be held for at least 5 years and have to be free of encumbrance. The Public Registry's title to the property and the National Land Authority's (ANATI) certification attesting to the property's value will serve as proof of the investment.
    • Real Estate Pre-sale Project Investment: Minimum investment of $300.000 until October 2024 and $500.000 afterwards. The applicant must have to sign a purchase and sale contract for the sum of $500.000 or more, free of liens. The Authenticated copy of the contract of promise of purchase and sale of the property and the Authenticated copy of the Trust Contract detailing the disbursements to be made by the trust for the purchase-sale are required.
    • Brokerage House Investment: Minimum Investment of $500.000, through a Brokerage firm in Panama with a license approved by the Superintendence of the Securities Market of Panama, and with the commitment of the investment for 5 years.
    • Bank Fixed Term Deposit: Minimum investment of $750,000 on a fixed term deposit, in any Bank with a general license, authorized to operate in the national territory.

    In every case, the investment can be made personally, (in your name, as a natural person), through a corporation, where you are the holder of 100% of the shares, or through a Panama Private Interest Foundation if the investor is the ultimate beneficiary of such a 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.

    The process to get permanent residency in this program usually takes around 30 days starting from the day the application is submitted at the Immigration Bureau (SNM). The entire procedure must be carried out through a lawyer. Once the application is reviewed and accepted, you get permanent residency.

    Principal Advantages

    • The process is fast: requests must be answered within 30 working days of the documentation being presented.
    • The investor must not be in Panama, the attorney can file the application without the investor having to be in the country. A special power of attorney validly authenticated by an Apostille or the Panamanian Consulate in the nation where the investor gave said power of attorney may be used to submit the application.
    • The applicant will receive a permanent residence and may submit an application for Panamanian citizenship after five years

    Panama Self-Economic Solvency Visa

    Similar to the qualified investor visa, this program was created for those foreigners who have their own capital coming from abroad to invest in Panama.

    There are three available options to apply for this visa:

    • Investment by Time Deposit: $300.000 Term Deposit at a local bank for a minimum of three years.
    • Real Estate Investment: Acquiring a Panamanian real estate asset without financing. The minimum purchase price of $300.000 must be made in your name. In order to pay for your living expenses in Panama, you must also show that you are financially stable.
    • Time Deposit + Real Estate Investment: Buy a real estate property in Panama without financing and establish a Time Deposit in a local bank, for a minimum period of 3 years. Together, these two actions will require a minimum of $300.000.

    Principal Advantage

    • Permanent residency after 2 years of the provisional residency permit.
    • Panamanian Personal Identity Card (Cedula).
    • Spouse and minor children and dependents up to 25 years of age, if they are in full-time education may be included as dependents.
    • 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.

    Panama-Italy Treaty

    Italian citizens, thanks to the Panama-Italy Treaty of Friendship, may apply for this visa and get permanent residency in a short period and a relatively easy way.

    If the candidate can demonstrate that they have a business, investment, or professional connection to Panama, they may be eligible to apply for permanent residence there.

    This professional, financial, or investment connection can be satisfied by forming a firm to engage in any type of legal commerce, investing in the nation, buying real estate, or hiring staff to work for a legitimately registered Panamanian business.

    Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate his financial stability by submitting a bank certification from a local Panamanian bank attesting to his status as a client and at least $5.000 in deposits, plus an additional $2.000 for each dependent (if applicable).

    Panama Macro Enterprise Investor Visa

    Foreign nationals who want to invest in a macro business in Panama may apply for this visa. Each applicant should invest a minimum capital stock of $160.000 declared and paid, being a shareholder and dignitary of the company.

    The investor must raise their investment, adding $2.000 for each dependent, if they want to include dependents under this program to get the residency. This sum can be validated by a bank reference from a Panamanian bank.

    The following requirements must be met in order to apply for this visa:

    • A minimum paid and paid-up capital stock of $160.000.
    • Notarized Affidavit of a Certified Public Accountant detailing the amount of money invested in the company, the shares, their classification, and the details of payment and release.
    • The applicant must be a shareholder or director of the company and hold the shares indicated in the capital.
    • The company's first payroll must include 5 full-time Panamanian employees whose salaries are at least as high as the minimum required by law for each region, along with a description of each employee's position and responsibilities. It must also register its employees with the Social Security Fund and meet all other procedures.

    Panama Retired Rentier Visa

    The interested party must set up a Time Deposit in the Caja de Ahorros de Panama or the Banco Nacional de Panamá, free of encumbrances, for a term of five years in order to be eligible for this kind of visa. Depending on the interest rates the bank is charging at the moment, the minimum interest amount of such a certificate of deposit must produce an interest payment of roughly $850 each month.

    The applicant will get a Panamanian Special Passport, valid for five years. 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. Spouses and children may be included in the visa application.

    List of immigration lawyer firms:

    • MataPitti: Mata & Pitti is an experienced Panama law firm specializing in Panama's global-oriented legal services
    • Quijano: Quijano is an accredited law firm with more than 20 years of practice.
    • Rjav & Asociados: A law firm with expertise in Corporate and Immigration
    • Molina&Co.: Panama Law Firm specialized in corporate law and immigration to Panama
    • International Relocation Firm: Expertise on Panama residency visas, with over 20 years of experience helping clients immigrate to Panama and obtain citizenship​​.
    • Morgan & Morgan: Morgan & Morgan is a full-service Panamanian law firm, regularly assisting local and multinational corporations
    • Abel Gomez Tomiczek: Panama Immigration Lawyer

    Sources & Foot Notes

    [1] Consulate of Panama - Panama Residency, Citizenship, and Passports
    [2] Mata & Pitti - Panama Residency Programs
    [3] Relo Firm - How to Obtain Permanent Residency in Panama
    [4] Kraemer & Kraemer - Panama Qualified Investor Visa
    [5] Quijano & Associates - Panama Qualified Investor Visa in a Nutshell

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