Panama Immigration – Visa and
Panama immigration is one of the most inviting in the world, whether you’d like to
travel or to immigrate. This amazing country has immigration visas that offer
permanent or temporary residency. In some instances, permanent residence
may lead to Panamanian citizenship and passport. How can a country that has
so much to offer be so accommodating to foreigners?
The aim of some Panama immigration programs is to attract overseas tertiary
educated professionals and various skilled workers to fill the gap caused by
Panama’s economic growth in recent years.
The rules are clear and do not pose
significant threat to Panamanian citizens due to laws that govern Panamanian
companies. These laws only allow the hiring of a certain percentage of foreigners
when companies are unable to locate skilled workers and professionals to fill
their hiring needs. It is important to note certain business enterprises like
retail businesses are off limits to residents (non-citizens). Additionally,
residents are prohibited from practicing in certain professional areas such as,
medical, or veterinary doctor, attorney-at-law, architect, and engineer.
Overview of Panama Immigration
The most impressive residency program ordered by Presidential Decree in 2012
is the Panama Friendly Nations Visa. This visa allows citizens of 50 ‘friendly’
nations to apply for permanent residency and become Panama citizens with less
financial requirements compared to other programs. Alternately, other Panama
immigration visas are developed for wealthy immigrants who are able to invest in
Panama’s economy by starting new corporations or buying into real estate or
other industries. Other Panama Immigration Visas include the Agricultural
Investor Program, Reforestation Visa, and the Self Economic Solvency Visa.
Middle income foreigners who wish to retire in Panama on a fixed pension,
annuity, or retirement fund will find a visa tailored exclusively to their needs. This
Panama immigration visa program is called the Retiree/Pensioner Visa Program,
sometimes referred to as the Pensionado Program/Visa.
All Panama immigration applications require the applicant to hire a
Panamanian lawyer who specializes in immigration law. (our law firm is
specializes in immigration law) It is also important to note, only two Panama
Immigrant Visas grant immediate permanent residency. These two visas are
the Pensionado and Panama Friendly Nation visas. The other visas require a
two-year provisional temporary residency period before qualifying for permanent
Benefits of Panama Immigration
Ability to have a second home in a beautiful country where you can
live peacefully or visit Panama part-time.
Panama is ideal as a “safe haven” to escape to with your loved
ones in the event of war, political or civil unrest in your home country
Lifetime residency based on the visa you choose, rules to maintain
residency are uncomplicated
Live in a tropical paradise where the economy is stable, crime is
low and costs of living are low compared to majority of developed
Tax Breaks! Panama is undoubtedly more “tax friendly,” e.g. income
from overseas sources are not taxed and do not need to be
Legal asset protection and privacy, many overseas lawsuits have
no jurisdiction in Panama courts
Less restrictions, regulations, and taxes that prevent the growth
Real estate ownership is totally possible and affordable whether
city or beachfront property
Possibility to get Panama passport and citizenship through some
General Documents Required for all Residency
The following is a list of general requirements and documents that must be
submitted in order to satisfy all immigration applications in Panama. These
documents are requested in accordance with Panama Immigration Law. Your
chosen Panama Immigration Visa will determine which additional documents are
required. To have a look at some of the required forms you can find them on
the National Migration Service website.
1. Submit a formal application to be a permanent resident along with a
notarized Special Power of Attorney allowing your lawyer to act on
2. Get a notarized copy of your entire passport. Your passport should
have at least one year validity.
3. Provide a background check on your criminal history from your home
country or the country where you have resided for the past two
years, duly authenticated by an Embassy or Consulate of Panama,
or Apostilled in the same country. This report must be prepared by a
“national”, “central”, or “federal” police agency
a. If the criminal background report does not originate in the
applicant’s country of citizenship, but as a resident, his or
her legal residence must be identified with a copy of the
legal residency ID that must be Apostilled or authenticated.
b. If the applicant has been a Panamanian resident for the
last two years in a row (not leaving the country), the
Panama national police is required to provide the criminal
4. Original medical examination report from a Panamanian doctor
5. 2 Certified Checks:
a. US$800 in case of applicant’s repatriation (deportation
fund) payable to “Servicio Nacional de Migracion” (National
b. US$250 payable to “Tesoro Nacional” (National Treasury)
for the Panama immigration application fee.
6. Sworn Affidavit explaining the applicant’s purpose for seeking
Panama Permanent Residency and ability to support family and
dependents. Your lawyer will provide you a form for this purpose.
7. All documents must be “original”, “updated”,
“official”, and “authenticated”.
IMPORTANT: Once Panama immigration has issued a resolution of an approval
(or denial) of your
residency application, these checks are non-refundable.
As it relates to Panama Immigration Visa application, the following definitions
applies to the words “original”, “updated”, “official”, and “authenticated”
Original: The original document, not a copy;
Updated: Recently issued document not more than two (2) months
Official: Issued straight from designated agency or company and
not reproduced via the internet/computer, copier or other outside
Authenticated: Notarized and authenticated by the nearest Panama
Consul or by Apostille.
Apostille: An Apostille is a certification that a public document is
Types of Panama Immigration Visas
In this section, we will discuss 8 types of Panama Immigration Visas. While some
Panama immigration visa programs offer temporary residency permits, others
offer permanent residency permits or full citizenship and Panama passports.
Your immigrant status will depend on the selected residency program. Pay
attention to the details surrounding all these Panama immigration programs
because some only offer temporary resident visas, or Panama work permits.
1. Panama Pensioner (Retiree) Visa (Pensionado Visa)
You need to be at least 18 years of age to retire in Panama. Can you imagine
retiring at 18 years old? What a life! Retirees 18 years or older with proof of
access to a lifetime pension or annuity of at least US$1,000 per month
qualify for this visa. In order to provide proof of pension, a document from the
government agency or company responsible for making the payments must be
notarized and authenticated by the closest Panama Consul or by Apostille. This
minimum amount can be reduced by purchasing real estate in Panama valued at
least US$100,000. In this scenario, the monthly minimum is reduced to US$750.
Each additional dependent must have another US$250 assigned to be paid per
month by the annuity or pension. The annuity or pension may be covered by a
private company, military, government agencies, corporations, a bank, an
insurance company, or a trust. This Panama visa provides several discounts
from movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, concerts, and domestic
airlines along with other products or services.
How to Qualify for Panama Pensioner Visa
A letter from the overseas government entity or corporation that
operates the pension, or a mutual fund company, or a trust
company, or a bank, or an insurance company that certifies that the
funds exist and promises payments will be for the lifespan of the
Proof of existence of the private company issuing the payments.
Copies of documents/statements showing the payments are being
made or transferred to a bank account
Approved dependents include spouses and children up to 25 years
of age who are enrolled as full-time university students. Panama
requires proof of an additional US$250 per month for each
dependent. Children 18 years+ who are not full-time university
students or disabled will lose their Pensionado Visa status and they
will have to apply for another visa program for which they qualify.
IMPORTANT: Spouses can combine their pensions to meet the minimum
US$1,000 pension or annuity
Panama Pensioner Visa Application Process and Required Documents
In addition to the general documents listed above, below are the additional
documents required for the Panama Pensionado Visa. These documents must
be submitted in your application to Panama immigration to become a permanent
1. A letter from the government agency or company responsible for
making the payments must be notarized and authenticated by the
closest Panama Consul or by Apostille, confirming the applicant is
receiving a pension or annuity of at least US$1,000 per month for life. Both spouses can combine their pensions and/or annuities to
cover this amount.
2. Additional payment of US$250 required as an immigration fee for
each dependent payable to “Tesoro Nacional” (National Treasury).
3. Applicants who purchased real estate in Panama valued at least
US$100,000 must submit a Certificate of Public Registry showing
the applicant as titled owner to benefit from the reduced monthly
pension requirement (US$750 instead of US$1000).
4. If a private company is responsible for providing a pension or
annuity, the following documents must be submitted:
a. Letter from the bank, insurance company, trust company,
mutual funds company, or foreign administrator of
pensions, certifying that sufficient funds exist to ensure the
annuity or private pension for the applicant’s lifetime and
this company is making the payments
b. Proof of existence and area of business operation of the
company supporting the annuity or pension
c. Proof of pay-outs made by the company or bank statement
5. Proof from the overseas government that the private company is
thoroughly registered and compliant.
6. Copy of legal marriage certificate if married and/or birth certificates
of all child dependents under 18 years of age if applicable.
7. All documents submitted should be original, recent, official, and
IMPORTANT: Child dependents will receive temporary residency until they attain
the age 18 to 25 if enrolled as full-time university students. Child dependents
diagnosed with a verifiable mental or physical disability will remain under the
Panama Pensionado Visa after 18 years of age.
2. Panama Friendly Nations Visa
The Panama Friendly Nations Visa is officially called the Permanent Residence
for Nationals of Specific Countries. This visa is ideal for professionals and
entrepreneurs from 50 countries that maintain ‘friendly’ relationships with
Panama and is centered on a professional, economic, and investment
activity. Citizens of these 50 countries can relocate to Panama with their
immediate family and get permanent residency faster than any other Panama
visa. The Friendly Nations Visa requires primary applicants to open a local bank
account with a minimum balance of $5,000, as well as prove economic or
professional solvency through one of the following activities:
Buy an existing Panama company or create a new one
Get hired by a Panamanian company
The 50 friendly nations are: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium,
Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan,
Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Marino,
Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia,
Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland,
Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, United Kingdom (Great Britain &
3. Panama Professional Employment Visa
One of the reasons Panama developed several of its immigration visas was to
attract overseas tertiary educated professionals and various skilled workers to fill
the gap caused by Panama’s economic growth in recent years. Foreigners who
work for a Panamanian company in a “professional” capacity while paying social
security taxes and holding a college degree can receive permanent residence
after two years of holding a temporary residence. This option is ideal for
foreigners who want to work in Panama. Consequently, the applicant’s area of
professional practice must not conflict with any of the professions reserved for
Panamanian nationals, for example, medical or veterinary doctor, attorney-atlaw, architect, or engineer.
All applicants are required to have tertiary training, and different from other visa
programs, they must make two applications, two years apart. The reason behind
two applications is because temporary residence cards are valid for one (1) year.
When submitting the final application, applicants must demonstrate that they
have been employed in Panama for the last nine months and have maintained
compliance by paying local social security. General documents required for
applying for this immigrant visa can be found in the General Documents
Required for all Residency Programs section above.
4. Panama Reforestation Investor Visa
In its efforts to promote eco-friendly initiatives, the Panama government
established the Reforestation Investor Visa. This visa requires a minimum
investment of US$40,000 or US$80,000 in a reforestation project certified by
the state. This includes buying a minimum of 20 hectares of lands with title and
an additional investment of US$2,000 per dependent. In return, applicants
/investors receive permanent residency visas. Additionally, these reforestation
investments have provided good returns for investors.
There are several reforestation projects around Panama ready and waiting to
welcome an investment of US$40,000 or US$80,000. The US$80,000 investment
leads to a permanent residency after one year, while the smaller US$40,000
investment leads to a permanent residency after five years requiring the visa to
be renewed each year until the fifth year. Most of these projects are managed by
foreign entities, mostly from Europe. The investor’s capital is calculated towards
purchasing at least 20 hectares of forest land. Apart from doing the investment in
one’s own name, the investor can also choose to make the investment using a
legal Panama entity. As stated previously, an additional US$2,000 investment is
required for each dependent that will be included in the submission of the visa
Benefits of Reforestation Investment in Panama
Permanent residency for the applicant and dependents, this can
open doors for a full Panama citizenship with a Panama passport.
Panama law states that a foreigner must be a permanent resident for
a minimum of 5 years before applying for citizenship.
Highly profitable investment
The Earth is our most important and most endangered resource. All
over the world tropical rainforests are under threat and are being cut
down for wood making them more and more depleted and close to
The cost of timber is rising as demand increases and supply is
barely able to keep up.
Panama reforestation investment provides an ideal opportunity
to save the environment by reducing rainforest depletion.
Reforestation is centered on planting new trees to replace the ones
cut down for their timber.
There is no doubt this recent approach to sourcing lumber from sustainable
reforestation projects and not from rain forests is better for the environment. For
individuals who are champions of the Earth and are able to afford this visa, this
one of the most ‘green’ investments one can find. The Panama immigration
reforestation visa is often referred to as Panama’s Green Investment Visa.
How does Panama Reforestation work?
One goal of Panama reforestation projects is to plant new trees, grow them,
maintain them every couple years, harvest them between year 15 and 20, and
plant more trees in their places. Panama offers investments in mahogany and
teak reforestation. However, teak is in higher demand because it maintains better
resistance to decay, is resilient to weather conditions, and repels insect
infestation. Teak is often used for furniture inside and outside in addition to
decking for vessels. Teak is also easy to manipulate in wood crafting because of
its elastic fiber.
Because of these driving forces, reforestation of teak in Panama is very
profitable. Bear in mind it will require up to 20 years for a teak tree to reach
maturity. Teak may not be indigenous to Panama because it was imported in the
early 1900’s however it has been well sustained under Panama’s climate
With this residency program, there is no requirement to get your hands dirty. No
is farming necessary when you invest in a Panama reforestation project.
The government certified companies involved in the project will sell you
the required minimum hectares and carry out the maintenance during the
full life of the investment. This includes thinning and selling the thinned lumber,
harvesting and selling the teak at current market value. With Panama’s
Reforestation Visa, going green has never been more profitable.
Panama Reforestation Investor Visa Application Process and
General documents required for applying for this immigrant visa can be found in
the General Documents Required for all Residency Programs section above.
In addition to the general documents required for submitting an application to
become a resident in Panama, the following are additional documents required
for the Panama Reforestation Visa.
1. Ownership of a legal entity, e.g. a Panama Corporation to purchase
the reforestation property
2. A sworn affidavit from the treasurer or secretary (not the applicant)
confirming the ownership and shares belonging to the applicant
along with total capital stocks.
3. Panama Public Accountant (CPA) certification clarifying in detail the
total value invested in the Panama reforestation project by the
applicant. The accountant must show documents supporting this.
4. Certificate authenticating shares owned by the applicant.
5. Copy of official tax returns showing the invested capital. If the first
tax year has not ended yet, then a copy of the certificate of the
corporation’s tax ID (RUC) must be submitted.
6. Copy of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) resolution
certifying the reforestation project.
7. Copy of the Panama Public Registry certificate of the business
(corporation) and the property’s title.
8. Proof of the direct investment of a minimum of $80,000 USD in the
reforestation project. Acceptable documents include:
a. Audited Financial Statement
b. Bank certification that funds were transferred or payment
was made (required)
c. Documents that merchandise was imported
d. Receipts for purchase and sale.
How to Extend a Panama Reforestation Visa
In order to request an extension of the Panama Reforestation Visa the following
documents must be submitted.
Certification of Incumbency (Paz y Salvo) for the applicant
Proof of disbursements from the reforestation project during the past
year or proof that the reforestation company is providing
maintenance and that their contract remains in force.
5. Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa
Lots of countries have set up their immigration programs to benefit more wealthy
foreigners. In other words, the less money you have, the harder it is to immigrate
in some countries. Panama immigration has structured its visas to benefit all
different kinds of immigrants. Many countries offer investor visas for wealthy
foreigners, some of these visas require a minimum US$1 million in order to
qualify. However, Panama’s Self Economic Solvency Visa only requires a
minimum US$300,000 investment. If your are able to comply with one of the 3
options below, you can qualify for this visa.
1. Certificate of Deposit (CD): Foreigners need to deposit at least
US$300,000 in a Panama bank as a Certificate of Deposit for a
minimum of 3 years. An additional $2,000 deposit is required for
each dependent. The applicant must invest an additional $2,000
USD for each dependent. The Certificate of Deposit must be
registered in the applicant’s legal name. Monthly interest earned
from the 3 year CD investment may be deposited into any Panama
bank savings account. This interest earned is not subject to income
2. Purchase Panama Real Estate: The second alternative is to invest
a minimum of US$300,000 equity in a titled Panama real estate. This
transaction must be done using cash as loan from a mortgage does
not qualify. An additional $2,000 USD must be invested per
dependent. The difference between a CD and titled Panama real
estate is that real estate can exist in the owner’s name or in a
Panama Foundation’s name as long as the applicant is either a
beneficiary or the founder. Titles originating in a Panama Trust or
Panama Corporation do not qualify. The primary applicant must still
provide proof that he or she will be able to financially support oneself
3. Combined CD and real estate investment: This alternative is a
combination of the two options above (cash and equity). A minimum
combined total of US$300,000 may be invested in Panama real
estate and a Panama bank Certificate of Deposit. Additionally,
US$2,000 investment is required for each dependent.
Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa Application Process and
In addition to the general required documents for application to Panama
immigration to attain a permanent residence, the following documents are
required for the Self Economic Solvency Visa dependent on the option chosen.
(see General Documents Required for all Residency Programs section above)
Panama Bank Certificate of Deposit Option
1. Certification from the Panama bank that the applicant has a personal
CD account with the bank for a minimum of US$300,000, to be held
for a minimum 3 years plus an additional US$2,000 for each
2. Copy of the Panama bank’s CD certificate authenticated by the
Panama Real Estate Ownership Option
1. Certificate from the Panama Public Registry Certificate proving the
titled deed is in the applicant’s legal name valued at a minimum
US$300,000 free and clear of debt.
IMPORTANT: (a.) If the title deed is in the name of a Panama Foundation, proof
is required by the applicant that he or she is the founder or a beneficiary. (b.) If
the applicant spent a minimum of US$300,000 cash for the Panama real estate,
the remainder of the balance can be financed with a mortgage loan. The
applicant only needs to satisfy the minimum US$300,000 investment required by
1. Certified copy of the title deed registered with the Panama Public
2. Authenticated copy of the Panama bank CD certificate
3. Panama bank certification that the minimum requirements have
been satisfied by depositing a minimum of US$300,000 in a CD
account for at least 3 years.
6. Panama Business Investor Visa
Panama invites foreign investors and business investors to make significant
investments and support the country’s growth and development. Panama, as
such, provides government-sponsored citizenship through investment programs,
making it possible for foreigners to acquire permanent residence. Because the
minimum investment is very reasonable, the residency program is quite
appealing to foreigners who want to invest in business or retire in Panama. The
Panama Business Investor Visa requires at least an investment of
US$160,000 in a legal new business or newly set up corporation. Obtaining
a commercial license, registering with social security and employing five
Panamanian workers in addition to paying their social security benefits and
paying at least a minimum wage are other requirements.
Each Panama Business Investor Visa involves three 2-year temporary resident
visas before qualifying to become a permanent resident.
Panama Business Investor Visa Application Process and Required
All documents must be at least 2 months old upon visa application and passports
must have at least 1 year validity. Additionally, all documents must be
authenticated by the nearest Panamanian Consulate and the Apostille.
Birth and/or marriage certificates that prove the relationship between
dependents and the applicant are required.
Copies of the passport(s) of the applicant and dependents that have
been notarized by a Panamanian notary.
8 passport-size photos.
A copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or a government-issued
photo-I. D. that has been authenticated by a Panamanian consulate
A criminal history report that goes back at least two years and has
been authenticated by the appropriate federal or governmental
agencies in the country of which the applicant and by the
Panamanian Consul in that country or by an Apostille.
Proof of legal residency if the applicant is not a citizen but is a
resident of a friendly nation.
Documentation indicating the applicant is a member of the Board of
Directors or is a majority shareholder in a Panama company or
corporations (when the application is based upon economic ties).
Marriage Certificate with Apostille (if married)
Birth Certificate with apostille (when children coming with the
7. Marriage to a Panama Citizen Visa
Foreigners seeking permanent residence through marriage to a Panama citizen
must prove the marriage is valid and is not a sham. Additionally, the applicant
should live with the Panamanian partner in stability and continuity in order to be
eligible for the Married to Panamanian Visa.
However, the fact that a foreigner is married to a Panamanian does not
grant the right to residence in Panama. The National Immigration Service
could deny entry or residence on grounds of hygiene, morality, public safety, or
The application requirements include:
1. Submit a formal application to be a permanent resident along with a
notarized Special Power of Attorney allowing your lawyer to act on
2. Get a notarized copy of your entire passport. Your passport should
have at least one year validity.
3. Criminal record from the country of origin, and from any country
where the applicant lived for 2 or more years, including Panama.
The criminal record needs to be authenticated, either with Apostille
or certified by the issuing country.
4. Health certificate from an accredited local doctor not older than 3
5. Payment of $250 USD to the National Treasure.
6. Five (5) passport-sized photos.
7. Marriage Certificate (valid only for 6 months) from Panama’s Civil
Registry. The marriage must be registered in Panama’s Civil
Registry, even if celebrated abroad.
8. Panamanian partner’s Birth Certificate (valid only for 6 months) from
the Civil Registry.
9. Copy of the Panamanian partner’s National ID (cedula),
authenticated by the Civil Registry.
10. Birth Certificate (valid only for 6 months) of the couple’s
Panamanian children, if any.
11. Marital Interview.
12. The National Immigration Service has the right to visit the
couple’s home at any time to inspect the living situation.
A temporary residence card will be issued upon application. Two years later, the
applicant can apply for permanent residence. The application requires the same
documents, except the Criminal Record and the payment to the National
8. Parents of a Child Born in Panama
Panama established a new law in 2012 allowing the parents of a child born in
Panama to apply for permanent residency. This child must be five years of
age or older in order to apply for this permanent visa. The parents of future
children born in Panama can apply for this permanent visa after the child’s fifth
birthday. The parents of a child born in Panama during the previous 5 years to
apply for permanent residency.
Many countries globally are faced with a growing number of foreigners who
overstay their visas and have become illegal immigrants, in addition to being
parents of children born in Panama. A perfect example of this scenario is the
mother of a child who is a citizen of Panama while the mother is an illegal
immigrant who could be arrested and deported. The Constitution of Panama
does not allow deportation of Panama citizens. Instead, the country has taken a
more humane response by allowing both parents to become permanent
residents. In making this decision, Panama asks the question, If the mother is
deported while the child who is a citizen cannot be deported, who would take
care of the child?
Visa Application Process and Required Documents
In order to apply for permanent residence as a parent of a child 5 years or older
the following documents should be submitted along with the general required
documents for application to Panama immigration. (see General Documents
Required for all Residency Programs section above)
1. Submit the child’s Panama birth certificate, proving that the child was
born in Panama and is 5 years or older
2. Procure a criminal background report of both parents from the
national police of their respective home countries.
3. If one or both parents have always lived in Panama over the past 2
years they are allowed to get the criminal history report from the
Panama national police.
4. Submit a Letter of Responsibility signed by a Panama citizen.
5. Provide proof of economic solvency by submitting a bank statement
from a Panama bank reflecting sufficient funds to take care of a
family. Additionally, economic solvency must also be proven by the
Panama citizen who submitted the Letter of Responsibility.
Most Panama immigration laws were created to encourage foreign investment in
Panama which in turn benefits the local economy. Many international investors
and businesses find superb prospects in Panama that encourage investment in
reforestation, manufacturing plants, assembly plants, import / export processing
facilities, software development facilities, call centers and a range of other
business activities. Several times, investors find that a Panamanian residency
visa is just an “added benefit” to the investments they make in Panama. The fact
that there are specific Panama immigrant visas and Panama residency programs
for investors is plenty motivation to move to Panama and acquire Panama
citizenship and a Panamanian passport.