Panamanian Citizenship - Immigration

Panamanian Citizenship – Immigration

About the Panamanian Citizenship

Panamanian citizenship (Naturalization) is granted to permanent residents who have fulfilled the minimum residence requirement (3 to 5 years) from the moment the Panama Immigration Office issues the resolution to certify permanent residence.

This is the first requirement to start the naturalization process, according to Article 10 of the Panamanian Constitution.

It is important to clarify that immigrants holding a temporary or provisional residence status, or immigrants with the crisol de razas program, are not eligible to apply for citizenship.

Furthermore, Panamanian permanent residence does not guarantee a path to obtain Panamanian citizenship. If you intend to eventually become a citizen (e.g. hold dual citizenship) and obtain a Panamanian passport, you must verify that the visa granting your permanent residence gives you also the right to apply for citizenship.

An eligible permanent resident of Panama has three alternatives to become naturalized:

  • To have lived for five (5) years as a PERMANENT RESIDENT
  • To have lived for three years (3) as a PERMANENT RESIDENT, married to a NATIONAL or with PANAMANIAN CHILDREN
  • To have been born in a Latin American country or Spain, and to have fulfilled the same requirements that Panamanians would have to meet to become naturalized in their country of origin. This is known as Reciprocity, and allows for a shorter permanent residence time frame required of citizens from these countries:
    • 1 year: Colombia, El Salvador
    • 2 years: Argentina, Ecuador, Spain, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru
    • 3 years: Uruguay

Process Timeframe

While the process to obtain Panamanian residence usually involves the Immigration Office only, the process to obtain citizenship involves many other entities such as the Ministry of Government and Justice, the Ministry of Public Services, the Electoral Tribunal, the Government Office, and the Presidency.

All these entities will review the application, and any of them may require additional paperwork, may delay the process for internal reasons, or may actually deny the application. Besides, it is the Panamanian president who ultimately approves and signs all applications.

For that reason, the process to obtain citizenship very rarely takes less than 1 year, and it could take anywhere from 2 to 5 years to be approved.