Become a Resident › Panama Residency, Citizenship and Passports
Panama is now rated as the #1 Retirement country in the world. The cost of living is extremely low, the crime rate is also extremely low, the climate is warm all year round, health care is excellent Panama even has a new John Hopkins Hospital, the food is superb, the airport offers flights globally, it is only 2 1/2 hours to Miami, the roads are excellent as in the cell phone service, high speed internet and cable TV. Panama has put together the most appealing programs of special benefits for foreign residents and retirees you'll find anywhere in the world today. Below are some of the programs available.
General Requirements and Documents
- All visa applications must be made through a Panamanian lawyer (we can refer you to one).
- There is no age limit required for applying for any of these visas, save for the minimum legal age of 18 years. Youngsters under 18 will qualify for a visa as dependents of their parents.
- All overseas documents to be presented to the authorities in Panama must be authenticated by a Notary and by the Panamanian consulate nearest you, or by a notary and the Apostille. The Apostille (The Hague Convention of 1961) is a faster way of authenticating documents and is normally obtained through the Secretary of State in your home state (in the United States) or through the Foreign Office (in Britain). For Canada, please check with the Panamanian Embassy or consulate nearest to your home city.
- All documents must be fresh (within two months of visa application) and passports must have at least one year to run.
- Dependents: Bring a marriage certificate. If your children under 18 are to be covered by your visa, you’ll need to bring fresh birth certificates.
- All visa applications require that you obtain a health certificate and HIV test in Panama.
Turista Pensionado - Pensioned Tourist
This visa is designed for persons whose pension from a government entity or private corporation is $500 or more ($600 or more for a couple per month). You will have to prove this under scrutiny. Usually a pension statement from the government or private pension will suffice but backup bank deposit records could not hurt. The Pensionado Visa is granted indefinitely but it is necessary to prove to the Immigration Department on an annual basis that the income is still flowing from your pension. The benefits include one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car. There is also a basket of other benefits and discounts available to those holding this Visa. However, please note that under this visa you cannot qualify to acquire Panamanian nationality or a Panama Passport. It is an instant permanent residency program.
Panama Reforestation Visa Program
$40,000 Investment – Permanent Residency leading to Panama Passport
Summary – This is a unique program where one invests $40,000 in an approved Panama reforestation program. This allows the investor to obtain a Visa for themselves and their spouse as well as dependent children; no additional investment is required for dependents. This is the least expensive legitimate residency program we are aware of. The Visas are renewable annually and after either one or five years they become permanent residency Visas allowing the investor and their dependents to reside in Panama permanently and also to work in Panama. After five years one can apply for citizenship. This is an extremely inexpensive way to obtain a Panama residency and eventually a citizenship with Panama passport which is good fro visa free travel in most of the western EU and throughout most of Latin and South America. The reforestation program is a statutory program written down as law. It is not a pay off some lawyer in the dark situation which will blow up when the government investigates some corrupt official selling citizenships. Never get involved in any residency/citizenship/passport program that is not written openly in the public laws for you to read. Never get involved in any residency/citizenship/passport program where you do not have to go to the official immigration building in the country for processing and to pick up your documents. Never get involved in any situation where you are paying a lawyer large fees because he “knows” the immigration officials and can make it happen cutting the red tape for you. People are constantly getting arrested trying to use passports and identity cards obtained in this manner. All of our programs are statutory and written in the public laws. If you actually make the investment of either $40,000 or $80,000 in the reforestation visa program it is a documented lawful program written in the law books and will be honored by the government, subsequent elected officials of Panama etc. What I am saying is if you make the investment, you will have your permanent residency which after five years makes you eligible to apply to be a citizen of Panama with a Panamanian Passport.
The Investment – You are investing in forestry projects generally dealing with teak wood but other types of trees are available. Some projects give you title to the actual land, usually about 2 hectares. The reforestation project must be an approved one. These projects are supposed to generate a fantastic return after 25 years, many times your investment. If you were to liquidate the land say after 10 years your return would generate substantial losses. This is because it takes years for the trees to grow. If you wait 15 years the loss would be less or perhaps you’d reach break even. Now if the value of land in Panama keeps appreciating like it has been doing recently this may prove to be untrue and the investment may be worth more in a few short years? We do think it is a tremendous way to obtain residency and eventually citizenship for a small investment. If the investment is held long enough it is possible to realize a high return on the investment as well. Any gain made on this investment is not taxable in Panama. We are not investment advisors and you need to evaluate the investment potential yourself. The land can be held in the name of a corporation.
Residency – There are two levels of investment for the Reforestation Visa - $40,000 and $80,000. Both have residency and lead to the ability to apply for citizenship after five years. The larger investment leads to a permanent residency after one year, the smaller investment leads to a permanent residency after five years requiring the visa to be renewed each year until the fifth year.
Documents Required – Passports valid for at least 6 months, police clearance report from last place of residence, marriage certificate, birth certificate for children dependents, medical clearance from Panama (we can refer), application forms, pictures, proof of investment contract etc. You have to come to Panama to apply in person but you do not need to live here for this visa.
Time Frame – From the time of receipt of all documents and fees 30-45 days as an approximate time frame. Much depends on the workload of the immigration department at the time of your application.
Fees – The visa immigration processing legal fees are $1250.00 for first person and then $250.00 for each dependent for the initial application. The fees in the following years ($40,000 visa) are $795.00 for the first person and $250.00 for each additional person. Our fee to review and negotiate your investment contract with the reforestation company is $300 (optional). Please note our fees are fair and honest just like our programs being offered unlike the lawyers in other countries that are charging $25,000 and up to get you a visa or citizenship based on the “immigration connections” they have.
Private Income Retiree Visa (Rentista Retirado)
This visa is for persons who don’t have a monthly pension, are no longer working, and have received a retirement lump sum. As a visa requirement, that money is to be deposited on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, to yield at least $750 a month (at current rates the face value of the CD would need to be approximately $170,000). The visa is renewable every five years, as long as the CD is renewed. The Private Income Retiree Visa includes such benefits as a traveling Panamanian passport (that however does NOT grant citizenship), a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000), and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car.
Person of Means Visa (Solvencia Económica Propia)
Designed for those who wish to live in Panama off their own means, without the need or desire to work or start a business. The person must have a one-year certificate of deposit in any local bank of at least $200,000. $80,000 of the $200,000 can be in the form of a home purchase. Upon applying for the first, provisional renewal of this visa, the certificate of deposit must also be renewed for one more year. After renewal, the visa is granted permanently with the right to a cedula (local identity card). Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality and Passport.
Investor Visa (Inversionista)
Designed for those who wish to establish a business in Panama (note, though, that some retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $150,000 and minimum of three, permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality and passport.
Small Business Investor Visa (Inversionista de Pequeña Empresa)
Designed for those who wish to establish a small business in Panama (note that retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $40,000 and minimum of three permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year, and needs to be renewed three more times before it is granted permanently with the right to a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to obtain Panamanian nationality and passport.
Tax Free Processing Zone Investor Program
This program allows foreign investors to obtain legal residency in Panama under the condition that they must rent a plot of land or an office or building (rented through a 10 to 20 year concession) within one of the new tax free processing zones in Panama, for the purpose of operating a business from Panama that exports its products or services.
Panama’s Pensionado Program in Detail
The following are the benefits and privileges for all those classified as Jubilados & Pensionados (irregardless of age) and for all other residents of Panama be they Panamanian or foreign nationals residing in Panama in their 3rd and 4th Ages. It sets the age at 55 for women and 60 for men. Law No. 6 of 16 of June 1987, modified by subsequent changes in the law by Law 18 of 1989, Law 15 of 1992, Law 37 of 2001 and Law 14 of 2003.
- To receive these benefits, it sets the age at 55 for women and 60 for men for all residents of Panama be they Panamanians or of different nationalities irregardless of age. And it states that all Jubilados and Pensionados (irregardless of age) are also entitled to these benefits:
- Discount of 50% of price charged for entrance to recreation and entertainment activities, such as movies, theaters, sports and other public productions. This discount is not applicable for those events marked as benefits for the youth, homeless or those specifically authorized by the competent authorities.
- Discounts for the following means of public transportation:
- Inter-Urban buses, 30%
- Trains, 30%
- Launches and boats, 30%
- 5% discount in air fares in public and private national and foreign Airlines.
- A minimum discount of the regular prices of hotels, motels and pensions:
- 50% from Monday to Thursday
- 30% on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- 25% discount of food consumed by the individual in all restaurants except for the Fondas which do not require license to operate.
- 15% discount in those rapid food establishments.
- 15% discount in the total cost for services of hospitals and private clinics.
- 10% discount in pharmacies for those medications obtained with a medical prescription.
- Discounts in the following medical services:
- 20% in consultation fees of general medicine doctors and medical and surgical specialists.
- 15% for dental services.
- 15% for optometry
- Insurance companies that include in their policies health benefits for illness shall adjust their fees to include the necessary adjustment so that the benefits of these discounts are transferred in the payment of the premiums when the insured is 55 years old if female, and 60 years old if male and to the Pensionados & Jubilados.
- 20% discount for technical and professional services.
- 20% discount for all prosthetic devices as well as those items and accessories of personal assistance.
- (12, 13,14, 15, 16, 17 pertain to commercial transactions, loans, etc. and require a better translation than I can give.)
- 50% discount in cost of passports.
- 25% discount in monthly electrical consumption of private or public entity up to 600KW's and the normal tariffs will be applied to anything above that amount.
- Discus’s discounts to properties owned by associations of jubilados and pensionados and the different discounts they are entitled.
- 25% discount to the basic phone service charges when:
- the phone service is in the name of the individual
- is for a residential phone
- is for one and only one phone. The normal tariffs will apply for anything more.
- 25% discount in the water bill as long as:
- the consumption does not exceed $30.00
- by bill is in the individuals name
the bill is residential and is the prime residence. The normal tariffs will apply to all other residences.