PANAMA IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION
I. General Aspects
Our immigration regime provides very varied and attractive types of visa for those foreigners who are thinking of retirement or a second home in Panama. Most of the visas are designed to promote foreign investment and stimulate the local economy. It is important to mention that if the purpose of the client is to become a Panamanian citizen and obtain a passport, it is necessary to identify since the beginning whether the type of visa the client applies grants the right to a Panamanian passport.
II. Visa of Retired Person of Independent Means
This visa is granted to those individuals who make a fixed term deposit at the National Bank of Panama which gives the applicant a minimum monthly income of US$750.00 exclusively derived from interest earned from the said deposit, free of taxes or guarantee of any nature. The fixed term should be for a minimum of 5 years. The applicant, spouse and dependents under 18 years old have the right to obtain a special Panamanian passport valid for 5 years, renewable. This passport does not award Panamanian citizenship. Foreigners who had obtained an immigrant visa could not apply to the Visa of Retired Person of Independent Means.
This type of visa requires a minimum investment of US$200,000 in any on the following ways:
III. Self Economic Solvency Visa
The application to become a temporary resident should be filed and after one year from its approval, the applicant may obtain the permanent residency. Once you have been a permanent resident for five (5) years, then you can become “naturalized” or become citizen be eligible for a Panamanian passport.
In a titled property, in your personal name, with a registered value of US$200,000,
In a two year CD or time deposit at a Panamanian bank,
In a combo of US$120,000 in a two year CD at a Panamanian bank and US$80,000 in a titled property in your personal name.
This visa requires that the applicant establishes and operates a business in Panama. To start a business the applicant must have a company with a commercial license, physical office and a minimum of three (3) employees on the payroll and under the Social Security Program. The applicant must disclose the source of the funds as well as prove of the investment in the business and paid-in capital. Documentation from bank institutions showing the transfer of funds from another country to Panama need to be submitted to the immigration authorities. There are two types of Business Investor Visa:
IV. Business Investor Visa
The Business Investor Visa offers the option to become naturalized and obtain the citizenship and a Panamanian passport after five (5) years of being a permanent resident.
Small Business Investor Visa, which requires an investment of US$40,000 in the business. The visa needs to be renewed four times before the applicant can obtain the permanent resident visa.
Regular Business Investor Visa, which requires an investment of US$150,000 in the business. The visa allows the applicant to obtain the permanent resident visa after one year of having a temporary resident visa. It is necessary to provide financial statements showing that the required investment was made by the applicant.
Each dependent represents an investment of US$4,000.00 in addition to the initial investment which applies to the above referenced visas.
V. Visa under Resolution of the Ministry of Labour
This visa requires the applicant has a work permit issued by the Ministry of Labour of Panama. The hiring company cannot have more than 10% of foreigners working for the company. The minimum salary the applicant should earn is US$500.00. This visa gives permanent resident after the first year. In the event the applicant obtains a Panamanian I.D. as a foreigner, the applicant need not to apply for Permanent Resident Visa but only the work permit under the above referenced visa. The applicant’s dependents have the same privileges and rights than the applicant.
VI. Temporary Special Visa
This visa is an option if the hiring company cannot fulfill the requirements of the two above referenced visas, therefore issued for the company’s international executives. No work permit is needed for its approval, therefore the procedure is fast and it takes approximately 30 to 40 days to be issued. One of the requirements is a letter from the hiring company outside Panama stating that the applicant is being assigned to the Panamanian company. This letter must establish that the hiring company will repatriate the worker once he finishes his assignments in Panama and that his salary will be over U$1,000.00 per month which will proceed from outside the country. Foreigners Executives who will stay temporary in the country may apply to this visa.
The documents all type of visas requires are the following:
VII. General Documents Required
2. Police Record
3. Certificate of Good Health
4. Photos in carnet size
5. Certificate of Birth (for dependents under 18 years old)
6. Certificate of Marriage (for spouse as dependent)
Other documents may be required depending on the type of visa. All documents coming from another country must be apostilled.
TOURIST PENSIONED VISA
foreign citizen, and their dependents, wishing to relocate or retire in
the Republic of Panama, who has the condition of “retiree” or
“pensioned” from foreign governments, international organisms, or
private entities, has the possibility of obtaining before the
Immigration Department of the Republic of Panama a “Turista Pensionado
Visa”. The person must receive a monthly rent as retiree or pensioned
of at least five hundred dollars (US$500.00) and one hundred dollars
(US$100.00) additionally for each dependent (spouse, husband or
children). This Visa also grants permanent and definitive residency in
Panama for the petitioner and his/her family (dependents).
Besides the main requirement (monthly rent) indicated above, the petitioner shall present the following documents:
Application and Power of Attorney (prepared by M&M)
Health Certificate (issued by a Panamanian practitioner)
Record of the Country of origin duly authenticated by the Panamanian
Consul or sealed with Apostille as per the Hague Convention of 1961.
issued by the company, organization or governmental entity by which
he/she is retired or pensioned, attesting that: a. That the person is
retired or pensioned from said foreign government, international
organism or a private entity, b. That the person receives a monthly
income of more than US$ 500.00.
Standing Certificate of the company, agency or organization which
certifies that said company, organization or agency exist. This
document should come duly authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate in
the place of issuance of the document or by Apostille as per the Hague
Convention of 1961.
of payment of the monthly pension. This only applies when the
petitioner is retired from a private entity and not the government,
social security agency or international organization. Receipts of
payment shall be presented.
Four (4) passport photos (including dependents, if applicable).
Copy of the entire passport.
certificate duly authenticated (only in case of dependents –
husband/wife -) by the Panamanian Consulate in the place of issuance of
the document or by Apostille as per the Hague Convention of 1961.
Certificates duly authenticated (only in case of dependents – children
-) by the Panamanian Consulate in the place of issuance of the document
or by Apostille as per the Hague Convention of 1961.
A letter stating that the person is responsible for the monetary necessities of his/her dependents (only in case of dependents).
This Visa, once obtained, grants the following benefits to the petitioner (not dependents):
Other benefits are granted to retirees in Panama, as per Law No. 6 of 1987; among them the following:
person can bring into the country all personal and domestic articles up
to an amount of US$10,000.00, exempt from import taxes (ITMBS or Added
Value Tax of 5% applies).
Every two (2) years, the person can import a new car without paying introduction taxes.
from the payment of any deposits or fees for the Visa (there is only a
US$ 100.00 charge for the issuance of the final identification card).
50% discount in entertainment activities such as cinemas, theaters, sports events and other public spectacles;
in Hotels, motels and pensions from Monday to Thursday, and 30% from Fridays to Sundays;
25% discount on meals in local restaurants;
15% discount on meals in fast food restaurants;
15% discount on medical services provided in private hospitals and clinics;
10% discount on prescription drugs in pharmacies;
15 to 20% discount on medical services such as Odontology and Optometrist;
50% discount on closing costs related to personal and commercial loans formalized at local banks or financial institutions;
1% discount on interest rates for personal loans with mortgage on property;
Freeze of the Property Tax, provided that the property is his/her only property and is under his/her name;
25% discount on the monthly electricity bill up to 600 Kilowatios per hour;
discount on the fix monthly charge of phone service, provided that the
account is under his/her name, that it is a residential account and
that the charge is for only one phone;
discount on the monthly water bill provided that the consumption is no
greater than US$ 30.00, the account be under his/her name and it is a
the client makes the decision to apply for the Visa, the first step to
initiate the process should be the registration of petitioner and
dependents (if applicable) before the Immigration Department for which
the client’s presence in the country is required. Registration can take
place even months before formalizing the Visa application. It is not
required your presence in Panama when filing takes place or during the
approval process; however, if the Visa is approved your presence is
absolutely necessary to terminate the process and obtain the final