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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.

III. Self Economic Solvency Visa

This type of visa requires a minimum investment of US$200,000 in any on the following ways:
  • 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.
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.

IV. Business Investor Visa

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:
  • 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.
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.

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.

VII. General Documents Required

The documents all type of visas requires are the following:
1. Passport
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

I. OVERVIEW.

Any 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).

II. REQUISITES.

Besides the main requirement (monthly rent) indicated above, the petitioner shall present the following documents:
  1. Application and Power of Attorney (prepared by M&M)
  2. Health Certificate (issued by a Panamanian practitioner)
  3. Police Record of the Country of origin duly authenticated by the Panamanian Consul or sealed with Apostille as per the Hague Convention of 1961.
  4. Certification 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.
  5. Good 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.
  6. Evidence 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.
  7. Four (4) passport photos (including dependents, if applicable).
  8. Copy of the entire passport.
  9. Marriage 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.
  10. Birth 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.
  11. A letter stating that the person is responsible for the monetary necessities of his/her dependents (only in case of dependents).

III. BENEFITS.

This Visa, once obtained, grants the following benefits to the petitioner (not dependents):
  1. The person can bring into the country all personal and domestic articles up to an amount of US$10,000.00, exempt from import taxes (ITMBS or Added Value Tax of 5% applies).
  2. Every two (2) years, the person can import a new car without paying introduction taxes.
  3. Exemption from the payment of any deposits or fees for the Visa (there is only a US$ 100.00 charge for the issuance of the final identification card).
Other benefits are granted to retirees in Panama, as per Law No. 6 of 1987; among them the following:
  1. 50% discount in entertainment activities such as cinemas, theaters, sports events and other public spectacles;
  2. 50% discount in Hotels, motels and pensions from Monday to Thursday, and 30% from Fridays to Sundays;
  3. 25% discount on meals in local restaurants;
  4. 15% discount on meals in fast food restaurants;
  5. 15% discount on medical services provided in private hospitals and clinics;
  6. 10% discount on prescription drugs in pharmacies;
  7. 15 to 20% discount on medical services such as Odontology and Optometrist;
  8. 50% discount on closing costs related to personal and commercial loans formalized at local banks or financial institutions;
  9. 1% discount on interest rates for personal loans with mortgage on property;
  10. Freeze of the Property Tax, provided that the property is his/her only property and is under his/her name;
  11. 25% discount on the monthly electricity bill up to 600 Kilowatios per hour;
  12. 25% 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;
  13. 25% 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 residential account.

IV. PROCESS.

Once 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 Identification Id.

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NOTE: The information herein provided could have varied due to recently approved regulations. Therefore, we suggest you contact our office for a formal legal opinion.
 
 

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