Answers provided by Panama residency experts NTL Wealth Advisors
An introduction to residence permits in Panama
The Panamanian regulation that creates the legal regime for foreigners is based in the decree of the 22nd of February, 2008, and the Executive Decree No. 26 of March 9th, 2009 that amends the previous Decree No. 320 of August 8th, 2008.
The decrees regulate the migratory movement of entry and exit of foreigners, establish the requirements for nationalization by naturalization, define the migratory categories, and creates the controlling entity for such purposes. “The Panamanian National Immigration Service” functions as the supervisory body for the control and application of immigration policies in accordance with the law.
The Panamanian diplomatic and consular personnel abroad is also authorized to perform migratory functions in accordance with international agreements, but normally only handles the non-resident entry visa.
Panama has four immigration categories:
- Non-resident. Occasional visitors who do not have intentions to establish residency in Panama, such as tourists, passengers or crew in transit, or sailors.
- Temporary resident. Foreigner who enters Panama for labor reasons, special policies or education, culture, religious, humanitarian and family reunification reasons. This permit is valid for a period of up to six years and also permits the inclusion of dependents.
- Permanent resident. Foreigner who enters for economic reasons and investment, special policies and others in order to establish themselves in the country.
- Foreigners under the protection of Panama. This category includes refugees, asylum-seekers, and people covered by the humanitarian protection statute.
The only category that entitles an alien to reside permanently in Panama is the third one. Below, we refer to the most important programs available for this purpose. For further advice, you may contact the NTL Wealth Panama office.
Panama’s competitive advantages make it unique in the region and include the country’s the geographic position and connectivity. Panama is Caribbean’s commercial hub par excellence and the entry point to Latin America in terms of services, finance, logistics capacity, and world-class distribution.
Panama is home to major ports in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, sees more than 132,000 direct flights annually to 90 destinations in 35 countries, has an interoceanic railroad, and 4.5Mb/s internet. The country receives 45% of all foreign direct investment into Central America and is the economy with the highest growth rates in Latin America.
The residency visa is worth mentioning as it provides residency and a Panamanian travel passport as long as the minimum monthly interest is generated. It requires an investment of roughly US$370,000 in a fixed deposit bank account with one of the Panama government banks. The exact size of the deposit will depend on the interest rates offered at the time, but it must generate a monthly interest of at least USD 850.
Within four months, a travel passport is issued by the Government of Panama for the holder and his immediate family members.
Please note that this does not constitute Panamanian citizenship but rather a valid international travel document.
The deposit is has a five-year term (the same as the validity of a normal Panama travel passport) with an option to renew the deposit and passport for another five years, if desirable.
As long as the deposit is maintained, the investor and his family are entitled to reside in Panama. The deposit can be withdrawn at any time but, once withdrawn, the residency is lost.
If you invest in Panamanian real estate or make a deposit in a Panamanian Bank for a sum of USD 300,000, you are eligible for permanent residence.
Other members of your family, including spouse, and children, can qualify for permanent residency as well, upon the additional investment of US$2,000 per dependent. This program offers three investment options:
- Real estate option
Perhaps the easiest form of investment is in real estate, which currently yields around 6-8%. A USD 300,000 investment in residential real estate returns roughly US$3,000 a month, or around 7-8% net.
- Fixed deposit option
An investment of USD 300,000 or more in a fixed deposit account with one of the Panamanian banks. The minimum deposit term is three years and the investor needs to open an additional savings account in Panama for the collection of interest accrued. There is no income tax on the deposit within Panama.
- Hybrid option
The investor may choose to combine the two above-mentioned options by both making an investment in real estate and making a bank deposit where the equity and cash amounts total at least US$300,000.
For every dependent to be included with the visa, an additional US$ 2,000 must be invested.
For each option, once the investment is complete, the authorities will issue a residency card valid for two years within about 4 months, after which permanent residency is achieved.
Residents of Panama are eligible to apply for Panamanian citizenship after 5 years of permanent residency in Panama.
Pensionado Visa (Retirement Visa)
This is the world’s premier pension and retirement visa and is generally recognized as the best and easiest retirement program in the world. The program is open to any age or nationality, but you must be able to demonstrate that you have a fixed income from a pension or retirement fund equivalent to US$1,000 per month.
Another US$250 per month must be generated by pension for each dependent. If an applicant has purchased a property in Panama with a value of at least US$100,000, the monthly pension requirement can be reduced to USD 750.
Under this category, the applicant must invest at least US$ 160,000 in a new or existing business that employs at least five Panamanian residents/citizens.
The Panamanian Government has implemented a countrywide reforestation program to benefit from timber industry development.
To encourage investment in this sector, the government offers residency for a minimum investment of USD 80,000 in an approved forestry project of at least 5 hectares.
If you are a professional whose skills are needed in Panama, you will be able to obtain residency without any capital requirements and without even having to have an existing job offer from an employer.
Due to Panama’s rapid expansion, the list of skilled and qualified personnel is always expanding and it would be fair to say that Panama needs almost all types of highly skilled persons, from boat captains to business people.
Indeed, Panama has the lowest unemployment rate in Latin America, demonstrating the desperate shortage of skilled professionals.
At present, there is no requirement to be able to speak Spanish, no requirement to prove job history, and no requirement to have a job offer. All that’s required is a university degree and a medical record. Your degree should also be validated by a Panamanian university.
Please note that there is a list of restricted professions that only Panamanians can perform. These are:
- Social work
- Real estate agents
The immigration department issues rules and regulations defining what type of professions qualify as “special”.
Friendly Nations Visa
To encourage immigration from countries considered favorable, Panama has created a low-cost immigration incentive that allows you to obtain residency in a matter of three months by simply opening a company in Panama and with the “intention to do business”. This category has 50,000 applicants per year and will likely soon become oversubscribed.
The nationalities eligible for the Friendly Nations Visa are:
Why Residency in Panama is easier to obtain than in most other countries
The Panamanian government needs approximately another million people to fill the current demand for labor and capital in this booming economy. To this end, Panama has created a tailored series of immigration incentives that are better than almost anywhere else in the world. There is no Spanish language requirement and, in fact, no language requirements whatsoever, unlike in conventional destinations for investor migrants such as Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
NTL Wealth is an internationally renowned, closely held group of trust, corporate, and immigration providers with offices in New Zealand, Nevis, Grenada, Vanuatu, and Panama.
We specialize in tailoring comprehensive wealth maximization and immigration solutions using trusts and multi-jurisdictional structures supported by a team of experts.
WE WELCOME INTEREST AND APPLICATIONS TO BECOME OUR ASSOCIATE.
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
A customized high-quality service for our clients providing you with the most up to date information and support: from organizing investment tours to the complete fast track residency.
Applicants also receive legal consultation from immigration lawyer (in English, Russian or Spanish) as part of the package.
You will be partnered with a personal representative who will answer all your questions about Panama, and we will assist you in all aspects of relocation from finding real estate, obtaining a mobile phone number to booking your holiday.
Our concierge service is designed to assist you in the most difficult phase of residency when you are a new arrival.
Prices depend on the type of program and number of applicants, range between 8.000 USD to 25.000 that includes, government check, legal expenses and professional fees.
https://www.migracion.gob.pa/ official website