Immigration to Panama. Ways to obtain residency. Retiree – Pensionado program and options for investors
Retiree – Pensionado program
Panama is ideal for those looking for a second residence or to retire. One of the most interesting incentives for the retired are discounts on all kinds of products and services including restaurants, medical clinics and hospitals, prescribed medicines, transportation, airplane tickets, hotels, utility bills, etc.
If you have a retirement income (or pension income) for life of a minimum of US$1,000 per month you may qualify for the Pensionado Visa. If your lifetime pension income is less than US$1,000 per month, but equal to or more than US$750 per month, you may purchase any Panama real estate property with a value of at least US$100,000, which reduces the lifetime monthly pension income requirement down to a minimum of US$750.
The Panama retirement visa applicant’s pension income must be proven by documentation such as a letter from the institution or company that pays the retirement or pension income or a letter from the Social Security certifying the date when the pension started and that the pension is for life. This certification must be notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you (or by the apostille). This is the main requirement, as well as the police record, which must be issued by the FBI, RCMP or equivalent authority in your country and duly legalized by the Consulate of Panama or by the apostille. It’s important to note that any document issued in a language other than Spanish will be required to be translated to Spanish. The translations must be done in Panama by a licensed translator.
The timeframe to process the application by the Immigration Service is approximately 4 months.
Other ways to obtain temporary or permanent residence permit in Panama:
Temporary residence permit for foreign personnel working in private companies. The number of foreigners must make no more than 10% of all employees
This temporary residence permit is issued to a foreigner who enters to work in a Panamanian company that has 10 workers on the payroll. In this case, the client makes the investment that he considers, the company is created and structured so that the client himself becomes an employee of the company. The company must have a minimum of 10 Panamanian workers. This permit is temporary and should be renewed annually for up to six years.
Temporary residence permit for foreign personnel working in private companies under the Marrakesh agreement
This temporary residence permit is similar to the previous one, with the difference that the companies may have less than 10 Panamanian workers. The workers salary should not be less than $ 1000 per month. This permit is temporary and should be renewed annually for up to six years. The Marrakesh Agreement is the one through which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is established.
Temporary residence permit for personnel hired as executives of international companies whose functions take effect abroad
In case a foreign company opens a branch or representative offices in Panama, the employees of such representative office may apply for a temporary residence permit. Such permit is issued for 12 months and should be renewed annually for up to six years. A minimum wage of $ 5000 is required. The wage source should be outside Panama.
Investing into macro company. Temporary permit for 2 years leading to residence
To obtain this permit, the foreigner must invest a minimum of $ 160,000 into a company. The investor is required to be a shareholder. This permit is granted temporarily for a period of two years after which you can request permanent residence and with that status you can apply for a work permit. As long as you do not obtain a work permit, you can participate in the boards of directors to make decisions regarding the company, but you cannot be in business on a day-to-day basis without a work permit.
Permanent residence permit for financially solvent persons
Investment can be made through the purchase of real estate or the opening of a fixed-term deposit in any bank in the country or a mixture of both types of investment for a minimum amount of $ 300,000. In either case, the investment must be for a minimum period of three years and cannot be mortgaged or financed. After two years the client can apply for permanent residence and apply for a work permit.
Permanent Resident Permit for Investors in Export Processing Zones
The foreigner must prove that he has invested a minimum of $ 250,000 in a company duly authorized as promoter and operator of a processing zone for export or in a company established within one of these special economic zones. The funds must come from outside Panama. This type of permit also grants residence which can be requested after two years.
Permanent Resident Permit for Investors into Call Centers used for Commercial Purposes
This type of permit is granted to the investor who invests in any of these companies the sum of $ 250,000. The funds origin should be outside Panama. The residence permit is issued for two years and after these two years one can apply for permanent residence.
Permanent Resident Permit for nationals of countries with friendly relations with Panama (Friendly Nations Visa Program)
This permission is granted for those nationals of countries that maintain friendly relations with Panama. There is a list of 50 nations, among which are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the EU countries. In any case, the permanent residence permit is granted within 2-4 months after the application is submitted. You can apply for a work permit with this permit. To obtain the permit, you must open a bank account in any bank in Panama and deposit the sum of $ 5,000.00. If you add dependents, you must deposit an additional $ 2,000.00 for each dependent. Apart from the bank account, you must have a promise to work in Panama or open a company to demonstrate your intention to invest in Panama. In this case it is not necessary to demonstrate a substantial investment as in other types of residence permits.
Permanent residence permit for a qualified investor
This residence permit has been approved by Executive Decree 722 of October 15, 2020 and is aimed at clients who wish to make a real estate investment for a minimum amount of $ 500,000. On the other hand, investment in a fixed term deposit for a minimum amount of $ 750,000 is also allowed. In all cases, the investment must remain in Panama for a minimum term of five years, but the permanent resident permit would be issued in a period of no more than 30 days. It is even allowed to start the procedure prior to the applicant's entry into Panama, provided that it is done through a lawyer who is duly authorized and that the filiation process is complied with in the immigration registry of the national migration service once the applicant enters the country. This new residence permit grants permanent residency within short time and the client can also apply for a work permit.
In all cases above you can add as dependents children under 18 years of age and children over 18 years of age up to 25 years if they prove that they are studying and are financially dependent on their parents.
It should also be noted that there are some restrictions in Panama for foreigners, mainly that they cannot practice retail trade and neither practice any liberal professions.
Please feel free to get in touch if you are thinking about immigration to Panama. We will be happy to assist.
Some facts about living in Panama which may help to consider immigration and obtaining temporary or permanent residence permit
Many choose Panama because of the weather and ease of living. Prices are not high, especially if you qualify for a retiree (pensionado) program allowing to obtain 10-50% discounts on goods and services. More on prices and cost of living in Panama at https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Panama
Panama Quality of Life Index is 110.84 which is deemed high. Safety in Panama is estimated 76.62 which is also high (it is 79.40 in Germany, for instance). Health care index (overall quality of the health care system, health care professionals, equipment, staff, doctors, cost, etc.) is 60.45 (e.g. it is 50 in Budapest, Hungary).
Property Prices in Panama are not too high. You may get an idea visiting https://www.numbeo.com/property-investment/country_result.jsp?country=Panama