The most popular type of visa is the retiree visa. Panama has an enviable retiree benefits program. The visa provides discounts for entertainment, domestic travel, hospital bills, and electricity, and the list goes on. To qualify, you must earn a pension of at least $1,000 per month and an additional $250 for each dependent. The annuity or pension can be paid by a private company, the military, government agencies, corporations, a bank, an insurance company, or a Trust. Buying real estate in Panama is not a requirement and foreigners who obtain residency through the retiree program are protected from any future changes in the law. Note that you can apply for the retiree visa even if you have not yet reached 55 or 60 years of age (for women and men, respectively). The government reviews the applications on a case-by-case basis, and if you have started receiving your pension early (due to disability or for any other valid reason), you can apply for it.

The Panamanian government opened its doors to the citizens of so-called “friendly nations” in 2012, granting them the fastest path to permanent residence through the Friendly Nations Visa. This visa welcomes professionals and entrepreneurs from 48 countries that “maintain friendly, professional, economic and investment relations” with Panama.  To qualify, you must:

– open a local bank account with a minimum balance of US$5,000, and one of the following options:

– open a new company

– buy an existing business in Panama

– find a job as a professional in Panama (proof of employment is required)

Consult with an attorney about the specific details of “starting a business” and the requirements of “working for a Panamanian company”.

Note: Retiree and Friendly Nations visas are the only ones that grant immediate permanent residence. The following visas require a two-year provisional temporary residence before qualifying for permanent residence.

Visas for those working in a “professional” capacity are a popular path to residency, provided the professions do not fall under the protected professions reserved for Panamanian citizens (eg., medicine, accounting, real estate, and law). Applicants must have a college education and proof of any required professional licenses from their home country. After two years as a temporary resident, permanent residence status is generally granted, but, unlike other visas, you must file two applications two years apart to qualify. Upon submitting the final application, applicants must demonstrate that they have been employed in Panama for the past nine months and that they have been paying social security in Panama.

Panama offers three options to those with the means to pay US$ 300,000 in cash.

  1. Minimum investment of $300,000 in real estate
  2. A certificate of deposit held at a local bank for three years
  3. Any combination of both that results in a total investment of US$300,000.

A minimum investment of US$160,000 in the stock of a Panamanian corporation can buy you a Business Investor Visa, provided the company employs at least 5 local workers. The foreigner can be a shareholder and/or officer.

For the three previous visas, an additional US$2,000 is required for each dependent.

A minimum investment of US$160,000 in the share capital of a Panamanian corporation can buy you a Commercial Investor Visa, provided that the company employs at least 5 local employees. The alien may be a shareholder and/or official.

For the above three visas, an additional US$2,000 is required for each dependent.

How to obtain a Panama passport and citizenship 

Obtaining a Panama passport and citizenship is very simple …

  • Step 1: Obtain permanent residence through one of the options described above. 
  • Step 2: Remain a resident for five years (you do not need remain in Panama the entire time).
  • After five years as a resident, you can apply for citizenship by naturalization and receive your Panamanian passport.

Starting in 2018, a Panamanian passport allows visa-free travel to 129 different countries, including Europe, much of Asia, and Latin America. 

No drawbacks  

There is no compulsory military service or non-domicile taxes in the American style. 

Once you obtain a Panamanian passport, your children, grandchildren, and all future descendants will also be entitled to Panamanian nationality.

Territorial Tax System of Panama

Panamanian residents and taxpaying companies pay taxes only on income generated in Panama. Panama does not tax the worldwide income of its taxpaying residents.