The Friendly Nation's Visa
It was created by Executive Decree 343 of May 16th 2012, to incentivize foreign investment in the country, with an initial list of only 22 nations, which rapidly increased to today’s total of 50 nations, becoming one of the easiest and most popular residency program in the world.
All applicants must visit the country in person, at least twice at the start and completion of the residency application, and the basic documents every family member must provide are:
- Original passport with validity of at least 6 months
- Five photos passport size
- Sign the sworn declaration and power of attorney prepared by a local attorney
- Nationwide background check (for adults only)
- Birth certificate (for children only)
- Marriage certificate (for couples only)
- All mentioned documents must be recently issued (no more than 6 months) and properly Apostilled.
For this residency, are eligible the citizens of the following 50 nations: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Montegro, Netherlands, New Zeland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Kore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States, Uruguay, Mexico and Paraguay.
In addition to the citizenship condition, the applicants must fulfill both requirements below:
- Financial Solvency: Open a personal bank account in Panama, with a minimum deposit of $5,000 US.
- Economic Solvency: To incorporate a Panamanian Company, or purchase real estate, or obtain a signed employment contract.
- The process is divided in 6 steps, as follows:
- a. Day 1. Registration - which is done in person by all applicants at the National Immigration Service in Panama.
- b. Day 2. Application - where the complete file is submitted for review.
- c. Day 2/3. Temporal ID - it is obtained at day 2 or 3, once the application is submitted. This residency card is valid for 6 months.
- d. Day 5/6. Multiple-entry visa - it is obtained within 2 business days, and it is required prior to leaving the country, subject to a $ 2,000 US penalty if not processed.
- e. Final ID - it is obtained once the residency is approved, and it is indefinite, that is, without an expiration date. The approval can happen at any time within 6 months from the application. An average timeframe it’s within 3-4 months.
- f. E-Cedula - even though optional, this is an important residency ID issued by the TE office, which assigns a local ID number for the residents, and can be done at any time after the residency approval.
Things to consider
The residency is for life, but it can be revoked by the government if the resident is convicted or does public political manifests. Also, absence of the country for more than 2 consecutive years can lead to the suspension of the residency.
Either with the temporal residency or the permanent residency, the foreigner is eligible to obtain a local driver’s license, which is required as the foreign license is only valid while a tourist in the country.
Once permanent residency is approved, the resident is eligible to apply and obtain a work permit, which grants the right to work and obtain employment with local companies.
Once a resident, the applicant is subject to income taxes on locally sourced proceeds. Income from foreign sources are not taxed in Panama.
After 5 years of permanent residency, regardless of the physical presence in the country, the foreign resident is eligible to apply for citizenship, for which a basic general knowledge exam and proficiency in Spanish will be required.