Panama Friendly Nations Visa: How To Get Your Panama Residency

Last Updated : Sep 4, 2023

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Before we get to the more detailed information, let's first cover the Panama Friendly Nations Visa definition. The Panama Friendly Nations Visa, is a special immigration program that only citizens of selected countries can apply for. In addition, these citizens must have professional or economic ties with Panama to apply for permanent residency, and only then can they receive a Panamanian ID (Cedula). Once a citizen of one of the eligible countries receives their Panamanian residency, they will be able to request a work permit.

Before getting too excited about the Panamanian residency, it is important to know that you must first apply for the Panama provisional residency. A provisional residency will first be granted to you, which means you must live in Panama for 2 years before applying for the Panama permanent residence visa. I know this might seem a bit confusing, but in simple terms, you must live 2 years in Panama with a provisional residency before applying for a permanent residence visa.

Who Can Apply For The Panama Friendly Nations Visa?

Here is a list of all the countries that can apply for the Panama Friendly Nations Visa:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Peru, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay.

How Much Does The Panama Friendly Visa Cost?

Suppose you are eligible to apply for the Panama provisional visa. In that case, you must be aware of the costs of the application. As I mentioned earlier, the Panama Friendly Visa has two sections. Firstly the provisional residency, and secondly, the permanent residence.

Each of these sections has different visa fees and also sub-sections. These sub-sections are divided into main applicant fees, dependent fees, and minor fees.

Provisional Residency Visa Fee

The provisional residency is the first visa application fee that you must pay. The following fees must be paid to the Panamanian government:

    Main Applicant Visa Fee: 1,400 USD

    Dependents Older Than 12: 1,400 USD

    Minors Under 12: 1600 USD

Permanent Residency Visa Fee

After your initial 2-year stay in Panama with your Panamanian citizenship, you can apply for permanent residence. Here are the fees that must be paid to the Panamanian government for your permanent residence visa application:

    Main Applicant Visa Fee: 300 USD

    Dependents Older Than 12: 300 USD

    Minors Under 12: 300 USD

How To Prove Professional Or Economic Ties With Panama?

Before qualifying for the Panama Friendly Nations Visa residency program, you must prove that you have professional or economic ties to the country. To simplify, you must prove that you will work in Panama or that you will be contributing to the Panamanian economy. Here is what you can do to prove your professional or economic ties:

Contract Of Employment

The employment contract is easy to prove your professional ties to Panama. First, you must submit an employment contract between you and a Panamanian company. Additionally, you must submit a letter from your employer stating you will be working for them in Panama. Perhaps you do not have an official employment contract. In that case, you can submit an offer of employment or a conditional contract.

Quick note: The employer must be registered in Panama and have a social security number.

Ownership Of Real Estate

If you have real estate in Panama, you can use your property as an economic tie to Panama. However, it is essential to note that your property must have a value of at least 200,000 USD which can be financed with a local institution.

Long-Term Deposit Certificate

You can also use a fixed-term deposit certificate to prove economic solvency. To qualify for this option, you must own a fixed-term deposit bank account with a minimum of 200,000 USD. In addition, your fixed-term deposit must be with a national Panamanian bank, must include title, value, the term, and must be encumbrance free for a minimum of 3 years.

What Are The Required Documentation For The Panama Friendly Nations Visa?

Like all visa applications, the Panama Friendly Nations Visa has a few required documents you must submit during the application process. Although these documents are straightforward, there are differences between the main applicant, dependents, and minors. Therefore, we'll cover each document required for the main applicant and dependents in this section.

Main Applicant

Here is a list of the documents that must be submitted by the main applicant:

    Power of attorney

    Valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)

    5 passport-size photos

    Provide a certified check in the name of the National Treasury from a local bank (250 USD)

    Provide a certified check in the name of the National Immigration Service from a local bank (800 USD)

    You must provide a second form of identification (ID or citizenship certificate)

    Country of origin background check not older than 6 months (must be authenticated at a Panamanian Consulate in your country of origin or Apostilled in your country of origin)

    Good health medical certificate issued by a qualified doctor in Panama

    Proof of professional or economic ties with Panama

Dependents Older Than 12

If you are applying with your family members for Panama residency, they must also submit documentation. Remember that the documentation below is only for dependents that are older than 12:

    Valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)

    5 passport-size photos

    Provide a certified check in the name of the National Treasury from a local bank (250 USD)

    Provide a certified check in the name of the National Immigration Service from a local bank (800 USD)

    Marriage certificate with an apostille for authentication

    Proof of address that it notarized (letter from hotel or rental contract)

    Proof of financial solvency (bank reference letter)

Dependents Classified As Minors

If you have children and are also applying for provisional Panama residency, you must provide the below documentation. Remember that this is only if your child is younger than 12.

    Valid passport (must be valid for at least 6 months)

    5 passport-size photos

    Provide a certified check in the name of the National Treasury from a local bank (250 USD)

    Birth certificate (must be apostilled and not older than 1 year that demonstrates the child is related to the applicant)

    Letter from other parent if the main applicant is the only parent in the application

Important note: You must submit the same documents when applying for your permanent residency. The only thing that can be disregarded is the 250 USD National Treasury certified check.

Can I Work In Panama With The Friendly Nations Visa?

Although you can obtain a provisional residency, it doesn't mean you would be able to work in Panama. Before working in Panama, you must apply for a work permit. As soon as you have been granted residency in Panama, head over to the Ministry of Labour to apply for your work permit.

Keep in mind that the work permit is separate from your residency application, which means you must pay additional fees. The Ministry of Labor, also known as the Mitradel, takes between 1 and 2 months to process applications.

Can I Drive In Panama With My Drivers License?

As soon as you receive your Panama permanent residency through the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, you can apply for a Panama driver's license. Remember that you must be over 18 and bring your country of origin driver's license when applying for the Panama driver's license. Here are the steps you can follow to obtain your Panama driver's license:

Step 1: Authenticate Drivers License

Your foreign driver's license must first be authenticated by your country of origin. Once authenticated, you must take the authentication to the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Panama City to be certified.

Step 2: Obtain A Blood Test

After the authentication process, you must undergo a blood test authorized by the Autoridad del Transito y Transporte Terrestre(ATTT). The blood test must display information such as your full name, passport or identity number, a stamp, and the doctor's signature. Please note that you do not need to obtain a blood test if your blood type is already on your driver's license.

Step 3: Visit The Sertracen For Your Drivers License Application

Now that you have completed the above steps, you can head to the Sertracen office to apply for your Panamanian driver's license. Remember that you must take your country of origin, driver's license, blood test, copy and original permanent residency card, and lastly, your original passport and a copy of your passport.

Important note: If you are older than 70, you must see a geriatric doctor or psychologist before a driver's license is granted.

What Are The Tax Regulations In Panama?

I know you're asking this question because this is one thing that first popped into my head when I applied for the Panama Friendly Nations Visa. So, here is everything you need to know about what expats can expect from Panama tax regulations.

What Income Will Be Taxed?

Regardless of the residency program, income tax in Panama includes any revenue derived from economic activity in Panamanian territory. Unlike in the United States and Europe, you will only be taxed for income generated within Panamanian boundaries. If you're wondering how Panama gets its tax money, consider that most of it come through VAT.

What Are The Tax Rates In Panama?

If you earn less than 11,000 USD per year, you are not required to pay income tax. However, if you make between 11,000 USD and 50,000 USD annually, you will pay 15% income tax. The last income bracket is 25% if you earn more than 50,000 USD annually.

What Is The Permanent Residency Tax?

If you gain permanent residency through the Friendly Nations visa, you may be interested in obtaining tax residency. A tax residence certificate aims to demonstrate your tax status as a Panamanian resident and tax returns to other nations. One significant advantage of this certificate is that it can be used by inhabitants of countries that have treaties with Panama, such as Mexico, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, among others, to avoid double taxation.

How Do I Get A Tax Certificate?

One approach to qualifying for a tax residency certificate is to produce documentation of spending 183 days or more in Panama in one year. In addition, the following prerequisites must be met to request the certificate:

    E-Cedula (Panama identity document)

    Copy of your passport (must be notarized)

    Panamanian proof of address

    Proof of economic activity in Panama

    Proof of Panama residency status

    Tax year when the certificate is applied for

How To Apply For The Panama Friendly Nations Visa?

Before we get started with the Panama Friendly Nations Visa application process, it is important to note that it is divided into 4 stages. Remember that the whole application process, from stages 1 to 4, will take about 3 years to complete.

Stage 1: Apply For Temporary Residence ID

The first stage is where you must submit your application and obtain your temporary residency card. After stage 1, you must wait for about 6 months to get your provisional residence ID. You must prepare to stay at least 6 days in Panama to complete your application. Here is a breakdown of how you would spend each day:

    Day 1:

I advise that you get an attorney to help you with the application process. If you have an attorney, you will spend the first day meeting with your attorney and completing paperwork.

    Day 2:

After completing your paperwork, you must head to the Panama Immigration office to register your passport. The passport registration fee is 5 USD per person.

The passport registration process might take up your whole day because immigration offices in Panama are always crowded.

    Day 3:

If your passport registration took you the whole day, you must submit your temporary residence ID application on day 3. Please note that immigration will keep your passport for 2 days.

    Day 4-5:

Perhaps you plan on going home, then you will be required to apply for a Multiple-Entry Visa.

    Day 6:

The last thing you must do is collect your passport and Multiple-Entry Visa at the immigration office.

After your initial application has been accepted by the immigration office and you received your temporary residence permit, your application will be processed. The immigration office will take 6 months to issue a resolution and give you your provisional residency permit.

Stage 2: Get Your Provisional Residence ID

As soon as your application has been processed, you will receive a provisional residency card valid for 2 years. However, remember to adhere to the requirements during those 2 years to apply for your permanent residency card.

Stage 3: Apply For Your Permanent Residence ID

After you have adhered to the requirements during the 2 years of your provisional residency, you can apply for your permanent residence ID. This process can take up to 6 months before the immigration office provides a resolution.

Stage 4: Get Your Permanent Residence ID

You will be notified by the immigration office as soon as your application is approved. When your application is approved, you and your family members will receive your permanent residence card.

After arrival, it takes 1 to 2 days to complete the Friendly Nations Visa process and obtain the Permanent Residency Card. This necessitates another visit to the Panama Immigration Office.

Remember that you can also apply for the E-Cedula (Panama National ID). Although it is not necessary, I advise you do it.

What Are The Benefits Of The Panama Friendly Nations Visa?

Now that you know everything about the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, I will explain why you should apply for it. In addition, you can enjoy a few benefits when you apply for the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, and believe me when I say benefits.

Quick Second Residency Application

Obtaining the Friendly Nations Visa is a quick and straightforward process for gaining a second residency as long as the prerequisites are met. Financial and economic solvency, as well as personal documentation, are required.

The application process at the Immigration Office can be completed in 10 days or less. You can then return to your country of origin and wait for the application to be processed, taking 2 to 3 months.

Citizenship And Taxes

Panama has a territorial taxation system, which means that you only pay taxes on income earned within the country. This is also true for Panamanian firms; if your company makes income outside of Panama, it is not taxed on that income. Therefore, even if your company generates profits within Panama, the tax rate you must pay is lower than that of European countries.

Aside from being a safe and attractive country, Panama allows permanent residents to apply for Panamanian citizenship after 5 years.

Panamanian Lifestyle

Besides Panama being a politically stable country, the cost of living is much lower when compared to countries such as the United States and Europe. In addition, Panama also offers affordable health care and modern infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

To be able to apply together, Panamanian law demands an apostilled/validated marriage certificate. You can, however, file different applications.

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