Panama has been known for years as an undemanding place in which to obtain permanent residency. Its Friendly Nations Visa residency was widely recognized in the immigration world as one of the easiest, and providing applicants with a wide array of benefits.
Up until last year, citizens of countries on the Friendly Nations list, which encompasses most EU countries, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, as well as a few East Asian and Latin America countries, could obtain permanent residency in Panama with minimal effort.
All that was needed was to create a Panama corporation, and to deposit about $5,000 into a local bank account. After a bit of paperwork and a few weeks, you would obtain permanent residency for yourself and your immediate family.
It remains easy to obtain permanent residency in Panama, not just for citizens of countries on the Friendly Nations list, but it has become more expensive.
Let’s first have a glance at the benefits of obtaining permanent residency in Panama, and then let’s explore the most common ways to obtain permanent residency in Panama.
The key benefits of obtaining residency in Panama
- A perfect paper residency option. Unlike in many countries, if you have residency through investment in Panama you do not need to actually spend much time in Panama. You just need to show up once every two years to keep your residency active, which makes Panama a great plan B / back-pocket residency.
- A great territorial tax system. This is mostly valid for non-US people. Essentially, Panama only taxes income sourced in Panama. Income stemming from outside of the country’s borders are not taxed. If you structure your affairs correctly, then you can potentially get away with 0% taxes, entirely legally.
- A great climate all year long.
- Biodiversity. From living the big city life in Panama city, to chilling in surf towns, to being a bum on a Caribbean beach, or living inland in rolling hills full of lush landscape, Panama has much to offer.
- A dollarized economy. The local currency is pegged to the USD.
- A well connected airport – Panama City is one of Latin America’s hubs.
- Good healthcare due to an active healthcare tourism industry, as well as good international schools due to the amount of expats living in Panama.
- Decent banking, though it’s not appropriate for everyone. I wrote an article on the matter (here).
- Same timezone as the US, which makes remote work very convenient.
How to obtain Permanent Residency through Investment in Panama
- If you are from a Friendly Nations country:
- Invest $200,000 in local real estate
- Put $200,000 in a fixed deposit in a local bank for 3 years (details here on interest rates)
- If you are from any other country:
- Invest $300,000 in local real estate
- Put $300,000 in a fixed deposit in a local bank for 3 years
- A combination of both real estate and a fixed deposit to the value of $300,000. For example $180,000 in local real estate and $120,000 in fixed deposits.
You obtain temporary residency for 2 years, and thereafter you can apply for permanent residency which pretty much gets granted automatically IF you have kept the investment.
After 5 years of permanent residency you are entitled to apply for Panamanian citizenship. Applying does not mean getting it. You really are expected to live near full-time in Panama, speaking Spanish fluently, and being an active member of society to have a chance at being granted citizenship. Even then, it can take years to process.
Overall, obtaining citizenship in Panama is often a bit of a pipe dream UNLESS you are willing to really dedicated yourself to the cause.
What documents are needed to obtain Panama Permanent Residency?
Typically passport, apostilled police record from back home, apostilled birth certificates, apostilled marriage certificates, etc.
My lawyer Josue can give you the full brief. I interviewed him on how to obtain residency in Panama. You can watch the video here.
You can get in touch with Josue here. You’ll be good hands with him. He has processed hundreds of residencies.
How much does it cost in fees to obtain permanent residency in Panama?
Josue’s price list can be found here
Other services in Panama:
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I am retiring soon and am interested in becoming a resident in Panama. Can you help with this?
I’ve heard that in order to apply for residency from ” non – friendly” countries , you must invest at least $300,000 . It can be combined investment (let’s say 200,000 in real estate and $100,000 in deposit). So it’s different from what lawyer has explained!
Yes, 300k for “non-friendly” countries, to go up to 500k in a few weeks.