Most people have never heard of the Panama travel passport, which is different from the normal Panama passport. What is it and how do people obtain it?
This little-known program was started in 1987 do encourage foreign investment into Panama. However, very few people have made use of it and it is severely unknown, even in the “offshore industry”.
What is a Panama Travel Passport?
Essentially, it is exactly like a normal passport passport, except that it is for non-citizens. There is an additional line in the passport that mentions your current citizenship (American, Chinese, Egyptian, South African). Having such a passport does not make you a citizen of Panama. It merely gives you the sames travel rights as a Panama citizen.
What can you do with a Panama Travel Passport?
On paper, having a Panama Travel passport gives you the same travel privileges as a Panama citizen. This means you can go to the EU visa-free, to Russia visa-free, and to the whole list of visa-free destinations Panamanians benefit from.
In practice it is a bit of a grey zone. If you are Russian and show up in Wrsaw airport with this Panama travel passport will they let you in? It depends if they actually check, or care. In most countries it would be fine, but again, because it is a unique case that nobody has heard about you would need to understand that you would have to deal with ambiguity. Sure, you could contact embassies ahead of time asking if it’s fine, but even they would struggle to answer.
Australia also has a little-known travel passport for non-citizens, typically recognized refugees, and they can travel on it based on Australian visa-free arrangements. It works.
How to obtain a Panama Travel Passport?
You must deposit enough money in a Panama state bank to receive at least $850 per month of interest. This term deposit is for the duration of the Panama travel passport, namely 5 years.
This deposit give you a specific residency which is the private retiree investor visa, which is an immediate permanent residency.
The total investment depends on interest rates. As they go up, the amount decreases. As things currently stands with term deposit rates of about 4%, you would need to deposit $255,000.
If you were to withdraw the money before the five year deadline, your Panama travel passport would get cancelled immediately.
How fast can you obtain a Panama Travel Passport?
It takes about 15 days to process both the permanent residency and the Panama travel passport. Obtaining this Panama travel passport is an incredibly fast process.
Giovanna and Wi Men can help you obtain a Panama travel passport
They helped me obtain residency in Panama, create a company and obtain bank accounts. They can also help investors obtain the Panama travel passport. Here’s a video I did with them discussing this topic in detail.
Other articles on Panama
- Panama Friendly Nations Visa through Work Permit and Company Formation
- The Pros and Cons of creating a crypto and stock trading Corporation in Panama
- Affordable Tax-Free Caribbean Lifestyle and Real Estate
- Catching a falling knife in Panama City Real Estate
- How to Obtain the Panama Retirement Visa
- Panama Permanent Residency in ONE trip
- The Pros and Cons of living in Panama
Services in Panama:
- Remotely opening a bank account in Panama
- Real Estate Lawyer in Panama
- How to Obtain Residency in Panama
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.
Full transcript of “What is the Panama Travel Passport and how to get it?”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from thewanderinginvestor.com. So today, I’m in Panama City with my favorite Panamanian couple, Giovanna and Wi Men. How are you?
WI MEN: Yeah, very good.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So Giovanna and Wi Men run a small family office helping people with banking, immigration, company formation, etc. We’ve done a lot of content together. You can see a list of the videos below. And today, I know the title sounds a little bit click-baity, but it’s actually the truth, how to get paid to obtain a Panama travel passport. This is not my passport, by the way, I’m just taking Giovanna’s.
Requirements for the Panama Travel Passport
LADISLAS MAURICE: But it’s possible to invest money here in Panama, and to obtain one of these within how many days or weeks?
WI MEN: Like 10 business days like the other residency paperwork.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So you can come to Panama, make an investment, and, 10 days later, you get one of these. So how does it work, and what are the caveats?
GIOVANNA: Well, the Panama travel passport program was born in 1987. What Panama wanted to do is bring investors. So what Panama is looking for is does this investor gains a monthly income of $850. So it will depend on the rates of the local banks. This investment has to be done in local banks, just Panama national banks. We did the math recently, and it’s around $275,000 on local interest rates that we see today. It could be more or less, it moves and goes. But you put the money there, you get $850 monthly, then we start the process, we get a certificate from the bank saying that you have this money as a term deposit. It doesn’t matter your nationality.
The banks in Panama will, as long as it’s for purposes of residency, they will open the account for you, they will let you put the money there, the 275,000. Then you get access to the residency, you get a temporary residency, and once you get a temporary residency, we can go to the passport authorities and you can get your travel passport.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So can the money be deposited in any bank?
WI MEN: No, just the Panamanian government bank, which is National Panama Bank and Caja de Ahorros Bank.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And how long is the term deposit for?
WI MEN: Five years.
Difference between the normal Panama Passport and the Panama Travel Passport
LADISLAS MAURICE: Five years? Okay. Now, can you tell us the difference between a normal Panama passport and a Panama travel passport? Because this is important, when you’re doing this, you’re not getting Panamanian citizenship, you’re just getting the passport and, more specifically, a different type of passport. It still looks this way, but there are a few differences inside the passport. Can you elaborate?
WI MEN: Yes. So basically, the Panamanian passport, as a Panamanian citizen, we can use this paper to travel many countries with our visa. For foreigners acquiring this passport doesn’t mean they’re a citizen, a Panamanian citizen. And the only difference is inside there, so that mention the place of birth of that person, of the applicant, and the citizenship. So this is very important. At the end, that person has the same benefit as a Panamanian traveling in those countries with our visa.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So it’s just really, really unique. So essentially, let’s say, you’re South African, or you’re from Turkey, or you’re from Canada, you essentially get this. There’s your face in there. There’s all of your personal information, where you were born, etc., just as with any normal passport, but then there’s an extra line that says Citizenship, and then there it’s written, South African, Turkish, Canadian, whatever it is you are. This is really interesting.
So for people who come from countries where they don’t necessarily have Schengen access, this is one way to go into Schengen. And then also for Westerners, it’s interesting, for example, you’re a Westerner and you want to go to Russia, and you need a visa, especially in the current situation, then you can just get one of these and, theoretically, you can go into Russia visa free, as well as all over Latin America, etc.
Risks of the Panama Travel Passport
So it’s a unique solution out there. However, it must be said that, sometimes, it can cause problems at borders. The vast majority of Border guards are not aware of this travel document, just as the majority of people selling new passports online, selling Dominican passports, etc., etc., they don’t even know that this option exists. So let’s say you arrive in Belgium. I don’t know why you’d want to go there, but let’s say you go to Belgium, and then you get scanned at Brussels Airport. Maybe the person at customs will suddenly look at this and wonder that why does it say that you’re a South African citizen, and they might cause you problems.
Or, maybe not, maybe they’ll just scan it, they won’t care you’ll go through, they won’t even notice it, they won’t try to look for that sort of information. So there’s a bit of an element of risk in using such a passport because no one knows about it.
So you know, you can do all the research you want, you can contact the Belgian embassy here in Panama City, ask them, can I travel to Belgium with it? They’ll tell you Yes, or No. But then, once you get to customs, it’ll be a different story. So you just need to understand that you’re going to be dealing with it with a level of ambiguity. But it’s a very interesting solution, because essentially, it really doesn’t cost you anything. So instead of having your money sitting, 250K sitting in a bank, somewhere, giving you low interest rates, you can bring the money to a government bank here in Panama. You get the full interest, which is higher than in most countries in the world, because their government banks, it’s implied that they are safer.
Again, do your own due diligence. I don’t know what’s sitting on their balance sheets. And then, out of this whole process of getting your interest, you can get one of these for yourself and your family as well. Correct?
GIOVANNA: That’s correct.
WI MEN: That’s correct.
Dependents applying for Panama Travel Passport
LADISLAS MAURICE: So then it’s the spouse and the underage children can claim this as well.
WI MEN: Yes.
Obtain residency in Panama at the same time
LADISLAS MAURICE: So when I see this, I’m already thinking of quite a few countries that, you know, for them, it’s not easy to always travel around, this is a very interesting solution. So by depositing this amount of money, which the amount changes on a regular basis, depending on interest rates, as interest rates go up, the amount of money you need to deposit goes down, you can also get residency as well for yourself and your family, correct?
WI MEN: That’s correct.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So for everyone out there that is sitting on $280,000, or whatever, in a bank account, that just want to have cash and want to get interest, there is absolutely no reason to be keeping that money elsewhere in the world other than Panama, when you can come here, get residency for yourself and your family, which then eventually turns into permanent residency, and if you want to obtain a Panama travel passport in the process.
So in a world of heightened geopolitical tensions, in a world of increased risk, generally, we also saw the whole situation with the medical problems where people were getting shut out of countries just based on their passports, this, again, is a unique proposition. So what I encourage you to do is to get in touch with Giovanna and Wi Men, there is a contact form below and their email, and just ask them for the brochure. And there it explains what the process is, the fees, etc. All right.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So Giovanna and Wi Men, thank you very much.
GIOVANNA: You’re welcome.
WI MEN: You’re welcome.