How To Get Panama Passport, Residency & Citizenship
- Last updated on . Written by Offshore Protection.
The Panamanian government has created several laws that enable foreigners to obtain legal Panamanian passports and residency. These laws have been created to promote foreign investment in the country which benefits the local environment or local economy of the Republic of Panama.
There are several immigration programs that offer permanent residency which can lead to citizenship and a Panamanian passport, as well as several visa programs that are designed as work or business visas only. There are currently several different opportunities to get a Panama permanent residency which then after 5 years you become eligible to get citizenship.
Panama has released 4 new residencies by investment visas that allow individuals the ability to get a permanent residency through real estate, bank deposit, or stock investment.
New rules will be coming out in Panama in August of 2021 that will be changing the route to citizenship, making it more difficult and more expensive.
Table of Contents:
- Panama Passport and Visa Details
- Panama Citizenship Passport and Residency Benefits
- How to Get Citizenship in Panama?
- Panama Visa Programs
- Panama Citizenship FAQ's
Panama Passport and Visa Details
Panama has made it a straightforward process to get permanent residency where you then can get citizenship and a passport after 5 years. It is currently one of the best places in the world to get residency because it is inexpensive, straightforward and has minimal requirements.
The major benefit of the permanent residency program is that it allows you to get full citizenship in a relatively short period of time with minimal investment. However, it is not as easy as places like Dominica CBI or St Lucia CBI where you can get full citizenship in 2-3 months. Panama does take 5 years and requires you to at least visit the country every year until then.
1. Friendly Nations
In order to start the permanent residency program, it is required to form a Panamanian company and open a bank account and deposit USD 5000.
Panama's immigration law does not require you to live in Panama full time in order to have residency. It only requires you to live and visit Panama once every two years in order to renew your residency status.
2. Business Investor
A Panama Business Investor visa is for those who establish a business in Panama with a minimum investment of 160,000USD together with a minimum of five employees. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, you can apply for Panamanian nationality.
3. Persons of Means Visa
The Person of Means visa is for those who wish to live in Panama, but are not employed or thinking of starting a business, but are instead living of their own means. The qualifications are proof of 300,000USD in a local bank or purchase of real estate of 300,000 and after 5 years you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
4. Retirement Visa
The retirement visa (aka tourist pensioner visa) is a great option to consider if you are already retired and receive benefits of more than 1000 USD a month. In order to make sure that you have enough cash flow every month to cover living expenses the government makes you prove your pension which has to be for life and either from the government a registered private company.
5. Reforestation Visa
A Tourist Pensioner Visa is designed for persons whose pension comes from the government or private corporation of at least 1000 USD a month. The visa is granted indefinitely is received after 60 days. Persons can then apply for citizenship after 5 years.
6. *New Visa Opportunities
The government launched through their Golden visa 4 new visa opportunities in 2021. There are four different ways that it is possible to get a permanent residency through real estate, bank deposit, or stock investment. This program like all others allows you to apply for citizenship after fulfilling all the requirements after 5 years.
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Passport and Residency Benefits
Obtaining a second passport in Panama is useful for those who wish to:
- Easy Relocation: Expatriate from their country and give up their current passport because of onerous tax requirements that cannot be escaped from even by relocating abroad.
- Visa-Free Travel: Have a passport that provides for visa-free travel to over 80 countries.
- Neutral Passport: Have a passport from a small neutral country that does not have any enemies and therefore unlikely to be perceived individually as one in any type of potential hostile international situation.
- Plan B: Desire to escape an increasingly authoritarian political climate in their home state.
- Second Residency: Have a second home overseas in a tropical country where they can live at or visit where natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, violent earthquakes and serious droughts are rare or unheard of.
- Safe Haven: Have a 'safe haven' to escape to in the event of war or any type of civil unrest that may threaten their family or their assets.
- Great Retirement Options: Live and retire in Panama with its excellent health facilities and diverse tropical city, mountain or beach lifestyle options.
- Tropical Environment: Relocate to a tropical, stable, safe country where it is very economical to live in comparison with most other developed countries such as the US, Canada, Europe, etc.
- Different Lifestyle: Relocate to a country that is almost entirely agricultural self-sufficient with benign and ideal growing conditions for a very wide variety of fruits, vegetables etc. and unlikely to ever face food shortages.
- Tax Benefits: Relocate to a more 'tax friendly' country where foreign earned income, capital gains, and interest income is not taxed.
- Asset Protection: Relocate to a country where frivolous lawsuits are not recognized by courts, and assets can be truly protected through a corporate shield, without the risks of 'piercing the corporate veil'.
- Business Friendly: Relocate to a country where one can begin business operations economically, and without heavy restrictions, regulations, or taxes that hinder the growth of the business.
- Less Restrictions: Relocate to a country where the economy is booming and many business opportunities exist for entrepreneurs
- Affordable Real Estate: Relocate to a country where real estate is still affordable for purchasing homes in the city or land at the beaches, mountains, lakes, etc.
- Yacht Registration: Wish to purchase a yacht in Panama and have Panama be the 'base' for the yacht while otherwise living aboard and sailing the yacht to wherever they desire. The purchase of the yacht in most instances would be sufficient to qualify for residency leading to citizenship.
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How to Get Citizenship in Panama?
To get citizenship in Panama you first have to apply for a permanent residency which is not available for every type of visa and you must fulfill the following conditions.
- Acquire permanent residency through one of the two options
- Have the residency for a period of five or more years
- Once the 5 year period is reached you are able to apply for full citizenship
While Panama officially does not recognize dual nationality, they do not enforce you to give up your previous nationality. It is more of a symbolic act and we have not yet had anyone who has had to renounce their previous citizenship.
There are a number of other alternative visas that Panama offers though not all of them guarantee citizenship as it will depend if you fulfill the residency requirements. For more in-depth detail, click on each of the visa categories:
Do I need to travel there in order to obtain my visa or passport?
Yes, you will need to travel to Panama to obtain your visa or passport. For the visa you will need to be present for the filing of the application, then you receive an interim card lasting 3 months and within that time the visa will be issued.
You need to be in Panama when the visa is issued and you should preferably be in Panama from the filing of the application to the issuance of the visa. If you decide to travel outside Panama before your visa is granted, you will want to obtain a multiple entry permit. For either passport or visa issuance, you will need to appear in person again for photos immediately prior to the passport or visa issuance.
What if I don't wish to relocate?
We recommend that if you obtain a visa to reside in Panama, and you wish to live overseas, that you make plans to visit Panama at least once a year (legally you may be away up to two years). In any case, you must obtain a multiple entry permit valid for up to two years before leaving.
We may assist you on obtaining this permit. Of course, once you have a Panama passport you can choose to live anywhere and do not have to return to Panama if you don’t wish to except when the passport needs to be renewed. Passports are valid for 10 years and can be renewed at any Panama consulate, although for faster processing most prefer to come to Panama to renew passports.
What if I wish to travel outside There?
Once you obtain a visa in Panama, even if you decide to live here permanently, but you wish to travel often, we recommend obtaining a Multiple Entry Permit. This will not be necessary once you have been issued with a Panama passport.
Panama is becoming increasingly popular as a 'Plan B' option for those alarmed at the current global economic unrest or alarmed at the increasing authoritarian tendencies in their own countries.
Many international investors and companies find Panama to be an excellent location for investing in reforestation, manufacturing plants, assembly plants, and distribution facilities for import/export, e-commerce, call centers, and a variety of other business activities. Many times, investors find that legal residency qualification is just an 'extra benefit' to the investments that they are making in Panama.