An interesting law was just published in the official Gazette this week that may make it easier for foreigners to get residency here in Panama. For years, there were a number of ways for foreigners to obtain a Panamanian visa, including a pensioners visa, a small investor visa, a forestry visa, along with a few more obscure options. According to Executive Order 343, a new subcategory has been created to streamline the process for residents from certain countries, including the US, Canada, and a number of EU nations. This could be a game changer for foreigners looking to relocate to Panama, since up until now one had to prove either a guaranteed source of income via a pension or make an investment of more than $300,000 in Panama real estate or a specified financial instrument such as a certificate of deposit.
After speaking with a handful of lawyers, the impression I got is that this new law will be similar to the bilateral agreement that Panama has with Italian nationals. The requirements are relatively simple for Italian nationals, which include opening up a bank account of $5,000, creating a Panamanian company (corporation or SA), and providing the standard documentation which includes a criminal record history and birth certificate. My understanding is that dependants from ages 18-25 are also granted the “Permanent Residency Visa” if they enroll in a local college under the Italian plan, and the general consensus right now is that EO 343 will view nationals from the named countries in much the same way as they view Italians in Panama.
Again, it is too early to be able to understand or predict the long term implications of this new law, but it is a step in the right direction and will definitely bring a new wave of foreigners seeking the climate, security, and affordable lifestyle that those of us in Panama already enjoy. To see the complete list of countries whose citizens can apply for the new visa, visit our website by clicking here.