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Types of Visas in Panama

Types of Visas in Panama

By in Blog with 3 Comments

The government of Panama continues to aggressively court foreign professionals and has consistently enacted new policies and renewed successful programs to both legalize immigrants in Panama and draw foreigners considering a move to the Isthmus.

As of August 1st, 2013, here are the most mainstream paths to a visa in Panama:
1) In May of 2012, the government issued a decree opening the floodgates for citizens of so called “friendly nations.”  This is by far the fastest way to get permanent residency.  To qualify, you need to prove at least $5,000 in the bank and show a commitment to either work for a Panamanian company (via an offer letter or employment contract), start a new company, or purchase an existing business in Panama. Talk to an attorney about the specifics of “starting a company” and the requirements of “working for a Panamanian company”.
The 48 friendly nations that qualify for the friendly nations visa a are: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, China, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Marino, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, United Kingdom (Great Britain & Northern Ireland).
2) Panama continues to offer the reforestation visa as a path to permanent residency.  $80,000 will buy you 5 hectares worth of teak or mahogany in a plantation in Panama and with that investment, you’ve got yourself a visa. Typically these types of reforestation investments are handled by reforestation companies who offer a turn-key package that includes the land purchase contract, management contract, and legal fees required to process the visa.  The major differences between reforestation visa companies are the number of hectares of timber that you actually receive and the ongoing cost of managing your reforestation project.  Applicants can apply under their individual names or under a corporation.  For a comprehensive look at the economics of this type of investment, visit
3. The most popular visa since I’ve been here is the Pensionado visa.  Applicants must be over 18 and show a lifetime annuity or pension that’s over $1,000 per month plus $250 per dependent.
4.  For the Economic self-solvency visa, you need to invest $300,000 in either real estate, a certificate of deposit with a local bank for three years, or any combination of the two that results in a total $300,000 equity investment.  Dependents qualify for an additional $2,000 investment per dependent.

5.  Marry a Panamanian.  The route I went, with no regrets.  Hopefully she feels the same way.

About The Author

Kent Davis, founder and Managing Director at Panama Equity real estate, has been widely quoted in publications such as Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Miami Herald and the Financial Times for his unabashed views on the Panama real estate market. Panama Equity is regarded as one of the most active real estate agencies in Panama and Kent’s articles, reports, and market research projects have been syndicated by press agencies including Bloomberg and the Associated Press.   Connect with the Author via: Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+


  1. Bill Mertz says:

    I would like to obtain a panama visa that would let me live there part of the year ad I am a officer in the Us Merchant Marine and am away part of the year what all is involved in obtaining a visa and who would I contact
    All help is appreciated
    I would like a one bedroom condo either near the mall in balboa or one off balboa ave in the future
    Bill Mertz

  2. William Harris says:

    Mr. Davis. I have enjoyed your advice and commentary, and ask your assistance in sorting out a Visa issue. My wife and I life on my Naval Officer’s (LCDR) retirement and Social Security retirement. The net of the two is approximately $4500 per month. We do not have the several thousand dollars required to make the trips and two-week stays to obtain Pensionado Visas. We can demonstrate $5000 in a bank account to meet that qualification for a Friendly Nations Visa. My wife is a licensed Senior Esthetician, who is qualified to work in an established Panamanian spa, or start our own private-client spa business, which has excellent potential for growth and creation of jobs for Panamanian estheticians. I am a qualified military instructor, technical school director, Curriculum Writer, Small Arms Instructor and Weapons Range Safety Officer and have held 7 civilian Regional and Senior Vice President positions in start-up, medium-sized and one Fortune 500 Company; all in the Defense and Federal Government Contracting fields. I am currently working with start-up businesses to underpin their nascent companies’ business planning, market segmentation, business development and financial cost-accounting systems that are expansible to match growth, provide senior managers with real-time financial status of their companies and serve as the basis for tax reporting and governmental compliance. Is it possible to obtain a friendly nations visa for our original Visa and once established in Panama, shift to the Pensionado Program? I’m making an assumption that the cost of a friendly nations Visa would be less expensive than the Pensionado. We do not have the cash to make the flight and 2-week stay in Panama to qualify for the Pensionado Program. If there is a much less expensive means by which our talents and annual retirement income of approximately $54,000 per year, it would seem that our contribution to Panama would present a significant net value to the economy .
    I look forward to hearing back from you.
    Bill Harris
    LCDR, USN (Ret.)
    707 474 2770

  3. Toi Bea says:

    Looking for some beach property to built a house. Any suggestions?

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