Becoming a Permanent Resident in Panama through Investment

The Qualified Investor Permanent Residence Program in Panama grants residence within 30 days with an investment of  US$300,000.00.

By: Ayleen Quintero – Associate

The permanent residence permit as Qualified Investor was created through Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15th, 2020, and it is a migratory category that grants permanent residence in Panama to those foreigners who invest from five hundred thousand dollars (US$500,000.00) of funds coming from abroad, under one of the four (4) modalities that we shall explain subsequently.

 

Notwithstanding, it is important to emphasize that said Decree also contemplated an exception that consists of the benefit of being able to apply for this residence, with a minimum amount of three hundred thousand dollars (US$300,000.00), provided that the applicant chooses one of the modalities that are related to the investment in the purchase of a real estate property. This exception shall be in force only until October 15, 2022.

 

The modalities under which you can apply for this category are Real Estate Investment, Real Estate Investment through a Promise to Purchase Contract (both by Investment of US$300,000.00, only until October 2022), Investments through a Broker-Dealer House (US$500,000.00), and Investment through Fixed Term Deposit in the Banking Sector (US$750,000.00).

 

Under this category we could point out, among other requirements and general conditions, that the most relevant points to be evidenced within the application are:

  • To prove that the funds come from a foreign source.
  • That the Investment must be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years, which shall be verified annually.

 

How soon is the permanent residence under the Qualified Investor category approved?

The application for Permanent Residence under the Qualified Investor category is approved within thirty (30) working days and shall allow the foreigner applicant to acquire the permanent resident card issued by the Electoral Court of Panama, which shall be the new identity number in Panama for all approved Qualified Investors.

 

After obtaining Permanent Residence, how long shall I wait to apply for Panamanian nationality?

The naturalization or proceeding to obtain the Naturalization Letter is the formality that allows the permanent resident to opt for Panamanian nationality and, therefore, also obtain the right to carry a Panamanian passport. This proceeding can be carried out after the foreigner complies with any of the following conditions:

  1. Foreigners with five consecutive years of residence in the territory of the Republic if, after reaching the legal age, they declare their willingness to become naturalized, expressly waive their original nationality or that they hold at the moment, and prove they are conversant in Spanish language and have basic knowledge on Panamanian geography, history, and political organization.
  2. Foreigners with three consecutive years of residence in the Republic who have children born herein of Panamanian father or mother or spouse of Panamanian nationality, if they make the declaration and furnish the proof mentioned in the previous point.
  3. Nationals by birth of Spain or a Latin-American State, if they fulfill the same requirements requested by their country of origin to Panamanians to become naturalized.

For the above reasons, below is a summary of how many years nationals of some Latin American countries must wait, on a case-by-case basis.

 

How long should I wait to become a Panamanian citizen?

One year for nationals from Colombia and El Salvador.

Two years for nationals of:

  • Argentina            
  • Chile                      
  • Costa Rica           
  • Ecuador               
  • Spain                    
  • Guatemala          
  • Honduras            
  • Mexico                 
  • Nicaragua         
  • Paraguay           
  • Peru                     
  • Uruguay             

All others not mentioned above may apply for naturalization after 5 years.

 

After acquiring the permanent residence, what obligations do I have?

Concerning the migratory obligations that are derived, the main obligation shall be to visit Panama before two (2) years have elapsed outside the country, or else, the permanent resident shall lose the residence and must either initiate another proceeding or request the reactivation of the Permanent Residence; however, this proceeding has its conditions and supporting documents that must justify the relevant reason why the foreigner could not enter the country during the said period.

Rear view of senior couple embracing at beach

Benefits of the Retiree and Pensioner Residence Permit

By: Ayleen Quintero – Associate

The Retiree and Pensioner residence permit (formerly also known as Tourist Pensioner), is an immigration category that grants permanent residence in Panama to those foreigners who have a retirement or pension, received from either a foreign government, an international organization, or a private company.

 

The main requirement to apply for this category is to have a certification proving the condition of retiree or pensioner, issued by the corresponding government, agency, or company. It must be evidenced that the interested party receives a retirement of not less than one thousand dollars (US$1,000.00) monthly and for life, implying that the retirement or pension must be received for his/her lifetime.

 

The foreigner who wishes to apply for this residence may also include his/her dependents (parents, spouse, and children), proving additional economic solvency of two hundred and fifty dollars (US$250.00) monthly for each of the dependents, which can be evidenced either through the pension or through a local bank reference letter issued in favor of the main applicant. It is important to note that the amount of one thousand dollars (US$1,000.00) required under this category can also be the product of the sum of the pensions of the spouses.

 

The law also contemplates the possibility of the applicant foreigner purchasing a property under personal title in the national territory. In that case, if the same is for an amount greater than one hundred thousand dollars (US$100,000.00), the certification that evidences the condition of retiree or pensioner may be for a minimum of seven hundred and fifty dollars (US$750.00).

 

 

Does this permit grant any additional benefits aside from obtaining permanent residence in Panama?

The permanent residence as a Retiree and Pensioner has the particularity that the costs related to the payment of immigration fees are low in comparison with other categories of residence and does not require an additional investment to obtain the approval of the Permanent Residence.

On the other hand, we must emphasize that there are specific benefits that the Law grants to those foreigners who have this approved Retiree and Pensioner Residence Permit, which are listed below:

  1. Total customs duties exemption for the import of household or personal use items for one time only up to the amount of ten thousand dollars (US$10,000.00).
  2. Total customs duties exemption every two (2) years for the import of a motor vehicle for personal or family use.
  3. Payment exemption of any deposit, encumbrance, or immigration fee related to obtaining the Retiree and Pensioner’s Permit.

It is important to point out that in Panama there are also multiple benefits granted by law to nationals and foreign retirees or pensioners who are residents of Panama, that is, for those women who are fifty-five (55) years of age or older and men of sixty (60) years of age or older. We have summarized below some of the benefits that we consider of greater relevance:

  1. 50% discount on the prices charged for admission to recreational and entertainment activities, such as cinemas, theaters, sports, and other public shows.
  2. Discounts on public transportation fares, according to the following classification:
    1. 25% in air tickets of national and foreign public or private companies.
    2. Boats and ships, 30%;
    3. Trains, 30%;
    4. Intercity buses, 30%;
  3. A minimum discount on regular hotel, motel, and boarding house rates as follows:
    1. 50% from Monday to Thursday.
    2. 30% on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  4. Discount of 25% of the value of individual food consumption in restaurants.
  5. 15% discount in fast food establishments with national and international franchises.
  6. Discount of 15% of the total bill for services in hospitals and private clinics.
  7. Discount of 20% of the value of medicines.
  8. Discounts on the following medical services
    1. 20% in the professional fees for consultations of general medicine and medical and surgical specialties;
    2. 15% for dental services; and
    3. 15% for optometry services.
  9. Discount of 50% of the closing costs or commission on personal and commercial loan transactions made in your name at banks, finance companies, and credit institutions.
  10. Discount of 50% of the Airport Tax or Fee.

 

What should I do if I want to apply for this Residence Permit?

If you are interested in applying for this type of residence and you meet the requirements mentioned above, here is a list of brief steps so that you can begin your immigration formalities.

  1. Contact lawyers specializing in the subject. At Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán we have a complete and exclusive department dedicated to immigration matters that can assist you with any immigration inquiries you may have and that will accompany you in every step and appointment before the institutions.
  2. If you are applying with dependents, consider requesting proof of relationship certificates (marriage certificates, birth certificates, among others), which you will have to apostille before traveling.
  3. If your pension or retirement is granted by a private company, there are some additional documents you will need to provide. Follow our link below to find the complete list of requirements for this category.
  4. Plan your trip to Panama. After reviewing the documents, you will be ready to travel and submit the Retiree and Pensioner application form during your stay.

How long do I have to wait to be approved for residence?

The time that the National Immigration Service takes to review each application form will depend largely on the volume of applications that the institution has; however, a good point of reference is the temporary card which is issued to the foreigner and dependents once the application form has been submitted, which is valid for six (6) months.  This is the approximate time that permanent residence formalities currently take.

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