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How and Why Should You Obtain Residence Permit and Citizenship of Panama?

If you are looking for an affordable and easy way to get a new citizenship and are willing to wait several years (in reality, 8 or more), we advise you to pay close attention to the Panama passport. If you meet certain criteria, obtaining citizenship and a passport of Panama is quite simple, while the set of benefits that come with the main document of this Central American country will definitely please you. In this article we will outline the main aspects of obtaining a residence permit in Panama. 

Citizenship of Panama

What You Need to Know about Panama Before Obtaining a Residence Permit and Citizenship

Panama is a highly developed country in Central America, which, in addition to the world-famous artificial waterway called the Panama Canal, has many other distinctive features.

Panama is located on the isthmus connecting North and South America. The local transport infrastructure is very well developed. This implies, among other things, good roads and an efficient public transport system.

Every year, a huge number of travelers and great volumes of cargo from all over the world move through Panama. There are a lot of regular flights available to the USA, Canada and various countries in South America. Panama is also a popular tourist destination due to its favorable geographical location, a pleasant climate and many kilometers of coastline washed by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

The climate in Panama is mostly hot and humid (especially on the coast). Panama is characterized by a fairly large amount of precipitation (especially during the rainy season, which occurs from May to December). However, after obtaining a residence permit or citizenship of Panama, you will be able to take a break from the heat among the hills, which are characterized by mild spring weather throughout the year.

Panama’s strengths, in addition to the wide recognition of its passport, include increasingly business-friendly regulations, as well as a good immigration policy for issuing residence permits and passports, and a growing offshore financial industry.

All applicants for a residence permit, permanent residence, citizenship and passport of Panama should get acquainted with the history and culture of the country. At the very least, they should know that it seceded from Spain in 1821 to form an alliance with Colombia, which was terminated in 1903, after which, together with the United States, the country began to build the Panama Canal. The official language here is Spanish, but English is getting increasingly popular in the metropolitan Panama City, as well as in coastal regions inhabited by immigrants with residence permits. Nevertheless, even despite the influence of expats from other countries, these regions manage to maintain a genuine cultural identity.

The official currency is the Panamanian Balboa, which is pegged to the US dollar. Living in Panama with a residence permit or citizenship with a passport is not exactly cheap. Many neighboring countries like Ecuador are quite different in this regard. However, realistically speaking, a couple of foreigners with a residence permit can enjoy a really comfortable life in Panama for $ 1,500 per month. Of course, specific figures vary greatly depending on the region and lifestyle, but this is the ball-park figure.

Real estate in Panama can be called relatively affordable. At the same time, foreigners with a residence permit are offered a number of fiscal incentives for real estate tax and other fees.

Schools in Panama are on a considerably good level. The situation in the educational system is constantly improving, largely due to dedicated government spendings in this area – a tendency which, in its turn, is rooted in the shortage of skilled workers in Panama.

At the same time, Panama is a very safe country. Statistics show that it is one of the safest in Central America. Fewer violent crimes are committed here in a year than in just one day in the city of New York! In addition, the Panamanians themselves are one of the most hospitable peoples in the region. All these are pretty good reasons to get citizenship and passport of Panama, aren’t they? If you are already interested, contact our highly-qualified experts for an individual consultation.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Panamanian Citizenship and Passport

Firstly, we would like to mention the visa requirements for citizens with a Panama passport. Authorities of 124 countries and territories apply no administrative restrictions on entry across their borders for holders of a Panamanian second passport. In other words, people who own a Panamanian passport can travel to a lot of countries without the extra formalities and fees associated with issuing the respective visas. Citizens of Panama have visa-free access to all the member states of the European Union, as well as most countries of Central and South America.

According to the report “Global Ranking – Visa Restriction Index 2014” prepared and published by experts from the consulting company Henley & Partners in May 2015, Panama’s passport is the 28th in the world in terms of attractiveness for connoisseurs of cross-border travel. When preparing the report, the agency was focusing on the amount of visa restrictions for the holders of passports of a particular country.

Panamanian citizenship and passport are valid for life and can be passed on to children and future generations. The procedures for obtaining a residence permit, citizenship and passport are quite simple.

Those who are interested in getting a residence permit and then the citizenship and passport of Panama should pay attention to one important point. De jure, Panamanian law does not recognize dual citizenship and requires successful applicants for a Panamanian passport to renounce their previous citizenship. In other words, in strict accordance with the law, this is the only way to complete the naturalization procedure.

However, there are curious loopholes that make it unnecessary de facto. They are currently being actively exploited by US citizens: the judiciary system in the USA interprets the Panamanian oath to renounce previous citizenship and passport as “non-committal”, and therefore not leading to loss of US citizenship. This is because Panamanian law does not require a candidate to renounce their citizenship and passport in their historical homeland (for example, by submitting a corresponding application directly to the US State Department). Still, in this matter we highly recommend you to consult a qualified lawyer who is knowledgeable about the citizenship and passport of Panama.

Obtaining a Residence Permit in Panama 

Just like with most other countries and territories, before obtaining a second passport and citizenship of Panama, you will have to get residence permit and permanent residence there. Further is the information about the easiest way to get permanent residence in Panama.

Three years ago, the local government approved new regulations aimed at intensifying the influx of foreigners into the country who want to get permanent residence and then obtain a Panama passport. The goal was to attract not only wealthy foreigners willing to invest in the local economy, but also skilled professionals, which Panama badly needs, as mentioned above. This program is called the Panama Friendly Nations Visa.

As the name implies, the residence permit program is designed primarily for “friendly nations” that have established strong investment and economic ties with Panama. The initial list of eligible countries included 22 countries. As of the end of 2014, it already included the following 48 states: Great Britain, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Republic of Korea, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, USA, Slovakia, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Norway , Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay, Chile, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Serbia, Montenegro, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Luxembourg , Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Taiwan, Costa Rica.

If you are a native citizen of one of the countries on this list, or you have already received a second citizenship in one of these countries, then the procedures for obtaining a residence permit in Panama and, subsequently, its citizenship will be much simpler for you. If you are not a citizen of one of these countries, we recommend you to consider Paraguay or Colombia as more affordable alternatives to Panama: the investment requirements there are much lower, with almost the same passport bonuses and no preferences for applicants from specific countries.

All applicants for the residence permit and permanent residence through the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program must comply with the following two requirements:

  1. A deposit in the amount of $5,000 in a Panamanian bank (the applicant’s spouse and/or each dependent will have to make an additional $2,000 deposit)
  2. One of the following alternatives:
  • Opening or buying a business in Panama – It is necessary to obtain a controlling stake in a Panamanian company in order to obtain a residence permit. The easiest way to fulfill this requirement is simply to set up an offshore company for about $2,000. If you already have an Internet company or another business that does not need to be tied to a specific location to function properly, you might want to consider transferring your business to a Panamanian offshore; OR
  • Investment in Panamanian real estate – Buy any property in Panama in order to obtain a residence permit. Whether it is residential property, land or agricultural property – any type of real estate will do; OR
  • Investment in the development of forestry in Panama – Invest at least $ 80,000 in a Panamanian forestry project to obtain a residence permit. Notably, this option is available to citizens of all countries who wish to acquire Panama citizenship, but do not hold passports from one or more of the 48 jurisdictions listed above that participate in the Panama Friendly Nations Visa Program.

In addition to the two investment options you choose from the description above, you will have to fork out additional fees charged by the government of Panama, including government fees, processing fees, and so on. At the same time, you will definitely have to personally visit Panama in order to obtain a residence permit.

Getting Panamanian Citizenship Through Permanent Residence 

After the successful completion of the procedure for obtaining a Panamanian residence permit and permanent residence, a foreigner is granted the right to become a citizen of the country and receive a Panamanian passport. The key point in this case is observing the residency requirement: you will have to live in this Central American country with the residence permit for a certain time within five years. At the same time, even if you do, it will still not be possible to automatically obtain citizenship and a passport of Panama, since local officials consider each application individually, deciding whether to grant citizenship to a specific foreigner with a residence permit or not.

One of the reasons for rejecting the application may be, for example, the fact that the applicant has not been in Panama for a sufficiently long time, despite the status of a residence permit. Although in fairness it should be noted that no one actually counts the days of stay in the country. Practice shows that within five years with a residence permit, you should visit Panama at least a couple of times in order to minimize the risk of rejection. At the same time, over the same five-year period, you should invest time in learning Spanish, geography and the history of Panama, all of which will come in handy when you are being interviewed for the citizenship and passport of Panama.

Obtaining Citizenship and Permanent Residence in Panama Through Marriage

If you are not a citizen of one of the 48 states covered by the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program, but you still really want to get the citizenship and a passport of Panama, with minimum investments of time, effort and money (that is, without having to invest $ 80,000 in the development of the Panama forest industry), we advise you to seriously think about marrying a citizen of Panama (of course, out of great and pure love).

If you decide to marry a Panamanian citizen, then, among other things, you can somewhat speed up the procedure for getting a residence permit and then citizenship and passport of Panama. In addition to the opportunity to create a happy family, you will be given the right to apply for a residence permit and permanent residence right away. In this case, the process of obtaining a residence permit and permanent residence will be slow, and you may have to prove that your marriage is legal and valid (similar procedures are used in the US and a number of other Western countries). The procedure for obtaining permanent residence can take up to 2 years, a residence permit would go a bit faster. At the same time, you can apply for a work permit until you receive permanent residence. But then, once you are granted a permanent residence permit in Panama, you will have a fast track to citizenship and passport. In this case, you will be able to obtain citizenship and a passport of Panama not in five years, as in the case described above, but within just 3 years.

The Key Requirements for Obtaining a Residence Permit and Citizenship of Panama

Applicants for a Panamanian residence permit, permanent residence, or citizenship and passport must have an impeccable reputation: no criminal record. You will have to undergo a medical examination and provide a health certificate.

At the same time, in order to apply for a permanent residence permit through the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program, the applicant must provide evidence of financial solvency and the necessary supporting documentation. The applicant’s spouse and children under the age of 25 can participate in the residence permit program as dependents, subject to certain conditions and requirements.

What You Need to Know about Taxes in Panama 

Panama has been positioning itself as a highly successful offshore haven for years due to the absence of the need to pay taxes on income from any foreign sources. This means that you can live in Panama with a residence permit all year round, and all the money you earn outside of Panama or in an offshore company is not subject to local taxation. By the way, Panamanian corporations also do not pay taxes on income from foreign sources.

This bonus makes Panama an ideal destination for citizens of developed countries who can work remotely, as they end up with increased income and the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of Panamanian residence permits discussed above.

At the same time, Panama has a program for issuing visas and residence permits for pensioners called Panama Pensionado Visa, within which certain tax benefits can also be obtained (at any age). All that is required is a guaranteed income of at least $1,000 per month (such as a pension or an annuity), plus $250 per month for each dependent child. The amount for obtaining a residence permit can be reduced to $ 750 per month if you invest at least $ 100,000 in Panamanian real estate. The advantages in this case are tax-free import of personal effects (worth up to $ 10,000) and a car every two years, as well as discounts for the services of healthcare organizations (10-20%), hotel tickets (up to 50%), public transport (30%) and air tickets (up to 25%). By the way, medical care in Panama is considered highly professional, which makes the country very interesting for people of retirement age who want to get a residence permit, and then a citizenship with a passport.

If you really want to move to Panama and become a citizen of this country, please contact us directly by e-mail: [email protected] for expert advice and assistance.

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