Panama: The Door is Closing on a Great Plan B!

For months now, the rumors have been circulating. Finally, on 20th May 2021, the news was formally published: the President of Panama has announced the end of what has been probably the single most popular “Plan B Residence Permit” of all time, anywhere. 

They are replacing it with a new Friendly Nations Program requiring an investment of at least $200,000 that does NOT grant Permanent Residence immediately – or, alternatively, a “digital nomad” visa valid only for nine months.

The good news? There is still a short window of opportunity. The new law takes effect after 90 days. This effectively makes 5th August, 2021 the last day you can apply for Panama’s famous “Friendly Nations” visa in its current form. If you have a week to spare between now and then, you can still qualify under the old program.

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Key Benefits of the Friendly Nations Visa

Here is why you should seriously consider taking action now to get in through this closing door before it shuts.

Very simply, “Friendly Nations” is the easiest and simplest way there is to obtain a Permanent Residence Permit in a foreign tax haven. There is:

  • NO obligation to spend time there. 
  • NO obligation to own real estate, nor even to rent real estate. 

This is literally a residence permit you can put in your spare wallet or your safe deposit box for one day when you might really need it. Without a doubt, the last couple of years have taught us all the value of keeping doors and options open. 

Many people have done just that over the years. When the then-President of the country announced the creation of the Friendly Nations Permanent Residence Permit in 2012, his intention was to signal to the world that Panama was open for business. His strategy paid off. Over the last nine years, Panama has boomed. Like most of the rest of the world, its economy took a big hit with the COVID-19 pandemic… but Panama is already back on its feet again, with an effective vaccination program, welcoming tourists again and with most air routes restored.

What are the benefits of a Friendly Nations Visa? Here are just a few:

  • You can live and work in Panama with the same rights as a local citizen. (Under other migration categories, businesses are only allowed a certain proportion of foreigners on payroll – but this restriction doesn’t apply to Friendly Nations visa holders)
  • You can open an account in a Panama bank and be treated as a local – that means, no outward reporting under CRS.
  • You can spend as much or as little time as you wish in this country, enjoying its beaches and jungles, or its impressive capital city that has been compared to Miami.
  • You can run a business out of Panama and not pay any taxes, corporate or personal, provided your income is generated outside the country. No complicated schemes are necessary.
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Requirements to Get One of the Last Friendly Nations Visas

Here is what you need:

First, you must be a citizen from one of the following countries that Panama considers to be “friendly nations”:  Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay.

Second, you need a police certificate from your country of citizenship, and/or residence (contact us for specific details.)  Fortunately, these days it is much faster than it was to obtain suitable police certificates from countries that used to be slow, such as USA, UK and South Africa.

Third, you need to open a bank account in Panama with $5,000 in it. The easiest way is simply to travel with that much cash and you can open a bank account on the spot. You are allowed to travel with up to $10,000 cash without declaring it. Of course, if you want top wire the money in that works too.

Fourth, you need a Panama Corporation. This is a straightforward offshore-type corporation that will serve you well for business activities and asset protection, but it doesn’t actually have to do anything – it can remain dormant (Just pay the annual taxes every year to avoid any future problems). It can be set up within a few days. 

Fifth, you need an address. Any address. If you don’t have a home in Panama, you can use the address of the hotel you are staying in.

Sixth, you need a lawyer. You may wonder why, but in Panama the lawyer lobby is very powerful and it is obligatory to use a lawyer for almost any interaction with government.  Not to worry, though – lawyers are plentiful and cheap.

Seventh, you need to spend a few working days (preferably a week) in Panama during June or July this year. Panama is quite easy to reach. COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, and flight routes are open between Panama and the USA and Europe. All you need is a recent PCR test, or alternatively you can do a quick antigen test on arrival at the Panama City airport.

That’s basically it!  There are a few more details, but the lawyer will take care of all the details for you. If you are interested, just ask and we will send you by email a more detailed, technical checklist showing exactly what you need and what is the procedure. 

Of course, your family qualifies too. One investment covers your spouse and dependent children.

Cost of Panama Permanent Residence Permit via Friendly Nations Visa

Realistically, residence for you and your family in Panama under this program can be achieved for around $10,000. That is a complete, turnkey, package price covering everything up until the moment you have your Permanent Resident card in your hand, or sent to you by courier. Of course, the exact cost to you could vary slightly, up or down, depending on banking options you choose, size of family, etc.

What to do next

This has been our most popular “Plan B” type residence, since it was launched nine years ago. Whilst Panama will continue to be an attractive immigration and investment destination in the future, the financial and time commitment in future will be required. There will no doubt be a last minute rush to qualify under this program. Please don’t be one of those to miss out!

Contact Offshore Pro Group today and explain that you are interested in the Panama Friendly Nations Visa. We will email you back with full details and urgently schedule a call for you with one of our experts directly in Panama City to get your residence application process started. We are sure you won’t regret it.

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