Panama offers nationals of certain countries, who have friendly, professional and economic relations with Panama, the possibility to apply for a permanent residence permit and, if desired, also for a permanent work permit in order to carry out economic or professional activities. Apart from the general requirements, two essential conditions must be fulfilled in order to apply for a residence permit within the framework of the "Friendly Countries":
1. Proof of a bank account of a Panamanian bank with a balance of at least US$ 5,000 plus US$ 2,000 for each dependent family member (for example spouse and/or minor children).
2. Proof of economic activity in Panama.
Which are the "Friendly Nations"?
The list of "Friendly Nations" is as follows: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Germany, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, USA, Slovakia, France, Finland, 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 and Mexico.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for a residence permit in Panama?
Yes, the application for a residence permit must be presented by a licensed attorney. For the application itself and the receipt of the residence permit, all applicants must come to Panama personally.
What else do I have to consider?
The police clearance certificate, the marriage certificate and certificate of birth (if applicable) must be legalized for presentation in Panama (by apostille or consular authentication) and are valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance.
ATTENTION! As soon as you enter and leave Panama without submitting an application, the police clearance certificate automatically loses its validity.
Documents not written in Spanish must be translated by a licensed interpreter in Panama for presentation at migration.
What is the average processing time for my residence permit?
Once your application has been filed with the National Migration Service your status changes from "tourist" to "temporary resident". You will receive a temporary residency for six (6) months while your application is being processed. Nevertheless average processing time is between three (3) to four (4) months.
Applying for permanent residency permit under the "Friendly Nations" Programm: What conditions must I fulfill?
1. Complete copy of the valid passport (cover sheet, photo page with name, date of birth, passport number, date of issuance etc. and all other pages), notarized by a Panamanian notary public. Please note that the passport must be valid for at least another six (6) months at the time of application.
2. Police Clearance Certificate, issued by the competent authority in the country of origin or permanent residence: For any Residency application, the Panamanian National Migration Service requires an authenticated Criminal History Report issued by a “federal”, “central”, or “national” police force or criminal investigation authority.
In the past, the National Migration Service used to accept local police reports from county sheriffs, city police, and constables, however after changes in the Law all criminal reports must be issued by the national investigative authority of the country of citizenship of the applicant, or the country where the applicant has been a permanent resident for the previous five (5) years. This means that the applicant’s Criminal History Report must cover the entire country in which he or she is from, and the document must be authenticated by Apostille or by the Panamanian Consulate in that country.
In the USA, this would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In Canada it would be the Royal Canadian Mounties (RCMP). In England, it would be The Association of Chief Police Officers.
All applicants must be of good repute and, regardless of their country of origin, must not have any criminal record in the USA - FBI Register.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Police Report is valid for six (6) months (unless stated otherwise), except if the applicants LEAVES THE PANAMANIAN TERRITORY. If the applicant leaves Panama, the Police Report looses its validity automatically. The certification must be duly authenticated (Apostille).
3. Health certificate, issued by a licensed physician in Panama. The certification must not be older than three (3) months.
4. State application fees:
4.1. Cashier's check for USD$ 250 in favour of the National Treasury (application fee) per applicant.
4.2. Cashier's check for USD$ 800 in favour of the National Migration Service (repatriation deposit) per applicant.
The checks are not refundable by the State of Panama, no matter if the application was assessed positively or negatively.
Note: Children under twelve (12) years of age are excluded from the USD$800 Repatriation Deposit.
5. Declaration on oath (application form with personal data).
6. Five (5) passport sized photos (with white background).
7. Power of attorney from a lawyer and formal application.
Special requirements (only to be met by the main applicant):
8. Proof of economic activity in Panama, which shows the purpose of the permanent residence permit in Panama: Extract from the commercial register of an existing or newly founded company in Panama ("Sociedad Anónima" - SA), certified copy of the business license, certified copy of the company shares (the main applicant must be the majority owner of the company), certified copy of the share register.
9. Proof of sufficient financial funds of the main applicant: Bank reference letter issued by a Panamanian bank (not older than 30 days) over a minimum balance of US$ 5,000 plus US$ 2,000 for each dependent relative (secondary applicants).
10. Copy of a second identification document (e.g. driver's license or identity card) of all (adult) applicants.
If applying as a married couple or family, the following additional documents must be provided:
11. Proof of the family relationship: marriage certificate/ birth certicate for children. The certification must not be older than six (6) months. The certification must be duly authenticated (Apostille).
12. Declaration of liability. Only necessary when applying as a couple/family.
13. Proof of domicile in Panama: For example by means of an electricity bill. The electricity bill must be in the name of the main applicant. If this is not the case, a notarized rental contract must be presented (rental period at least one year). Only necessary when applying as a couple/family.