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Panama Investor Immigration Programs

Panama encourages foreign and business investors to bring substantial investment and to aid in the growth and development of the country. Panama offers government-sponsored citizenship by investment programs, but getting a permanent residence or a non-citizenship passport is also possible for foreigners. Because the minimum investment is quite affordable, the residency programs are very attractive to foreigners who wish to invest in business or to retire in Panama.

Why Immigrate to Panama?

Panama is a highly sought after location for many foreign investors seeking residency. It is strategically geographically situated for international business relations particularly with America, and is considered a tax haven by foreign investors due to its bespoke tax regime. Panama boasts a strong and stable economy and solid political infrastructure based largely on the US legal and political infrastructure. It is a safe country, peaceful and welcoming to foreign residents. It offers good levels of health care and education and generally a high standard of living with reasonable living costs.

Investor Immigration

Panama aims to promote foreign investment to the country through the provision of investment immigration. Panama adopts a Business Investor Program that is aimed at individuals who are seeking a residency permit and travel document in Panama by means of a large investment into the country.

The investment programs of Panama include:

  • The Business Investor Program
  • The Self Economic Solvency Bank Deposit Program
  • The Reforestation Investment Program
  • The Agricultural Investment Program
  • The Small Business Investor Program
  • The Tax-Free Processing Zone Investor Program
  • The Pensionado Visa Program

There are varying conditions which must be satisfied depending on which investment immigration program you apply under.

The Business Investor Program

Applications under this program entitle the applicant to a residency visa where they invest a minimum of US$160,000 in a new Panama business or set up corporation.

The conditions to meet in order to gain a permanent residency visa are:

  • The applicant, after investing a sum of US$160,000 must then obtain a commercial business license.
  • The applicant must register with the Social Security Department of Panama
  • The applicant must hire a minimum of 5 Panama employees whereby he/she must pay their Social Security and award them at least the Panama minimum wage
  • For the applicant to gain a permanent residency visa, he/she is required to obtain 3 x 2-year temporary resident visas before being eligible to take on a permanent resident status
  • The applicant is entitled to include his dependants in his investment immigration application to Panama; however, they are required to pay a further US$2,000 per dependant

The Self Economic Solvency Bank Deposit Program

Under this program, the foreign investor has the right to choose in which Panama licensed bank he/she wishes to invest; however, the minimum investment must be of US$100,000 in a 1-year time deposit. Should the applicant wish to include their dependants under their immigration application, they are required to increase the deposit by US$5,000 per additional dependent.

The Reforestation Investment Program

This program entitles the applicant to gain legal residency and subsequently a passport after they invest a minimum of US$40,000 in a pre-approved reforestation project in Panama.

The Agricultural Investment Program

This program only entitles the applicant to a temporary resident visa and not citizenship or a permanent residency permit. It requires the applicant to make an investment of US$60,000 into an agricultural project such as farming. This investment is raised to a further US$500 per dependent that the applicant includes in his application.

The Small Business Investor Program

This program is aimed particularly at small foreign business owners. Where the business owner invests a minimum of US$40,000 they can obtain a legal residency permit under Panama Immigration Law. The investment must be made in a new business venture or an established Panama company; however, the investment must result in a minimum of 3 job opportunities.

The Tax-Free Processing Zone Investor Program

Investment immigration under this category stipulates that the foreign investor is eligible for a legal residency visa in Panama where the applicant rents a plot of land, office or building within one of the new tax-free processing zones. The property or land rental must be for the purpose of operating a business in Panama which performs an exporting service of product.

The Pensionado Visa Program

Panama also offers a program for immigration aimed at individuals of any age who are receiving a minimum of US$1,000 per month, guaranteed for life (this amount is reduced to US$750 when the applicant purchases Panama real estate valued at least US$100,000). An additional US$250 monthly income is required for each dependent child. The benefits of the Pensionado program include:

  • Permanent residency permit
  • Import tax exemption for a new car every two years (or tax-free local purchase of a car)
  • Import tax exemption for household goods worth up to US$10,000
  • Discounts on numerous services such as medical expenses, airfare, restaurants, hotels, etc.

Important Note

The Panama Immigration Office has a List of Restricted Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, whose citizens may be subject to special requirements. It is strongly advisable to check prior to making any travel plans.

Life in Panama

Panama is located in Central America, situated between North and South America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It is marked by a chain of mountains in the west, moderate hills in the interior, and a low range on the east coast. There are extensive forests in the fertile Caribbean area. The total area is 75,420 sq km (29,120 sq mi). Panama boasts a large expat community; about 25,000 U.S. citizens live in the country.

The population numbers approximately 3.9 million, and is 79% Roman Catholic and 10% Protestant.

Spanish (official), English 14%. Many Panamanians are bilingual. Panama City has a different dialect in which they mix English words with Spanish. Although educated Panamanians try to speak standard Spanish, they are very proud of their dialect and would rather use it unless it is a formal conversation or public speaking.

Less than 9 degrees north of the equator, most of Panama enjoys temperatures that are fairly consistent year round, with daytime temperatures 30-33°C (86-91.4°F) and night time around 21-23°C (69.8-73.4°F). The climate is tropical maritime – hot, humid and cloudy with a prolonged rainy season from May to November, and a short dry season from December to April) The most popular time to travel to Panama is December through March, when the humidity is lower and the chance of rain is nearly zero.

The capital, Panama City, was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila, and was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. Today it is a modern, sophisticated metropolis that resembles Miami and has established commerce, arts, fashion, and dining. Panama City has a population of 880,000, with a total metro population of 1,440,000, and is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. The city is the political and administrative center of the country, as well as a hub for international banking and commerce.

Eastern Time Zone UTC-5:00.

Panama's government has strong ties to the United States and strongly supports business, development, and tourism. The International Monetary Fund applauds the country's diversified economy and predicts it to have one of the strongest GDP growth rates in the world for the next several years. Panama is known for its highly developed international banking sector, with about 80 banks from several countries establishing local branches. Currently undergoing expansion, the Canal continues to drive Panama's service-based economy and remains one of the most important transportation links in the world. The official currency is the Balboa, equivalent in value to the US dollar, however, Panama does not have paper currency, and the US dollar is the legal tender. There are Balboa coins that circulate together with US coins.

How to get there?

  • International flights arrive at Tocumen International Airport (PTY), which lies about 20 miles east of Panama City (from all countries) or David Airport (from Costa Rica in AirPanama). Panama City's PTY is well connected with the Americas (approximately 2-1/2 hours from Miami) and has non-stop flights to almost 20 countries in the region.
  • Local airlines serve many airports in Panama. AirPanama is one of the companies providing domestic flights. Flights leave Panama City from Marcos Gelabert Airport in Albrook.

Will I be liable to any taxes in Panama?
There are no taxes in Panama unless the income is generated locally. Foreign earned income, capital gains, and interest income is not taxed.