Panama is a country that offers a number of options for foreign citizens to become resident in the nation. The immigration authorities of the Central American country have set out to attract investors and entrepreneurs with their residency programs that allow for fast-track citizenship and permanent residence.
To establish a Panama resident permit, it is essential to understand the requirements of each residency program. By adhering to local laws and regulations, foreign residents can foster a harmonious relationship with the Panamanian government and society, ensuring the longevity of their residency status.
Foreigners who want to establish a Panama resident permit need to demonstrate they have significant economic or professional ties with the nation. Oftentimes, this is achieved by purchasing property and becoming a board member or major shareholder of a local business. A number of programs also offer the opportunity to establish a Panama resident permit by investing in government-approved projects and generating employment in the country.
A permanent Panama resident permit allows individuals to access a variety of international services and benefits. Residents can obtain bank accounts at local institutions, including the prestigious Banco Nacional de Panamá, and can travel visa-free to 118 countries across the globe.
In addition, they can access a wide range of offshore companies that are available for foreign investment and can establish a Panamanian pension fund to take advantage of the local tax benefits. In some cases, permanent Panama resident permits can lead to citizenship after a minimum of five years.
For many people looking to establish a Panama resident permit, the easiest way to do so is through the Friendly Nations Program. Launched in 2012, this fast-track route to Panamanian residency is open to citizens of 50 different countries.
Unlike some other residency programs, this one allows family members to be included in the application. The main applicant needs to make a deposit of USD 5,000 and provide proof that they are engaged in professional or economic activities, such as managing a Panamanian company, working in a business or investing in a real estate project.
In order to maintain the residency, it is essential that the individual visit the country at least once every two years. It is also essential to avoid involvement in any activities that could jeopardize national security or compromise the reputation of the nation, such as protesting against the government or taking part in political demonstrations.
In addition, in order to drive on the roads of Panama, a driver’s license must be obtained. This can be done through SERTRACEN, the entity contracted by the Panamanian government to handle the issuance of driving licenses for foreigners. To obtain a Panamanian driver’s license, the individual must submit a medical certificate, a certified copy of their passport and an official translation of both documents. The process takes around six months. Alternatively, the individual may validate their existing U.S. driver’s license in Panama, which is a more time-consuming but cheaper option.