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Ask your questions live to the Kraemer & Kraemer team in this Panama Friendly Nations Visa Walk-Through. Review the process, requirements, costs and more. Learn More.

About the

Panama Friendly Nations Visa

The Panama Friendly Nations Visa is a special immigration program where citizens of selected countries who have professional or economic ties with Panama are eligible to apply for permanent residency, and have the right to obtain Panamanian ID (Cédula) and request a work permit indefinitely as long as they meet the requirements.

This program is one of the faster options to obtain residency in Panama.

The Panama Friendly Nations Visa applications include one main applicant and optional dependents, such as a spouse and children up to 25 years old.

Eligible Countries

Find the list of eligible countries in this dropdown

Or CLICK HERE to see the full list of countries

How much does it cost?

The Panama Friendly Nations Visa requires USD $1,050 in government fees for applicants and dependents 12 years old or more. This is split in $800 for the National Immigration Service and $250 for the National Treasury.

Government fees for dependents under 12 years old include $250 to the National Treasury. They are excluded from the fee payable to the National Immigration Service.

Besides government fees you need to consider other costs such as legal fees, multiple entry visa, opening a corporation, opening a bank account, or obtaining a work permit.

For instance, you should budget around USD $4,000 for a process that includes Permanent Residency, Multiple Entry Visa, and Opening a Corporation for one person.

In another example, a family of one main applicant, spouse, and two dependents under 12 years old should budget around USD $8,000 for a process that includes Permanent Residency, Multiple Entry Visa, and Opening a Corporation.

How to demonstrate

Professional or Economic Ties

Applicants to the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program must demonstrate ties with Panama in the form of an employment contract, ownership of a company, or real estate ownership.

Select each option below for its details

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT

Requires an employment contract between the applicant and a Panamanian company. Other required documentation includes a letter from the employer.

This assumes the applicant has at least an offer of employment, or a conditional contract pending the immigration process.

OWNERSHIP OF A CORPORATION

Requires the applicant to have controlling ownership on a Panamanian company such as an IBC or a LLC. Such controlling ownership is demonstrated with a notarized Certificate of Company Shares and a notarized Certificate from the Public Registry.

Expats frequently choose this option, which requires opening a Panamanian company with its associated costs.

REAL ESTATE OWNERSHIP

Requires the applicant to own Panamanian property with a registered value of at least 5 figures in the Panama Public Registry. Such ownership is demonstrated with a notarized Property Certificate less than 6 months old.

Application Requirements

The application for Panama Friendly Nations Visa includes a main applicant and optional dependents, such as spouse or children. There are different requirements for each of them:

MAIN APPLICANT
  • Power of attorney
  • Original passport valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Five (5) passport-size photographs
  • Certified check for two hundred and fifty dollars (US $ 250.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Treasury
  • Certified check for eight hundred dollars (US $ 800.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Immigration Service
  • Second form of identification, e.g. identity card or citizenship certificate
  • Criminal background check from your country of origin, less than 6 months old
  • This document must be authenticated at the Panamanian Consulate in your country of origin, or Apostilled in your country of origin
  • Medical certificate of good health issued in Panama by a qualified doctor
  • Documents to demonstrate professional or economic ties with Panama
  • Proof of the economic solvency, through a bank reference letter showing a balance of at least USD $5,000 in a Panamanian bank.
DEPENDENT SPOUSE
  • Original passport valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Five (5) passport-size photographs
  • Certified check for two hundred and fifty dollars (US $ 250.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Treasury
  • Certified check for eight hundred dollars (US $ 800.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Immigration Service
  • Marriage certificate, authenticated or apostilled (valid for 1 year)
  • Notarized proof of address in Panama, e.g. rental contract or letter from hotel
  • Proof of economic solvency: if the bank reference letter comes from a joint bank account (under the name of the main applicant and the spouse), it is recommended to show a balance of USD $8,000 (rather than $5,000).
DEPENDENT CHILDREN

The main applicant is allowed to include dependent children as long as their are 25 years old or younger. The requirements for dependent children include:

  • Original passport valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Five (5) passport-size photographs
  • Certified check for two hundred and fifty dollars (US $ 250.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Treasury
  • If the child is 12 years old or more, certified check for eight hundred dollars (US $ 800.00) from a local bank in favor of the National Immigration Service
  • Authenticated or apostilled birth certificate, less than 1 year old, demostrating that the child is related to the applicant.
  • If the main applicant is the only parent in the application, letter from the other parent authorizing their children application
  • If the dependent child is 18 years old or more, it is necessary to demonstrate the child is single and enrolled as a full-time student in Panama.

Application Process

The application process is divided in 2 phases.

PHASE 1 - Can be completed in 10 days

The objective of Phase 1 is to file the application and for the applicant and his dependents to obtain a Temporary Residency card. It is possible to complete this phase in 10 days or less if all documentation is ready.

The applicant and his dependents must be physically present in Panama because the Temporary Residency Card uses a photo taken in the Panama Immigration Office.

This is a sample breakdown of your time in Panama:

  • Meet with your attorney and fill out paperwork.
  • Open the bank account.
  • Obtain certified checks for main applicant and dependents.
  • Obtain bank reference letter or bank statement on this day or the next day.
  • Register passport at the Panama Immigration Office (USD $5 per person).
  • This might take the whole day. Immigration offices are usually crowded.
  • It might be possible to submit the application this day, and speed up the process. But it depends on whether passport registration is completed fast.
  • Submit the application for Permanent Residency at the Panama Immigration Offices.
  • Have picture taken and receive Temporary Residency ID.
  • Immigration will hold your passport for 2 days.
  • Request Multiple-Entry Visa, if applicants plan to go back to their home country.
  • Pick up your passport and Multiple-Entry Visa at our office.

We suggest planning for 10 days in the event that unexpected circumstances cause a delay. For example, consider power outages at the Immigration Office.

The Temporary Residency Card allows you to obtain a Panamanian Driver’s license valid for the same period of your Temporary Residency Card. You may want to obtain yor driver’s license in this phase, and it does NOT require the assistance of a lawyer.

WAITING PERIOD - About 3 months

There is usually a 3-6 month wait period between phases, and applicants usually travel back to their home country. This requires a Multiple-Entry Visa; otherwise, the applicant will be fined USD $2,000 upon his return to Panama to complete the residency process.

PHASE 2 - Once application is a approved

In Phase 2, the applicant and his dependents obtain the Permanent Residency card.

The date of return depends on the approval of the application by Immigration.

Upon arrival, it takes one to two days to complete the Friendly Nations Visa process and receive the Permanent Residency Card. This requires one more visit to the Panama Immigration Office.

Optionally, you can apply for the E-Cédula (National ID). This can be completed at any time after the Friendly Nations Visa application is approved. This ID is not mandatory, but is highly recommended.

Approved applicants have 6 months to return to Panama and complete the residency process, or they may be fined USD $50 per person in the application.

Work Permit

The permanent resident status does NOT entitle you to work in Panama right away; however, Panamanian law provides another process to apply for a work permit at the Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MITRADEL), after the residency process is completed.

The process to obtain a Work Permit is independent from that of obtaining permanent residency, and it has a separate cost. MITRADEL usually takes 1-2 months to answer work permit applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

My partner and I live together / in common law. Can we apply together?

No. Panamanian law requires an apostilled / authenticated marriage certificate to be able to apply together. However, you can each file separate applications.

Why do I need a multiple entry visa?

According to Panamanian Law, the multiple entry visa is required whenever a foreigner begins a process to obtain Panamanian residency, and the foreigner travels outside of Panama BEFORE the National Immigration Service provides a resolution to the application.

If the foreigner resides in Panama until the National Immigration Service provides a resolution, then no Multiple Entry Visa is required. However, the foreigner can only have tourist status during that time, and should not work in Panama.

It is also important to consider that a Tourist Visa can expire before the National Immigration Service provides a resolution. In such case, it is possible to request an extension of the Tourist Visa for another term, usually of 30 – 90 days.

How long are the documents for my application valid?

The Criminal background check is valid for up to six months, unless the document itself specifically states otherwise. However, this document can also be voided if the foreigner visits Panama and leaves without applying for Residency.

The Health Certificate issued in Panama is valid for ninety days. Bank reference letters are valid for thirty days. Other documents, such as marriage certificate and retirement letters are valid for one year, unless the document states otherwise.

How long does it take to obtain a Work Permit?

In Panama, the process to obtain a Work Permit is separate from the process to obtain Residency. The Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MITRADEL) is responsible to answer applications for a Work Permit. This government branch is different and independent from the National Immigration Service.

It may take 1 to 2 months to obtain a work permit.

How long do I need to stay in Panama to maintain Permanent Resident status?

Permanent Residency can be suspended if you are absent from the country for 2 years or more. Other reasons to have Permanent Residency suspended include to be found guilty of a criminal offense.

What is the e-Cedula? Do I need one?

The e-cedula is an optional form of ID available to Panamanian Permanent Residents. It is not a mandatory document, but it is highly recommended to have it. Although the Panama Immigration Office issues a Permanent Residency Card to approved applicants, this card requires holders to carry a passport when doing legal transactions (at all times), while with the e-Cedula solely it is sufficient. (will removes the need to carry the PR card and a passport) . Besides, the e-Cedula has a unique identification number and is similar in style to the ID carried by Panamanians.

Is it possible to apply for Panamanian Citizenship?

Yes, those who obtain Panamanian Permanent Residency with the Friendly Nations Visa program are eligible to apply for Panamanian Citizenship after 5 years of Permanent Resident status. The 5-year requirement may become 3 years if you are married to a Panamanian, or if you have children born in Panama. The 5-year requirement can also be reduced in other circumstances. Unlike Permanent Residency, the Citizenship process involves many government offices, and an application can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years to be approved.

Can I obtain a Panamanian Driver’s License?

Yes. Those who obtain Panamanian Permanent Residency with the Friendly Nations Visa program, who are over 18 years of age, and who bring a Driver’s License from their country of origin, can obtain a Panamanian Driver’s License. The process to obtain the driver’s license is simple, but requires a few steps:

Step 1 – The foreign driver’s license must be authenticated at the consulate of the issuing nation, and then this authentication must be certified at the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Panama City.

Step 2 – The permanent resident must obtain a blood-type test from a laboratory authorized by the Autoridad del Transito y Transporte Terrestre (ATTT). This test must include the full name, identity card or passport number, a stamp, and the signature of the doctor. This blood-type test is NOT required if the foreign driver’s license (from Step 1) clearly indicates the blood type.

Step 3 – The permanent resident must visit a SERTRACEN office, and bring the certified copy of the foreign driver’s license (from step 1), the blood-type test (from Step 2), original and copy of permanent residency card, and original and a copy of passport. The application costs $40 and includes visual and auditory tests. If all tests are completed successfully, the applicant receives the Panamanian Driver’s license on the spot.

If older than 70 years of age, the permanent resident must visit a psychologist or geriatric doctor before receiving a driver´s license.

Are there age restrictions to apply?

All main applicants must be 18 years of age or more. There is no maximum age to apply. Dependent children must be younger than 18 years old, with the exception that dependent children between 18 and 25 years old can be included in the application as long as they are not married and they are enrolled full time in a Panamanian educational program such as high school or college.

Can I obtain a Tax ID number for Panama?

A local tax id can be obtained with the Tax Office (DGI), for any permanent resident, or foreigners with more than 183 days in the country, or foreigners selling real estate acquired in the country.

Once residency is granted, may I dissolve the Corporation or do I need to keep it?

Once residency is obtained, the Corporation can be dissolved if no longer required for business or asset holdings. The dissolution can be processed within 1 week, by recording a Deed of dissolution into the Public Registry, and publishing a notice for 1 day in a local newspaper.

The information in this website does not constitute legal advice and is only meant to be taken as general, non-specific and non-exhaustive information. Every situation is different. For questions, please contact us.