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Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa Program

Panama offers a unique opportunity for international citizens and location-independent entrepreneurs seeking a second residency through the Panama Friendly Nations Visa. This program allows eligible individuals to apply for permanent residency and enjoy the benefits of living and working in the country. However, it is essential to understand the program’s requirements and how it fits into a holistic strategy. In this article, we will explore the benefits of Panama residency, the Friendly Nations Visa program, its requirements, and life in the Central American country.

Panama City

Panama at a Glance

Panama is a diverse and vibrant country, with a population of approximately 4 million people. The official currency is the US Dollar, which provides stability for investors and residents alike. The country has a GDP per capita of around $16,500 and an average salary of around $750 per month. While the cost of living is relatively low, Panama offers excellent infrastructure, healthcare, and education systems. The country’s strategic location and the world-famous Panama Canal contribute to its thriving economy, making it an attractive destination for foreign investors and expats.

Territorial tax regime

Panama has a territorial tax system, which means residents are only taxed on income earned within the country. This tax regime is particularly attractive for foreign investors and entrepreneurs who generate income from abroad, as they can significantly reduce their tax obligations. In addition, Panama has no capital gains, inheritance, or wealth taxes, further enhancing its appeal as a tax-friendly destination.

A Path to Permanent Residency

The Panama Friendly Nations Visa is a special immigration program that grants permanent residency to citizens of selected countries who have professional or economic ties with Panama. Introduced in 2012, the program aims to attract skilled professionals and investors to contribute to the country’s economic growth.

Applicants initially receive a provisional residency valid for two years, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they maintain the requirements. The program includes a main applicant and optional dependents, such as spouse, parents, and children up to 25 years old.

The Requirements: Establishing Ties with Panama

To qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa, applicants must demonstrate professional or economic ties with Panama. There are two methods to achieve this:

  • Creating a Panamanian corporation or purchasing an existing one.
  • Becoming an employee of an established Panamanian corporation. Applicants must also open a bank account in Panama and deposit at least $5,000, with an additional $2,000 for each dependent. It is important to note that some occupations are restricted to foreigners, and specific documentation must be provided to prove compliance with the program’s requirements.

While the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program is open to citizens of 50 selected countries, there are certain qualifications and restrictions that applicants must meet to be eligible for the program. As mentioned earlier, applicants must demonstrate professional or economic ties with Panama.

It is important to note that some occupations, such as lawyers, architects, and engineers, are off-limits to non-Panamanian citizens. Additionally, foreign nationals are not permitted to own retail businesses in Panama. Therefore, before applying for the Friendly Nations Visa, it is crucial to ensure that your chosen profession or business activity is allowed under the program’s regulations.

Tucan pictured in Panama

Life in Panama

Panama offers a high quality of life for its residents, with a pleasant tropical climate, diverse landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage. The country boasts modern infrastructure, including reliable transportation, quality healthcare facilities, and reputable international schools. Panama City, the capital, is a cosmopolitan metropolis, offering a wide range of dining, entertainment, and shopping options. Expats can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while benefiting from the country’s attractive tax regime, as residents are only taxed on income earned within Panama.

The Panama Friendly Nations Visa program presents a valuable opportunity for individuals seeking a second residency in a thriving and welcoming country. By understanding the program’s requirements and aligning them with a personalized strategy, applicants can unlock the benefits of permanent residency in Panama and enjoy a high quality of life.