In 2012, Presidential Decree number 343 was issued, declaring that nationals of 22 friendly countries with the Republic of Panama could opt to become Permanent Residents in a more expedited and simpler manner than usual. This permanent residency permit in Panama, known as the Friendly Nations visa, became known as the “fast track.” Since then, other decrees have added other countries to the list until it reaches 50 countries today.
Among these countries, we can mention:
ANDORRA, ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHILE, COSTA RICA, CROATIA, CYPRUS, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY, GREECE, HONG KONG, HUNGARY, IRELAND, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAPAN, LATVIA, LIECHTENSTEIN, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, MALTA, MONACO, MONTENEGRO, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY, PARAGUAY, POLAND, PORTUGAL, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, SAN MARINO, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SLOVAKIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, TAIWAN, UNITED KINGDOM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and URUGUAY.
What requirements do I need to apply for this Residence?
Certain personal documentation of each of the applicants will be necessary. In addition to this, we must present evidence of their commercial intention and economic solvency in Panama. Below, I detail the necessary requirements for applying for Residence in Panama:
ON THE PART OF THE PRINCIPAL APPLICANT:
- Original passport, with a minimum validity of six (6) months.
- Five (5) passport-sized photographs.
- Copy of personal identification card (DNI) or certificate of citizenship.
- Certificate of criminal background from their country, this document must be apostilled (legalized).
- Bank reference letter from a bank in Panama with a balance of more than $5,000.00
- 50% of shares of an anonymous society in Panama.
ON THE PART OF THE SPOUSE (if applicable):
- Passport (of any nationality)
- APOSTILLED Marriage Certificate
- APOSTILLED Police Record
ON THE PART OF THEIR CHILDREN (if applicable):
· Passport (of any nationality)
· APOSTILLED Birth Certificate
· APOSTILLED School Transcripts
· APOSTILLED Police Record (only for children over 12 years old)
· Certification of Single Status (only for children from 18 to 25 years old)
What Steps Should I Follow?
At this point, we divide the process into 2 stages. The first stage, which is documentation that we can manage before your arrival in Panama. The second stage is the necessary processes after your arrival in Panama.
It is highly recommended and with the sole purpose of making your stay shorter, we recommend that you manage 2 necessary requirements before your arrival in Panama, which are:
- Commercial Intent
- Economic Solvency in Panama
Let’s explain each of these requirements a little better:
COMMERCIAL INTENTION IN PANAMA
Commercial intention in Panama can be demonstrated in 3 ways:
- Creation of a Panamanian Anonymous Society
- Purchase of a property in Panama
- Job offer in Panama
It is not necessary to complete all three; one is enough to demonstrate the “Commercial Interest in Panama.”
CREATION OF A PANAMANIAN ANONYMOUS SOCIETY – The main applicant must demonstrate ownership of at least 50% of the shares of a Panamanian anonymous society. It is not necessary for the company to be in operation; its creation is sufficient to demonstrate commercial interest.
PURCHASE OF A PROPERTY IN PANAMA – It is necessary to have such a society in the applicant’s name at the time of application. There is no specific investment amount required.
JOB OFFER IN PANAMA – Another option is through a company in Panama interested in hiring you. For this, documentation from the company making the job offer will be required.
ECONOMIC SOLVENCY IN PANAMA
To meet this requirement, it is necessary to open a bank account in Panama with a minimum balance of $5,000.00 (with an additional $250.00 for each dependent applying). This money is not frozen and is not part of a payment to the national treasury.
From this bank account, the bank will only need to provide a bank reference letter. This letter will be added to the residency application in Panama.
You can access your money at any time, but we recommend keeping the amounts in the account until after the application is processed.
SECOND STAGE – APPLICATION OF THE FILE
Once the Economic Solvency and Commercial Intention have been met, you will need to travel to Panama (with the members of your family who are applying for residency). Upon arrival, we will complete the file with the previously mentioned documentation.
Your filiation registration will be completed, and the file will be presented to the National Migration Service. Within 24 business hours of the presentation, your photo will be taken, and your temporary resident card will be issued. Finally, we will obtain the Multiple Return Visa.
How Long Do I Need to Apply?
You should plan to spend approximately 2-3 continuous weeks in Panama to submit your file to the National Migration Service.
After the file is submitted, we must wait a maximum of 6 months for the institution to issue the Residency Resolution in Panama.
Do I Have to Stay in Panama for the Whole Process?
No, once the file is submitted, and the Temporary Residence Card is issued, you must obtain the “Multiple Return Visa.” This document will allow you to leave Panama during the time the residency process is in progress.
Once approved, What’s Next?
Once you have a definitive resolution on your residency process, you must return to Panama to notify the file. This way, your temporary card can be changed to a definitive residence card.
We must wait approximately 45 days for the delivery of the “Cédula Letter.” This document will serve to manage the Foreigner’s ID card in Panama, before the Electoral Tribunal of Panama.
In this way, our process has been satisfactorily completed.
Can my Permanent Residence in Panama be “Suspended”?
Yes, it is established in our legislation that every Permanent Resident in Panama cannot spend more than 2 consecutive years outside of the national territory. If for some reason, you spend between 2 to 6 consecutive years outside of Panama, the National Service will suspend your Residence in Panama.
This suspension is not permanent, and the residence can be reactivated through a sworn declaration in which the interested party must explain the reasons that prevented them from entering Panama.
If you remain outside the national territory of Panama for more than six (6) consecutive years, the Residence in Panama will be canceled. In this case, the interested party must start the Residence process again in order to maintain a legal migratory status in Panama.
Can my Residence in Panama be “Canceled”?
Yes, there are several reasons why the National Migration Service can “Cancel” Residence in Panama. These reasons are not unique to this migratory category but are general reasons for all Permanent Residents in Panama.
The reasons for canceling Residence in Panama are:
- Using marriage with a national as the sole purpose to obtain residence
- Threatening national security, public order, morals, or public health, or violating the rights and freedoms of individuals
- For permanent residents, being absent from the national territory for more than six (6) years.
- Engaging in activities incompatible with those that served as the basis for granting the visa or permit, permanent or temporary residence. Submitting false statements and/or fraudulent or altered documents
- Offering, either directly or through a third party, any type of promise or remuneration to exercise any type of pressure intended to alter the will of National Migration Service officials
- Having been convicted of a deliberate offense or tax fraud
- Ceasing the causes that gave rise to the authorization of the visa or the respective permit
- Reoffending by not informing the National Migration Service of changes in residence or variations in information in the Foreigner Registry
- Holding a multiple visa and remaining in the national territory beyond the authorized term
- Not reporting the termination of employment within the term established in the Decree Law
- Any other cause established in the Decree Law or the Institution’s regulations
By: Adriano Castillo Morales LL.M
Junior Associate – PGS Attorneys