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4 min read

Why Getting Your Panama Permanent Residence Is So Important

One advantage of the Panamanian residency system is that you don’t have to fool around with temporary residency, instead, you can apply immediately for permanent residency. This cuts down on the hassles, paperwork, and cost of immigrating significantly.



One popular Panamanian permanent residence program is the Pensionado Visa. Despite the name, it is open to anyone 18 years of age or older, who can prove a lifetime income of $1,000 USD or $1,250 USD if you are bringing your spouse. This does need to be from a guaranteed source like a government pension or from a private pension fund or an annuity.

This visa allows you to reside permanently in Panama. It doesn’t allow you to work in and of itself, but you can apply for a work permit if you are interested in seeking employment. In order to apply, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Five small passport photos of yourself
  • You must submit your passport
  • Documentation concerning your income
  • A clear criminal record and background check
  • A certificate of good health issued by a Panamanian doctor
  • Duly completed and signed application form
  • Documentation concerning where you will reside in Panama, such as a lease or letter from a hotel if you are will be living there long term

And if you are applying with a spouse, then you will also need to complete these requirements for them as well.

As Spanish is the official language of the Republic of Panama, you will need to also get all of your documents translated into Spanish and duly apostilled. Our team here at Expat Money will help you to organize and apply for the documents that are required for the Pensionado Visa. We’ve found that if these documents are not done correctly, the process can take considerably longer than expected and in the end cost you more money than expected. Once we have fulfilled the requirements, there will then be several supporting documents needed to finalize the process.

One of the great things about the Panamanian permanent residency Pensionado Visa is that it is for life. You take care of it one time, apply, get your temporary residency while you wait, and then that is all she wrote. In most other countries you need to keep reapplying for temporary residence permits, then permanent residence permits, and it is a lot of paperwork and hassles, but with the Panamian system you just apply once and you are good for life. No renewals are necessary.



Residents of Panama who are 60 years of age for men and 55 years of age for women can benefit from the following discounts.

  • One-time Duty tax exemption for household goods up to a total of $10,000.
  • Duty exemption for importing a new car every two years.
  • 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, concerts, sports)
  • 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
  • 25% off airline tickets
  • 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
  • 30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
  • 25% off at restaurants
  • 15% off at fast-food restaurants
  • 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
  • 10% off prescription medicines
  • 20% off medical consultations
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 20% off professional and technical services
  • 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
  • 25% discounts on utility bills
  • 15% off loans made in your name
  • 1% less on home mortgages for homes used for a personal residence
These wide-ranging discounts provide a tremendous financial advantage to establishing residency in Panama.



Map of Panama


Aside from the Pensionado program, there are a number of other residency permits that you can apply for if you desire permanent residency in Panama. One of those permits is the economic means permit.

This is great if you don’t have a guaranteed pension of $1,000 USD or equivalent, but you have your own savings that you can live off. To qualify for this visa you need to deposit $200,000 in a Panamanian bank for one year. Or, if you want, up to $80,000 of that $200,000 total can be used to purchase a house or apartment instead.

This visa is valid for only one year, then you renew it and are granted permanent residency and a cedula.



Another way to gain Panamanian residency is through an investment visa. There are a number of different types of investments you can make.


Small Business Investor Visa (Inversionista de Pequena Empresa)

You can invest as little as $40,000 to start a small business that employs at least three people. It is granted provisionally for 1 year and needs to be renewed 3 more times before it is granted permanently with the right to a cedula. After 5 years after getting your permanent visa, you will be eligible to obtain Panamanian nationality and passport.


Panama Reforestation Visa Program

Another type of investment visa can be gained through the Panamanian forestry program, where you buy a plot of land for at least $40,000 and then hire a group to plant trees on it for you. Then in 25 years you can harvest the trees and sell them. Or you can invest $80,000 in the same forestry program. The advantage of making the $80,000 investment is you get permanent residence right away, whereas with the $40,000 investment you get only temporary residence for one year, and must renew it every year for five years until you become a permanent resident.

Please note that if you are not from one of the Fifty Friendly Nations, the minimum investment needed to obtain a permanent residence in Panama will increase from $300,000 to $500,000 effective October 16, 2022.



Panama is one of the most popular destinations for Canadian and American expats. An international hub, home to the world-famous Panama Canal, Panama boasts an extremely stable and business-friendly political environment and is one of the safest countries in Latin America. A tropical paradise, filled with rich natural ecosystems and amazing beaches, Panama is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. A great place to visit or call home.

Panama has a strong and growing economy and uses the US dollar as its currency. With a first-class but inexpensive private health care system, reasonable cost of living, and high-quality infrastructure life in Panama is a joy. There are tons of things to do and places to see, and the food is a wonderful mix of many different cultures and tastes.



View of Panama City


The nice thing about Panama is that they have around 20 different visas to enter the country, no matter the country you are coming from. Each one has its own specific requirements, and personally, these we talked about today are the most popular.

If you don’t see one that suits you, I’m sure we can find one for you that does.



I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of Canada or the USA (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.



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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.

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