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Panama Qualified Investor Visa: The Best Residency Visa In Central America?

4 min read

Panama Qualified Investor Visa: The Best Residency Visa In Central America?

Panama has positioned itself as a country committed to economic growth and those who contribute to it. Out of all jurisdictions in the world, Panama stands tall as a beacon of opportunity to pay little to no taxes and enjoy an affordable cost of living. 

Moreover, Panama features excellent weather, organic food and diverse cities catering to each expat’s needs. I moved here in 2019 and can tell you firsthand that this is a phenomenal country to live and invest in.

In October 2020, Executive Decree No. 722 introduced the Panama Qualified Investor Visa, a fast track to residency and a massive opportunity for high-networth individuals to optimize their tax situation. Also, in 2022, Executive Decree No. 109 amended a particular investment route, offering a great discount you can’t miss. 

I’ll walk you through how to obtain this fantastic visa, the requirements, benefits and much more. If you’re ready to embrace this tax-friendly haven, let’s explore this visa together and uncover how you can reap the benefits many of my clients already have. 

 

With stunning trails through lush forests, youll find breathtaking scenery in Boquete

Boquete, Panama

BENEFITS OF THE QUALIFIED INVESTORS VISA

Panama offers visas for multiple profiles, including digital nomads, short-term business travellers, and workers. Everyone willing to thrive and prosper is welcome. The Qualified Investors Visa takes this concept to a whole new level by offering privileges for those interested in protecting their wealth. Here are the benefits you’ll enjoy:

 

MINIMAL VISIT REQUIREMENTS FOR RESIDENCY

Other visas require you to stay months in the country, but the Qualified Investor Visa is different and hassle-free. You must visit the country every two years to keep your permanent resident status. If you’re an international investor or simply love travelling a lot, this visa offers a high degree of flexibility. 

 

SWIFT PROCESSING AND LOW TAXES

The saying “Time Is Money” hits differently when you want to secure your new life abroad. The last couple of years have proved how important it is to have an escape hatch – just in case things get out of hand in your country. How much time does it take to process this visa? Although the timeframe may vary, it typically takes only 30 days!

 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY PERKS

On top of travel flexibility and a fast processing time, you can also bring your family with you. Panama is big on family bonds; with this visa, you can extend this opportunity to your loved ones. You can bring your spouse and dependent children with you. Also, all children under 18, and dependent children between 18 and 25 are allowed.

 

PATH TO CITIZENSHIP FOR SPANISH SPEAKERS

You can obtain Panamanian citizenship by proving proficiency in Spanish and passing a test on Panama's geography, history and civil rights. This is a commitment to integration and a deeper connection with the country.

 

Related content: Why Getting Your Panama Permanent Residence Is So Important

 

Las Americas Bridge, Panama

Las Americas Bridge, Panama

REQUISITES FOR THE QUALIFIED INVESTORS VISA

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of this visa let’s focus on what you need for a successful application. Here’s an overview of the eligibility criteria and required documents. 

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS

To qualify for the Qualified Investors Visa, you must meet certain legal and financial requirements. First, you must invest in Panama through one of the following routes: 

  • Real estate: Article 10 of Executive Decree No. 109 of October 13, 2022, allows you to invest just $300,000 USD. However, the minimum investment will increase to $500,000 USD on October 13, 2024. If you’re considering this, reach out to my team quickly and take advantage of this opportunity;

  • Fixed-term deposits (at least $750,000 USD);

  • Investment in Panamanian businesses through a Brokerage House approved by the Superintendency of Capital Markets of Panama (at least $500,000 USD).

 

The funds must come from abroad, be legitimate and comply with Panamanian laws. All investments must be kept for a minimum of 5 years. 

In our experience at Expat Money, the simplest route for the Qualified Investors Visa is the $300,000 USD real estate investment.

 

DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION

This process requires a couple documents to justify your eligibility and proof of investment. We have to consider two lists of documents. 

First, according to Executive Decree No. 722 itself, you must meet the requirements stated in Article 28 of Executive Decree No. 3 of 2008 (except for item number 4), which says:

  • Copy of passport, either verified by a Panamanian notary public or certified by the accredited diplomatic representation in the country;

  • Certificate of good conduct from the country of origin or residency;

  • Health certificate issued by a suitable professional;

  • Affidavit of personal history.

 

Now, as per Executive Decree No. 722, you must:

  • Pay $5,000 USD to the National Treasury as fees for applying for an immigration category;

  • Pay $5,000 USD to the National Migration Service as a repatriation deposit;

  • For each dependent, pay an additional $1,000 USD to both government entities;

  • Provide legal, banking or financial documentation proving that you made the investment and the funds from abroad. This document can be a bank letter issued by a foreign or local bank, accrediting the sending or receiving of funds. If this letter is issued abroad, it must be legalized on a Panamanian diplomatic or consular mission abroad or apostilled.

 

Casco Viejo - Panama

Casco Viejo, Panama

PANAMA HAS WHAT FOREIGN INVESTORS CARE ABOUT

This visa is a statement of Panama’s commitment to attracting foreign capital. It’s not the cheapest residency program available, but it offers benefits other visas don’t have. Travel freedom, several investment routes and fast processing time are some perks you can get. Now, let’s focus on how Panamanian residency can help you optimize your taxes.

 

TAXES IN PANAMA

First, Panama has a territorial tax system, so foreign income is tax-free. Additionally:

  • VAT stands at just 7%;

  • Income tax rate for domestically earned income is 25% for amounts exceeding $50,000 USD;

  • Corporate tax is fixed at 25%;

  • Dividends face a 10% tax rate for domestic-sourced income and 5% for foreign-sourced income;

  • Notably, Panama does not impose wealth, estate, inheritance, or gift taxes. 

 

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS

Panama’s legal and regulatory environment opens foreign investors with open arms, providing well-defined regulations that help you navigate the business landscape confidently. While other countries punish the acquisition and maintenance of wealth, Panama outcompetes them with an environment that attracts foreign capital. Also, don’t forget that Panama has a territorial tax system, so foreign income is tax-free.

 

INVESTMENT DIVERSITY AND OPTIONS AVAILABLE

Above, you saw the different investment routes you can choose from. Panama's investment buffet is extensive whether you're inclined towards real estate, business ventures, or fixed-term deposits. This wealth of options allows you to choose an investment that aligns with your vision and goals. 

 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS GROWTH AND EXPANSION

Panama is a fertile soil for investors and entrepreneurs to root and flourish. The strategic location, coupled with a blossoming market and favourable trade agreements, positions Panama as a hub for business growth and expansion.

 

Related content: Why Did I Move To Panama With My Family?

 

Pedasi is one of the best places for expats in Panama

Pedasi is one of the best places for expats in Panama

CONCLUSION

The Qualified Investor Visa is more than a legal status; it’s a key to unlocking a new life abroad filled with opportunities and benefits. Panama has taken its appeal to the next level, turning an already-enticing jurisdiction into a treasure trove for high-networth individuals. This visa is a true game-changer with a fast track to residency and various investment pathways. 

In addition to all the financial and tax perks, remember you’ll enjoy massive travel freedom, good weather and a privileged geographical location. Regardless of your vision as an investor, this visa will give you access to a stable economy, a sound legal environment and, overall, a land where your capital is nurtured. 

 


WORK WITH ME

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 your home country (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.

 

BEST OF THE EXPAT WORLD

If you want the best intel from the expat world, including profitable offshore opportunities, little-known tax-saving strategies, and hard-won insights on immigration, passports, and Plan-B residencies, all delivered to your inbox every single week, then join our daily correspondence, EMS Pulse. Currently enjoyed by over 37,000 expats and expat-hopefuls worldwide. Fill in the form below to join our newsletter free:

 

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, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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