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Panama’s New Digital Nomad Visa

Panama is one of Central America’s most expat-friendly destinations. It is often the region’s top choice for those looking for international residency or a second passport. However, Panama is also an ideal destination for digital nomads who only want to spend a year or less living in Panama. Panama is one of the world’s most geo-diverse countries and a popular place for expats to live. Digital nomads interested in Central America can easily take advantage of this nine-month visa program, which has many unique benefits relative to other regional digital nomad visa programs.

 

Panama City at Night

Panama City at Night

PANAMA DIGITAL NOMAD VISA OVERVIEW

Panama is one of many countries in the region that have decided to create a digital nomad visa program. Panama’s government began the Short Stay Visa for Remote Workers in May 2021. This visa allows digital nomads to spend up to nine months living and working remotely in Panama.

Like other programs, applicants need to prove that they work for a company outside of Panama or demonstrate that they are self-employed and can work remotely for other companies. The cost of this program is low, as you only need to pay $300 USD to apply for this visa.

Another significant benefit of this program is the tax benefits that digital nomads can enjoy on this visa. Digital nomads do not have to pay taxes on income earned outside of Panama, which is a substantial benefit of this program. Any income earned from onshore companies in Panama is taxed at 15-25%, depending on your income, and you do not have to pay any taxes if you earn less than $11,000 USD. This arrangement is best for digital nomads who need a flexible model that allows them to work for international companies and not worry about spending less than 183 days in one country.

 

Related content: What Is The Panama Private Interest Foundation?

 

A remote beach at the San Blas Islands, Panama

A remote beach at the San Blas Islands, Panama

PANAMA OVERVIEW

Panama is often the top choice for many expats interested in Central America and provides expats with the freedom to create whatever experience they want. Smaller cities in Panama often have living costs that are only slightly higher than that of other Central American countries, while Panama City has higher living costs. Although Panama is most known for its beautiful beaches, it also has 16 national parks that offer tourists a chance to see mountains, volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, and other scenic views.

Panama is the world’s most biodiverse location and has the highest % of rainforests covering the country, at around 60% of the country’s total land area. Panama is located by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and the country is home to some of the region’s most beautiful beaches.

Panama has a variety of towns that are popular with expats, so that you can choose any destination based on your preference in terms of geography, cost of living, and the international community. Although the average wage in Panama is higher than in most Latin American countries, it can still be an affordable destination if you choose certain cities. The minimum wage in Panama is still only $450 USD/month, and even cities like Panama City can be cheaper or similar to other Western countries in terms of living expenses.

 

Related content: Best Things To Do And See In Panama

 

Beautiful bridge connected South and North Americas, "Puente de las Americas" in Panama

Beautiful bridge connected South and North Americas, "Puente de las Americas" in Panama

The Application Process

The application is pretty straightforward, although you can’t apply online for this visa. To apply, you need to make an appointment with an Embassy or Consulate of Panama and submit an application with supporting documentation. You will be required to submit the following documentation:

  • A completed application form
  • Passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your passport, valid during your travel period
  • Proof of sufficient funds and health insurance
  • Clean criminal background check
  • Statement showing that you are in good health
  • An affidavit showing that your work is not related to Panama and that you work for companies outside of Panama

You will need to prove that you make $36,000 USD/year to be eligible for this program, which is on par with many digital nomad visa programs in Central America and Eastern Europe. The supporting financial documentation varies depending on whether you are self-employed or working for a company. If you work for a company, you will need a signed letter on company letterhead verifying your employment with the company. You will also need to provide other details, including your job title and salary. Self-employed applicants must provide information about their services and clients and past and projected financial information.

Once you have attended your appointment, submitted the application, and paid the $300 USD fee, you should hear back within 30 days. Furthermore, you can extend this visa for another nine months if you want to stay longer.

 

Relevant content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency.

 

Field containing drills of potato plants growing, Cerro Punta village in Chiriqui province, Panama

Field containing drills of potato plants growing, Cerro Punta village in Chiriqui province, Panama

OTHER OPTIONS

Digital nomads who want to stay longer in Panama must consider other options, such as employment or residency programs. If you're going to work for a company in Panama, you must complete a separate visa application and get a sponsorship letter from your employer in Panama. You will also be required to pay taxes since this would be local income. However, Panama is most famous for being a second passport destination. Until recent years, you used to be able to gain citizenship after five years by merely registering a local company and opening a local bank account. However, you are now required to invest $300,000 USD in real estate to receive a five-year residency, and then you are eligible to apply for citizenship after this. The investment amount may increase to $500,000 USD after two years.

 

Colonial buildings in Casco Viejo neighborhood in Panama City, Panama

Colonial buildings in Casco Viejo neighborhood in Panama City, Panama

TAKEAWAY

Panama is a trendy destination for expats and is a great place to consider if you are a digital nomad interested in international residency. Until recently, it was challenging for digital nomads to live in Panama, as the government changed the residency program and made applicants invest in real estate. The digital nomad visa is a great short-term option that you can extend after the first nine months. Digital nomads who stay longer than the first 18 months should consider exploring residency and second passport options in Panama, as this is one of the most sought-after countries in Central America.

 

 

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 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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