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Why Getting Your Panama Permanent Residence Is So Important

5 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.

For investors, retirees, and foreigners alike, securing permanent residence in Panama is a goal of immense value. It serves as the foundation for various benefits, safeguards, and opportunities in this vibrant Central American nation.

One of the primary reasons why obtaining permanent residence in Panama is crucial is the legal basis it provides. It allows you to reside in Panama without any time limitations, offering peace of mind and stability. This status is especially critical for retirees and investors looking to establish a company or bank account, as it ensures that their presence and assets in Panama are secure and respected under Panamanian laws.

Panama City, the bustling capital, holds immense allure for many newcomers. Its dynamic culture, thriving business environment, and pleasant climate make it an attractive destination. With permanent residence status, you have the freedom to live in Panama City or explore the diverse regions of the country without any restrictions.

Another key advantage is the ability to bring your parents or dependents to Panama. Permanent residents can sponsor their parents, children, or spouses, allowing for family reunification and support. This provision underscores Panama's commitment to welcoming and integrating foreigners into its society.


Atlantic Entrance to Panama Canal, Colon - Panama City, the bustling capital, holds immense allure for many newcomers. Its dynamic culture, thriving business environment, and pleasant climate make it an attractive destination.

Atlantic Entrance to Panama Canal, Colon


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 amount does need to be from a guaranteed source like a government pension, 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 will be living there long term.

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

As Spanish is the official language of the Republic of Panama, you will also need to get all of your documents translated into Spanish and duly apostilled. Expat Money will help you organize all the details and apply for the documents 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 Pensionado Visa is that it is for life. You take care of it once, 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 Panamanian system, you just apply once, and you are good for life. No renewals are necessary.


Las Americas Bridge, Panama - Furthermore, permanent residence simplifies various administrative processes. It ensures you have access to services like healthcare and education, enhancing your quality of life in Panama.

Las Americas Bridge, Panama


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 USD;

  • 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 residence in Panama.


panama-map - Safety is another significant factor driving the importance of Panama permanent residence

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 USD in a Panamanian bank for one year. Or, if you want, up to $80,000 USD of that $200,000 USD 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.



You can invest as little as $40,000 USD 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.



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 USD 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 USD in the same forestry program. The advantage of making the $80,000 USD 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 USD to $500,000 USD 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.

Safety is another significant factor driving the importance of Panama permanent residence. With this status, you can enjoy the peace and security that Panama offers its residents. The country's low crime rate and stable political situation make it a haven for those seeking a secure environment to live, work, and retire.

Furthermore, permanent residence simplifies various administrative processes. It ensures you have access to services like healthcare and education, enhancing your quality of life in Panama. It also simplifies procedures such as obtaining a birth certificate or marriage certificate, which can be essential for legal and personal matters.

Lastly, permanent residence status in Panama builds a strong connection with the local community and authorities. It demonstrates your commitment to being a responsible and contributing member of Panamanian society.




The nice thing about Panama is that applicants have the option to choose from around 20 different residency visa to enter the country, no matter the country you are coming from. Panama also allows for the applicant in most of its visas to apply for immediate family members and dependents. Each one has its own specific requirements, and personally, those we talked about today are the most popular.

In conclusion, securing permanent residence in Panama is not merely a legal formality; it is the gateway to a world of opportunities and benefits. Whether you are an investor looking to establish a company, retirees seeking a peaceful and pleasant climate, or a foreigner aspiring to build a future in Panama, this status lays the foundation for a fulfilling life in this welcoming and diverse nation. It is an investment in your future, offering the security, freedom, and access to resources that make Panama a desirable destination for individuals from around the world. If you don’t see one that suits you, I’m sure we can find one for you that does.

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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.



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

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