If you are a US or EU citizen, it’s very easy to get residency in Panama. I write about this all the time while singing the praises of Panama’s various visa programs.
For example, the Friendly Nations Visa will allow you to live and operate a business in Panama for about $8,500. Forget investing in overpriced real estate… just pay the fee and you’re golden.
This applies to people holding passports from the following 50 friendly nations:
- Great Britain
- Republic of Korea
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- San Marino
- Costa Rica
If you’re holding a passport from one of these countries, you’re golden. Pay your fee and move to Panama.
But what about the rest of the world? What if you are not on the friendly nations list? Then get ready to pay to play.
Panama Restricted Countries:
If you are holding a passport from one of the following “restricted” countries, must prove your net worth and jump through all kinds of hoops to get into Panama. And you must find a way in to Panama before you can apply for residency (as a tourist or with a special invitation from an attorney or large corporation).
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Alto Volto, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Cote d’ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
As I said above, you must be in Panama as a tourist or be invited in by a lawyer or business. If you can get a tourist visa, then you can file to amend your status once you are in the country. If you can’t get a visa, then expect to pay for an invitation letter. The going rate is $5,500 per person per letter. So, a family of 4 will need 4 letters (yes, your kids will need an invitation letter).
Fyi… if you have a valid visa for Australia, any European Union country, Canada or the USA, you can usually enter Panama so long as you have a return ticket. Speak with your travel agent before traveling to Panama on a non-Panamanian visa.
- When traveling to Panama from a restricted country, you should have a valid visa, passport, minimum of $500, bank statement, travelers check or credit card and a valid onward or return ticket.
So, if you can get into Panama as a tourist you will save some cash on the invitation letter.
Once you’re in, here’s how to gain residency in Panama from a restricted country:
- Form a Panama corporation, preferably owned by a Panama Foundation with you as the founder. The corporation will operate a business and the Foundation will serve as your “persona” in the country.
- Deposit $200,000 or more in to a personal account held as an 18 month CD. The intent here is to prove you can afford to support yourself while in the country and that you intend to “contribute to the economy of Panama.”
- Apply for a change in status and residency. Minimum legal and application fees: $15,250. Processing time 2 to 6 months.
If you are holding a restricted passport and would like to become a resident of Panama, please contact me for more information. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at (619) 550-2743.