Permanent residency in Panama

There are multiple reasons why Panama is an attractive country for foreign investment. Its dollarized economy, the stability of its banking system, the importance of the logistics of the Panama Canal and its strategic position for the connection with the rest of the continent, are just some of the factors that place Panama among the destinations preferred by the investors.

Faced with the imminent arrival of foreigners, Panamanian legislation has been adapted in such a way that specific types of migration have been created that make it easier for foreigners to obtain legal status in the Republic of Panama.

Despite the extensive list of immigration options, for the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on two modalities that grant the character of Permanent Residence in Panama:

  • For the applicant’s nationality:

With the promulgation of Executive Decree No. 1174 of 2013, citizens of approximately 50 countries benefited, who may choose to request the status of Permanent Residents if they show that they have a professional, economic or investment relationship in the Republic of Panama.

It is popularly known as the “FRIENDLY COUNTRIES” immigration permit, through which the applicant must demonstrate the existence of an economic or professional activity that links him to the country, as well as his sustainable economic solvency with the presentation of a certificate from a bank of the town that shows a minimum balance of four (4) average figures.

The process takes 4-6 months and automatically grants Permanent Resident status without the need for periodic renewals.

  • By investment:

This option is offered to foreigners, regardless of their nationality, who invest in the country a minimum of US $ 300,000.00 in any of the following modalities:

    • Fixed-term deposit to the applicant’s number, in a bank with a general license of the Republic of Panama, for a minimum period of 3 years;
    • The cost of a property located in the Republic of Panama, with a minimum value of US $ 300,000.00. The acquisition can be made by a personal title, a number of a Limited Company of which the applicant is a shareholder or a number of a Private Interest Foundation of which the applicant is its Founder and Beneficiary.
    • A combination of real estate and time deposits with a valuation of US $ 300,000.00 or more.

The most important thing for this migratory category is to demonstrate to the National Migration Service that the funds for the acquisition of the property and / or the opening of the fixed-term deposit, come from abroad and are free of encumbrances.

In this particular case, a provisional residence is granted for a period of two years, and allows you to apply for permanent residence in the country.

In both cases, Permanent Residence grants the foreigner the right to receive from the Electoral Court a Permanent Residence Card or “Cédula E”, without having to reside permanently in the country, being able to extend this migratory category to his dependents (spouse , children under 18, dependent parents, etc.).

Obtain Permanent Residence in the Republic of Panama the following advantages:

  • Second Residence: a “Plan B” for nationals of certain countries with difficult political and economic situations.
  • Obtain a renewable driver’s license every 4 years.
  • Obtain bank loans under the same conditions as a Panamanian citizen.
  • Choose to naturalize Panamanian in the next 5 years (varies according to nationality). This will allow you to obtain a Panamanian passport and carry out activities restricted to Panamanians, such as, for example: Exercising law or health-related professions.
  • With proper planning, receive the Fiscal Residence in Panama.

An important aspect that you should not lose sight of is that the Permanent Residence from the immigration point of view does not automatically become a Fiscal Resident of Panama. These are two separate processes, before independent institutions and with different requirements, the most important of which is to demonstrate a minimum stay in the national territory of one hundred and eighty-three (183) consecutive or alternate days in a fiscal year or in the immediately preceding year Article 762 -N of the Fiscal Code). Likewise, those natural persons who have established their permanent home or center of vital interests in the territory of the Republic of Panama will consider tax residents of the Republic of Panama.

It may seem complex, but the legal professionals at K&B Family Office guide you in choosing the most appropriate immigration category for you and your family.


Karyne Mora
Head of Legal & Human Resources

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July, 2019

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