Your Questions About the Panama Visa and Residency Application Process
I would like to apply for the Jubilado Pensionado Visa in June. Do I have to travel to Panama to do this? How long do I have to stay in Panama to apply? I want to start my process to get my residence permit in Panama under the Friendly Nations Visa, what do I need to do? What is the next step?
On a daily basis we receive many questions regarding the visa and residency application process in Panama. For this reason, we have summarized for you the most frequently asked questions and their answers...
I want to apply for Panama residency in June. Do I have to travel to Panama? How long do I have to stay in Panama for the application?
Any residency application can only be submitted if the file is 100% complete and all applicants are present in Panama. This applies to all migration categories (Friendly Nations Visa / Jubilado Pensionado Visa etc) with the only exception of the Golden Visa where the application can be submitted even without the client.
During your stay in Panama an appointment is arranged at our office in Boquete to sign the necessary documents, deliver the original documents we have already received via email, make copies, go with a member of our team to the immigration office, register your passport with them, have your migration ID card photo taken and receive your multiply visa to leave the country without penalties. The minimum stay for this trip depends on the migration category and must be coordinated with our firm in advance.
I want to start my process to obtain my residency in Panama. What do I have to do? What is the next step?
Please contact us or book one of our online seminars to see which migration category suits your individual situation and which are the current requirements to qualify. As soon as the type of residence permit has been determined, we will be happy to send you an individual offer. You can accept the estimate electronically. Our firm offers a variety of payment methods including online payments via credit card. Once the first down payment has been made, we will start preparing your file for your application and coordinate the next steps with you.
Can you submit my application without me having to come to Panama for it?
No. Only applications under the Golden Visa may be submitted without the client. For all other migration categories and visa types all applicants included in the application file must be personally present in Panama.
What documents do I need? What do I have to do and what do you do or prepare for me?
The list of required documents differs depending on the visa category. During the first initial consultation you will receive a checklist of documents needed and our respective handbook with detailed information and instruction. You can also download this documents from our website or book one of our online seminars for further information. Please email us a colored scan of all documents in advance so we can verify them. The translation of documents (if necessary) must be done in Panama. Usually our firm will send the documents in advance to a licensed translator.
Once you have scheduled your arrival in Panama with us, we will coordinate an appointment in our office where you will deliver all original documents, sign powers of attorney and other documents. At all immigration appointments a member of our staff will accompany you and give you the necessary instructions to follow. When filing your application immigration will not ask you any questions or conduct an interview, our firm is in charge of delivering and presenting your file and answering any questions from the officials.
Do the documents have to be apostilled?
This is correct. The criminal background check must be apostilled. As well as the marriage certificate (if applicable), and if you have minor children who you want to include in your application you must also bring their birth certificates duly apostilled. Remember that for the Jubilado Pensionado Visa the letter of retirement must be apostilled as well.
Do the documents have an expiration date?
Yes. The criminal background check, as well as the marriage certificate, and the birth certificates of your minor children (if applicable), and the letter of retirement (Jubilado Pensionado Visa) are valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance (not the date of the apostille).
If you already have your criminal background check and travel to Panama WITHOUT submitting a visa application, once you leave the country the document automatically loses its validity and you must apply for a new one (with apostille) prior to your next trip to Panama.
My criminal background check does not have an apostille and I don't have time to apply for one, can we submit my application anyway and you will tell immigration that I will provide the apostille later?
Immigration does not accept incomplete files. The file must be 100% complete in order to be submitted. At the time of presenting your application an immigration officer will review your file, verifying if all documents are complete and comply with the minimum requirements as well as the expiration dates established by law. It is not possible to ask them to accept the file and submit a missing document at a later date. If the file is incomplete it will not be accepted.
Do I need a birth certificate?
Only if there are minor children that you want to include in your residency application. The birth certificate must be apostilled and must not be older than six months (date of issuance of the document, not of the apostille).
My partner and I are NOT legally married, can we apply together?
No. In order to apply for any visa in Panama as a couple (in the same file) you must be legally married. Otherwise you and your partner must file a separate application.
Do you take care of translations?
That is correct. The law requires that a licensed translator from Panama must do the translations. This is why you must send us all the documents by email in advance (before your trip to Panama) so we can forward everything to the translator.
How do I obtain the health certificate?
We will give you the address of a laboratory in Boquete to obtain the certificate. The process is rather uncomplicated. The cost of the certificate is between 5 to 10 US dollars.
Where is your office located? Do I need to travel to Panama City for the application?
Our office is located in Boquete. All appointments for file preparation and presentation at the immigration office will be performed either in Boquete and/or David. Once your residency has been approved and to receive your permanent residency, we will arrange an appointment at the immigration office in Panama City.
I have already booked my flight to Panama for my residency application, can you send me a short timeline?
It is best to book a hotel in David or Boquete. Boquete (from a tourist point of view) is more interesting to see. We can send you a list of hotels in Panama if needed.
Immediately after your arrival we need an appointment at the office. After the appointment at our office, the documents you will be signing at the appointment (and the various copies we will make) still have to go to the public notary’s office. Then we have to make copies of the complete application file (there is one original and then two complete copies of the file). Afterwards we can submit the application at immigration office (for this we need your original passport). In the best case scenario we get an appointment at the immigration office shortly in order to get your photo for the migration ID card taken. However, in most cases it will take several days to get an appointment.
Can I lose my residency in Panama?
The law establishes a list of reasons that may cause the loss or denial of residency in Panama. Some of the most important are the following:
Have been convicted of committing a fraudulent crime or tax fraud.
Have a criminal or police record in your country of origin or perform criminal acts within Panama.
Having been absent for more than two (2) years from the national territory, unless such absence is justified and authorized by the Director of the National Immigration Service.
Are there any legal procedures to recover my residency if it is canceled?
If the National Immigration Service decides to cancel your residency in Panama (remembering that in Panama nothing happens automatically), there are legal procedures to request the reactivation of your status as a resident, in case you have been out of Panama for a period of more than two (2) years and up to a maximum of six (6) years. To get your permanent residency back, you must meet the following requirements:
Copy of the resolution that granted the permanent residency or in its defect a copy of the migration ID card issued by the National Immigration Service of Panama.
Copy of your passport and of the registration stamp.
Copy of your Cedula (E-card), duly authenticated by the Tribunal Electoral.
Sworn Affidavit before a Notary Public in Panama, stating the reasons for your absence.
You will have a term of 30 working days to present the petition for recovery of your residency, starting on the day you re-enter Panama. The request must be filed by a licensed immigration lawyer in Panama.
What happens if I can not travel to Panama for more than six years?
Foreigners who have remained more than six (6) years outside of Panama and whose residency has been canceled by the National Immigration Service will lose their status permanently and must start a completely new immigration procedure in accordance with current regulations at that time.
Do you have contacts of real estate brokers that you can recommend?
Yes, we can gladly send you contacts of real estate brokers in Panama. You can also research rental and sales prices on Panama's most popular classifieds portal called encuentra24.com.
I have pets, what do I have to do when bringing them to Panama?
There are agencies in Panama City that specialize in "Pet Relocation" services. We will be happy to send you contact details of such agencies so you can communicate directly with them and verify the necessary documents and the process to follow to relocate your pets to Panama.
I want to bring a container with all my furniture to Panama, what do I need to do?
You will need a reliable customs broker in Panama to process the necessary documents for you. We will be happy to send you contact details of professionals specialized in this area so you can communicate directly with them and coordinate your move to Panama.