Residency Through Investment
Friendly Nations Visa
In May 2021, the requirements for an application under the Friendly Nations Visa were changed by the National Immigration Service, and after a transition period of three months, the list of required documents was updated again in July 2021. The Friendly Nations Visa was created in 2012 by the former President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, with the intention that "citizens of friendly nations with professional and economic ties to the Republic of Panama" can apply for an permanent residence permit in Panama.
Which are the "Friendly Nations"?
Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Republic of Korea, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, USA, Slovakia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay, Chile, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Serbia, Montenegro, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Costa Rica, Mexico and Paraguay.
What changes are there now to consider for an application under the Friendly Nations visa?
The most important change concerns the method of application: the Friendly Nations visa has been changed to a TWO-step procedure. This means that, as before, the applicant(s) must submit an application through a Panamanian lawyer. Once the application is submitted, they will receive a temporary residence permit for six (6) months. When the file is successfully processed and the application has been approved, the applicant(s) will be granted a residence permit for two (2) years. Previously, it was possible to obtain a permanent residence permit by submitting a single application.
Now, all applicants must submit a second application after two (2) years (the second application must be submitted three months prior to the expiration of the 2-year residence permit), by presenting practically the same documents that were required in the first application (with the exception of the government application fees and the repatriation deposit), in order to obtain their permanent residence permit in Panama. Applicants go through more or less the same stages in the second application as in the first application.
The second important change relates to the proof of economic activity in Panama and the proof of financial solvency. Until now, it was mandatory to open a bank account in Panama and to incorporate a Panamanian company to meet these requirements (although the exact requirements have been continuously changed since 2012). The obligatory opening of a bank account has now been abolished as a requirement for the Friendly Nations visa, as well as the prerequisite to incorporate (or acquire) a Panamanian company with the intention of carrying out economic activities in Panama.
What are the current requirements to qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa?
There are three options to qualify for the new Friendly Nations Visa. It is not possible to combine the investment options. Which documents you need for which option will be explained in detail later.
Option 1: Real Estate Investment in Panama:
Investment in a real estate property in Panama with a minimum value of two hundred thousand US dollars (US$200,000.00). The acquisition of the real estate must take place BEFORE the first application is submitted. The land register extract of the acquired real estate is an important requirement for the application.
Option 2: Investment in a time deposit - CD (Plazo Fijo) with a Panamanian bank:
The CD must be at least two hundred thousand U.S. dollars (US$200,000) and have a minimum term of three (3) years. The investment in a time deposit must be made BEFORE the initial application.
Option 3: Job offer:
You have a binding job offer in Panama and a local company wants to hire you as an employee. In this case, the employer in Panama must submit various documents and you must also file an application for a work permit at the Ministry of Labor. Obtaining the work permit is a prerequisite for the successful evaluation of the residence permit.
Required Documents: What Do I Need to Organize?
#1 Passport: check validity (minimum three years)
For German Citizens using the “old” format with your maiden name (GEB. Musterfrau) we recommend to get a new passport. If your academic title shows in the passport (Austria/ Germany) try to obtain a new passport without the academic title. The name stated in your passport will be used (in the respective order!) for all documents issued by the National Immigration Service of Panama for example Max Dr. Mustermann or Sabine Meier GEB. Musterfrau etc.
#2 Criminal Background Check
Issued by the competent authority in the country of origin or permanent residence: For any residency application, the Panamanian National Migration Service requires an authenticated Criminal History Report issued by a “federal”, “central”, or “national” police force or criminal investigation authority.
Observe VALIDITY: NOT older than SIX (6) months (date of issuance).
If the applicant leaves Panama, the certificate looses its validity automatically.
Must have an APOSTILLE.
#3 Five (5) passport-sized photos
Must be in color, on pure white background, photo paper, all photos must be the same (EU Standard)
#4 Certificate of Good Health
This must be done in Panama, the process is relatively uncomplicated.
The certificate is valid for three (3) months.
ONLY necessary when applying as a MARRIED COUPLE or FAMILY with children
#5 Marriage Certificate
Observe VALIDITY: NOT older than SIX (6) months (date of issuance!).
Usually you must apply for an UPDATED Extract from the Marriage Register.
Must have an APOSTILLE.
#6 Proof of Domicile in Panama
Electricity bill and (notarized) lease. Rental period at least one (1) year.
Extract from the Land Register (if you already own real estate in Panama).
#7 Declaration of Liability
This document will be prepared by our firm. The signature must be notarized by a Public Notary in Panama.
#8 Birth Certificate
ONLY necessary if MINOR CHILDREN are included in the application.
Observe VALIDITY: NOT older than SIX (6) months (date of issuance!)
Usually you must apply for a new Birth Certificate from the Civil Registry.
Must have an APOSTILLE.
State Application Fees
#9 Cashier's check for USD$ 250
In favor of the National Treasury (application fee) per applicant.
#10 Cashier's check for USD$ 800
In favor of the National Migration Service (repatriation deposit) per applicant.
NOTE: Children under twelve (12) years of age are excluded from the USD$800 Repatriation Deposit.
The checks are not refundable by the Republic of Panama, no matter if the application was assessed positively or negatively.
Additional Documents Option #1:
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
Land register extract:
Acquisition of ONE (1) property in Panama whose cadastral value is at least two hundred thousand U.S. dollars (US$200,000). The property must be acquired BEFORE the FRIST application is submitted.
It is not possible to purchase several properties (e.g. three apartments) and combine their value to reach the required minimum investment amount. There are no legal requirements regarding the use of the property: it is possible to invest in a house, apartment, commercial property, agricultural land or waste land, etc. However, the property must be titled, Derechos Posesorios or Rights of Possession (ROP) are not accepted by the National Immigration Service.
The extract from the land register must not be older than six (6) months.
The investment can be made either as a natural person or in the name of a legal entity (company or foundation), as long as it can be proven that the main applicant is the final beneficiary of the company or foundation which is the legal owner of the property (in this case, additional documents must be submitted).
Additional Documents Option #2:
INVESTMENT IN A TIME DEPOSIT (CD) IN PANAMA
Which confirms that the time deposit (CD) exists, the name of the investor, the value of the CD, the term and that the deposit is free from encumbrances.
The bank's certificate must not be older than thirty (30) days and must be duly signed and sealed by the bank.
Besides investing in real estate in Panama, the National Immigration Service also offers a second option: investment in a CD (Plazo Fijo) with a Panamanian bank. The CD must be at least two hundred thousand U.S. dollars (US$200,000) and have a minimum term of three (3) years. It is possible that the CD is held under the personal name of the main applicant or in the name of a Panamanian company or foundation, as long as it is proven that the main applicant is the final beneficiary of the company/foundation. According to the current Tax Code of Panama, any interests generated from a savings account or time deposit in a bank in Panama are not taxable in Panama.
Which Documents Will Be Organized by Your Firm?
Application form with personal information. This form will be provided by our firm.
#12 Power of Attorney and Formal Application
To apply for a residence permit in Panama, a licensed attorney must sign the application.
Forwarding of documents to an authorized translator in Panama.