The Fastest Way to Get Your Panama Residency
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Get Your Panama Residency: Step by Step
Step #1: Choosing a lawyer and first contact:
The Immigration Law in Panama requires that all applications for residence permits in the previously mentioned immigration categories must be submitted by a licensed attorney in Panama.
Step #2: Which Immigration category fits you?
Together with our firm we will select which category suits you best and which are the required documents.
Step #3: Compilation of documents:
Collect all necessary documents and papers required for the application. Pay attention to the validity of the various documents and take care of the necessary certifications (apostille) in time.
Step #4: Review of documents:
It is best to email all documents and papers to our office in advance for review in order to be sure that everything is complete and nothing is missing. At the same time, the documents can already be forwarded for translation in Panama.
Step #5: Trip to Panama:
Once all documents are ready, a personal trip to Panama is necessary to complete your file and submit the application in person together with a member of our team.
Step #6: Completion of your file:
Once you have arrived in Panama we will arrange a meeting at our office in Boquete in order to hand over all original documents, sign the power of attorney and any other documents necessary, make copies of your passport, fill out the immigration forms, get your health certificate and any other procedure where your personal presence is required.
Step #7: Filing your application at the immigration office:
As a rule, the file must be complete and all applicants must be in Panama in order to submit the application (exceptions apply for the Golden Visa).
Step #8: Registration of the passport ("registro de pasaporte"):
The registration of the passport is done by our firm. During the application process, all information is checked again and an immigration officer stamps the registration stamp ("sello de registro") in the passport of each applicant.
Step #9: Temporary migration ID card ("carné de migración"):
Once the application has been submitted, your status in Panama also changes. You are no longer considered a "tourist" but a "resident". All applicants receive an identity card from the immigration office. This card is valid for six months (enough time to process the application within this period). A photo is taken on-site for the ID card. From now on your migration ID card must be shown at passport control every time you enter or leave Panama.
Step #10: Multiply Visa ("visa multiple"):
Since September 2021 the Multiply Entry and Exit Visa is printed on the back of the Migration ID Card, and allows the applicant to enter and exit Panama while the application is being processed. The Multiply Visa is valid for six (6) months (just like the Migration ID Card). Foreigners (with ongoing immigration proceedings) whose Multiply Visa has expired must pay a fine of US$2,000.00 (per person) to the Immigration Department upon re-entry into Panama.
Step #11: Processing your application:
Upon receipt of the application, the National Immigration Service assigns a case number to the file and transfers it internally to the responsible department in Panama City. After the application has been successfully processed by the responsible caseworker, the decision ("resolución") is reviewed by the head of the department. Then the Director of Immigration signs your resolution and the file finally moves to the Notifications Department. The processing of the application usually takes three to four months.
Step #12: Receiving your residence permit and a second trip to Panama:
Once your residence permit has been successfully approved, you will be notified by our office. A second trip to Panama is required in order to take the photo for your new migration ID card. For this reason, all applicants must come to Panama in person (together!). Our office will already pick up the resolution for you at the immigration office in Panama City in advance. This step is called "notification". If your Multiply Visa has already expired because you could not travel to Panama in time, we will mail you your original resolution via DHL to your residence in order to avoid penalties upon entry.
Foreigners who hold permanent residence status in Panama can also apply for a Panamanian identity card (Panama E-card or Cédula E) at the Civil Registry (Tribunal Electoral). This process is a separate procedure and is not done automatically as part of the application process. The application for the Cédula E must be submitted separately and the decision is forwarded internally by the Immigration Department to the Tribunal Electoral. Subsequently, an appointment at the Tribunal Electoral is required to verify the personal data of the applicant and to take a photo for the Cédula E. The Cédula E is not printed immediately and will be available for pick-up after approximately two to three weeks.
It is not mandatory to have a Cédula E. However, in daily life, it facilitates many administrative, legal and/or business procedures such as opening a bank account. Furthermore, the Cédula E is a prerequisite to register with the tax authorities in Panama and to apply for a personal tax number.
We have listed for you the steps to apply for a residence permit in Panama. The individual procedures may vary in detail depending on the immigration category and the personal situation of each client: