The Central American Republic of Panama is one of the best places to retire for European and North American citizens, as it offers an amenable climate in its highlands, easy access to its beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific Oceanside, good roads, several airports, direct connections to the USA, Canada, and Europe, beautiful nature with lush green woods and a rich variety of birds and other animals, still affordable prices for land and houses, a population that mostly speaks or understands (some) English and the use of the US Dollar as its own currency.
What are the requirements to retire in Panama?
How do you get permanent residency in Panama?
Years ago Panama introduced the Pensionado Visa to encourage retirees from around the world to spend their pensions living in Panama. It’s a great idea, as retirees do not take jobs from the economy, they only put money into the economy. Panama also extended the Pensionado discounts offered to its own citizens to holders of this Visa, regardless of their age. This visa makes you a permanent resident of Panama, and it never has to be renewed, just a card replacement every 5 years or so. You can see the discounts offered at the bottom of this article. The Pensionado Visa does not allow you to work in Panama. If you are planning on working or opening a business, you need to look at another visa option.
The main requirement to retire in Panama with the Pensionado Visa is to be receiving a life long pension of $1,000 USD or more. There are no age restrictions. This pension can be from governments, or even private business, as long as it can be proven it is for life.
The process to obtain this visa is quite simple, but must be done with a Panama lawyer. You will need a letter from the institution that you receive your pension from, stating the monthly amount and that the pension is life-time. You will need a criminal background check from your country’s law enforcement, which differs country by country. For the USA it is from the FBI, for Canadians it is from the RCMP. A copy of your Passport, every page, and your marriage certificate, if appropriate. All these documents must be notarized and authenticated by the Panama embassy in your country. The lawyer will give you the list and help you through this process. If you need a recommended lawyer, check here .
Once you have all the paperwork, you make a trip to Panama, minimum 2 – 3 weeks needed, meet with your lawyer, who will take you to immigration, get some photos done, and within 2 – 3 weeks you will have a temporary residency card, with a multiple entry stamp in your passport if needed. You can then if you like return to your home country, and come back to Panama in four months to pick up your permanent residency card. Or, you can stay in Panama if you like and wait for your Permanent card.
The entire process, all legal fees and processing fees for a couple should be under $3,000, and for a single under $2,500, so yes very affordable compared to other countries.
Now maybe you are retired and do not have a pension, maybe retired early, or business person, you do have options. Panama also has a Friendly Nations Visa, citizens from a select 50 nations can
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apply for this visa. The application process is similar, but costs about twice as much, but it comes with a Panamanian corporation, which you can use if you like to do business here, or you can close it within the first year if you do not plan on using it. The 50 nations are listed below.
With this Friendly Nations Visa, you receive permanent residency in Panama, and also the ability to apply for a work permit if needed. You will have to prove a source of income, and deposit $5,000 into a Panama bank account, which you can use after a few days, it does not have to stay in the account. You will still take part in the Pensionado discounts but will have to wait for a woman to be 57, and a man 62 to receive these discounts.
So, these are the simple requirements to retire in Panama, and we are Retire in Panama Tours can help you make that decision and make the transition a pleasant one.