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 1). 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 lifelong pension of $1,000 USD or more. There are no age restrictions. This pension can be from governments, or even private businesses, 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 for life. You will need a criminal background check from your country’s law enforcement, which differs from country to 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 of 2 – 3 weeks needed 2), 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 2) .

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 apply for this visa 3). 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.
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Some annotations regarding the above article
by Ing. V. Piasta

 1) While it is true that foreigners need to apply for a work permit to work as an employee in Panama, and these permits are not available for residents with a retiree or pensioner's visa, resident foreigners can work in Panama as entrepreneurs and manage their own businesses. A safe way to do this is to register a Panamanian corporation and have this corporation run the business. The cost of holding a Panama corporation (besides the initial cost to set it up) can be below $1000 p.a. (~ $80/month), composed of $400 annual taxes and the legal fees of the lawyer who acts as the resident agent of the corporation. This applies also to those who cannot or do not want to apply for the Friendly Nation's visa (see note 3).
Besides these possibilities, you can manage any business that generates income outside Panama. As long as a business does not generate taxable income inside Panama, you need no permits and pay no taxes in Panama.

2) Where to stay while you wait for your immigration application to be completed or while you are trying out life in Panama? Most good quality hotels do not offer relevant discounts for longer stays and only a few are willing or able to pay $100 or more a night for several weeks or even months. On the other hand, if you try and rent a reasonably priced apartment long-term, you will often find out that the landlords want you to sign a contract for a year or at least 6 months, which may not be feasible for you.
We at Aparthotel Boquete have the solution for you!
We rent our comfortable apartments at very competitive rates from a few days up to several weeks, with discounts of up to more than 50% for long-term stays. Please check our website www.boquete-apartments.com or contact us via WhatsApp at +507 6891.6669 (Volker: en, es, de)/ 6891.6660 (Maria: es, en)

3) The conditions for the Friendly Nations Visa have changed significantly in 2021 and have become much more restrictive