The Ultimate Guide to Panama Visas for US Citizens

The Ultimate Guide to Panama Visas for US Citizens

US citizens are flocking to Panama to retire, work remotely, vacation, and live as expatriates. As far as expatriate destinations go, Panama has it all. The capital, Panama City, is a pinnacle of modernity in the region where skyscrapers reflect in the tropical waters below. In Panama City, you’ll find bustling nightlife, upscale lodging, a culturally and ethnically diverse population, and some of the best food in the world. Beyond Panama City, there are thousands of miles of dualling coastline with dense, jungle-bound mountains between them, active volcanoes where some of the most sought-after coffee beans in the world are grown, and thousands of islands begging to be explored. Panama is a beacon of adventure just waiting to be explored. If you’re considering moving to Panama, continue reading below foryour comprehensive guide to Panama Visas for US Citizens.

Panama Residency Programs

To live, retire, or work in Panama, you’ll need to either establish residency or obtain a visa. There are two different visa options for US citizens hoping to create a life in Panama, Permanent Residency, and the newly created Digital Nomad Visa. Both programs allow US citizens to reside in Panama for a set amount of time to live and work.  

Panama’s Digital Nomad Visa

Panama joins the list of over 50 countries that have some form of a Digital Nomad Visa. Digital Nomad Visas give temporary residency to an individual who works remotely, whether they’re employees or business owners themselves. Digital Nomad Visas usually offer travelers extended stays that are far longer than traditional tourist visas but do not carry the same permanence as full residency. Like many other Digital Nomad Visa Programs, Panama’s Digital Nomad Visa was created in response to the Covid 19 Pandemic and how it affected the modern workplace. This newly formed visa allows remote workers from abroad to reside in Panama for up to 9 months with an option to extend for an additional 9 months at the termination of the visa period. To obtain a Digital Nomad Visa from the Panamanian government, make sure you have valid health insurance. Additionally, applicants are required to demonstrate proof of their employment and provide a letter authorized by the company’s legal representative, which outlines the applicant’s position, monthly income, and remote work status. The letter must also commit to cover the expenses of repatriation or return if the situation calls for it. If self-employed, candidates should present a sworn declaration along with supporting documentation in lieu of a letter.

Panamanian Permanent Residence Visas 

Establishing permanent residency in Panama is the traditional method that most expatriates seek when moving to Panama. Permanent Residency in Panama can be established through two methods, by applying to the Friendly Nations Visa Program or the Qualified Investor Program. 

The Friendly Nations Panama Visa 

Panama’s “Friendly Nations” visa program grants residency to people from eligible countries. At the moment, there are 50 qualifying nations.

The Qualified Investor Panama Visa 

Panama’s Qualified Investor Visa Program provides three investment options for those seeking Permanent Residency: 

1. A real estate investment of $500,000

2. A stock exchange investment of $500,000

3. A fixed-term banking deposit of $750,000

If you’re considering buying land in Panama and settling down, a Qualified Investor Visa may be your preferred option. 

Retirement Programs 

In addition to the Friendly Nations Visa Program and the Qualified Investor Program, there are a few other ways to obtain permanent residency in Panama like the Pensionado Visa program. The Pensionado Visa program is designed for retirees with a guaranteed monthly income. To be eligible for this program, you must have a lifetime pension or annuity of at least $1,000 per month. 

Other Visa Programs

In an effort to restore the natural environment, Panama also offers a Reforestation Visa program, which provides permanent residency to individuals who invest at least $80,000 in a reforestation project in Panama. This program is designed to promote environmental sustainability while also providing an opportunity for investors to obtain permanent residency in the country.

Panama Visa Process Time Frame

The process of establishing residency in a new country is typically a lengthy one, however, Panama seems to be one of the more diligent countries when it comes to processing visa applications. Depending on what visa program you’re applying to, you could hear back from the Panamanian government within a month of applying. Digital Nomad Visa applicants, if qualified, can expect their visa to be processed within thirty days of submitting their application. Panama Friendly Nations Visa applicants can expect the process to take up to 60 days. In terms of timeframes, The Qualified Investor Visa program application timeframe can vary, but it normally has a 30 day processing time from the time that the application has been submitted. 

Resources for Expats in Panama 

Expatriating to another country is never easy, even if that country is a tropical paradise with a friendly local population, one of the most exciting urban centers in the world, and two dueling coastlines, offering a collective 1230 miles of sandy beaches. Once you decide on your desired location in Panama, jump through the necessary hoops to acquire the proper paperwork through a residency or visa program, and hire a qualified realtor to help you find your dream home, it’s time to make your new country feel like home. While this post tackles some of the most important steps toward expatriating to Panama, there are dozens of smaller steps individuals take to make their new country feel like home. Fortunately for new Panama ex-pats, there are several resources out there that can help you find a sense of community, including ex-pat Facebook groups and online forums, travel blogs, and English newspapers, (like the Visitor) that all have tons of information about navigating day-to-day in Panama. 

If you’re chasing an endless summer or seeking a tropical paradise to call home, Panama may just be the destination you’re looking for. Panama makes it easy and even encourages expatriates. If you’re considering a move to Panama, play a visit and find the right visa program for your needs.  

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