Moving to Panama – how to get a visa and what are the costs of living

Basic information about the country

Panama is a transcontinental country that lies both in Central America and South America. It borders Costa Rica, Colombia, the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Panama is an economically growing country. Its commerce, banking, and tourism sectors are the most developed ones. While big cities are industrialized, there are still some untouched Panamanian jungles, where one can find few endemic species.

Official Name: the Republic of Panama

Form Of Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Capital: Panama city

Population: 4,176,869

Official Language: Spanish

Currency: Balboa, United States dollars

Area: 75,417 Square Kilometers

5 reasons to move to Panama

  1. Modern Destination

In 2018 Panama ranked 66th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index which is relatively high. You can live here a comfortable life at relatively lower costs compared to other countries. Prices here are really competitive due to the low taxes and there is a great amount of jobs in banking, trade, estate and other services which are constantly developing.

  1. Location + you can pay in dollars

Proximity of the United States is certainly an asset. It turns out you do not really need to live in the US, while working there. There are convenient direct flights from Panama to the US and back. In that way you can fulfill your career on the American grounds, while living in a quieter and cheaper place.

Also, although the official currency is Balboa, everywhere throughout the country one can pay in dollars so one does not even have to bother to exchange currencies, which are by the way calculated 1:1.

Moreover, thanks to its location between North and South America it has a big role in trade. So if you are moving for business it may be a smart move to start a company there.

  1. Tax heaven

Taxes here are close to zero. So that is another, and probably the biggest reason to start a business here. Especially if your company targets international clients. There is no tax on foreign-earned income, nor the property tax.

  1. Wildlife to explore

After work, if you want to experience some adventures, take the map and your camera with you and start exploring hundreds of Panamanian islands. In the jungles there you can find species which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Also beaches surrounded by palms may be worth admiring.

Moreover, the wildlife here mixes with the modernity. Working in a corporation and taking walks along the coast during lunchbreaks? This is possible for example in the Panama City where skyscrapers literally meet the beach. So during your lunch break in corp. work you can go and spend some time in the bosom of nature. And who does not need a moment for oneself on a busy day?

  1. Great retirement program

If you are starting to get old and looking for potential places for your retirement you might consider choosing Panama. Besides beautiful beaches, perfect for relaxing at an old age, the country has quite to offer for pensioners.

Panama’s Unparalleled Pensionado Program offers 10-50% discounts for pensioners on literally everything. It gives the elderly the access to a cheaper healthcare, which is, by the way, on surprisingly high level there. It also gives the opportunity to distract oneself a little because the discounts involve entertainment or restaurants.

And there is 25% discount for retirees on all flights so going back to the home country will not be a problem.

How to get a visa to Panama?

Type of visas

Except for Retiree (Pensionado) visa, Panama of course offers a few more options. If you are just a tourist from one of the countries from a special list of ‘‘friendly countries’, you do not even need a visa. Just a passport is enough. And as a tourist you can stay even up to 90 days.

But if you are planning of staying there longer, you have to submit an application. Most popular one is probably Self-Economic Solvency 'Person of Means' or Panama Friendly Nations Visa if you come from on of the countries on the list.

One can also get a visa by investing in reforestation plantation field, opening a business and hiring 5 Panamanian employees. And if you are travelling a lot, Second Passport which gives you the temporary residency may be a great option.

Self-Economic Solvency 'Person of Means'

To get this kind of visa, one must meet one of three criteria:

  1. Open a bank account in Panama and make a time deposit in the amount of at least 300,000 dollars for a period of 36 months.
  2. Buy a condominium, house or a property in Panama for minimum sum of 300,000 dollars and present a proof of your funds that covers your costs of living in Panama.
  3. Combine your options – make a deposit on the bank account in Panama and buy some of properties mentioned above in your own name – the sum of it needs to be 300,000 dollars

By following one of the alternatives you will be granted 2-year temporary residency with the possibility of applying for a permanent residency after this time, and even for a Panama Nationality after 8 years.

Panama Friendly Nations Visa

To get this kind of visa it is enough if you are on the list of friendly nations, you have a bank account in Panama and you open a business, make an investment or just get a job in the country.

Required documents:

  • ·        Filled application form
  • ·        Passport, valid at least for 6 months (+ copy)
  • ·        Pay fees for the visa
  • ·        Two passport-size photographs
  • ·        Copy of your ID or a resident card

Basic costs of living

Comfortable, but basic, life in Panama balances from $800 to $1,500 per month. But with all the temptations there, one might need a little more.

Examples of prices

In Panama, for example, Taxi charges 2 dollars for 1km, for 1kg of potatoes one will pay 1.93 dollars and average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is 777.03 dollars.

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