Panama Immigration & Residency
With its warm climate and relaxed tropical atmosphere, Panama has become one of the top spots for affluent foreigners, expats and globetrotting professionals looking for a permanent or temporary home. The country has recently implemented a new residency program, which has made relocating to the country easier and more affordable than ever before. Seeking to attract highly talented and networked people from around the world to Panama, the country has also introduced legislation for a citizenship by investment program. While living in Panama has long been popular with US, Canadian, LatAm and European nationals, the new wave of expatriates choosing the country to work, live and invest in, is expected to include individuals and families from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
A Short Flight Away
As a leading finance center with 100 banks and headquarters for more than 140 multinationals, Panama is well connected. Panama’s International Tocumen Airport, the country’s main airport, is just a few hours flying time from most US, Canadian, LatAm and European cities. Several airlines operate regular flights to the country including Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, United, Delta, American, Copa, Lan, Turkish Airlines and others.
Luxury in the Tropics
Determined to uphold its reputation as a five-star destination for high-end travellers and the global business elite, Panama features a number of international and luxury hotels such as the Hilton, Radisson, Intercontinental, Sheraton and Westin.
Cosmopolitan, but not Costly
Whether choosing a modest apartment or a luxury villa, costs in Panama are very reasonable. Panama comes close to having a very reasonable cost of living, while still catering to all lifestyles. Moreover, the country offers highly sophisticated and reliable banking, wealth management, legal, accounting, taxation, insurance, social security and communications services.
First Class Healthcare
Panama has some of the best healthcare in LatAm, which is offered to foreigners and nationals in Panama, while foreign residents are advised to take out private medical insurance. Punta Pacifica hospital is associated with John Hopkins hospital in the US. Most international insurance companies are covered including Generali, BUPA, PanAmerican Life Insurance and others.
Active in Panama
The sea, cafés, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, theatres, sports clubs or gyms are almost always within a walking distance of office complexes or residential areas. Panama also hosts many great festivals of culture and art. Each town or village has its own annual feast and parade for their patron saint. For those in need of some retail therapy, Panama is home to shopping malls for big brand names Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Hermes and markets for local goods.
There are many reasons why expats have joined more than 2 million tourists flocking to the Panama every year. Year-round sunny skies have definitely been one of the foremost draws to this alluring country, while a beneficial tax treatment has helped to attract foreign residents to Panama for the past 15 years. The first measures to attract foreigners came in to place following naming of a small town called Boquete as a worldwide retirement destination, then Panama enacted a special residence program for Retirees or Pensionado (Pensioneer) a strategy offering a special tax rate to foreign residents who had a retiree status. At that time, most individuals who relocated to Panama were US, Canadian and European. A further residency program was introduced later, offering foreign nationals permanent residency with tax-free foreign sourced income and attracting expats from all parts of the world. In addition, a foreign resident of Panama who is not domiciled in Panama will be taxed solely on income and certain capital gains arising in Panama or not on income remitted to Panama, and not on a worldwide basis.
While Panama has historically been a popular choice for those looking for an increased quality of life in a tropical country setting, economic growth and investments from international companies have also caught the attention of high-flying foreign professionals. Panama is fast becoming an all-round top expat destination that ranks well as a place for career progression and financial gain, as well as for a lifestyle change, demonstrating that the country delivers across numerous elements of expat life. In particular, the continuous development of Panama’s International Finance Center contributes to attracting expats from all over the world.
Panama has multiple permanent residency programs, including as Investor and Retiree.
The permanent resident as Investor status can be achieved with an investment of no less than US$ 300,000 in real estate. If the property is subsequently rented, rental income belongs to the applicant. The applicant can freely sell the property after obtaining permanent residency.
The program does not require a permanent or continuous presence of the applicant in Panama. The status of permanent resident brings applicant the option of disassociate itself to be considered as a tax person or subject to taxation in the country of origin. For example – the Applicant can represent to foreign authorities that he is a permanent resident of Panama and even obtain a tax resident certificate.
The applicant is entitled to apply for Panamanian citizenship after 5 years of obtaining permanent residency.
Gateway into Europe
For foreigners wishing visa free travel throughout the Schengen zone, Panama offers a Second Passport program. Applicants from unstable countries in search of a safe residency location for their families are expected to see the benefit of the program as well. The new Panama second passport is fully digital and accepted worldwide. This status can be achieved with a bank time deposit of US$390,000. Unlike other programs, the funds are placed in a time deposit and it is not a payment and/or investment like St Kitts and others
The program does not require a permanent or continuous presence of the applicant in Panama. The program provides a 5 years temporal residency with the option of renewal as many times as the applicants want. The program does not lead or provide permanent residency and citizenship
The program provides a convenient state of the art digital passport of the Republic of Panama which is very convenient for:
- Visa free to many countries including the Schengen.
- Allows people to perform business in other countries (Russian doing business in European countries).
Attracting the Best
Over recent years, Panama has attracted younger, career-oriented expats who work in many sectors of the country’s growing economy and who have chosen to relocate to take advantage of job opportunities. They are employed by foreign and local firms in sectors such as financial services, trading, wealth management, BPOs, resorts & casinos and logistics. Conveniently located at the center of the Americas within a few hours flying time from major cities, the country is also the ideal location for globetrotting professionals working in the US, Canada, Europe or LatAm.
In addition, the country’s popularity as a retirement location has increased. Pensioners can benefit from the Panama Retirement Program that has been designed to attract nationals of the US, Canada, EU and LatAm. Retirees can also make use of Panama’s wide network of double taxation agreements. Under most tax treaties that Panama is party to, pensions are tax-exempt from the country in which they are sourced, as long as the person is residing and receiving the pension in Panama. This means pensioners can remit their pensions to Panama and do not have to pay taxes.
Living the Lifestyle
Panama has been voted the best retirement destination in the world in the most recent survey by the New York Times and International Living, which also ranks the country in its top three places for quality of life.
Aside from the fiscal benefits of relocating to Panama, expatriates can rest assured that they would be living in a country where crime is virtually non-existent. Despite the country’s size, there are always new experiences to be enjoyed that range from scuba diving and trekking to exploring Panama’s vast tropical forests.
Leveraging a rich legacy of historical buildings and magnificent architecture, Panama boasts an abundance of lifestyle properties, ranging from sea-front apartments to exclusive villas with private pools. Anyone seeking to purchase property in connection with the residency program will be spoilt for choice. Many expats also report that they have a better standard of living and more luxurious life since relocating due to the country’s lower cost of living. In addition, exclusive, five-star restaurants combining the finest seasonal produce with innovation and expertise can be found all over the country.
A Network of Support
In order to support the thousands of foreigners who have chosen to live in Panama, a large and experienced network of professionals has developed including real estate agents, lawyers and other service providers. There are also a number of relocation specialists. They advise on all administrative matters, such as applying for the respective permits, taxation, the sourcing of property, and even with issues such as schooling for children to help foreigners settle into life on the country.
A simple choice, idyllic seafront properties and efficient connections to so many major cities, it is easy to see why Panama is among the foremost international expat destinations. As well as a rich history and enduring traditions, the country also enjoys a modern, lively atmosphere. With a high standard of living, reasonable costs and no inheritance, wealth, or annual property taxes in place, expats need look no further. Unlike in many other destinations, such as the UAE or India, where foreigners do not stay for long periods, expats in Panama often spend many years in the country. Some even stay until they retire, knowing that Panama offers the best fusion of the traditional and the sophisticated, the luxurious and the intimate, and embodies the very best in LatAm charm.
The BusinessPanama Group provides a convenient One Stop Shop offering you the following services:
- Real estate brokerage to find a home or apartment
- Incorporation of companies, LLCs, trusts and foundations
- Banking & trading accounts
- Multi-family office services
- Wealth management services
- Applying for visas, work and residence permits for expats
- Relocation services
For more information, please contact us.
To view the different Visa & Residency programs available in Panama, just click here.