Wealth Management

The best ways to work and live in Panama

Panama is blessed with warm weather all year round, fantastic beaches, flavorsome food, lofty mountains, and excellent internet connectivity. It is economically and politically stable and is one of the select Latin American countries with an Investment Grade.

To top all of this, Panama is quite close to the US and has modern infrastructure. All in all, Panama has everything you need in a country you’d want to live and work in. These are the different ways in which you can live and work in Panama:

Permit/Visa options

Panama has a legal immigration pathway for everyone ranging from students to retirees. Your visa options can be broken down into two categories:

Short-term Panama Immigration: These visas let you legally stay in Panama for up to 180 days. For some nationalities, this may be limited to 90 days.

Long-term Panama Immigration: You need to obtain these visas if you wish to stay in Panama for more than 180 days. People of select nationalities may have to get one of these visas if they plan to stay in Panama for more than 90 days.

Documents required

Short-term visas and Residence Permits:

Irrespective of your nationality, you need to produce the following documents to apply for a short-term visa or residence permit:

  • A valid passport
  • At least $500 is available. It’s alright if you have it in a credit card, bank statement, or traveler’s check.
  • A ticket out of Panama at the end of your stay
  • If you are arriving from an at-risk country, you may have to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate upon arriving in Panama.

You may also have to pay $5 for a Tourist card if it isn’t covered in the cost of your flight. If you are getting a private boat to Panama, you may be charged $110 or more on arrival.

Some of the documents required to apply for a tourist visa are:

  • A filled-up application form
  • A valid passport
  • Two passport-size photographs
  • Proof that you were invited by a host in Panama. The host could be a tour guide or tour operator.
  • Any other documents that may be related to your application form.

You will also have to pay a Tourist Fee of $60.

Long-term visas:

Friendly Nations Visa. The 50 countries that qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa are:

  1. Andorra
  2. Argentina
  3. Australia
  4. Austria
  5. Belgium
  6. Brazil
  7. Canada
  8. Chile
  9. Costa Rica
  10. Croatia
  11. Cyprus
  12. Czech Republic
  13. Denmark
  14. Estonia
  15. Finland
  16. France
  17. Germany
  18. Great Britain
  19. Greece
  20. Hong Kong
  21. Hungary
  22. Ireland
  23. Israel
  24. Japan
  25. Latvia
  26. Lichtenstein
  27. Lithuania
  28. Luxembourg
  29. Malta
  30. Mexico
  31. Monaco
  32. Montenegro
  33. Netherlands
  34. New Zealand
  35. Norway
  36. Paraguay
  37. Peru
  38. Poland
  39. Portugal
  40. Republic of Korea
  41. San Marino
  42. Serbia
  43. Singapore
  44. Slovakia
  45. South Africa
  46. Spain
  47. Sweden
  48. Switzerland
  49. Uruguay
  50. USA

If you hold a passport from the above list of Panama’s 50 friendly countries, your pathway to a permanent residency gets significantly simpler, thanks to the Friendly Nations Visa. Apart from that, the other requirements you must be professional or economically tied to the country. The three ways in which you can fulfill this requirement are by:

  • Being hired as a professional by a Panamanian company
  • Purchasing real estate in Panama worth at least $200,000
  • Depositing $300,000 into a fixed deposit account for at least three years.

You can apply for a Panamanian Residency after two years. And five years later, you can apply for Panamanian citizenship.

The other long-term working visas include:

  • Freelancer/Remote Worker Visa
  • Professional Visa
  • Investor or Residency by Investment Visa
    • Person of Independent Means/ Self-Economic Solvency Visa
    • Business Investor Visa
      • Macro business investor visa
      • Small Business Investment or Microbusiness investor visa
    • Reforestation Investor Visa
      • Agricultural Investor program
    • Qualified Investor Program
    • Work Permit
      • 10% Rule Work Permit
      • Marrakesh Agreement Work Permit

Some professions like Doctors and Lawyers are reserved for local Panamanians. So you must consult with a qualified Panama Immigration Lawyer to check if your profession is restricted to locals.


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Anna Papadopoulos
Anna Papadopoulos is a senior money, wealth, and asset management reporter at CEOWORLD magazine, covering consumer issues, investing and financial communities + author of the CEOWORLD magazine newsletter, writing about money with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. You can follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn for musings on money, wealth, asset management, millionaires, and billionaires. Email her at info@ceoworld.biz.