Frequently Asked Questions
I have a police record, can I still apply for residency?
If there are any marks (no matter how minor or how long ago) on the police record you must apply for the Visto Bueno before you submit your permanent resident application. This will take 3-6 weeks where Immigration will determine whether or not you will be eligible for residency in Panama. Unless you were charged with a felony, denials are rare.
Can I include dependents after I have filed my application?
It is possible to include dependents at a later stage, however, this will be a separate process under the regrouping visa. Dependents will obtain temporary residency for 2 years. After the 2 year period, they will qualify for permanent residency. As this is a lengthy and more expensive process, we recommend families apply together at the same time.
Is our physical presence needed to apply for residency?
Yes, everyone who is included in an application is required to apply in person. Every applicant is also required to complete the process in person as well.
How do I maintain my residency?
No matter what residency visa you applied for, residency in Panama must be maintained. You can do so by visiting Panama every 2 years for at least 1 day. If 2 years passes by, the resident card will be suspended. Immigration will then give the applicant an additional 2 years to reinstate their residency status. If residency has not been reinstated after the 4 year period, residency can be revoked.
Can we stay in Panama during the residency process?
You can enter and stay in Panama up to 180 days as a tourist. Once you have filed your application, you will receive your temporary resident card and multi-entry visa which will allow you to stay in Panama or travel abroad as needed.
Do I need any vaccinations to enter Panama?
Panama does not require any vaccinations. If you are connecting through another country, such as Brazil, the yellow fever shot may be required.
Can I purchase a one-way ticket into Panama?
No, border control requires an onward/exit ticket. A return flight is not necessary, a flight to Costa Rica or Columbia is sufficient and may be a more affordable option. Once you have obtained the permanent ID, you can then purchase one-way tickets into Panama.
Do I need to open a bank account?
Opening a bank account is required to fulfill the financial solvency requirement of the Friendly Nations Visa.
Can I open a corporate account?
While opening a corporate account is possible, it is a very complicated and time-consuming process. We recommend applying for a business license (separate to your corporation) and connecting the license to your personal account to conduct business transactions.
Can I open my account from abroad?
Due to increased banking regulations, all banks in Panama require an in-person interview. Accounts can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to open, however, with the right connections at our recommended bank, an account can be opened in 1 day.
Will I need to register a corporation?
Economic solvency is a required for residency through the Friendly Nations Visa and can be fulfilled by receiving a job offer in Panama, purchasing real estate in Panama or opening a corporation. Opening a corporation is one of the most common and easiest options. There is no oligation to conduct any business during your application or after permanent residency has been approved. In fact, you can dissovle the corporation after you have recieved residency.
How can I ensure my privacy in the corporation?
Directors’ names are entered into the Public Registry. Therefore, if you would like to remain anonymous, you can utilize Kraemer & Kraemers’ nominee director services.
Do I need a business license?
If you are using a corporation to apply for residency purposes only, a business license will not be required (if you are applying in David, the license is required). A general business license is required if you are planning on utilizing your corporation to conduct business. Depending on the nature of your business, additional licenses may be required.
Should I open an IBC or LLC?
Are any restrictions as to the type of business I am allowed to own or operate?
Providing services (including restaurants) and wholesale activities are permitted however, retail businesses are prohibited to foreigners. You can get around this by issue, please contact us for more information.
Do I require a work permit once I have Permanent Residency?
To legally work in Panama, a work permit is required (working online is the only exception). Obtaining a work permit is a separate process after permanent residency has been approved. There are various work permits that can be applied for, however, they need to be renewed every couple years. We recommend applying for a work permit through your established corporation, where you will recieve a work permit which can be used at any company and will be valid indefinitely.
I opened a corporation, can I just work for myself?
Under Panamanian Law, you are permitted to supervise your company. However, if you would like to manage and be actively involved with your company’s operations you will have to obtain a work permit. This can easily be done through the assistance of Kraemer & Kraemer. Online businesses do not require work permits.
Are there restrictions as to the type of work I can and cannot do?
Professions that require a license such as Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, Architects, Etc. are prohibited for foreigners. However, you can still work in the field in another capacity such as a consultant.
What if I work without a work permit?
Many expats choose to work without permits. This does carry a level of risk, as fines can be quite pricey for employers and employees if caught.
Can I purchase property under my corporations name?
Property can indeed be purchased using a Panamanian corporation. In fact, IBCs are one of the most popular legal tools for asset protection.