Friendly Nations Visa

Citizens of 50 countries are eligible to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa. This visa is one of the more popular options of obtaining residency in Panama. Not only is this a great opportunity to gain permanent residency abroad, but the Friendly Nations is an affordable and easy process

Requirements:

  • Passport
  • 2nd ID (such as Drivers License)
  • 5 photos (1.5 by 2 inches)
  • Apostilled National Police Background Report (valid for 6 months)
  • Proof of financial solvency 
  • Proof of economic solvency
  • Health Certificate (obtained in Panama)
  • Additional paperwork for dependents

 

Eligible Countries
  • Andorra                   
  • Argentina                   
  • Australia                   
  • Austria                   
  • Belgium                   
  • Brazil                   
  • Canada         
  • Chile                       
  • Costa Rica                 
  • Croatia                       
  • Cyprus                   
  • Czech Republic       
  • Denmark             
  • Estonia Finland France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Singapur
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea Spain Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Mexico
  • Paraguay
Paperwork Required For Dependents

For Spouses:

  • Apostilled marriage certificate (must be recently issued as under Panamanian Law, marriage certificates are only valid for 1 year)
  • Apostilled national police background certificate

For children:

  • Child’s apostilled unabridged birth certificate (must be recently issued as under Panamanian Law, birth certificates are only valid for 1 year)

For main applicant’s parents:

  • Main applicant’s apostilled unabridged birth certificate (must be recently issued as under Panamanian Law, birth certificates are only valid for 1 year)
  • Apostilled national police background certificate for each parent applying
Apostille Service

An apostille is simply legalizing a document for international use. For example, South Africans can apostille their documents at DIRCO (located in Pretoria) and United States citizens can apostille their documents at the Secretary of State. 

In some countries, such as Canada, apostille services are unavailable. Documents must then be authenticated at the nearest Panamanian Consulate in said country. In some cases, the documents must be notarized first. It would be best to contact the Panamanian Consulate in said country directly for further instruction. Authenticated documents require an additional step at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Panama City (Kraemer & Kraemer will take care of this additional step). 

Financial Solvency

Banking in Panama can be a straight up nightmare. With new KYC (know your client) regulations, banks are honing down on opening accounts to foreigners. Proving financial solvency is a requirement for obtaining permanent residency via the Friendly Nations Visa and opening a Panamanian bank account with sufficient funds is a must.

But rest assured, with the right connection a bank account can be opened in just 1 business day. That’s right, 1 business day- it’s not what you know it’s who you know and that it certainly how things are run in Panama.

Once the account has been successfully opened and online banking has been set up, the account must be funded with the minimum amount needed to fulfill the financial solvency requirement for the Friendly Nations Visa. Once the the account is funded, a letter with proof of deposit along with certified checks must be requested.

The minimum deposit is not an expense and the funds can be used almost immediately after being deposited.

Documents Required To Open A Bank Account
  • Passport
  • Second ID
  • 3 Latest bank statement from a personal account
  • Bank reference letter
  • Proof of income (employment letter or latest tax returns)
Minimum Deposit Needed

There is a lot of misleading information floating around on how much is needed to prove financial solvency. The minimum account for an application with 1 main applicant is USD 5000. Additional funds are not needed for dependents. An application where there are 2 main applicants (find out here if you will need to apply as a main applicant or a dependent) must fund their account with a minimum of USD 8000.

Proof of Deposit And Certified Checks

The Panamanian bank account will issue a letter with proof of deposited funds. Certified checks to cover government fees must also be requested:

  • USD 250 for the application fee, per applicant
  • USD 800 for the repatriation fee, per applicant over the age of 12

These fees are included in the total quote provided by Kraemer & Kraemer as to provide you with an overview of all associated costs. However, this payment will not be made to Kraemer & Kraemer and the certified checks must be obtained by the applicants themselves.

Escrow Services

Wire transfers can take a couple of days to clear and many clients are nervous about carrying all that cash around. Well fear not, Kraemer & Kraemer has the solution for you! Kraemer & Kraemer offers escrow services for an additional fee. Transfer the funds to one of their accounts around the world, including Panama, USA, China, Russia and South Africa, prior to your travel dates and Kraemer & Kraemer will then transfer your funds into your newly opened Panamanian bank account- funds will clear the next business day.

Economic Solvency

One of the main requirements for the Friendly Nations Visa is proving economic ties to Panama. You can fulfill the economic solvency requirements by one of the following:

  • Open a corporation
  • Find employment sponsorship
  • Purchase real estate with a minimum value of USD 10 000

Out of these options, opening a corporation is the easiest and more cost-effective approach, and not to mention highly recommended by Panama Residency Visa as well as Kraemer & Kraemer.

A corporation can be opened within 2 weeks (from abroad) and can be operational in Panama or offshore or for residency purposes only if needed.

Open An IBC

An International Business Corporation is one of the more popular corporation formations. The IBC offers complete anonymity thereby acting as a useful legal tool for asset protection in real estate and banking worldwide. IBC also offers limited liability to its directors, officers and shareholders.

3 directors are required as well as 3 officers- the president, secretary and treasurer. Shareholders are not disclosed in the public registry, however, directors and officers are. If you would like to remain anonymous, Kraemer & Kraemer offers nominee director services for an additional fee.

Open An LLC

A Limited Liability Company offers limited liability as well as complete transparency. To open an LLC, a minimum of 2 owners is required and their personal information will be entered into the public registry.

Open An LP

More information to come!

Process And Timeline

Requesting Documentation:

Depending on how long your country takes to process the required recommendations, we suggest requesting required paperwork 3 months prior to intended travel dates to Panama.

Documents needed to open the bank account are more time sensitive and should be requested closer to your travel date. 

Initiating Kraemer & Kraemer’s Services:

A minimum of 4 weeks before your first trip, a retainer of legal fees must be paid to Kraemer & Kraemer to intiate their services. Once payment has been recieved, their legal team will open the corporation, submit your documentation for translation (copies sent via email will be sufficient, however, please bring originals to Panama) and get your file ready for the immigration offices. Once you arrive in Panama, you will hit the ground running and will submit your application within 6-8 business days. Your application will then be approved within the 6 month period and all applicants must return to Panama to complete the process and obtain permanent residency cards (or stay and explore Panama while you wait!)

 

 

1st Trip To Panama: Submitting The Residency Application

1st Business Day:

  • Meet Marcos or one of the attorneys at Kraemer & Kraemer and sign necessary paperwork
  • Kraemer & Kraemer will obtain the health certificate on your behalf
  • Open bank account, fund the account and request letter and checks

2nd Business Day:

  • Register passports at Immgration with one of Kraemer & Kraemer’s paralegals 

3rd Business Day:

  • Present application at Immgration with one of Kraemer & Kraemer’s paralegals 
  • Receive temporary ID cards (can travel domestically with the temporary ID cards)

4th Business Day:

  • Kraemer & Kraemer will apply for the multi-entry visa on applicant’s behalf

6th Business Day:

  • Passport will be ready for pick-up at the Kraemer & Kraemer offices
2nd Trip To Panama: Completing The Residency Application

Your application will be approved within 6 months, typically between 2-4 months. Once your return to Panama, completing the residency will only take 1 business day. Though, 2-3 days is always recommended in case there are unexpected delays such as the government offices closing without notice (happens more often than you think). Please note: if you return to Panama to complete the residency after the temporary ID has expired, you will receive a penalty of USD 50 per month, per applicant. 

Maintaining Residency

In order to maintain residency, one must visit Panama every 2 years for a couple of days. If you do not visit Panama in the 2 year period, your residency will be suspended. You will then have an additional 2 years to reinstate your residency or risk your residency status being revoked. 

Work Permit

Typically, families will apply for the Friendly Nations Visa with one main applicant along with their dependents. If gaining residency in Panama is your goal, then this option is recommended. However, residency does not give you the right to work in Panama. To legally work in Panama, even if you own and work for your own business, a work permit is required (working online is the only exception). Once permanent residency has been approved, applicants are then eligible to apply for the work permit. This is a separate process and incurs additional fees.

 An applicant who applied for the Friendly Nations Visa as a main applicant will be eligible to apply for a work permit through their previously set up corporation. Kraemer & Kraemer can help with this process and the work permit will be valid indefinitely. 

An applicant who applied for the Friendly Nations Visa as a dependent can only obtain a work permit through company sponsorship and would have to renew the permit annually.

If working in Panama is your goal, Panama Residency Visa and Kraemer & Kraemer both recommend applying as a main applicant for the Friendly Nations Visa. This will save you time, frustration and money in the long run.

Online Business

A work permit is not required if you work online or run an online business.

Work Permit Requirements For Main Applicants
Work Permit Requirments For Dependents
Work Permit Process

Costs And Fees

Optional Services

USD 200: includes revision of paperwork, referral letter from Kraemer & Kraemer and referral to a recommended banker

USD 200: escrow services for minimum funds needed to fund bank account

USD 150: general business license

USD 300: includes up to 3 nominee directors

This information is based off of recommendations of Marcos Kraemer, managing partner of Kraemer & Kraemer, a law firm based in Panama City, Panama.