Visa, Residency, and Citizenship Options for Americans & Canadians Moving to Panama

The Three Best Visa Options for Americans Moving to Panama

Panama is extremely welcoming to American expats, and has some of the best visa options for Americans moving abroad of any country in the world. The three most popular visas are: 1) The Friendly Nations Visa, 2) the Pensionado Program, and 3) the Remote Worker/Freelancer Visa. You can see a high-level overview of what each of the visas has to offer up top, and see if it could be right for you down below.

 

Panama did make several major changes to the Friendly Nations visa in August 2021, but those changes are reflected in this post.

Friendly Nations Visa

A visa for Americans able to invest and/or buy property worth $200,000+

Requirements

3 options: 

  • Work permit and employment by Panamanian company OR 

  • b. Property purchase in Panama w/ registered value of $200,000+. any financing must be with a Panamanian bank. OR

  • $200,000+ deposit into a 3-year fixed deposit account with Panamanian bank

Benefits

  • All income earned outside of Panama is tax-free 

  • One of the easiest and quickest ways to obtain permanent residency in a second country in the world 

  • Live, work, travel freely within the country 

  • No need to live in Panama: residency requirement is only 1 day per every 2 years

  •  If you gain tax residency in Panama, you can avoid U.S. tax on $108,700 of income

Can I Work?

​Yes, ability to do business and work in Panama

Pensionado Program

A visa for those with income for life of $1,000+ per month OR ability to invest $170,000 in Panama for 5 years

Requirements

Proof of financial independence via one of the following:

  • Proof of dependable income (ie. pension or annuity) of $1000+/month OR $750/month if you buy property worth $100,000+ OR

  • Certificate of deposit showing deposit of $170,000 in a Panamanian bank for a 5-year fixed term

Benefits

  • All benefits of the Friendly Nations visa AND

  • Import duties waived on up to $10,000 of personal goods  AND 

  • If 55+ as a woman or 60+ as a man, the following: 

  • 50% off entertainment 

  • 30% off public transport 

  • 50% off hotel accommodation (30% on weekends)

  • 25% off restaurant bills 

  • 25% off utilities 

  • 20% off doctors & specialists 

  • 15% off hospitals & clinics 

  • 10% off prescriptions 

  • No duty on a new car every 2 years 

  • 1% discount on personal mortgage rate 

  • 15% reduction on closing costs for home purchase

Can I Work?

Cannot work on this visa

Remote Worker Visa

A visa for someone who wants to work remotely from Panama for up to 18 months

Requirements

All applicants must show proof of annual income of $36,000+. In addition, 

  • Remote work option: employment contract verification of remote work allowance OR

  • Freelancer/business owner option: proof of company ownership sworn declaration outlining business activities

Benefits

  • All income earned outside of Panama is tax-free 

  • One of the easiest and quickest ways to obtain permanent residency in a second country in the world 

  • Live, work, travel freely within the country

  • If you gain tax residency in Panama, you can avoid U.S. tax on $108,700 of income

Can I Work?

Yes, ability to work remotely or online in Panama

Friendly Nations, Pensionado and Remote Worker Visas in Detail

The Friendly Nations Visa

  • is...

    • a visa available to Americans and citizens of 49 other countries friendly to Panama, which allows holders to own businesses and do work in the country.

    • An earlier version of the Friendly Nations visa, pre-2021, was open to anyone able to invest $5,000 in starting their own company in Panama. Unfortunately changes were made in mid-2021 that made the visa more expensive.

    • The Friendly Nations visa does not require the visa holder to live in Panama. In fact, you only have to spend one day per two years in Panama to hold this visa.

    • If you want a second citizenship, Friendly Nations may be a great option.

  • could be right for you if...

    • you have $200,000 to invest in Panama and you either want to work or start a business in the country

    • you're looking for a second citizenship that is tax-free and doesn't require spending much time in country.

The Pensionado Visa

  • is...

    • likely the best retirement visa available to Americans anywhere in the world.

    • it offers incredible discounts on everyday expenses for those who are retiree-age

    • Even if you are younger, if you have steady non-employment income you can apply to take advantage of importation benefits and low taxes.

  • to qualify...

    • show that you can support yourself, either by demonstrating regular monthly income from a dependable source like a pension or annuity in the amount of at least $1,000/month, or by depositing $170,000 in a Panamanian bank account for a 5-year fixed term and showing a certificate of deposit.

    • If you purchase Panamanian real estate worth $100,000+ you can reduce the monthly income requirement to only $750/month.

  • could be right for you if...

    • you have stable monthly income of $1,000+/month

    • and/or you're a 55+ woman/60+ man with $170,000 to invest in Panama for five years.

The Remote Worker/Freelancer Visa

  • is...

    • a new visa offered by Panama to attract remote workers and freelancers to spend 9 months (renewable for a total of 18 months) working from Panama

    • If you are employed by a company that allows remote work, you can apply with your employment contract and a letter from your company

    • If you are a freelancer, you can apply with proof of company ownership. In either case, you must show evidence of your ability to earn over $36,000 per year.

  • could be right for you if...

    • you want to spend up to 18 months in Panama while working remotely, being a digital nomad, or working for yourself