Mayra Lamboglia Attorney At Law

Always the right counsel

Panama, Republic of Panama

 

 

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FAQ

What is the new type of visa to countries friendly to Panama?
What are the typical documentation requirements when applying for any type of visa?
What is the Pensionado (Pensioners) Visa?
What is the Self-Economic Solvency Visa?
What is the Business Investor Visa?
What is the Agricultural Investor Visa?
What is the Reforestation Investor Visa?
Give me Panama 's visa options, permanent residency and how to obtain a Panamanian passport.
What are requirements to open a Bank account in Panama?
Can Foreigners own property?
Are there any tax incentives?

What is the new visa to countries friendly to Panama?
It's a Permanent Resident visa for foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.

List of countries: United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Germany, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, United States of North America, Slovakia, France, Finland, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Japan, Norway,  Czech Republic, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Singapore, Uruguay, Chile, Kingdom of Sweden, Republic of Poland, Hungary, Hellenic Republic (Greece), Portuguese Republic, Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Estonia, Republic of Lithuania, Latvia, Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Malta, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Montenegro, State of Israel, Kingdom of Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Principality of Monaco, Principality of Andorra, Serene Republic of Marino, Republic of Taiwan.

Requirements:

  1. Power of attorney (it is done here in Panama).

  2. Five passport sized photographs.

  3. Complete passport copy notarized (It is done here in Panama)

  4. Police record or criminal record for each applicant. It must be authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you or you can Apostille it at the Office of Secretary of States of your Hometown

  5. Health certificate (its is done here).

  6. Certified check on the amount of $250.00 in favor of the Treasury Department (it is done here. It has to be from a Panamanian Bank).

  7. Certified check on the amount of $800.00 in favor of the Immigration (it is done here).

  8. Immigration Affidavit (It is done here. I will provide you with the form)

  9. Document that demonstrates the purpose of requiring the permanent residency, according to the professional or economic activity that will be realized; if you plan to work : a promise labor contract or if you want to open a business: documents of the business. The most important is that Immigration doesn't require a minimum amount investment nor to hire employees.

  10. Proof of the economic solvency of the applicant, which will be demonstrated by providing the following.
    A banking certificate or bank account statement from the past month that reflects an account balance of no less than four digits, or that demonstrates your income, that's acceptable to the National Immigration Service.

  11. A copy of the identification card or residency card from your country. If the country doesn't have an Identification card, it can be an authenticated copy of the driver's license or a letter. This has to be done here by the Embassy representing your country in Panama.

  12. A letter of responsibility, if necessary; (in case of dependents).

  13. Documentation to verify kinship, if you have dependents. In case of Married couple you need to bring the marriage certificate. It needs to be authenticated at the Panamanian Consulate nearest your or Apostille at the Office of Secretary of State. In case of children their birth certificate. It also needs to be authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you or Apostille by the Office of Secretary of State.

 

What are the typical documentation requirements when applying for any type of visa?
Valid Passport
Police Report
Medical certificate
Bank reference letter
Passport sized photos
Birth Certificate (for children under 18 if applying as dependents )
Marriage Certificate (for spouse if applying as a dependent)

A Panamanian attorney is required to process the documents, and will require that you sign a power of attorney to represent you in the immigration process. Please note that all documentation originating from outside of Panama must be original documents, dated no more than three months old, and must be authenticated either through the consulate or embassy of Panama, in the country of issue, or by apostil (an internationally recognized form of authentication, normally obtained through the Department of State or Ministry of Foreign Relations).

Once you fully understand the various residency and visa options, and have identified a match for your needs, then begin preparing the required documents, and try to be as organized as possible, otherwise, you may find yourself spending lots of time and money on repeated ( expired) documentation. As always, be sure to research this subject in depth with a qualified and experienced attorney, one who clearly understands your language as well as, your personal situation and goals.
What is the Pensionado (Pensioners) Visa?
 
The most popular, lowest cost and easiest type of resident visa is the Pensionado (Pensioned) visa, which requires that you prove that you have a lifetime pension income of at least US$1000 per month. The pension can be from a governmental source (such as Social Security) or through a private corporation.

The Pension visa also offers good benefits, such as importing a car duty free every two years (saving you about 10% on duties), importing your household goods duty free (up to US$10,000 worth) as well as, a long list of special discounts on travel, dining, doctors, prescription drugs, dentist, entertainment and more.

The Pensionado visa does not allow you to obtain a work permit in Panama, so you cannot be employed under a labor contract (you can, however, own and operate a business of your own).
 
What is the Self-Economic Solvency Visa?
 
The next most popular type of resident visa is the Self-Economic Solvency visa, which requires that you invest a minimum of US $300,000 in any one of the following ways:
1) In real Estate
2) In a three year CD or time deposit at a Panamanian bank, or
3) A combination of both You need to proof that funds come from abroad.

In case of dependents you need an additional $2,000 for each dependent in your proof of income.
The Self-Economic Solvency visa offers permanent residency after two years of being a temporary resident. And once you have been a permanent resident for five years, then you can become "naturalized," which means you become a citizen and are eligible for a Panamanian passport.
You can also apply for a work permit (so you can be employed under a labor contract) under the Self-Economic Solvency visa.

 

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  What is the Business Investor Visa?
 
The Business Investor visa is a slightly more complicated type of visa, which requires that you establish and operate a business here in Panama. To begin a business, you must have a commercial license, a physical office or store front and a minimum of five Panamanian employees on the payroll (under labor contracts registered at the Social Security office in Panama). Your name must also be personally registered on the board of directors as the President of the corporation, failure to do so can be a cause to cancelled your visa.

You need to add and additional $2,000 to your investment for each dependent.

The Business Investor visa requires an investment of US$160,000 and you can obtain the permanent resident visa after just two year of having a temporary resident visa. Your accountant will need to provide a financial statement showing that you made the required investment.

The Business Investor visa offers the option to become naturalized, so you can obtain citizenship and passport after five (5) years of being a permanent resident. You can also apply for a work permit (so you can be employed under a labor contract) under the Business Investor visa. The costs of processing the Business Investor visa can range from US$5,000 to US$10,000 or more depending on the nature of the business.

Before jumping into the business, make sure you clearly understand the labor laws and your obligations as an employer as well. Panama has some very strict labor laws that are highly in favor of the employee.

 

What is the Agricultural Investor Visa?

The requirements are fairly basic in terms of the investment & documentation, however, the disadvantage of this visa is that it is a Temporary Resident visa.

If you have a fancy for farms, animals or the country, you might consider the Agricultural or Aquiculture Investor visa, which requires that you purchase land and invest a minimum of $60,000.00 in an agricultural or aquiculture business, such as a corn, wheat or a coffee plantation, shrimps, trout, etc.

In addition, the farm must be certified by the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA).
The requirements are fairly basic in terms of the investment & documentation, however, the disadvantage of this visa is that you have to renew your temporary visa, every two years for about six years.

 

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What is the Reforestation Investor Visa?
 
Foreigners that purchase title land in their name or through a corporation, for the amount of $60,000.00 in reforestation activities or authorized forest plantation by the National Authority of the Environment will be able to request this permission. The investment should be done in a minimum of 10 hectares. The term of this visa will be for six years, extendable yearly.

Permanent Resident Visa

Foreigners that purchase title land in their name or through a corporation, for the amount of $80,000.00 in reforestation activities or authorized forest plantation by the National Authority of the Environment will be able to request this permission. The investment should be done in a minimum of 20 hectares. The term of this visa will be for 2 years, then you can apply for the permanent visa
 

Give me Panama 's visa options, permanent residency and how to obtain a Panamanian passport.
So, you've finally decided that Panama is the place for you to settle down, and your 90 day tourist visa is about to expire, what now? Well, if you want to reside in Panama on a permanent basis, you need to establish permanent residency. This means, applying for a Panamanian Residency Visa that will allow for permanent residency.

Panama offers a variety of options for those seeking to reside here permanently. Most types of visa are designed to promote investment and/ or stimulate the local economy in one way or another. Regardless of what type of visa you choose, we advise that you clearly understand the documentation requirements, all costs or required investments, the time frame associated with each particular visa and of course, how it will benefit you and your situation.

When you find a visa type that interests you, it's very important that you confirm that this visa indeed offers permanent residency, as not all of them do. Plus, if your goal is to ultimately become a citizen (duel-citizen), and obtain a passport, you need to confirm whether or not the visa you are applying for actually grants a passport option. Just because you obtain permanent residency in Panama, doesn't necessarily mean that you will become a passport- holding citizen.

 
What are requirements to open a Bank account in Panama?
 
Foreigners are subject to "Know-Your-Customer" (KYC) requirements when opening an account with a bank in Panama. Subject to changes according to internal procedures of each bank, applicants must appear in the person at the bank for a personal interview and provide :

1) 2 Letters of Reference from 2 other banking institutions, authenticated with Apostille or by Panama Consul, addressed to the bank in Panama,

2) Copy of the passport and another picture identification (providing the original documents for verification)

3) Tax return or other document which will help the bank identify the income range of the applicant and compare it with the movement of account.

The Panama Superintendent of Banks has a website http://www.superbancos.gob.pa where all institutions licensed to provide banking services are listed. Institutions which do not appear in this listing act in violation of local laws and depositors risk losing their deposits.

In addition, Panama banks owned by investors holding publicly-traded shares, disclose their financial statements and relevant events to the Panama Stock Exchange http://www.panabolsa.com, which helps to gauge their financial solvency.

 
Can Foreigners own property?
 
Panama is one of several Latin American countries that welcome foreign investment into real estate, by allowing full ownership of property by citizens of any country. Added to other advantages such as use of the U.S. dollar as legal tender, a legal system for accurate registration of property titles and a cadre of U.S.-trained engineers and architects, Panama City has become the destination of investments into real estate as seen in its urban skyline. Rural properties are also of interest for foreigners, since the American Association of Retired Persons named Boquete in Western Panama as the 4th best foreign location for living by U.S. retirees.
The Panama Constitution guarantees the right to ownership of property, as well as equality between nationals and foreign residents before the law. However, special restrictions can be enacted for immigration and health purposes. Ownership of property by foreigners is not allowed in the areas up to 10 km away from the borders, which are covered by inaccessible rainforest ĘC thereby leaving the best lands open to foreign investment. The seas, lakes, rivers and the Panama Canal waterway are non-transferable public domain, while owners of beaches and islands must grant a public right-of-way to the sea.
The Constitution forbids confiscation of properties as a penalty, although property acquired under money laundering schemes is subject to forfeiture. Expropriation is allowed for emergency public interest purposes, but only after a hearing with the owner and payment by the Government of fair, adequate and prompt compensation under international standards. Bilateral investment treaties with the U.S., France, United Kingdom and most European countries further ensure protection of investments from citizens of said countries.
Possession rights may be requested from the Government over public lands available for agricultural purposes. However, possession rights are not clearly registered and do not grant as many rights as property rights.
Leases on property are also available. A non-interest bearing, refundable deposit with the Ministry of Housing is required as well as registration of the contract with said Ministry. Lease agreements with terms above 3 years must be registered at the Public Registry.

 

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Are there any tax incentives?
 

Real estate with an appraised value above US$30,000 is subject to yearly property taxes between 1.4% and 2.1%. However, the Panama Government provides incentives to the construction of buildings and ownership of residences, which encourage investments by locals interested in a secure tax shelter. The fact that construction provides needed employment to unskilled labor and addresses a chronic housing shortage, has prompted the Government to provide the following tax incentives:
1) 20-year exemption of property tax on the value of buildings and improvements bellow $350,000.00
2) Banks granting residential mortgages for new residences below US$62,500 receive a negotiable tax credit equivalent to interest reduced in 2 to 4 points below the prevailing rate,
3) Buyers of residences can deduct from their taxable income the amounts paid as interest for mortgages without the tax credits listed in 3),
4) Developers can deduct up to $1,000 on taxable income from the sale of low-income housing with a price of less than US$14,000,
5) Developers can declare as non-taxable income the profits from sale of real estate that are re-invested in the construction of new residences, as long as the value of the new building is below US$62,500 and equivalent to four times the amount of the profits realized.

Foreign investors should seek the advice of competent tax counsel in their country of residence to determine their applicable fiscal compliance requirements and liabilities.

 

     

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