Panama has put together the most appealing program of special benefits for foreign residents and retirees you’ll find anywhere in the world today.  These benefits are available to anyone over the age of 18 who meets the requirements for a Pensionado Visa.   All you need is a guaranteed pension income of only $500 per month ($600 per month for a couple). It must be a pension from a government agency (social security, disability, or armed forces) or from a private company.

As a qualified pensionado/retiree in Panama, you will be entitled to:

  • 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)
  • 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
  • 25% off airline tickets
  • 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
  • 30% off hotels stays from Friday through Sunday
  • 25% off at restaurants
  • 15% off at fast-food restaurants
  • 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
  • 10% off prescription medicines
  • 20% off medical consultations
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 20% off professional and technical services
  • 50% closing costs for home loans and more…

In addition you are entitled to a one-time exemption of duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation or local purchase of a car. All this, and you can “retire” in Panama starting at age 18.

 

Plus Panama’s pensionado law stipulates that anyone entering the country as a qualified pensioner today is guaranteed that status as long as he chooses to stay in the country.

The general rules

  • All visa applications must be made through a Panamanian lawyer.
  • There is no age limit required for applying for any of these visas, save for the minimum legal age of 18 years. Youngsters under 18 will qualify for a visa as dependents of their parents.
  • All overseas documents to be presented to the authorities in Panama must be authenticated by a Notary and by the Panamanian consulate nearest you, or by a notary and the Apostille. The Apostille (The Hague Convention of 1961) is a faster way of authenticating documents and is normally obtained through the Secretary of State in your home state (in the United States) or through the Foreign Office (in Britain). For Canada, please check with the Panamanian Embassy or consulate nearest to your home city.
  • All documents must be fresh (within three months of visa application) and passports must have at least one year to run.
  • Dependents: Bring a marriage certificate. However, original marriage certificates are not acceptable if over three months old, so you’ll need to request fresh ones. If your children under 18 are to be covered by your visa, you’ll need to bring fresh birth certificates (not originals).
  • None of these visas grant work permits.
  • All visa applications require that you obtain a health certificate in Panama.

The Tourist Pensioner Visa (Turista Pensionado)


This visa is designed for persons whose pension from a government entity or private corporation is $500 or more ($600 or more for a couple per month). It is granted indefinitely. The benefits include one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car (sales tax will still apply). However, please note that under this visa you cannot qualify to acquire Panamanian nationality.

 

 

Private Income Retiree Visa (Rentista Retirado)


This visa is for persons who don’t have a monthly pension, are no longer working, and have received a retirement lump sum. As a visa requirement, that money is to be deposited on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, to yield at least $750 a month (at current rates the face value of the CD would need to be approximately $220,000). The visa is renewable every five years, as long as the CD is renewed. The Private Income Retiree Visa includes such benefits as a travelling Panamanian passport (that however does NOT grant nationality), a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000), and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car.  Currently, the Private Income Retiree Visa is considered the quickest means available by which to obtain a Panamaniam passport.



Person of Means Visa (Solvencia Económica Propia)


Designed for those who wish to live in Panama off their own means, without the need to work or start a business. The person must have a two-year certificate of deposit in any local bank of at least $200,000. The visa is granted in two steps: first a one year provisional visa is granted, and then the process is repeated and the visa is approved permanently, with the right to a cedula (local identity card). Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.

Investor Visa (Inversionista) Designed for those who wish to establish a business in Panama (note, though, that some retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $150,000 and minimum of three, permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.

 

 

Forestry Investor Visa (Inversionista Forestal)


Note: Although currently suspended, this visa is being revised to be brought back.
Designed for those who wish to make long-term investments in reforestation and take advantage of tax breaks. There must be a minimum investment of $40,000 into a duly accredited reforestation company. This investment must be kept until final harvest (approximately 20 years). This visa is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal it is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.

 

 

Small Business Investor Visa (Inversionista de Pequeña Empresa)

 

Designed for those who wish to establish a small business in Panama (note that retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $40,000 and minimum of three permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year, and needs to be renewed three more times before it is granted permanently with the right to a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to obtain Panamanian nationality.

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Frequent visitors to Panama have no doubt gotten used to being handed the flyer at the airport announding 30 days of free health insurance in Panama.  As of June 30, 2014, this is no longer the case.  This program has been cancelled by the new "Minister of Tourism".

 

Visitors to Panama will now be wise to invest in health insurance before entering the country.  Even though the cost of a visit to the doctor in Panama is very cheap, anything major could become rather costly.

 

Safe travels!!

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So everyone is telling you not to list exclusively in Panama!!  Why?  They probably don't even know, but I am going to attempt to explain it here, and sell you on the fact that with the right agent it is far more beneficial to list exclusively in Panama in 2014!

 

Yes folks, it's 2014!  Not 1985.  There's a little thing here in Panama called the internet.  Statistically, almost 100% of real estate buyers use it.  It allows almost any agent you choose, to list your property in almost every place every other agent is going to list your property.  It's a great tool, that may not have been available to near as many Panamanians even 5 years ago.  Now, almost every agent you list with is going to go ahead and list in 3 places for sure.  Those places are encuentra24.com, compreoalquile.com, and quite often, their own site, if they have one.

 

That's great right?  But why advertise your property 7 times with 7 different agents on the same websites?  It definitley confuses the heck out of the buyer.  You may remember when you bought your property.  Just how confusing and difficult is was, with listings duplicated all over the place, old listings and sold listings never taken down, and agents not even returning emails and phone calls.  

 

Now, the reason the property is only going to be advertised on these two sites, and a homepage, is that you have listed the property with 2, 3, 7 or whatever number of agents.  Whether the consumer in general wants to admit it or not, a real estate marketing professional provides a very valuable service.  In order to provide this service, an agent has to accumulate many listings, so that he can afford to buy clothes, gasoline, food, pay for advertising your listings, carting around clients etc.  Yes!  It's a business, and for any business to remain in business, it must be smart business.  And you want a smart agent to sell your property fast and effectively.

 

It is BAD business for any company to take a listing and invest any significant time or energy marketing that property when it has no guarantee of being paid on that investment.  As a consumer, and a person that one day will have to retire on what you have spent a lifetime saving, you would never invest your hard earned dollars, or valuable time on an investment that only has a one in 7, or even a 50% chance of paying off.  Come on!  Anyone can see that these 7 agents just cannot take the risk.  All they can afford to do is throw the property on a couple of free, or almost free classifieds sites, and wait for the phone to ring.

 

Now that they have your listing up on their home page for content, they are going to go ahead and concetrate on selling their exclusive listings.  Every client that they get, is going to be shown those exclusives first, and the non-exclusives quickly become an after thought, and only get shown when a client specifically requests a viewing.   I think we can all agree, that a lot of people don't know what they want until they see it, and that with no viewings, you probably won't sell. 

 

List with one competent agent who will spend time and resourses working to sell your property because he knows for certain it is a good business investment to sell that property as quickly as possible.  That agent becomes accountable to you, and knows that as soon as he sells that property, he can pay the month's bills.

 

A competent agent will have a long list of email addresses for agents that he works with for marketing purposes, will utilize all of the social networking tools made available, will maximize SEO to make it easier for potential clients to find him, and will be operating legally within the system.  You see, there really is no need to cause yourself a bunch of headache by listing with more than one company.  Your agent is easy to find, and is spending time and money to sell.  If not, you found the wrong agent, and you can fire him.

 

Another issue in Panama is that everyone is telling you that there is no MLS system like there was back home.  Wrong!  www.mlsacobir.com is a selling tool available only to those of you who choose to list exclusively with an ACOBIR licensed real estate company in Panama.  All buyers can use this tool of course.  This not only allows us as real estate professionals to network with trusted professionals, but gives the seller and buyer a certainty that the transaction will be conducted by professionals, and will limit the number of "Panama-isms" that may occur to hinder the deal from moving smoothly.

 

The bottom line is that if your property has been sitting on the market for too long, you have either overpriced, or have it listed non-exclusively, and no one is accountable.  Who can you blame if you've got 5 agents that cannot sell your property?  How do you know whether it is overpriced, or if all 5 agents are just concentrating on their exclusives and leaving your property to flail in the breeze?

 

The Remax advantage.  A franchised company will usually give the seller an edge as well.  Remax.com gets something like 20,000 hits a day from all over the world.  That's serious!

 

If you're serious about selling, list for the right price, and the best agent, and you WILL sell.

 

Cheers!!

 

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