So here is what you need:

 

1)  Criminal report from all the applicants (from FBI for Americans, and RCMP for Canadians),

2)  Marriage Certificate if you are married,

3)  Eight passport sized photos,

4)  A complete copy of your passport, from cover to cover.  Every page,

5)  A copy of another photo ID, for example, driver's license,

6)  A utility bill for your property here in Panama.  Not important if you are renting, or if you own.  A rental agreement or Hotel reservation will even work for this.

 

Now, the first two documents need to be legalized in your home country.  A public notary can do this for you.  In Canada, an attorney can do it as well, but I'm unsure about the USA.   Once notarized, they need to go to the Panamanian Embassy, or Consulate for their OK.  In Canada, you may need to send these documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs before the consulate as well.  It would be wise to confirm that with the Panamanian Embassy.  Don't do all of this too early, because many of these documents expire after 3 or 6 months.

 

In order to qualify for this visa, you will also have to have a Panamanian bank account.  Normally, your immigration lawyer can assist you with this.  I have attempted to assist a few clients but it can be time consuming, and the lawyers are better suited to it.  This account will have to have a minimum of $5000 USD plus $2000 for every dependant that will be applying.

 

You must prove employment, or the promise of employment.  In order to do this, you will have to set up your own corporation, and hire yourself to run it.  There, you have a job.  (If you really do have a job, then no company required).  The lawyer will take care of this step for you as well.  The cost is normally in the $1000 dollar range.  You will have a further expense of $300 dollars per year to renew your Tasa Unica (keeps your company on the books) and $250 per year for your resident agent, which is usually your lawyer as well.  This is the government's contact if they need to speak to the confidential owner of a corporation.  That $250 dollar fee may vary with what attorney you choose, but I'm not 100% on that.

 

The fees involved with the visa itself look like this.  There is an $800 dollar "repatriation fee" for each applicant, and $250 for the National Treasurer (just a fee I guess) for each applicant.  Legal fees will be additional and could run around from $1200 to $2500 per person.

 

That leaves you at about $3500 for the lawyer, and another $1000 or so in fees.  Probably a pretty average figure of $5000 dollars if you get shopping from firm to firm, but I would definitely advise doing your own price shopping.  You need to be sure to get an all in price, because charges and fees, translations of documents, stamps, temporal cards, permanent cards, and multiple entry visas will just keep coming, it is a long process, and there are many steps involved.

 

Here's a little bit about the process.  To start, once you have all your documents, bank accounts, corporation etc., you will have to physically visit the immigration office here in Panama to register.  Quite the experience, with hundreds, maybe even thousands of people there at every moment of the business day.  You will bring with you, your passport, and 2 passport sized photos.  The lawyers will accompany you normally.  They translate for you, and assist you to find the right windows etc.  An English speaker would be 150% lost in there without a lawyer I think.  In fact, when you think about their fee, and the time they spend in that immigration office, at $450 dollars an hour in Canada, the same process would probably cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it does in many countries.  Another fact is that the lawyer or an assistant is usually there 3 or 4 hours early just to wait in line to get a low number.  Quite the process!

 

Once you are there and registered, and the Immigration Department has all of your documentation, you will receive a temporary residence card.  This will allow you to stay in the country until your permanent residence application is prosessed.  You must not leave once this visa is granted until you have asked your attorney for a multiple entry visa, or you will be fined $2000 dollars upon your return.  A multiple entry visa can be applied for and granted within 3 days.

 

The entire process, depending on many factors, can take from 6 months, up to a year.  And what a bargain!!

 

I hope that helps, if anyone has anything to add, feel free in the comments section below.  Panama has many laws, but quite often they are more suggestions or guidelines, so some people may have slightly varying experiences.

 

Cheers!!!  See you in Panama!

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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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