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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