Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroad

Questions & Answers

Q & A Menu Q & A BY TOPIC
To navigate, use menu bar to the left
Rainelda Mata-Kelly of Law Offices Rainelda Mata-Kelly – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
If your aim is to retire in Panama, there is no need for you to obtain citizenship or a Panamanian passport.   However, you do need to apply for a residency visa.   The best option around is the Permanent Residency for Pensioners or Retirees.   
 
The one important requirement is that you are already receiving a formal pension either from a government agency (such as Social Security) or from a private entity, of at least US$1,000 (or its equivalent in a different currency) net per month. Just showing your income stream such as rental income or that you obtain regular funds from your wholly owned company is not enough.   The paperwork you need to obtain to qualify in Panama for the residency visa is straight forward if you have a government pension.  Private pensions need much more and it is really important that you get good advice prior to arriving in Panama so you have everything needed. 
 
If you wish to work in Panama, then you must obtain a residency visa which offers you the possibility of obtaining a work permit.  Only a handful of residency visa options allow you to apply for a work permit  In Panama the work permit is never automatic, as in the U.S. when someone gets their green card, they are authorized to live in the U.S. and work.   Here you must have chosen a residency option that allows for a work permit and then apply separately before the Ministry of Labor. 
 
The easiest residency option that allows for the possibility of a work permit, is the Permanent Residency for Nationals of Specific Countries (aka Friendly Nations), but this is only available to citizens of 50 countries (including the U.S., Canada, and most European nations).  
 
You may contact me for a full list of countries and also for the full list of requirements for the above mentioned residency visas. 
 
The main reason why one would need to pursue citizenship and a Panamanian passport, would be if the profession you wish to practice in Panama is reserved to Panamanians. 
 
Residency visas are relatively easy and fast to obtain, however, the citizenship process is lengthy and requires that you renounce your existing citizenship. 
 
Before you start gathering documents, make sure you have been advised on the best options and requirements for your particular situation. 
Daryl Ries of Keller Williams Panama, associate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panamanian passport – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you reside or retire full-time or part-time in Panama, whether you work or not, it is recommended that you get a Permanent Residency, a type of which is known as Pensionado. To do so is a process that requires simple paperwork including a passport, IRS (if American or equivalent), birth certificate and marriage license if married and if your spouse is applying as well, to be processed through the Immigration Office in Panama City, by yourself or a local lawyer. The process is not expensive; US $1,000 to $2,000 per single or couple. After a three-month wait, you collect your residency card at that time or when you return to Panama.
 
This is a Permanent Residency, not a citizenship.  It has many advantages, such as no more visas required ever, and many discounts, including: 25% off all travel domestic and international from Panama, 50% off hotels and 25% off restaurant dining, plus discounts on all pharmaceutical drugs / prescriptions and non-prescription medications, entertainment / movies, public transportation, etc.
 
There is no better way than to get your permanent residency when you reside as an owner or renter, full or part time. 
 
You can open a bank account, start your own business and / or get a work permit with this residency.
 
If you prefer to become a citizen then this is more complicated and first requires the residency and then you can proceed after the allotted time to apply for citizenship. Panamanian citizenship requires study and fluency in Spanish to pass the required test.
 
(Panamanian passport, pictured.)
David Bayliss of KW PACIFICA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 candle tree, native to Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMany people get confused on account of blending the pensionado discounts and the Pensionado visa (or “Pensionado Program”).  In the Pensionado program, you qualify for the Pensionado visa based on having a recurring pension, such from Social Security or retirement from a company. You can retire at the age of 50 and qualify for the Pensionado program because there is no age requirement for the Pensionado visa.  Whether you can qualify or not is based on whenever you have that recurring income stream to qualify for the Pensionado Visa.  Once you have that Pensionado Visa, you get, for example, a 20% discount on your airline ticket as long as the plane takes off from Panama and ultimately you come back to Panama on the same ticket purchase.
 
However, there’s another visa that most people are getting right now called the Friendly Nation Visa. It’s also a permanent visa and under this visa, you get the discounts just because you’re 55. So in any event of any visa of any kind that you get in Panama, if you’re 55, you get all those discounts that are listed on the Pensionado Program. So you get a discount at a restaurant, your airline ticket, and you don’t have to have the Pensionado visa to get it.
 
The reason I bring up this distinction is that, typically, you’re not supposed to be working with a Pensionado visa. Technically, you can own a company while on a Pensionado visa but, generally speaking, because it’s so easy to get right now, the Friendly Nation visa is a great choice for people because if you’re 55, you’re going to get the discounts and then the Friendly Nation visa, you also have the ability to have a work permit.  This is an important difference because a lot of people get to Panama and find out they have skill and they also have the desire to do something once they’re here besides sit around and play golf. If they would like to work, the Friendly Nation visa allows that person to make a choice later to become a working person in the country of Panama
 
There are many other visas that you’ll see that were important but years gone by are not important now. You’ll see one if you buy land and plant fruit trees on it. You’ll see one if you spend $300,000 on real estate. But all of those have been trumped by the Friendly Nation visa. So my advice to someone is to make a phone call and talk about your personal situation. In some cases, we have given advice for one spouse to get the Pensionado visa and the other spouse to get the Friendly Nation based on their goals in Panama.
 
(The candle tree [parmentiera cereifera] is native to Panama and produces edible fruit, pictured.)
Rafael Alvarado of Rafael Alvarado / Attorney / Real Estate Broker – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
You can get into the Republic of Panama without any special visa or working permit. You can get in with just your passport for a maximum of six months as a tourist. If you want to retire, there is a special immigration status for that. If you want to work in Panama, what you need in order to be here legally depends if you want to be independent or not. There are also many immigration options if you want to work here. If you came to Panama through a company, the company will take care of fixing your immigration status and there are more than fifty options.
 
Getting your final status is not a difficult process but it usually takes four to six months. You will be asked to present a lot of documents and you have to meet several requirements. In the meantime, while you have a pending status, you can do whatever you want. If you came to Panama to retire, you can start establishing yourself. If you are planning to work, you can start working almost immediately.
 
You will get a carnet (an identification card) that says “pending status” for up to one year because they will not know for sure how long it will take to complete your request. The pending status means you are waiting for the institution to give you a resolution that will confirm the status that you have requested. 
Jade Wills of Maya Moon Marketing – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The passport *requirements for moving to Panama or Visiting Panama
It has to be valid and up to date: As long as your passport is valid and you are a US, Canadian or UK citizen, it entitles you  to visit for up to 180 days without a visa. 
 
*Other countries may have other requirements 
 
Complete information on how to obtain a U.S. passport is available on the Passport Information Page at travel dot state dot gov site.
 
 
Roy Cannon of Gestoria Cocle - main office in Penoneme – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
To retire in Panama you will want a Pensionado Visa, which is relatively easy to obtain if you have a "suitable" pension.

To work in Panama you will need a work permit, not easy to obtain.

If you want to "hang out" in Panama, you can stay for up to 180 days (depends upon your nationality), and then get another 180 days by crossing into Costa Rica for a few minutes, with no limit on repeated trips "abroad to Costa Rica".  

Be aware of the driver's license restriction of 90 days, if you want to be able to drive.

Go Here Next

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-940-0481