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Found 12 results

  1. Starting October 1st tourists in Panama will only be allowed to legally stay 90 days in the country. Nevertheless the National Immigration Service issued another resultion (decree 22706) declaring the US Americans and Canadians will be exempted from this rule. Which means that citizens of the USA and Canada will be allowed to remain 180 days in Panama as a tourist. Whereas citizens from other countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain etc) will only be able to stay 90 days as a tourist in Panama.
  2. How to Keep Your Panama Visa as a Part-Time Resident With the current restrictions implemented on international air traffic, border closures, and controls due to COVID-19 it is difficult for many temporary, part-time or permanent residents in Panama to travel to Panama and thus maintain their current permanent residency status. Most foreign residents in Panama know the golden rule of "having to travel to Panama every two years to maintain your resident status". But are there any exceptions to that rule? Can I lose my residency in Panama? The answer is, "Yes." In fact, the law establishes a list of reasons that may cause the loss or denial of residency in Panama. Some of the most important are the following: Have been convicted of committing a fraudulent crime or tax fraud. Have a criminal or police record in your country of origin or perform criminal acts within Panama. Having been absent for more than two (2) years from the national territory, unless such absence is justified and authorized by the Director of the National Immigration Service. What are the consequences if, due to the current circumstances, I cannot travel to Panama in order to maintain my status as a resident? The Law stipulates that there must be a reason for the absence. It is presumed that a global pandemic is a sufficient reason to justify the absence since the National Immigration Service of Panama has suspended all terms for the time being. Are there any legal procedures to recover my residency if it is canceled? If the National Immigration Service decides to cancel your residency in Panama (remembering that in our country nothing happens automatically), there are legal procedures to request the reactivation of your status as a resident, in case you have been out of Panama for a period of more than two (2) years and up to a maximum of six (6) years. To get your permanent residency back, you must meet the following requirements: Copy of the resolution that granted the permanent residency or in its defect a copy of the migration ID card issued by the National Immigration Service of Panama. Copy of your passport and of the registration stamp. Copy of your Cedula (E-card), duly authenticated by the Tribunal Electoral. Sworn Affidavit before a Notary Public in Panama, stating the reasons for your absence. You will have a term of 30 working days to present the petition for recovery of your residency, starting on the day you re-enter Panama. The request must be filed by a licensed immigration lawyer in Panama. What happens if I can not travel to Panama for more than six years? Foreigners who have remained more than six (6) years outside of Panama and whose residency has been canceled by the National Immigration Service will lose their status permanently and must start a completely new immigration procedure in accordance with current regulations at that time. There is one exception to the golden rule... If you are an Italian citizen and obtained your residency in Panama under the "Panama - Italy Treaty" Visa, you will not lose your status. This is a special cause protected by the Law. Bella Italia!
  3. Today Panama’s National Immigration Service has published in detail the requirements for the NEW Friendly Nations Visa and additionally August 6th has been set as the new deadline to submit visa applications under the "old" Law. As of August 7, the new Friendly Nations Law will be in effect. What are the requirements for a residency application under the new Friendly Nations Visa? There were several pending issues that were not detailed in the executive decree published months ago. In practice we knew that they had to be modified and so it happened. Finally, the National Immigration Service of Panama made its pronouncement. Below, we have made a summary of what the new Law says. In order to apply for the new Friendly Nations Visa, an investment must be made by purchasing one (1) real estate property whose cadastral value is at least two hundred thousand US dollars (US$ 200,000). This was already known but it was not clear if the investment should be in the personal name of the main applicant or if it could also be made in the name of a corporation or private interest foundation. Now the National Immigration Service has established that the investment can be made either as natural person or in the name of a corporate body (corporation or foundation) as long as the main applicant is the final beneficiary of said corporation or foundation. This means, by presenting a true copy of the corporate documents of the corporation or the foundation's by-laws. There is a NEW option beside real estate investment Beside investing in real estate in Panama, the National Immigration Service now offers a second investment option which is the following: Investing in a fixed-term deposit (certificate of deposit – CD) with a bank in Panama. The CD must be a minimum of two hundred thousand U.S. dollars (US$ 200,000) and with a minimum term of three (3) years. It is possible to obtain the CD in one’s personal name or by a Panamanian legal entity (corporation or foundation), as long as it is demonstrated that the main applicant is the final beneficiary of the corporation/foundation that holds the CD. Remember, that in Panama any interests generated by a savings account or a fixed term deposit in a bank according to the current fiscal code of Panama do not pay any taxes in Panama. The third option to obtain residency under the new Friendly Nations Visa remains the same: for labor reasons. This means, it is necessary to file for a work permit granted by the Ministry of Labor of Panama. The requirements according to the new Law include submitting a letter of employment on letterhead and signed by the employer stating the position, salary and commitment to assume the repatriation expenses, certificate of public registry proving the existence of the company (if applicable) commercial license (if applicable). But there are not any further details given (yet) on how to obtain the work permit and other documents needed. The new law will have modifications as it is usual in the legal practice, but we can foresee positive changes. In addition, there is now the possibility of obtaining residency in Panama not only by investing in real estate but also in a CD, which might be a more practical option for many clients.
  4. For over 15 years I have been advising and assisting expats in their first steps in their new home country, and I have also lived and worked in many countries myself. I know from personal experience how it feels to start from scratch, to live as a newcomer in a foreign country, and to know neither the culture nor the language of the new host country. It is perhaps an unpleasant truth, but unfortunately a fact: not everyone finds in Panama what they might have hoped to find. If you are looking for a country to move, then in my opinion it is not about finding the "perfect" paradise, but to choose a country that meets your personal wishes and needs. How these are shaped and what is important to you (or not) is a very individual decision, which, in addition to facts, is always a certain decision of the heart. Therefore, I have summarized five points for you that you absolutely must know about Panama. If you find it difficult to accept these cultural differences and adapt in certain ways, Panama may not be the right place for you. Patience, patience, patience: The clocks tick differently in Panama. Time is a relative concept: "mañana" does not always mean "tomorrow" but maybe "two weeks", "ahorita" is anything but "right now", and it is quite common to arrive at private meetings much later than agreed. Unpunctuality (except at work and when dealing with authorities) is not a discourtesy in Panama. Bureaucracy and a different attitude to work mean that many processes, procedures and work steps are handled much more leisurely and slowly than we are perhaps used to in the USA or Canada. Irascible and brash behavior is often completely pointless. However, a smile and a certain degree of composure and flexibility can open many doors in Panama. “Juegavivo”: A common expression in the Panamanian culture describing a person who charmingly and with a twinkle in his eye likes to cheat a little, swindle or twist the truth in order to benefit from it. As a foreigner it is often difficult to distinguish cultural differences from "juegavivo". Therefore, always inform yourself in advance, especially in business and financial matters. You will find many insider tips and advice in my legal blogs, or simply book an appointment for a (virtual) free initial consultation. “Puente del mundo, corazón del universo” (Bridge of the world, heart of the universe): This is how Panamanians describe their beloved Isthmus and this national pride runs through all areas of life. In November Panama celebrates various national holidays, for this reason the whole country more or less stands still during this month. If you are planning a trip to Panama for business, it is better not to do it in November, and if you do, expect additional delays and allow more time than usual. "Clothes make the man": Clothes and appearance are important in Panama. Even ordinary people are careful to appear neat, clean and well-groomed at all times. Permissive, dirty clothing or vulgar behavior is not always appreciated. Foreigners who dress appropriately usually gain respect. Shorts (despite the temperatures) are usually worn only in private, at the beach or pool. Insider Tip: When attending appointments with public officials or at a bank, always make sure to dress appropriately: no flip-flops, sandals or Crocs, no shorts or miniskirts, no sleeveless T-shirts, loose-fitting shirts or spaghetti strap tops (or dresses). However, it doesn't have to be a shirt and tie. A simple short-sleeved t-shirt, jeans and sneakers are perfectly fine. Don't forget to wear a faceshield as well as a mouth-nose protection (mask) during appointments at the immigration office. “Piropos” or flattery: As a (single traveling) woman (but also as a man) you often get more attention in Panama than you are used to. Many men (and women) in Panama are often very direct when it comes to attracting the attention of the opposite sex or making first contact. If you don't want this, you can simply ignore unwanted remarks or reject them in a friendly but firm manner. Panama is unique. Using the slogan of the Panamanian Tourism Authority, “Panama is for travelers, not tourists." Whether you are looking for a destination to move, want to have a "Plan B" on hand, are interested in investing abroad, or want to spend your retirement in the sunny south. There are many reasons that speak for Panama and inspire expats for this small country. Whether as a traveler, investor or expatriate, the country enchants its visitors with mountains and beaches and offers the unique opportunity to wake up in the Caribbean and have dinner at the Pacific Ocean. In addition, Panama is an insider's tip for investing in real estate overseas. Panama is above all one thing: authentic, open and warm. Let yourself be carried away by the joy of life, openness and friendliness of the locals. It is easy to see why Panama is considered one of the happiest nations in the world. Panamanians like to strike up a conversation with others, be it in the supermarket, at passport control at the airport or in a café. Just try it out, even if you speak little or no Spanish your counterpart will always be eager to help you and make small talk. This is also true when moving around in Panama, whether as a single traveler, with or without children; you can be sure that people are always friendly and helpful. When our daughter was born in Panama, we were often approached by complete strangers on the street or in stores who congratulated us and wished us luck. One time my wife was stopped by the police asking for her driver’s license. At the end the official called over his other colleague just to have a look at the lovely baby on the back seat. And this actually happened more than once. I will never forget when at the passport control at the airport in Tocumen, an immigration officer held up our family (and the whole line waiting). We were just coming back from a trip to Europe, and of course we were tired and exhausted. While being in line for passport control, suddenly the official in charge yelled “STOP! STOP! Stop, here!”. My wife and I looked at each other confused. What was wrong? Then the immigration official pointed to our daughter in her stroller. “Now look a this little princess! Everybody, look a the sweet little girl…”
  5. Several companies (especially in the IT sector) are offering their employees more flexible working models and making teleworking the new normal. Nowadays for many employees it does not matter where they work from, which creates new freedoms, self-determination and opportunities when it comes to choosing a place to live. Why not move your workplace to the tropics in the short or long term? Like many other Caribbean countries, Panama has adapted its legislation to the new working conditions and has created an immigration category especially for remote workers and/or digital nomads. With this measure, the government hopes to encourage the development of the national economy, through investment and consumption of local goods and services. To qualify for the remote worker visa you must meet the following conditions: To have an employment contract from a foreign company of transnational character or to be a self-employed worker, in the modality of remote worker To carry out functions that take effect abroad. Receive income from a foreign source and with an annual amount not less than thirty-six thousand U.S. dollars (US$36,000), or its equivalent in a foreign currency. To apply for the Remote Worker-Visa, the following documents must be submitted: Complete copy of the passport duly authenticated by a Panamanian notary. Five (5) passport size photos. Criminal background check from the country of origin or residence (duly apostilled). Health certificate issued by a licensed Panamanian professional. Affidavit of personal background. Completion of the corresponding application form. Copy of the applicant's medical insurance policy. Affidavit of Non-Acceptance of any job offer or service offer from nationals, residents, tourists or companies of Panama in order to carry out business within the Panamanian territory (signed by the applicant). Payment of two hundred and fifty U.S. dollars (US$250) in favor of the National Immigration Service. Proof that your income comes from a foreign source: Bank account statement from your bank abroad (or from a local bank), duly sealed by the issuing bank that proves the transaction of the remittance of the funds and that accredits that the same is linked to the declared labor condition (if it comes from a foreign bank, the statement must be duly apostilled). Additional requirements for REMOTE EMPLOYEES If your are a foreign employee who wishes to reside in Panama to work remotely for a foreign company, you must additionally provide the following documents: Certification or proof of existence of the foreign company you are working for in the place where it is registered (apostilled). Letter of the company (apostilled), on the company’s letterhead, signed by the legal representative stating the following Your general information. The position and functions performed within the company. Your monthly income (which cannot be less than three thousand US dollars US$3,000), periodicity of payments and that it comes from a foreign source. The modality of your job (remote work / home office) The commitment to assume the costs of return or repatriation to your country of origin or destination, if necessary. Additional requirements if your are SELF-EMPLOYED OR DIGITAL ENTREPRENEUR In order to apply for a visa as a remote worker, a self-employed person must provide the following documents: Certification or proof of your company, duly registered abroad, through which you will conduct your business (apostilled). Notarized affidavit describing the commercial relationship with the clients to whom your are providing your services. Once approved the visa as a remote worker will grant you the right to live and work in Panama as a remote worker or digital nomad without having to request any other type of procedure or additional permission. The visa will have a duration of nine (9) months, extendable one-time (1) for the same period.
  6. Due to the recent legal changes in the immigration category of the Friendly Nations Visa we have received many questions and doubts. For this reason we have compiled for you the most frequently asked questions and their answers. When do the new Friendly Nations Visa conditions come into effect and how much time do I have left to apply under the "old" rules? The new decree becomes effective 90 days after its promulgation. If you still want to apply for your permanent residency in Panama under the "old" Friendly Nations Visa you can still do so in June and July. I want to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa in June. Do I have to travel to Panama? How long do I have to stay in Panama for the application? The residency application can only be submitted if the file is 100% complete and all applicants are present in Panama. During your stay in Panama an appointment is arranged at our office in Boquete to sign the necessary documents, deliver the original documents we have already received via email, make copies, open the bank account, go with a member of our team to the immigration office, register your passport with them, have your migration ID card photo taken and receive your multiply visa to leave the country without penalties. The minimum stay for this trip to Panama is four (4) weeks. I want to start my process to obtain my residency in Panama under the "old" Friendly Nations Visa, what do I have to do? What is the next step? We are currently organizing our agenda for June and July. Clients whose file is already completed (i.e. the company is already incorporated and the bank account is already opened or pre-approved by the bank) will be assigned a presentation date for filing their application in June or July. Due to the current workload the minimum stay in Panama for applications presented in the months of June or July is four (4) weeks. If we have not started to prepare your file yet, please contact us to evaluate your case and analyze if you are still in time to take advantage of the “old” Friendly Nations Visa regulations. I have read on the internet that I can open a bank account in Panama online, without coming personally to Panama. In the practice the personal interview with the client is one of the basic requirements in order to open a bank account in Panama. There are even banks in Panama that insist that you must first comply with the personal interview in Panama in order to subsequently send your file to the corresponding department and evaluate the approval of your bank account. Can you submit my application without me having to come to Panama for it? No. After formally submitting your file to the immigration office, a photo will be taken of you in order to issue your (temporary) migration ID card. This is why all applicants included in the application file must be personally present in Panama. I want to apply for a Friendly Nations Visa according to the "old" requirements. What documents do I need? What do I have to do and what do you do or prepare for me? As a first step please email us a colored scan of the apostilled police record, your passport, (just the photo page with your personal information) and second ID document such as identity card or driver's license, as well as the bank reference letter from your bank and proof of income (payslip of the last three months together with a copy of your employment contract). We prepare the power of attorney, forms and other necessary documents. The translation of the documents (if necessary) must be done in Panama. We will send the documents in advance to the translator. Once you have scheduled your arrival in Panama with us, we will coordinate an appointment in our office where you will deliver all original documents, sign powers of attorney and other documents. Additionally, we will arrange an appointment at the bank to open your bank account and to make the first deposit (in cash), as well as to request the bank reference letter necessary for your application. At all immigration appointments a member of our staff will accompany you and give you the necessary instructions to follow. When filing your application immigration will not ask you any questions or conduct an interview, our firm is in charge of delivering and presenting your file and answering any questions from the officials. Do the documents have to be apostilled? This is correct. The police record must be apostilled. As well as the marriage certificate (if applicable), and if you have minor children that you want to include in your application you must also bring their birth certificates duly apostilled. Do the documents have an expiration date? The police record, as well as the marriage certificate, and the birth certificates of your minor children (if applicable) are valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance (not the date of the apostille). If your marriage certificate was issued before 2021 it is no longer valid for your residency application. You must apply for a new certificate at the competent authority. The document must be certified with an apostille. The same rule applies to birth certificates for (minor) children. If you already have your police record and travel to Panama WITHOUT submitting a visa application, once you leave the country the record automatically loses its validity and you must apply for a new one (with apostille) prior to your next trip to Panama. My police record is expired and I don't have time to apply for a new one, can we submit my application anyway and you will tell immigration that I will provide the document later? No. Immigration does not accept incomplete files. The file must be 100% complete in order to be submitted. At the time of presenting your application an immigration officer will review your file, verifying if all documents are complete and comply with the minimum requirements as well as the expiration dates established by law. It is not possible to ask them to accept the file and submit a missing document at a later date. If the file is incomplete it will not be accepted. Do I need a birth certificate? No. Only if there are minor children that you want to include in your residency application. The birth certificate must be apostilled and must not be older than six months (date of issuance of the document, not of the apostille). My partner and I are NOT legally married, can we apply together? No. In order to apply for any visa in Panama as a couple (same file) you must be legally married. Otherwise you and your partner must file a separate application. Do you take care of translations? That is correct. The law requires that a licensed translator from Panama must do the translations. This is why you must send us all the documents by email in advance (before your trip to Panama) so we can forward everything to the translator in advance. How do I obtain the health certificate? We will give you the address of a laboratory in Boquete to obtain the certificate. The cost of the certificate is between 5 to 10 US dollars. Where is your office located? Do I need to travel to Panama City for the application? Our office is located in Boquete. All appointments for file preparation, bank account opening, presentation at the immigration office will be performed either in Boquete and/or David. Once your residency has been approved and to receive your permanent residency, we can make an appointment at the immigration office in David or Panama City, according to your preferences. I have already booked my flight to Panama for my residency application, can you send me a short timeline? It is best to book a hotel in David or Boquete. Boquete (from a tourist point of view) is more interesting to see. We can send you a list of hotels in Panama if needed. Immediately after your arrival we need an appointment at the office and another one at the bank for the account opening. If you bring the necessary cash to the bank appointment (5,000US$ or 7,000US$ if you are a married couple) we can also apply for the bank reference letter at once. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the international wire transfer. Be sure to activate your online banking while you are still in Panama. Also make a note of your bank officer's contact information. After the appointment at our office, the documents you sign during the appointment (and the copies we make) still have to go to the notary. Then we have to make copies of the whole file (there is one original and then two complete copies of the file). Afterwards we can submit the application at immigration office (for this we need your original passport). In the best case scenario we get an appointment at the immigration office on the same day of the presentation of the file in order to get your photo for the migration ID card taken. However, in most cases it will take up to three (3) days to get an appointment. Immigration will then hold your passport for 48 hours to issue the multiple visa. I already have my residency approved in Panama, what is the next step? When should I return to Panama? Before the COVID-19 pandemic clients had to travel within six (6) months (counted from the date of filing the visa application) to Panama to receive their residency in order to avoid any fines. Now (due to the new health measures) it is possible for us to be notified of your resolution without you being present in Panama. We then pay the new migration ID card and send your resolution with DHL to Europe or USA/Canada. This means that between your first trip to Panama for the visa application and the second trip to Panama to receive your residency, more than six (6) months may pass. On your second trip to Panama you must have your resolution on hand to avoid problems at the passport control at Tocumen airport. Then we will coordinate an appointment at the immigration office in David or Panama City to take the photo for your new migration ID card. The minimum stay for this trip to Panama is seven (7) days, if everything is done in Panama City. Preferably the appointment is set on a Monday morning (7:30 am) and you will be able to travel back to your country on Saturday or Sunday of the same week. I want to form a company for my "old" Friendly Nations Visa application, what do I need, how is the process? We have an online form for you to fill out. Remember that in order to incorporate a company in Panama a minimum of three (3) persons are required. In Panama it is not possible to create a sole proprietorship. The two other persons needed can be friends, family members or relatives. It is not necessary that they travel to Panama or have residency in Panama. It is not necessary that they are Panamanians. I have a company in another country, can I use this company for the visa application in Panama? No. For an application under the "old" Friendly Nations Visa, a Panamanian company must be presented. I want to apply for a residency as a single person, can I form a sole proprietorship? No. Sole proprietorships do not exist in Panama. In order to incorporate a company in Panama a minimum of three (3) persons are required. Apart from you, the other two persons can be friends or relatives. It is not necessary that they travel to Panama or have residency in Panama. It is not necessary that they are Panamanians. Can I use my friend's company for my residency? My friends and I want to use the same company for our residency application, is it possible? In the past Panama's immigration service discovered that lawyers were "recycling" companies for residency applications. This is no longer allowed. You must have your own company in order to qualify for the “old” Friendly Nations Visa. Do I need a business plan? Do I need to proof or deposit the share capital to incorporate my company? No. The capital stock of a Panamanian company is generally 10,000US$, but it is not necessary to consign this capital with the competent authority. How much are the company's annual expenses? The annual maintenance expenses of a company are US$ 567.50 (including taxes) plus accounting expenses. I already have my residency approved in Panama. Can I close the company I submitted for the "old" Friendly Nations Visa application? Yes, if you no longer need the company you can close it. How much is paid in corporate taxes in Panama? In Panama for legal entities it is 25%. The tax office also applies a "notice of operations - commercial license"tax, which is 2% of the net assets or patrimony that may not be less than $100 and must not exceed $60,000.00. Corporations that exceed $1,500,000.00 of taxable income may be required to pay the 4.67% rate. Income generated outside of Panama is really not taxed? Panama is taxed under the territorial system, i.e. everything generated within the coasts of Panama is taxed in Panama. Income generated outside of Panama (offshore) does not pay taxes in Panama. What if I invest in real estate? Is there any benefit for me? Yes, if you wish to apply under the NEW Friendly Nations Law you will NOT need to open a bank account in Panama or create a company. With a real estate investment of minimum 200,000US$ in Panama you qualify for this new visa. Do you have contacts of real estate brokers that you can recommend? Yes, we can gladly send you contacts of real estate brokers in Panama. You can also research rental and sales prices on Panama's most popular classifieds portal called encuentra24.com. I have pets, what do I have to do when bringing them to Panama? There are agencies in Panama City that specialize in "Pet Relocation" services. We will be happy to send you contact information so you can communicate directly with them and verify the necessary documents and the process to follow to relocate your pets to Panama. Do I need any vaccinations to travel to Panama? No. When my wife first traveled to Panama, the Vienna Tropical Institute recommended her all kinds of vaccinations, including yellow fever, hepatitis, typhus, cholera and even rabies. But in the practice, as an adult, at no time have the Panamanian authorities ever asked her for any proof of vaccination.
  7. Due to my business I am a frequent traveler. However, flying in times of a global pandemic brings new challenges and experiences. In the last 20 years I have never seen the airports as empty as they are now. It reminds me a lot of the 90s when I was flying for the first time without my family to England. When planning your trip to Panama there are some important details to consider. Important recommendations for passengers coming from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, USA, Canada, etc. If you travel from one of the countries of the European Union, United States, Canada, etc. to Panama, at the time of arrival at Tocumen airport you must present a negative PCR or antigen (rapid) test, which must not be older than 48 hours. With this it is not necessary to take another test at the Tocumen airport or comply with any type of quarantine. If you do not carry such test, if your test is expired or if your test does not meet the minimum requirements established by the health authority, you must take a COVID-19 rapid test at the Tocumen airport (at your cost). Requirements for passengers arriving from South America, United Kingdom, India or South Africa The Panamanian health authorities established the following entry requirements for passengers coming from and having stayed or transited through the United Kingdom, the Republic of South Africa, India or any South American country during the last 15 days. In order to travel to Panama, you must present a negative PCR or antigen test which must not be older than 48 hours. Additionally upon registration with the National Immigration Service in Panama, passengers coming from or who have transited through the United Kingdom, South Africa, India or South America, during the last 15 days, must take a COVID-19 test at Tocumen airport at their own expense (costs 85USD). If this test is negative, the person must comply with a three (3) day isolation period (remember that this only applies to passengers coming from South America, United Kingdom, India or South Africa). If you are Panamanian or a foreigner resident of Panama (and have the corresponding documentation, i.e. migration ID card or E cedula and proof of address such as a lease contract or title deed) you may serve the isolation period at your residence in Panama. Otherwise, the isolation period must be spent in a non-COVID-19 surveillance hotel for non-COVID-19 travelers at state expense. Isolation may also be carried out in hotels authorized by the health authority at your own cost. In this case you must present your reservation to the airline before boarding the plane to Panama. Either if you spend the isolation period at home or in a hotel, in both cases, at the end of the three days period, another PCR or antigen test must be performed. This test must be done by the health authority at its expense in a laboratory that has an operating permit from the Technical Board of Health and is validated by the Gorgas Memorial Institute). If the test is negative the the isolation will be concluded. For passengers who test positive upon arrival in Panama, a COVID-19 RT-PCR test and +ICGES analysis must be performed, complying with mandatory isolation for 14 days. Now, in practice, what is it like when you travel to Panama? First, before planning your trip, find out where to get a PCR or antigen test, which it is legally recognized for travel purposes. Nowadays, major airports already have laboratories for such tests. Depending on the day of the week a PCR test can take about 24 hours (although I know of a lab in Vienna that delivers it in 90 min) and an antigen test result can be available in about 15 to 30 minutes. Please note that when traveling, not all countries will accept an antigen test for entry into the country. Panama accepts antigen or rapid test, Spain for example only accepts PCR tests. You will usually receive your COVID-19 test result to your email so that it is available during your trip on your mobile phone. Choose the lab ahead of time and schedule your appointment early to get your PCR or antigen results prior to your flight. It happened to me that I arrived at the airport once on a Sunday thinking I could get a quick PCR test before my trip, and no.... but that’s another story. When you arrive at Tocumen airport in Panama, you must enter with your mask on, and its use is mandatory at all times and in all airport facilities. Likewise, your temperature will be taken by airport personnel. Immigration and customs lines are properly marked on the floor. Immigration and customs agents will serve you through protective windows to ensure physical distance. To enjoy your flight and reduce your stress level, we recommend the following:: 1. Investigate the travel requirements of the country of origin and destination in a timely manner. 2. Do Web Check-In and download your mobile boarding pass. 3. Remember to bring your mask. 4. Arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight departure time. 5. Take into account that in some airports, only passengers who are going to travel are allowed to enter the facilities. 6. Remember that you can bring food on board for your personal consumption. 7. To expedite the boarding process, have your boarding pass ready, as well as your passport and COVID-19 test. 8. When passing through immigration control in Panama, remember to show your passport and migration ID card or E cedula (if applicable). If you are entering Panama as a tourist, remember to have your hotel reservation or place of lodging at hand. Feliz viaje! Have a safe flight!
  8. Foreigners using their country’s driver's license may legally drive a vehicle in Panama for up to 90 days. Once a foreigner obtains temporary or permanent residency in Panama he/she may request the homologation of his/her driver's license and obtain a Panamanian driver's license. To do so, it is not necessary to hand over your current driver's license or take any kind of driving test. The Panamanian government contracts a private company called SERTRACEN for the processing of driver's licenses nationwide. Only foreigners with residency status in Panama (either temporary or permanent) are eligible for a Panamanian driver's license, foreigners with tourist status are not. Below we have summed up the steps to follow to obtain a Panamanian driver's license for you. What documents do I need? 1. Original and copy of your migration ID card (valid and legible). 2. Original and copy of your passport (valid and legible). 3. Your driver's license (valid and legible). 4. Authenticated certification of the validity of your license. 5. Blood type: If your driver's license does NOT show the blood type and RH factor, a certification issued by an authorized Panamanian laboratory must be submitted. The laboratory certification is valid for six (6) months, counted from the date of issuance of the document. Names and surnames must be identical or coincide in all documents or requirements presented. All documentation provided must be in good condition and not damaged. Step 1: How do I get my license certified? The first step is to contact the embassy or consulate of your country to request the certification of your driver's license. The process varies from embassy to embassy, for this reason it is advisable to make an appointment in advance either by phone, online or by email in order to confirm the necessary documentation, how long it takes to issue the certification and the costs. U.S. citizens should approach the American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. There is a standard form (sworn affidavit) to request the driver's license certification. Keep in mind to verify that your name, personal information, driver's license number, etc. are written correctly on the certification when you pick it up. In addition, the certification must contain the following information: 1. The term "certify" or "declare", 2. Name of the officer in charge of validating the information, 3. Name of the applicant, identification number, number of the license to be validated; in addition to the date of issuance and expiration. If the license does not have an expiration date (indefinite) the certification must state so. 4. Place or country of issuance of the driver's license. 5. Description of the different categories of vehicles, 6. Stamp and original signature of the officer issuing the certification. 7. Apart from the certification the consulate/embassy must issue an authenticated copy of both sides of your driver's license (front and back), with original stamp and signature of the officer in charge of validating the information. Step 2: How can I authenticate the certification? The certification and the authenticated copy issued by your Consulate/Embassy must be further authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) in Panama City. The request for authentication by MINREX must be made through their web page https://sigob.mire.gob.pa/registrocorrespondencia/. Once the application is completed, the respective department of MINREX will give you an appointment. The payment must be made at the Banco Nacional after receiving the confirmation by e-mail of the amount to be paid. Step 3: Get an appointment at SERTRACEN Once the documentation described above has been completed, an appointment must be made at one of SERTRACEN's branches. All license applications must be submitted in person by the applicant. The appointment must be requested online through the following web page: https://citas.sertracen.com.pa/Citas/public/cita.jsf . On the day of the appointment you must present all documents to the officer in charge at the SERTRACEN office, your personal data (including emergency contact, organ donor or not etc.) and the photo for your new license will be taken, also an eye and hearing test must be performed. People who wear glasses can use them for the eye test. The cost of the driver's license is USD$40.00 (includes eye and hearing test). The driver's license is valid for four (4) years. If you are a temporary resident in Panama and you do not have your permanent residency yet, your Panamanian driver's license will have the same validity as your residency. Licenses issued with age restrictions will not be approved, nor will international licenses. Licenses issued in one of the EU countries must comply with the new EU format. ”Old” licenses (Papierführerschein) will not be accepted. Special requirements for drivers over 70 years of age All drivers over seventy (70) years of age must opt for a driver's license valid for two (2) years. They must also present a certificate of good physical and mental health from a Panamanian doctor specialized in internal medicine or geriatrics. The document must have the full name, passport number, stamp and original signature of the physician. The medical certification is valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance of the document. Drive carefully!
  9. The government of Panama has created over the years more than 50 immigration categories to facilitate the immigration of foreign professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, family members, or retirees. In recent years, Panama has become a popular emigration destination. The constant economic growth, the warmth of the locals, the pleasant climate, the extensive beaches, as well as attractive investment opportunities, and the US dollar as local currency are among the many advantages that Panama offers newcomers. The six most common residence permits in Panama, either as a part-time resident or to stay permanently in the country are: Retire in Panama: "Jubilado Pensionado" visa. The "Friendly Nations" Visa Especially for Italians: "Convenio Panama - Italia" For investors: "Golden Visa” Application for family reunification "Dependiente de Residente Permanente" Panama "Marriage Visa” Step by step: How to get your residence permit We have listed for you the steps to apply for a residence permit in Panama below. The individual procedures may vary in detail depending on the immigration category and the personal situation of each client: Step #1: Choosing a lawyer and first contact: The Immigration Law in Panama requires that all applications for residence permits in the previously mentioned immigration categories must be submitted by a licensed attorney in Panama. Step #2: Which Immigration category fits you: Together with your attorney you select which category suits you best and which are the required documents. Step #3: Compilation of documents: Collect all necessary documents and papers required for the application. Pay attention to the validity of the various documents and take care of the necessary certifications (apostille) in time. Step #4: Review of documents: It is best to email all documents and papers to the lawyer in Panama in advance for review in order to be sure that everything is complete and nothing is missing. At the same time, the documents can already be forwarded for translation in Panama. Step #5: Trip to Panama: Once all documents are ready, a personal trip to Panama is necessary to complete your file and submit the application in person together with your lawyer. Step #6: Completion of your file: Once you have arrived in Panama you will meet with your lawyer and hand over all original documents, sign the lawyer's power of attorney and any other documents necessary, make copies of your passport, fill out the immigration forms, get your health certificate and any other procedure where your personal presence is required. Step #7: Filing your application at the immigration office: As a rule, the file must be complete and all applicants must be present in person in order to submit the application. Step #8: Registration of the passport ("registro de pasaporte"): The registration of the passport is done in advance online by your lawyer. During the application process, all information is checked again and an immigration officer stamps the registration stamp ("sello de registro") in the passport of each applicant. Step #9: Temporary migration card ("carné de migración"): Once the application has been submitted, your status in Panama also changes. You are no longer considered a "tourist" but a "resident". All applicants receive an identity card from the immigration office. This card is valid for six months (enough time to process the application within this period). A photo is taken on-site for the ID card. From now on your migration ID card must be shown at passport control every time you enter or leave Panama. Step #10: Multiply Visa ("visa multiple"): The multiple entry and exit visa is a stamp in the passport that allows you to enter and exit Panama while your residence permit application is being processed. The multiply visa is valid for six months (just like the migration ID card). The Immigration Department takes about 48 hours to issue the Multiply Visa. They will hold your passport for this period. Foreigners (with ongoing immigration proceedings) who leave Panama without having a Multiply Visa stamped in their passport, or whose Multiply Visa has expired, must pay a fine of 2,000.00 US dollars (per person) to the Immigration Department upon re-entry into Panama. Step #11: Processing your application: Upon receipt of the application, the National Immigration Service assigns a case number to the file and transfers it internally to the responsible department in Panama City. After the application has been successfully processed by the responsible caseworker, the decision ("resolución") is reviewed by the head of the department. Then the Director of Immigration signs your resolution and the file finally moves to the Notifications Department. The processing of the application usually takes three to four months. Step #12: Receiving your residence permit and a second trip to Panama: Once the residence permit has been approved, you will be notified by your lawyer. A second trip to Panama is required in order to undergo the notification process and obtain your new migration ID card. Upon completion of this procedure, you will be allowed to stay in the country permanently or temporarily, depending on your immigration category. Foreigners who hold permanent residence status in Panama can also apply for a Panamanian identity card (Panama E-card or Cédula E) at the Civil Registry (Tribunal Electoral). This process is a separate procedure and is not done automatically as part of the application process. The application for the Cédula E must be submitted separately and the decision is forwarded internally by the Immigration Department to the Tribunal Electoral. Subsequently, an appointment at the Tribunal Electoral is required to verify the personal data of the applicant and to take a photo for the Cédula E. The Cédula E is not printed immediately and will be available for pick-up after approximately two to three weeks. It is not mandatory to have a Cédula E. However, in daily life, it facilitates many administrative, legal and/or business procedures such as opening a bank account. Furthermore, the Cédula E is a prerequisite to register with the tax authorities in Panama and to apply for a personal tax number.
  10. When making a trip from your country of origin to Panama, each traveler or family traveling together has a limit of cash that they can take with them which is $9,999.99. If you travel with cash exceeding $10,000, and you do not duly declare it at Customs, the total amount of money can be taken away. This modality is called "Commission of a Customs Fraud Crime" or even smuggling. The reason is mainly that by not declaring the "extra" amount of money, the customs authorities assume that the intention is to harm the tax interests of the country or even to use that money for illegal purposes. Therefore, the sworn statement that is signed to confirm the amounts is a legal document, and the declaration of "false" facts is a crime. In addition to that, if you cannot prove the origin of the funds to the authorities, for example through an income tax return, bank account, or some other means that prove the origin of the money and the use that will be given to it, the respective authority will automatically think that money is supposed to be used for illegal purposes. Many times language barriers prevent us from explaining ourselves easily. If the origin of the funds is not confirmed, the customs authorities will confiscate the total amount of the money and in addition to that, they may initiate a criminal investigation. By not declaring the origin of the funds at customs, you may have legal problems and even be prevented by the competent authority from leaving the country, until the investigation is completed. Do not sign if you do not understand what you are signing In Panama the customs declaration is made by using a form under oath of the traveler, at the moment of your entrance to the territory of Panama (the airport). I personally received that form at one time in English, sometimes in Spanish. Please do not sign if you do not understand what you are signing. It is a binding legal document and no matter how simple the form looks, the problems behind not understanding what you are signing are bigger than they seem. If you don't understand the language, please ask the flight attendant to give you one that you can understand, and if you don't speak English either, ask for help at customs when you arrive at the airport. In our practice we have seen cases where clients traveled with different currencies and had not noticed that the total amount of cash exceeded ten thousand dollars and not understanding what they signed or thinking that the limit applies per person and not per family, the money was confiscated. Do you want to know what the government of Panama does with the money confiscated in Customs every year? I don't think you're going to like it, but I'll tell you. The Law in Panama stipulates that all the money collected by travelers who did not declare their money in Customs, a part of it will be distributed among all the Customs officers at the national level, as a bonus for their work – as some kind of war booty (...); the rest of the money will be distributed among other institutions in Panama, as money for their operations budget. The authority confiscates quickly, but when they have to return the money the process is very slow and nerve-racking. It must be proven to the customs judge that the money is not illegal, and there was never any intention of violating the customs law, but to make investments in the country, that you have a connection with Panama (not as a tourist, but as a resident or potential resident in the country), maybe even a business, and that you pay your taxes in Panama. Remember, that "ignorance of the law does not exempt from responsibility". So, keep learning and informing yourself, and in case of any doubt ask your trusted lawyer, who will surely be happy to help you. Have a nice trip and safe travel!
  11. Traveling to Panama: New Entry Requirements Starting October 12th Panama is reopening for international visitors, reactivating international flights, tourist activities, hotels, and more. At the same time, there are new entry regulations and COVID-19 precautions that all travelers must comply with upon arrival in Panama. Upon arrival to the country every national, resident or foreigner must present a negative PCR Test Certificate or antigen, no older than 48 hours. By complying with this measure established by the Ministry of Health of Panama, the traveler will be able to enter the country without having to fulfill any type of mandatory quarantine. If the traveler upon arrival in Panama City, does not carry a PCR Test Certificate or antigen the person will be required to perform a rapid test at the international Tocumen airport (prior to passport control). Depending on the result of the rapid test, the following measures will be applied: If the result of the rapid test is negative, the traveler is exempt from any mandatory quarantine. If the PCR test is positive, the person must be placed in mandatory isolation in a hotel hospital designated by the Ministry of Health. After 7 days, another test will be performed. If the result is positive, the 14-day quarantine must be completed. If the result of the second test is negative, the quarantine is terminated. The failure to comply with the established provisions will be sanctioned by the competent authorities. These measures established by the Ministry of Health of Panama will come into effect as of October 12, 2020 and will be in force until December 31, 2020, with the possibility of extending them.
  12. Regularization of Immigration status requirements On Thursday 23 March it was published in the Gazette the Executive Decree No. 145 of 17 March 2017 which amends Article 2 of the Executive Decree No. 167 of 3 June 2016 which sets out the process of regularization of General and repealing the Executive Decree No. 547 of 25 July 2012. This new decree that bears the signature of President Juan Carlos Varela, and the Minister of Public Security Alexis Bethancourt sets out four requirements that have to be met by foreigners seeking to benefit from the procedure of regularization. In article 2 of the mentioned norm establishes the following requirements: Having 18 years or more. If you have less than 18 years, the applicant must have the notarized authorization of one of their parents and test the link of kinship. A year or more of stay in the country. In the event that the alien has left the country will not be able to stay outside the national territory for a period of more than thirty calendar days, which will be verified with the entry stamps. Not having a process of legalization before the National Migration Service Go personally to submit your application for legalization. The same decree points out that the decision taken by the administration of Juan Carlos Varela is with the aim of stopping extraordinary regularization processes, by carrying them out at the headquarters of the National Migration Service in a more formal and stable manner in order to make this a more agile and transparent process. http://www.tvn-2.com/nacionales/Establecen-requisitos-extranjeros-regularizacion-migratoria_0_4718528112.html These appear to be amendments to the Regularization process which was detailed in June.
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