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Found 4 results

  1. 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!
  2. Foundations are a fantastic tool for estate planning and to structure and administrate your assets, but is a foundation really necessary? The answer to that question is not that simple, as there is no golden rule that is applicable to everyone and everybody. It depends on the type of assets you own and their value. If you purchase titled real estate in Panama you practically have three options: 1. Register the property in your personal name, 2. Register the property in the name of a corporation, 3. Register the property in the name of a foundation. Due to Panamanian inheritance law and its legal procedures I will always recommend my clients to avoid option number 1. Why should I avoid buying real estate in Panama in my personal name? When you own real estate in Panama in your personal name and you have a will, or otherwise you do not have a will, after your demise the procedure for your heirs to claim their inheritance will always be the same in Panama: 1. Your heirs must hire a Panamanian lawyer 2. The lawyer must file a lawsuit of succession (with will/ without will) with the court in Panama. 3. The process of the lawsuit will take from one (1) to two (2) years to be completed (given there are no complications in the process). 4. Meanwhile, you heirs cannot take possession of the assets until the Judge passes judgment in their favor. In other words, it is the Judge who has the order and the last word. 5. According to the minimum fee scheduled established by the Bar Association in Panama the lawyer handling the lawsuit has the legal right to charge 10% to 25% of the total commercial value of the estate as legal fees. Is it better to buy real estate in the name of a corporation of foundation? If you invest in real estate in Panama you should always register the title either in the name of a corporation or foundation in Panama. But using a foundation might not always be the best choice. Why? It depends on the type of real estate and the usage you want to give the property. The character and objective of a foundation in Panama is to hold and protect assets, while a corporation is per se created to execute commercial activities. Foundations in Panama are prohibited to execute regular business activities. So, if you plan to purchase real estate in Panama as a private retirement home and keep the asset as a long-term investment, a foundation sounds like a solid option. But if you want to invest in real estate as a short-term investment in order to rent, sell, and make it a profitable business , a corporation might suit you better. In fact if the property already has a very low cadastral value or a high cadastral value, it might be smart to use a corporation. Are there examples where a foundation is not necessary at all? Yes, I recommend my clients to never ever register a car title in the name of a foundation. Also, if you have a personal (savings) bank account, depending on your bank you can nominate a beneficiary at the bank. After your demise, your designated beneficiary(ies) can access the funds in the bank account (the procedure varies from bank to bank, so comparing different options is recommended). And if you are a permanent renter in Panama and only own a average bank account and a car, using a foundation or even a corporation to hold those assets is not worth it. Stay safe and healthy!
  3. Rainelda Mata-Kelly gave an interesting and informative talk last Tuesday at the BCP. Among the most interesting things she shared was how there got to be so many lawyers in Panama. According to her, there is about one lawyer for ever 83 people living in Panama. Lawyers don't go to college, just to a trade school right out of high school. Some of the newer schools are all online, essentially diploma mills. There is no such thing as a bar exam in Panama, be the last in your class at the diploma mill and you are fixed for life! There are several bar associations, membership is not required, no one association is predominant and although the largest one may have an ethical code, non members have no obligation to follow it. So nowhere to complain about unethical lawyer behavior. Nonetheless, she responded in answer to a question that a lawyer who charges less than the "mandatory minimum" fees is subject to ethics charges. (She didn't elaborate by whom, or how they would find out). This would be per se price fixing in the US under the Sherman Act based on SCOTUS decision in Goldfarb v Va. State Bar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldfarb_v._Virginia_State_Bar. Imagine that, legalized price fixing! So in case you were ever wondering why some of the legal advice you may have received is expensive and relatively worthless, it must have SOMETHING to do with the makeup of the Assemblea. I wonder what could be the unifying feature? She also told some wonderful stories about Noriega. Everyone was late and missed their orders at the market, but it was well worth it.
  4. Tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan 5) my favorite lawyer in all of Chiriqui will be speaking at the BCP Tuesday meeting. I have been a client of Juan Contreras since the day he graduated from law school. I have found Juan to be straightforward, competent, honest, and reasonable in all of his dealings with me. He also seems to know how to think outside the box which they definitely don't seem to teach in law school here. The average Panamanian lawyer knows how to fill in a form and which line in which government office to stand in and not much more. Because Juan is such a good lawyer he has prospered in the 6 or so years he has been in practice. He has a nice office, several competent legal assistants, a wonderful partner in Lourdes Miranda, and a competent office staff. Compare that to the many lawyers who still work out of their homes or back seats of their cars. Even if you're not interested in estate planning, I urge you to come and meet Juan Contreras on Tuesday at 10:30 in the BCP theater.
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