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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:

  1. Have been convicted of committing a fraudulent crime or tax fraud.
  2. Have a criminal or police record in your country of origin or perform criminal acts within Panama.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Copy of your passport and of the registration stamp.
  3. Copy of your Cedula (E-card), duly authenticated by the Tribunal Electoral.
  4. 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!

Edited by Gomez Tomiczek
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  • 10 months later...
16 hours ago, RobertB said:

Good Evening, 

If I have a Cedula, must I still travel to Panama every two yeas to retain residency status?

Kind Regards,


Great question. That situation may apply to me in the future as well.

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