Panama Residency By Investment Programs 2021:
The Ultimate Panama Investor Visa Guide

Looking to obtain Panamanian residency by investment, but not eligible to apply under the Friendly Nations visa program? On October 15, 2020, Panama enacted four new “Golden Visa” type programs. 

These investment programs now make Panama residency available to investors from countries who aren’t listed as Friendly Nations. And it is expected that the program is going to draw interest from countries such as China, Russia, Iran and the rest of the Middle East.

The 4 new investment visa options include:

  1. Real Estate Investment
    ($300,000 until October 16, 2022; $500,000 thereafter)
  2. Real Estate Investment Commitment
    ($300,000 until October 16, 2022; $500,000 thereafter)
  3. Fixed Term Bank Deposit
    ($750,000)
  4. Panama Stock Market Investment
    ($500,000)

Find out more about the new Panama investor visa options below, or download our comprehensive Citizenship By Investment Guide now to discover your other Plan B options.

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Citizenship By Investment Program Comparison

It could potentially help you save tens — or even hundreds of thousands — of Dollars by picking the best passport for your personal situation at the lowest price.

Inside, you’ll find…

  • The differences between the programs (number of visa-free countries, price, investment options, taxation, …)
  • Which countries you can enter without a visa with each passport (and the differences between them)
  • And much, much more

About the Panama Friendly Nations Visa

Established in 2012 by Executive Directive 343, the Panama Friendly Nations Visa is open to citizens of 51 countries with whom Panama enjoys good bilateral relations. 

Given its tax benefits, business-friendly policies and close proximity to the USA, we have long been advocating Panama as a solid Plan B destination for North Americans. Yet anyone living in a Friendly Nations country can unlock benefits of a second residency in Panama. 

And given how fast, affordable and simple the process is, the country is one of the most under-rated back-up plan destinations in the world. Best of all, the minimum stay requirement for the Friendly Nations program is only one day every two years.

For more information on the benefits of Panamanian residency via this program, visit or our Friendly Nations Visa overview page here.

NOTE: While there is a precedent of citizens from Friendly Nations being naturalized in Panama after holding residency for 5 years, the exact rules, process and minimum stay requirements to gain Panamanian citizenship under these new programs have not been confirmed yet. We’ll update this content as official information becomes available.

Which countries can apply for the Friendly Nations Visa?

As of November 2020,  the following countries are eligible to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa:

Nationals of the following countries are eligible for the Friendly Nations Visa 
Europe North &
South America
Asia Pacific &
Africa
Andorra Great Britain Montenegro USA Australia
Austria Greece Netherlands Canada Hong Kong
Belgium Hungary Norway Argentina Israel
Croatia Ireland Poland Brazil Japan
Cyprus Italy Portugal Chile New Zealand
Czech Republic Latvia San Marino Costa Rica Singapore
Denmark Liechtenstein Serbia Mexico South Korea
Estonia Lithuania Slovakia Paraguay Taiwan
Finland Luxembourg Spain Uruguay South Africa
France Malta Sweden    
Germany Monaco Switzerland    

The good news is that everyone else now has the option to apply for one of the four new Golden Visa programs…

Will the Friendly Nations visa be cancelled in 2020?

As of November 12, 2020, the Panamanian government has not issued any statements regarding the future of the Friendly Nations Visa program. 

We spoke with several well-connected contacts in Panama about this. Most of the people we talked to believe that over the years, the Friendly Nations Visa has proven successful in attracting talent and resources to the country, so the government will not cancel it. 

Still, investment residency and citizenship programs go through changes – and even get cancelled – all the time. So if you’re eligible for the Friendly Nations Visa, now is the time to take action and secure your Plan B – while it’s still super affordable. 

This is a developing story, and we will update our readers as soon as more official information becomes available…

The 4 new Panama Golden Visa investment options at a glance

Legal Basis:  Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15, 2020

According to local press reports, the new programs are intended to stimulate economic reactivation (article is in Spanish) by attracting wealthy investors to boost economic sectors such as real estate and construction.

Under the four investment streams, “Qualifying Investors” can apply for Panamanian residency by meeting relatively simple criteria – outlined below. 

And unlike with the Portuguese Golden Visa, you can either hold the investment in your own name, or via a legal entity of which you are the ultimate beneficiary.

All qualifying investments must be held for a minimum period of five years. The investment can be made by visiting Panama yourself, or remotely via a third party, through power of attorney.

Given applicants from “Friendly Nations” countries can currently obtain Panamanian residency without the need for a significant investment, we expect that these programs will be more popular among investors from countries outside of the Friendly Nations list.

1. Real Estate Investment

($300,000 until October 16, 2022; $500,000 thereafter.)

Key Investment Requirement: A minimum investment of $300,000 in property in Panama will enable you to apply for a permanent residency permit as a “Qualified Investor” – provided that you apply before October 16, 2022. 

Thereafter, the minimum investment goes up to $500,000. The property must be free of any encumbrances, and the investment funds must be foreign sourced. Additionally, the investment must be held for a minimum period of five years.

Note: If you are buying a property with a higher value than the minimum required amount, the difference can be financed via a mortgage through a Panamanian bank or financial institution.

Additional Requirements:

  • Certification by the Public Registry of Panama confirming the ownership of the real estate.
  •  Certification by the National Authority of Land Titling (ANATI) confirming the value of the real estate.
  • Certification of eligibility by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, confirming that the investment meets the minimum program requirements.
  • Suitable banking, financial or legal documentation proving that the applicant made the investment and the investment funds came from abroad.
  • Payment of a $5,000 application fee for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 for each dependent).
  • Payment of a $5,000 repatriation deposit* for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 per dependent). 

What is a repatriation deposit?

The repatriation deposit is basically a sum of money to be delivered to the local Panama immigration authorities in order to cover their expenses in a potential deportation scenario. If you decide to cancel your Panama residency and return your residency card to the local immigration authorities, you will be able to claim this repatriation deposit back.

2. Real Estate Investment:
Promise To Purchase & Sale Agreement

($300,000 until October 16, 2022; $500,000 thereafter.)

Key Investment Requirement: In addition to buying real estate up-front, you also have the option of applying for Panamanian permanent residency  by entering a promise to purchase and sale agreement for property in Panama (“promesa de compraventa” in Spanish). 

This type of contract is the equivalent to a Memorandum of Agreement between a buyer and a seller. It can be used both for existing, completed properties, and off-plan developments that are still under construction at the time of application.

In order to become a “Qualifying Investor” under this option, you have to make an investment of no less than $300,000 (before 16 October, 2022; $500,000 thereafter)  by signing  a “promise to purchase”. 

That does not mean however, that you can make your investment later. You still need to deposit the full required investment amount in an escrow account in Panama, whether your intention is to buy a completed property or an off-plan unit.

For off-plan properties, disbursements are then made from the escrow account to the real estate developer as they reach key development milestones.

The property must be free of encumbrances, and the investment funds must have been legally sourced outside of Panama. As with the above property investment option, this investment must be held of a minimum period of five years. 

Note: If you will be buying real estate with a higher value than the program requires, the difference can be financed via a mortgage issued by a Panamanian bank or financial institution. 

Additional Requirements:

  • A certified copy of the promise to purchase and sale agreement of the real estate, duly registered in the Public Registry.
  • Either the original version or an authenticated copy of the trust agreement confirming that the total sum placed in trust shall be disbursed to meet the obligations you assume as the Qualifying Investor.
  • Certification by the National Authority of Land Titling (ANATI) confirming the value of the real estate under consideration.
  • Certification of eligibility by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, confirming that the investment meets the minimum program requirements.
  • Suitable banking, financial or legal documentation proving that the applicant made the investment and the investment funds came from abroad. Payment of a $5,000 application fee for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 for each dependent).
  • Payment of a $5,000 repatriation deposit for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 per dependent).

Notes: The above cost breakdown excludes your legal fees and sundry expenses. You can make the mandatory investment without visiting Panama through power of attorney. Applications for the program will typically be processed within 30 business days of submission.

3. Fixed Term Bank Deposit

($750,000)

Key Investment Requirement: The third way you can meet the “Qualifying Investor” criteria to apply for Panama permanent residency is by making a fixed-term deposit of $750,000 with a Panamanian bank. 

The deposit must be maintained for a minimum period of 5 years, and must be free of any encumbrance. The investment funds being deposited have to be obtained lawfully and come from outside Panama.

Additional Requirements:

  • A certified copy of the fixed term deposit certificate from the bank.
  • This document must indicate its holder, the value, as well as the term of the deposit.
  • Official certification confirming  that the investment meets the minimum program requirements, along with your relevant information as Qualifying Investor.
    This certification is issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries through the Investment Promotion Directorate.
  • Payment of a $5,000 application fee for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 for each dependent).
  • Payment of a $5,000 repatriation deposit for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 per dependent).

Banking in Panama: What are the potential risks?

We wouldn’t suggest that you deposit nearly a million dollars in Panama at this stage:

Firstly, the country does not have an explicit deposit insurance scheme, so your money would be unprotected in case of bank failure. The local bank bankruptcy laws protect deposits of up to $10,000, but that’s not close to covering the required deposit of $750,000 even partially.

And secondly, the problem is the (often undeserved) reputation of the country as a “tax haven,” and specifically, one prone to corruption. Having a bank account in Panama is a bit of a reputational liability today.

Over the last few years, at least two Panamanian banks had to close permanently after being investigated by FinCen, the US’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. This caused a lot of inconvenience for their customers.

This doesn’t mean that you need to rush out and close your Panamanian bank account if you have one already. It’s totally fine to have a few thousand dollars in the account for the Friendly Nations Visa or to pay for your daily expenses. 

But we would be wary of holding nearly a million dollars in Panama today.

4. Panama Stock Market Investment

($500,000)

Key Investment Requirement: The final investment option requires a minimum investment of $500,000 in Panamanian publicly traded stocks via a licensed brokerage firm. In order to qualify for Panamanian permanent residency, you will need to maintain this investment for at least five years.

Additional Requirements:

  • Certified proof that the investment has been made with foreign sourced funds.
  • Certification by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries that the investment meets the minimum program requirements, along with your relevant information as Qualifying Investor.
  • An investment certificate, issued by the appropriately licensed brokerage firm. The certificate should include the name of the investor, the amount invested, the detail of the securities being held, as well as the entity that holds the securities.
  • An authenticated copy of the brokerage firm’s trade license. This document can be obtained from the Superintendent of the Stock Market of Panama.
  • Certification by the Superintendent of the Stock Market of Panama, confirming the registration of the securities certificates corresponding to the investment.
  • Payment of a $5,000 application fee for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 for each dependent).
  • Payment of a $5,000 repatriation deposit for the primary applicant (plus $1,000 per dependent).
  • Suitable banking, financial or legal documentation proving that the applicant made the investment and the investment funds came from abroad.

Why now is a good time to get started...

With a view to kick-start the new programs’ uptake, the government has created a reduced-cost offer for the two real estate programs. 

If you apply under either of these options before October 16, 2022, the minimum property investment requirement will be $300,000. Thereafter, the minimum investment amount goes up to $500,000.

Another key benefit is the fact that processing can be completed in as little as 30 working days from submission, making this one of the fastest Golden Visa programs in the world. 

Applications for the program will typically be processed within 30 business days of submission, and must be submitted in person at your closest Panama consulate or embassy. You can make the mandatory investment without visiting Panama through power of attorney. 

Interested in learning more?

Sovereign Man Confidential offers step-by-step guidance on gaining second residency or citizenship by investment – in many instances, without the need for significant investments. 

Find out more about the many benefits of Sovereign Man Confidential membership here.

Note: The programs mentioned above were very recently launched, and we will update this article as more official information becomes available….

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above information is intended purely for informational purposes, and does not constitute legal or investment advice. Neither the publishers of this article nor our suppliers or affiliates will be held liable for any losses suffered due to reliance on this information, either directly or indirectly.  While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided above, it is by no means guaranteed. It is advisable to consult with expert legal and tax advisors before committing to purchasing any securities.

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