Citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, or any of the 50 “friendly nations” who invest the minimum amount of twenty thousand dollars (US $20,000) personally or through a legal entity in the agricultural sector in Panama, or in the business of Aquaculture, may qualify for a Residency Visa. These investments must be made in the areas or projects that the Ministry of Agricultural Development considers a national interest at the time.
With a minimum investment of $20,000 to buy or invest in an approved reforestation project certified by the government, you can apply for a temporary residency for 2 years and then permanent residency. You can apply for a personal title through a corporation or foundation. Additional investments and proof of income will depend on your number of dependents.
For a list of “friendly” nations, see: Best Panama Residency by Investment Program
You can apply for citizenship and a second passport after 5 years of residency. As of 1 January 2018, Panamanian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 129 countries and territories, ranking the Panamanian passport 35th in terms of travel freedom (tied with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines passport) and 9th in Latin America, passed by Chile (16th), Brazil and Argentina (18th), Mexico (25th), Uruguay (28th), Venezuela (32nd), Costa Rica (30th) and Paraguay and Venezuela (34th).
In order to start applying for a visa, a complete copy of the passport must be included and must be stamped by a Panamanian Notary. You must obtain a Police record or criminal record certification, basically a document that proves that you have not been involved in a federal or state crime. In the United States, we generally provide an FBI background report.
In the case of countries where this document is not issued, the applicant must present a certificate or certification of a diplomatic agent or consul of his country accredited by the Government of Panama, stating that his country does not issue said certificate with a declaration sworn before a notary public, stating that you do not have a criminal record.
You will need a medical certificate that proves that you are in good health. It is recommended that it be processed during your visit to Panama. Make payments to the national government broken down as follows: $250.00 dollars in favor of the national treasury in concept of rights for the application of a migratory category, and $800.0 dollars in favor of the national migration service as a repatriation deposit. These payments can be made with certified checks.
All documents from abroad must be legalized either by authentication of the Panamanian consul abroad or duly apostilled. In the case of a Public Limited Company, the following requirements must be presented: present the sworn statement of the secretary or treasurer of the company (it can not be drafted by the interested party), indicating that the shares are nominative and in favor of the applicant, paid, released and the amount of social capital paid.
A certification of the accountant (CPA) in which the total amount directly invested in the agricultural or aquaculture sector is indicated and the capital belongs to the investor (the accountant must attach valid ID and copy of identity card). A validated copy of the share certificate granted to forest investors. Provide a copy of the income statement of the company, showing the capital invested.
Please keep in mind that since the Reforestation Visa in Panama requires a procedure to be carried out over several years, and given that we must deliver the same documentation to the different government agencies over and over again for each management, the process is long and we completely recommend that you seek legal advice on this matter.
Also, please note that the applicant of the Reforestation Visa (under any modality) and his dependents (if applicable), will be required to have a physical presence at the offices of the National Immigration Service of Panama at the time of submitting the application.
The National Migration Service of Panama will not allow visits to people wearing shorts, t-shirts or sandals. Once the National Migration Service of Panama approves your visa, plan to visit Panama for at least two weeks, since your passport will be retained for a lapse of five business days while the stamps are placed and migration information inside.
With the United States moving towards a residency based tax system, especially for those operating businesses abroad, we strongly recommend you consider becoming a resident of Panama. Those using the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion should move from the 330-day test to the residency test in 2018. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Panama’s friendly nations reforestation visa.
Since President Trump’s tax changes, we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for the reforestation visa. I expect this to remain hot throughout 2018 and 2019.
I hope you’ve found this article on the Panamanian Reforestation Visa to be helpful. For more information, or for assistance in investing in Panama or opening an offshore company, please contact us at email@example.com or call us at (619) 550-2743. We’ll be happy to assist you with your international tax plan and connect you to our local experts in Panama.