If you want to access the major offshore centers, you must have residency
The key to accessing the major offshore centers in 2020 is residency. If you want an offshore bank account, solid asset protection plan, or to setup your business abroad, you must get residency first. Second residency through investment is now the “pay to play” requirement of all top quality offshore jurisdictions.
Do you want to open up a bank account in Panama? You need residency in Panama. Do you want to make multiple trips to this country during the year? You had better get residency or you run the risk of being denied entry.
The banks in Panama and other tax havens are closing their doors to nonresidents. You must have significant ties to the country if you want to open an account there. You must have a business reason to need an account in Panama… and asset protection or privacy is not a sufficient reason.
If you want an account in a major tax haven, you need to show ties to that country to justify the need for an account… not the desire for a bank account, but the business or personal need for an account.
Companies show a need for an account by applying for a business license, getting office space, and possibly hiring an employee or two. If you’re in Panama, you just need the license, a virtual office, and to convince the banker you’re putting down business roots in Panama. In Hong Kong you must have an employee, file taxes, prepare audited statements, etc.
And the signer on the account must have residency in the country. That is, both the business and the person running the business must show ties to the country to open a bank account. The easiest way to prove your personal ties is through residency.
This residency requirement is not new, but it’s a lot more common in 2017 than back in the day. A residency requirement is now the norm in tax havens rather than the exception.
For example, Cayman Islands has been limiting access to its banks for 3 years now. If you want an account in Cayman, you must either have a residency visa, a work permit, or own property on the island. Without a good reason to want an account in Cayman, you won’t get one.
- For more, here’s how to Move your Business to the Cayman Islands
The same goes for expats “living” in Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Georgia, and Panama without a visa. All the big tax havens are cracking down on persons from abroad living in the country without paying for the privilege. People like myself who lived in Panama for years as a tourist going out for a weekend in Colombia every 90 days and coming right back to my condo in Panama City.
In March of 2017, immigration officials at the Panama airport began denying entry to nonresidents who made multiple trips to the country. This became such a problem for Americans that the US Embassy in Panama issued a warning telling Americans to get a residency permit or risk being denied entry.
Immagine you’ve been living in Panama for years, making the same border run time and time again, and then, one day, you’re refused entry. Your business, your accounts, your stuff, and your friends are all in Panama… and you’re locked out.
Even more bad news: you have no right to appeal the immigration officer’s decision. You’re a tourist and have no right to enter the country if they don’t want you. It’s one thing to be kicked out once you’ve been granted entry… you have many legal rights and can fight removal. But, never have a right to enter a country and have no recourse if denied.
Finally, if you’re blocked at the airport, it will become much more difficult for you to get a residency permit. Once the immigration system labels you as an border cheat, you’re going to have a long and expensive road to get back into the country as a legal resident.
And getting residency in Panama is so easy that there’s no excuse for you to run these risks. Anyone from a “friendly nation” can qualify for residency in Panama with an investment of $20,000 in the country’s friendly nations reforestation visa program. And this investment covers you, your spouse and your dependent children under the age of 19.
In order to use the friendly nations reforestation program you must be from one of the countries that have an agreement with Panama. These are basically the top 50 nations with most applications coming from the US, Canada, UK, and EU countries. Recent chatter seems to indicate that China will be added to the list in the near future. Also, we’ve been seeing a lot of demand from South Africa recently. For more, see: Panama Friendly Nations Reforestation Visa
At $20,000, Panama has the lowest investment requirement for residency from a tax haven country. The investment amount for Singapore is $2.5 million, Hong Kong is $1 million (but very few visas are issued), Malta is $1.2 million, Bulgaria is $550,000, and Austria is $5 to $10 million.
If you’re making multiple trips to Panama, investing in the country, or setting up a corporation or foundation, you must have residency. Your residency in Panama is your ticket into the country, both literally and from a banking perspective.
I hope you’ve found this article on why you need residency to gain access to tax havens and financial centers. For more information on Panama, or to setup an offshore business or asset protection structure, please contact our office HERE.
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