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Panama investor visa: minimum investment hike delayed

A planned 66% increase in the minimum investment needed to be eligible for a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama has been delayed by two years
Stock photo of Panama City to accompany article on Panama investor visa - known as a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama

The Panamanian government has announced that a planned hike in the minimum investment needed to receive a Panama investor visa has been delayed – offering foreigners an extended window of opportunity to get cut-price residency in this prosperous Central American country.

The announcement came ahead of a planned 66% increase in the minimum property investment needed to be eligible for a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama, from $300,000 to $500,000, which was due to come into force in mid-October (all figures appear in US dollars).

However, Panama’s Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo recently announced the government would be delaying the rise for two years to continue encouraging foreign investment into the country.

SEE ALSO: EOR in Panama: hire local staff via an employer of record

According to Carrizo, the Qualified Investor Visa has brought $55 million into the economy since being established in October 2020, with the scheme helping to stimulate the construction sector during a period of economic difficulty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Construction, the generation of public infrastructure, as well as private development, is one of the activities that generates the most direct and indirect jobs, the greatest distribution of resources among the people with the greatest needs, and the best benefits for the country’s development,” he was quoted as saying.

A Qualified Investor Visa allows you to live and work freely in Panama, with a holder only needing to visit the country once every two years to maintain their resident status.

The application process can also be started outside the country, however applicants and any dependents who will also be receiving a visa will need to visit Panama to complete the process. Processing the visa, meanwhile, only takes 30 days.

Note that eligibility for this type of Panama investor visa is not restricted to property purchases, with a securities investment or timed bank deposit also being options. However, they each currently require a larger minimum investment.

More information on the three options for acquiring a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama is provider further on.

A SERIVAP GLOBAL infographic showing the three options available for a Panama investor visa, officially called a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama.
Options for getting a Panama investor visa, known as a Qualified Investor Visa

Panama investor visa offers access to a popular relocation destination

Panama is a highly popular destination among foreign investors and expats, thanks to its favorable tax regime, impressive levels of development, quality health care and relatively low crime, providing a good quality of life for expats.

Those factors contributed to it being named the world’s top retirement destination in the 2022 edition of the Global Retirement Index, published by International Living.

Meanwhile, the fact Panama is a dollarized economy also makes it particularly attractive to US investors and retirees, with costly currency conversions and risks associated currency volatility eliminated.

As an investment destination, Panama benefits from its strategic location, sat at the meeting point between North and South America, and home to the iconic Panama Canal, which generates an estimated 10% of GDP.

That is particularly significant given that this nation of fewer than 4.4 million people has a GDP of more than $63.6 billion – equating to a gross national income of $14,516 per capita that places it as one of the few “high income” nations in Latin America, according to classifications established by the World Bank.

Residents of the country’s modern capital, Panama City, are served by Tocumen International Airport, providing easy access to major cities in Europe and the United States. That includes direct flights to Miami that take just three hours, while New York and Los Angeles are five and seven hours away respectively.

Panama is known for its political and economic stability, as well as its massive offshore banking industry that is a popular destination for high-value individuals and companies looking to manage their money securely and makes the country a significant player in the international financial system.

What’s more, the country is well-known for being highly favorable to business and encouraging investment from companies and individuals, as highlighted by the extension of the reduced minimum investment for a Panama investor visa.

It is also a growing hub of technology and innovation, with the “Ciudad del Saber” (City of Knowledge), based at a former US military facility on the outskirts of the capital, providing facilities and generous incentives to individuals or companies seeking to invest there.

That includes significant tax breaks and a special work visa program to make it easier for foreign investors to bring in overseas employees.

Three options for getting a Panama investor visa

While the recent extension of the reduced minimum investment means property investment will continue to be the most cost-effective option for getting a Panama investor visa, and therefore likely the most popular, it is also possible to apply based on a securities investment or timed bank deposit.

Note that to be eligible for a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama, all funds must come from outside the country.

1) Property purchase

As highlighted above, to be eligible for a Panama investor visa via property purchase, real estate valued at no less than $300,000 must be purchased, with this minimum now set to rise to $500,000 in October 2024.

It is important to note that the property must be held for at least five years, and sale of it within that time would result in the visa being cancelled and loss of resident status and all associated benefits.

2) Securities investment

By investing a minimum of $500,000 in securities, it is also possible to apply for a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama. Note that such an investment must be made through a qualified and licensed Panamanian brokerage firm.

While this option is currently more costly than an investment through property purchase, it will generally be significantly quicker to complete, with no need to seek out and negotiate a real estate deal.

3) Timed bank deposit

Another similarly quick option to execute is to make a timed bank deposit. However, with the minimum investment being at least $750,000, it is also the costliest option.

Such a deposit must be made with a qualifying bank for a minimum of five years and must also be free of any commitment or lien.

Additional costs for a Panama investor visa

Beyond the minimum investment based on which of the three above options you choose, a range of additional fees will have to be paid to receive a Panama investor visa.

These will be on top of any fees charged by third parties working with you through the application process, such as banks, brokerage firms, or consultants overseeing the process.

Additional fees for a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama:

  • $5,000 application fee payable to the National Treasury
  • $5,000 repatriation fee payable to the Panamanian Immigration Service
  • $1,000 to each of those bodies for every dependent, for a total of $2,000 per dependent

Documentation needed to apply for a Panama investor visa

To apply for a Panama investor visa, you will need to present the following documentation:

  • Authenticated copy of main applicant’s passport
  • Authenticated criminal record background check for main applicant
  • Five passport-sized photos of main applicant
  • Declaration related to main applicant’s personal background
  • Authenticated evidence of the required investment being deposited
  • Authenticated evidence of the required investment being received
  • Proof of payment for all additional fees
  • For dependents:
    • Document acknowledging main applicant’s responsibility for the dependent
    • Proof of dependent’s ties to main applicant
    • Proof that dependent lives with main applicant prior to application
    • For dependents over 18 years of age, some additional documentation may be needed

Serviap Global assists investors in Panama

At Serviap Global, we provide employer of record (EOR) and recruitment services in Panama, as well as visa and immigration support.

We assist investors in dozens of countries across six continents, with a network of trusted partners in markets where we do not work directly.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you.

If you were interested in this article about getting a Panama investor visa, read more of our coverage here.

You can also find out more about us or read about our leadership team.

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