By: Ayleen Quintero – Associate
The Retiree and Pensioner residence permit (formerly also known as Tourist Pensioner), is an immigration category that grants permanent residence in Panama to those foreigners who have a retirement or pension, received from either a foreign government, an international organization, or a private company.
The main requirement to apply for this category is to have a certification proving the condition of retiree or pensioner, issued by the corresponding government, agency, or company. It must be evidenced that the interested party receives a retirement of not less than one thousand dollars (US$1,000.00) monthly and for life, implying that the retirement or pension must be received for his/her lifetime.
The foreigner who wishes to apply for this residence may also include his/her dependents (parents, spouse, and children), proving additional economic solvency of two hundred and fifty dollars (US$250.00) monthly for each of the dependents, which can be evidenced either through the pension or through a local bank reference letter issued in favor of the main applicant. It is important to note that the amount of one thousand dollars (US$1,000.00) required under this category can also be the product of the sum of the pensions of the spouses.
The law also contemplates the possibility of the applicant foreigner purchasing a property under personal title in the national territory. In that case, if the same is for an amount greater than one hundred thousand dollars (US$100,000.00), the certification that evidences the condition of retiree or pensioner may be for a minimum of seven hundred and fifty dollars (US$750.00).
Does this permit grant any additional benefits aside from obtaining permanent residence in Panama?
The permanent residence as a Retiree and Pensioner has the particularity that the costs related to the payment of immigration fees are low in comparison with other categories of residence and does not require an additional investment to obtain the approval of the Permanent Residence.
On the other hand, we must emphasize that there are specific benefits that the Law grants to those foreigners who have this approved Retiree and Pensioner Residence Permit, which are listed below:
- Total customs duties exemption for the import of household or personal use items for one time only up to the amount of ten thousand dollars (US$10,000.00).
- Total customs duties exemption every two (2) years for the import of a motor vehicle for personal or family use.
- Payment exemption of any deposit, encumbrance, or immigration fee related to obtaining the Retiree and Pensioner’s Permit.
It is important to point out that in Panama there are also multiple benefits granted by law to nationals and foreign retirees or pensioners who are residents of Panama, that is, for those women who are fifty-five (55) years of age or older and men of sixty (60) years of age or older. We have summarized below some of the benefits that we consider of greater relevance:
- 50% discount on the prices charged for admission to recreational and entertainment activities, such as cinemas, theaters, sports, and other public shows.
- Discounts on public transportation fares, according to the following classification:
- 25% in air tickets of national and foreign public or private companies.
- Boats and ships, 30%;
- Trains, 30%;
- Intercity buses, 30%;
- A minimum discount on regular hotel, motel, and boarding house rates as follows:
- 50% from Monday to Thursday.
- 30% on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- Discount of 25% of the value of individual food consumption in restaurants.
- 15% discount in fast food establishments with national and international franchises.
- Discount of 15% of the total bill for services in hospitals and private clinics.
- Discount of 20% of the value of medicines.
- Discounts on the following medical services
- 20% in the professional fees for consultations of general medicine and medical and surgical specialties;
- 15% for dental services; and
- 15% for optometry services.
- Discount of 50% of the closing costs or commission on personal and commercial loan transactions made in your name at banks, finance companies, and credit institutions.
- Discount of 50% of the Airport Tax or Fee.
What should I do if I want to apply for this Residence Permit?
If you are interested in applying for this type of residence and you meet the requirements mentioned above, here is a list of brief steps so that you can begin your immigration formalities.
- Contact lawyers specializing in the subject. At Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán we have a complete and exclusive department dedicated to immigration matters that can assist you with any immigration inquiries you may have and that will accompany you in every step and appointment before the institutions.
- If you are applying with dependents, consider requesting proof of relationship certificates (marriage certificates, birth certificates, among others), which you will have to apostille before traveling.
- If your pension or retirement is granted by a private company, there are some additional documents you will need to provide. Follow our link below to find the complete list of requirements for this category.
- Plan your trip to Panama. After reviewing the documents, you will be ready to travel and submit the Retiree and Pensioner application form during your stay.
How long do I have to wait to be approved for residence?
The time that the National Immigration Service takes to review each application form will depend largely on the volume of applications that the institution has; however, a good point of reference is the temporary card which is issued to the foreigner and dependents once the application form has been submitted, which is valid for six (6) months. This is the approximate time that permanent residence formalities currently take.