Becoming a Permanent Resident in Panama through Investment

The Qualified Investor Permanent Residence Program in Panama grants residence within 30 days with an investment of  US$300,000.00.

By: Ayleen Quintero – Associate

The permanent residence permit as Qualified Investor was created through Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15th, 2020, and it is a migratory category that grants permanent residence in Panama to those foreigners who invest from five hundred thousand dollars (US$500,000.00) of funds coming from abroad, under one of the four (4) modalities that we shall explain subsequently.

 

Notwithstanding, it is important to emphasize that said Decree also contemplated an exception that consists of the benefit of being able to apply for this residence, with a minimum amount of three hundred thousand dollars (US$300,000.00), provided that the applicant chooses one of the modalities that are related to the investment in the purchase of a real estate property. This exception shall be in force only until October 15, 2022.

 

The modalities under which you can apply for this category are Real Estate Investment, Real Estate Investment through a Promise to Purchase Contract (both by Investment of US$300,000.00, only until October 2022), Investments through a Broker-Dealer House (US$500,000.00), and Investment through Fixed Term Deposit in the Banking Sector (US$750,000.00).

 

Under this category we could point out, among other requirements and general conditions, that the most relevant points to be evidenced within the application are:

  • To prove that the funds come from a foreign source.
  • That the Investment must be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years, which shall be verified annually.

 

How soon is the permanent residence under the Qualified Investor category approved?

The application for Permanent Residence under the Qualified Investor category is approved within thirty (30) working days and shall allow the foreigner applicant to acquire the permanent resident card issued by the Electoral Court of Panama, which shall be the new identity number in Panama for all approved Qualified Investors.

 

After obtaining Permanent Residence, how long shall I wait to apply for Panamanian nationality?

The naturalization or proceeding to obtain the Naturalization Letter is the formality that allows the permanent resident to opt for Panamanian nationality and, therefore, also obtain the right to carry a Panamanian passport. This proceeding can be carried out after the foreigner complies with any of the following conditions:

  1. Foreigners with five consecutive years of residence in the territory of the Republic if, after reaching the legal age, they declare their willingness to become naturalized, expressly waive their original nationality or that they hold at the moment, and prove they are conversant in Spanish language and have basic knowledge on Panamanian geography, history, and political organization.
  2. Foreigners with three consecutive years of residence in the Republic who have children born herein of Panamanian father or mother or spouse of Panamanian nationality, if they make the declaration and furnish the proof mentioned in the previous point.
  3. Nationals by birth of Spain or a Latin-American State, if they fulfill the same requirements requested by their country of origin to Panamanians to become naturalized.

For the above reasons, below is a summary of how many years nationals of some Latin American countries must wait, on a case-by-case basis.

 

How long should I wait to become a Panamanian citizen?

One year for nationals from Colombia and El Salvador.

Two years for nationals of:

  • Argentina            
  • Chile                      
  • Costa Rica           
  • Ecuador               
  • Spain                    
  • Guatemala          
  • Honduras            
  • Mexico                 
  • Nicaragua         
  • Paraguay           
  • Peru                     
  • Uruguay             

All others not mentioned above may apply for naturalization after 5 years.

 

After acquiring the permanent residence, what obligations do I have?

Concerning the migratory obligations that are derived, the main obligation shall be to visit Panama before two (2) years have elapsed outside the country, or else, the permanent resident shall lose the residence and must either initiate another proceeding or request the reactivation of the Permanent Residence; however, this proceeding has its conditions and supporting documents that must justify the relevant reason why the foreigner could not enter the country during the said period.

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Permanent Residence as a Qualified Investor in Panama

Through Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15, 2020, a new migratory subcategory called Permanent Residence as a Qualified Investor was created, which grants Permanent Residence in Panama within a period not exceeding thirty (30) days.

 

This new subcategory, whose primary requirement is the investment of the sum of US$500,000.00 in the Republic of Panama, seeks to promote foreign investment in the country through various mechanisms while offering novel advantages for foreigners wishing to apply for residence under the same, which we summarize below:

  • The foreigner, through his attorney-in-fact, may start the residence application process without necessarily having entered the country.
  • The formalities shall be managed before a special office (One-Stop Investment Counter), designed to meet these requests within thirty (30) days.
  • In cases where the real estate investment is managed through a trust, the foreigner shall be able to prove it through the promise of sale contract, even though the transfer of the property has not yet been registered, which shortens the time to apply for this residence.
  • When the foreigner opts for real estate investment, he can benefit from a reduction of US$200,000.00 in the required investment if he applies for residence during the next two (2) years.

 

The modalities of investment under this new migratory subcategory and the requirements applicable to each one of them are the following:

 

Real Estate Investment:

  • Filing of documents evidencing the value and ownership of the property (Certificate from the Public Registry and Certificate from the National Land Management Authority).

 

Real Estate Investment through Promise to Purchase Contract:

  • Authenticated copy of the Promise to Purchase Agreement.
  • Authenticated copy of the Trust Agreement evidencing the partial disbursements to be made by the trust for the purchase and sale.

 

Investments through a Broker-Dealer House:

  • Certification issued by the Broker-Dealer House stating the name of the investor, investment amount, detail of the securities and the entity that custodies the same.
  • Authenticated copy of the Resolution by which the Superintendency of the Securities Market approved the license to the Broker-Dealer House.
  • Certification from the Superintendency of the Securities Market regarding the registration of the securities corresponding to the investment.

 

Investment through Fixed Term Deposit in the Banking Sector:

  • When applied under this modality, the investment must be for the amount of US$750,000.00.
  • Copy of the Certificate of Fixed Term Deposit, authenticated by the bank, indicating the amount and term.
  • Certification from the bank stating the existence of the deposit, its holder, the amount, the term, that it is free of liens and that the funds come from foreign sources.

 

Among the general conditions and basic requirements that the interested party must meet are the following:

  • Payment to the National Treasury in concept of rights of application for the migratory procedure for the sum of US$5,000.00 and payment of US$5,000.00 to the National Immigration Service in concept of deposit of repatriation. In case of including dependents, an additional amount of US$1,000.00 must be added in each of the abovementioned items.
  • Proof that the funds come from a foreign source which may be one of the following: letter legalized from the foreign bank or local bank, legalized foreign bank statement or authenticated local bank statement, or notarized letter issued by the recipient of the funds or bank certification proving receipt of the funds.
  • The investment must be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years which will be verified annually by every competent authority.

 

For more information on this topic, contact us at igranet@icazalaw.com.

View the full text of Executive Decree No. 722 of October 15, 2020 (In Spanish)

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