4 Ways to Get a Friendly Nations Visa

Tourists can visit Panama for 30-180 days, depending on which country they are from. But to live in Panama full-time, you must get a residency visa.

Panama offers many different visa programs.

The most popular is the Pensionado visa which requires $ 1000 USD in lifetime income plus $250 for your spouse. This visa is ideal for retirees.

A Friendly Nations Visa is your best option if you don’t qualify for a Pensionado Visa. To qualify, you must be from one of the Friends Nations (see list below), then you need to meet one of these four requirements:

1. Get a job at a Panamanian company. Learn more about getting a job in this article.

2. Purchase real estate worth at least $200,000. This must be titled real estate. It cannot be Right of Possession (ROP)real estate. You can finance the real estate purchase, but financing will take at least 90 days. Most banks want 20-30% down. Plus, you need a life insurance policy naming the bank as beneficiary, and all loans must be paid off by the time you turn 70. Learn more about buying real estate in this article.

3. Deposit $200,000 into a 3-year CD earning 3.5% interest at a Panama bank. Some banks pay 5.5% on a 3-year CD. Your immigration attorney will help you set up the correct account. Read this article about the safety of Panama’s banks.

4. Set up a Panama company that issues you a labor contract and a work permit. You must show income for at least nine months and pay into Panama’s Social Security. The initial fees for this visa are about $6000 for one person. Your spouse and minor children can also get this visa. The total costs for this visa are about $10,000 for one person.

You will receive a two-year temporary visa after applying for a Friendly Nations visa. After two years, if you continue to meet the abovementioned qualifications, you can apply for your permanent residency visa.

With any of these Friendly Nations Visa options, you can get a work permit to sell products or services in Panama.

When you get a Friendly Nations Visa, there is no requirement to live in Panama, but you must come back for a few days every two years.

Once you get your permanent visa, you can still get the Pensionado (also called Jubilado) discounts if you meet the age requirements of 55 for women and 60 for men. Learn more about all the Pensionado discounts available to you in Panama.

The Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide recommends affordable and reliable immigration lawyers who can help you get a Friendly Nations Visa. If you’re buying real estate to qualify, we also have a list of dependable agents throughout Panama in the Online Guide, too.

You’ll get this information if you come on an all-inclusive 6-day, 7-night Panama Relocation Tour.

The Friendly Nations Visa is only available for those who have a passport from one of these countries:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Great Britain
Hong Kong
New Zealand
San Marino
South Africa
South Korea
United States of America

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Anton says

    I am a South African citizen and I would like to secure Permanent Residency for myself and my wife. I trade CFD (metals and forex) online and I already have a offshore bank account, but would not mind to open another account in Panama, if this was a necessary requirement?

    I understand there are different types of company formations through which I may trade, but first need to confirm if online trading would be categorized as “foreign income” and not locally sourced income? So I may be interested in the “offshore IBC” company formation, if it is necessary that I incorporate a new company in Panama?

    So I have heard that the Friendly Nations Visa does no longer exist? Perhaps then I can opt for the Agricultural Investor Visa of $60,000 OR the Forestation Investor Visa of $40,000 (over 5-year period to qualify).
    Or maybe I would qualify for a “nomad digital visa” ?

    Would I need a “registered address for an office” in Panama for the company registration?
    What are the “annual maintenance fees” for the company?
    Do I need to complete “annual tax filing” for the company? And what are the fees if I outsource this?

  2. Janet Villalon says

    Hi Jackie, I hope you are well. I love your article. Just bought a place in Bajo Boquete for close to 300k. We did use an attorney but were shocked by the 1600. USD fee because we own several farms and homes in Colombia and never had an attorney to buy.

    Is it legally required to have an attorney to do the Friendly Nations Visa process? I am fluent in Spanish and have gotten visa in several countries already.

    Background info: I am Mexican and my partner of 28 years is a US citizen. He says he does not need a visa at this time because he can stay for 6 months already? We have 25 dogs in Colombia so its not like we are are going to be here full time anyway. My passport being Mexican only gives 3 months at a time in Panama so I would like to get the FNV for the recent purchase which is in my name anyway.

    I an the COO of a US company so following the process to do this is no big leap. While I understand its advised to have consul my question is to legality only. Thanks for any help!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Janet. You must use a Panama immigration lawyer for the Friendly Nations Visa. Your partner needs a visa if he wants to be able to drive in Panama. He/she can only driver for the first 90 days in Panama with their foreign license. To get a Panama driver’s license, you must get a Panama residency visa.

  3. Andre Mare (South Africa) says

    Hi Jackie, Thanks once again for a very informative video.

    I am interested in option 4 (starting an LLC and becoming an employee) but in a previous email you mentioned an initial cost of $5 000. Has that now gone up to $6000 ??! Also, you mention that the TOTAL cost comes to about $10 000…is the additional $4 000 legal fees?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Jackie Lange says

      Andre, the initial fee to get this Friendly Nations Visa is about $5000. We recently discovered that that fee does not include the $1000 annual renewal fees for the corporation, registered agent and board of directors.

      • Char says

        Hi Jackie! so if i understand correctly, its 10,000 per person, even children(?), plus the cost of opening the LLC and generating income as well?

        • Jackie Lange says

          Char, it is NOT $10,000 per person. A spouse and minor children can be added to the visa for about $600 per person extra. The $10,000 includes the initial set up of the corporation, lawyer fees, business license, work permit, and other things necessary for this visa

  4. sp says

    Hi, Jackie

    My husband and I are coming to visit Panama the end of summer and planning to move within a year or two. Are options are only the real estate or CD? how much approximately will that cost for the process? can you use the CD to buy real estate or not? also we have a minor, how would that work?


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