Are you eligible to move to Panama?

Before buying a product or service from us, you should be aware of the basic qualifications you must meet to obtain legal permission to live in Panama.

This page is for people who are considering moving to Panama. If you only plan on visiting Panama for 180 days or less, see Panama Entry Requirements. Have questions? Contact us.

Criminal History

You must present a national criminal report when you apply to become a legal resident of Panama. U.S. citizens need an FBI report. Canadians need an RCMP report. Citizens of other countries will need a national criminal report from their home country.

If you have anything more than minor traffic violations in your criminal history, your immigration attorney will need to get special permission from the Director of Immigration for you to apply for a visa. If you have a felony, even from a long time ago, you will not be able to get a residency visa in Panama. See this page for more information: What Could Prevent You From Getting a Visa in Panama?

Pensionado Visa

The Pensionado Visa is the easiest and most affordable visa to get – if you qualify for it.

To qualify, you must already be receiving the equivalent of at least $1,000 USD in gross guaranteed lifetime income plus $250 for each dependent. Social security, government or corporate pension, and military retirement benefits are some forms of income that qualify.

Savings or assets will not qualify you for a Pensionado Visa. To qualify, you must show at least $1000 a month in guaranteed lifetime income from Social Security or a government or corporate pension.

Income from employment, savings, investments, 401k, IRA, *annuities and real estate can NOT be used to qualify.

** Panama will not accept an annuity unless your employer set up a retirement account with a third-party administrator, and that retirement income is being paid out by an annuity, Panama may accept it. Additional documentation will be required. If you purchased an annuity or have a non-employment-related annuity, it will not be accepted.

The Pensionado Visa is intended for retired people. With this type of visa, you are not allowed to be employed in Panama. You can own a business in Panama, but you can not work in your business. You would need to hire others to sell your goods and services in Panama.

You are allowed to continue working outside of Panama. For example, you can work remotely for a non-Panamanian company. You can also operate a business, such as an online business, that is formed outside of Panama and doesn’t sell goods or services in Panama.

If you qualify for the Pensionado visa and do not have a criminal history, then you’re in luck. You are eligible to move to Panama! For more information, see: Demystifying the Panama Residency Visa Process

Other Visa Options

Other visa options if you do not qualify for the pensionado visa.

Some example options include:

  • Professional Residency Visa – for people who have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD in any profession that is not a protected profession for Panamanians only.
  • $80,000 investment for the Reforestation Visa
  • $160,000 business investment plus hiring five Panamanian workers full-time
  • $200,000 purchase of real estate for the Friendly Nations Visa
  • $200,000 deposited into a 3-year CD at a Panama bank
  • Get a job in Panama through the Friendly Nations Visa requirements
  • $5,000 to set up a company that issues you a Labor Contract
  • $300,000 purchase of real estate for the Golden Visa (permanent visa in 30 days)

We do not recommend buying real estate or any other investment in Panama until you have experienced Panama for at least 6-12 months. This gives you time to make sure you like Panama. Buying real estate in Panama is easy, but it could take many years to sell.

The $5,000 option to set up a company that issues you a Labor Contract is the most affordable option if you do not qualify for a Pensionado Visa. You will need to pay yourself at least $1,000 per month. Your entire family can get a visa using this option; however, each dependent has an extra fee. The Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide has step-by-step details and an attorney contact to help you do this.

Other Options

If you are not eligible for a visa in Panama, PLAN B is moving to Mexico. Mexico does not require you to present a national criminal report, have a guaranteed lifetime income, or make a substantial investment to get a visa. They require you to show a substantial monthly income or savings to prove you can support yourself. For more information about moving to Mexico, check out these pages on