Major Changes to the Friendly Nations Visa

Since 2012, the Friendly Nations Visa has made it easy to get a permanent residency Visa for those who did not qualify for a Pensionado Visa. But that’s about to change drastically.

Some major changes are taking place to Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa program that may impact your ability to move to Panama if you do not have a pension or Social Security that is at least $1000 a month in lifetime income plus $250 for each dependent.

If you are already working with an immigration lawyer in Panama, please contact them for more information about the new Friendly Nation Visa rules which go into effect in August 2021.

If you are not yet working with an immigration lawyer, it’s too late to apply for the old Friendly Nations Visa but there are other visa options.

Pensionado (Retiree) Visa Program

These changes do not affect the Pensionado Visa program. If you are planning to retire in Panama (not work or start a business) and you have at least $1,000 USD per month in lifetime income (social security, pension, military retirement, etc) these changes do not affect you. [+$250 per month per dependent]

NEW Changes to Friendly Nations Visa Effective August 5, 2021

Effective August 5, 2021, you can qualify for a Friendly Nations Visa by meeting any one of the following requirements:

-Get employment at a Panamanian company ( could be your company)

-Purchase real estate worth at least $200,000 (can be financed) It takes about 90 days to get financing. This must be titled real estate. It cannot be ROP real estate.

-Deposit $200,000 into a 3-year CD earning 3.5% interest at a Panama bank

You can finance the purchase of real estate but it will take at least 90 days to get financing. 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.

So, the new Friendly Nations Visa rules are not so friendly.

After applying for a Friendly Nations Visa, you will receive a temporary visa for 2 years. After 2 years, if you continue to meet the qualifications listed above, you can request a permanent residency visa.

Other Visa Options

The Pensionado Visa is the best visa in Panama. But if you don’t qualify for that visa, and don’t want to get the Friendly Nations Visa, these are some other visa options.

What You Can Do – Application in Process

Ready to get a Visa in Panama? Purchase our Complete Panama Relocation Guide. The guide is available online and includes all of the same information we share during our tours about how to make a smooth move to Panama. It even contains all of our trusted contacts for immigration, real estate, insurance, and more.

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. John Patrick Fessler says

    How many months does a person have to purchase real estate under the present rules and the new rules?

    • Jackie Lange says

      With the current FNV, you must close on the real estate before you can apply for a visa. With the new FNV, you must also close on the real estate before you can apply for the visa

  2. Matthew Wong says

    As of 9th June 2021, would there still be enough time to apply for the current version of FNV by using the method of “Deposit $5,000 into a Panamanian bank account and form a business in Panama”?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, there is still time to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa. The cut off for applications submitted to immigration is July 31… but I would not wait that long.

  3. John says

    Are you sure it is $200,000 US for Friendly Nations Visa for a CID? I have read elsewhere that it is $300,000.

    • Jackie Lange says

      I’m absolutely sure it is $200,000 minimum for the Friendly Nations Visa. It’s $300,000 for the Golden Visa. They are two different things.

  4. Rita Pyne says

    HI Jackie,
    My husband and I are thinking of retiring in Panama. My husband qualifies for Pensionado Visa which is good, but I would like to be able to make crafts and sell them at local markets and I understand that would not be possible if I have a Pensionado Visa, is that correct?

    • Jackie Lange says


      That is correct. With a Pensionado visa, you cannot legally sell your crafts at the local markets. You could make the crafts then get someone else with a work permit (or a Panamanian) to sell them for you. But you could not legally work selling your products in Panama.

  5. Jack Greene says

    Dear Jackie,

    I’m currently residing in England, UK. I’d like to move to Panama however I missed the deadline of August last year due to unforeseen circumstances.

    I recall you mentioning in your vlog update on YouTube that it is still possible to incorporate in Panama and work for your own business to qualify for a friendly nations visa, is this still the case? I think you mentioned a local lawyer you work with. Would I also qualify for tax residency?


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