22 June 2021
Pensionado Retiree Visa Program – Complete Guide
The number of people who decide to spend their retirement years in Panama continues to grow. They are attracted to the tropical climate, beautiful beaches, good and cheap health care system, and the location, which makes it easy to reach continental America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Panama offers extremely attractive Visa programs and the Pensionado Retirement Visa has a reputation as one of the best retirement programs in the world. Moreover, anyone can apply for this type of visa, regardless of their origin.
Retirees and Pensioner Visa – Requirements
Under this residency program, the applicant is required to hold a valid passport, present his criminal background police certificate and provide evidence of receiving an income of at least US$1,000.00, per month for life (or its equivalent in another currency).
The referred income must be in the form of a pension or retirement, from a government agency or from an authorized and regulated retirement agency or a private company, for which additional documentation shall be required.
Candidates can submit the residency application with their family members such as spouses or dependent children (under the age of 25). Each dependent must have a valid passport and the main applicant must include an additional USD 250 per dependent.
Moreover, the main applicant’s spouse must also provide a criminal background certificate and a marriage certificate. Children above the age of 18 have to provide their birth certificate, a certificate of singleness, a criminal background certificate, and present proof of full-time studies in university/college as well as providing a list of subjects taken. Dependents under the age of 18 only need a birth certificate.
All of these documents have to be recently issued, apostilled/authenticated, and valid for at least 6 months.
Process and timeline
In order to start the application process, you need to obtain all the necessary documents. Once the documentation is ready, we can help you make the required translations and prepare your application; it usually takes around 4 weeks. During the whole migration process you must visit Panama twice:
- The first time to submit your application and obtain a temporary ID – it can usually be done within 7 business days, but we highly recommend planning a trip of 12 business days to account for any delays such as the notary office is closed or the government systems being down.
Once you have obtained the temporary ID, you can travel domestically around Panama.
- The second time for about 2 business days to finalize your application and receive the permanent ID
Apostille/authentication of your documents
Apostille/authentication is the process of legalizing the document for international use. Apostille services are available in member countries of the Hague Convention. For example:
- USA clients will need to apostille documents at the Secretary of State or authenticate the documents at the nearest Panamanian Consulate
- South African clients will need to apostille their documents at DIRCO or authenticate the documents at the nearest Panamanian Consulate
- Canadian clients will need to authenticate their documents at the nearest Panamanian Consulate as Canada is not a member of the Hague Convention
National Background Certificate
For those who have any incidents on their national background certificate, Panama has established a pre-approval process called Visto Bueno, where the immigration office reviews the police report and determines whether you are eligible to proceed with the residency application.
This document needs to be filed before proceeding with the residency process.
If using a police report from a country other than your country of citizenship, you will need to provide a valid, photo ID issued more than 2 years ago from the country of residence.
Please keep in mind that immigration requires all original apostilled documents; police reports, marriage certificates, and birth certificates will not be returned.
Applicants of PRV are required to maintain residency by visiting Panama every 2 years for a couple of days.
If this is not maintained, immigration holds the right to suspend your residency.
Once residency has been suspended, you will have to resubmit your file along with updated documents for review including proof of financial and economic solvency. Immigration will then determine whether they will reinstate your residency. If residency is not kept for a period of 6 or more years, you will have to reapply as a new candidate.
Benefits of the Pensionado Visa
The Pensionado Retire Visa has many benefits: holders of the PRV are eligible to apply for the work permit, it also allows you to get a one-time duty tax exemption for household goods up to a total of USD $10,000 and a duty exemption for importing a new car every two years. In addition, you can benefit from many discounts, such as:
- 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, concerts, sports)
- 25% off airline tickets
- 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
- 30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
- 25% off at restaurants
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
- 20% off prescription medicines
- 20% off medical consultations
- 15% off dental and eye exams
- 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
- 25% discounts on utility bills
Send us a note to [email protected] if you want to learn more about this residency process or if you are ready to start it.
Written by Michelle Hammond