The city of Panama distinguishes itself because of its cosmopolitan nature. Its unique geographic location has made it one of the world’s capitals-with-such-diversity. Within an hours drive from Panama’s modern capital city, visitors and locals can reach untouched primary rainforest, pristine white sand beaches, and Hispanic colonial ruins.
If you are thinking of retirement, having a vacation residence, or investing don’t hesitate to discover this hidden paradise.
- Local Currency: American Dollar
- Official Language: Spanish, nevertheless many Panamanians are bilingual (Spanish/English)
- Population: 3,309,679 (July 2008 estimate)
- Government: Constitutional Democracy without military
- Official Time: GMT-5 (same as Eastern time in US without light savings)
- Voltage: 110 V
- Climate: Panama City has a tropical maritime climate; hot and humid. Temperatures range between 27ºC and 32ºC (80ºF and 90ºF). There are two seasons: dry or summer from December to April, and rainy from May to November. Even at sea level in the rainy season, it is cooler than the U.S. summers. As we are above the haze and smoke level, the atmosphere is essentially pollution free.
International Transportation and Trade
The country’s most famous attraction is, of course, the Panama Canal. The canal has established Panama as not only the commerce center between the Americas, but also as an international business hub. Direct flights arrive daily from most destinations in Latin America, the US and Europe. It is a 2-3 hour flight from Miami, New Orleans or Dallas. Tourists from around the world are lured to Panama for its pristine nature, world class shopping at competitive prices and nightlife. Panama is home to the world’s second largest Free Zone enabling tourists to find renowned brands at much reduced prices.
Any foreigner can own a property in Panama, under the same laws as if you were a Panamanian citizen. You can do it under your personal name, or under an established corporation. For financing of the property, it is very similar to process used in the US. Since we have the dollar as national currency, you will get the same financing rates as you would in the States. We will guide through all the processes of acquiring the mortgage, from the time you buy until we deliver the property. Currently new properties have a 20 year exoneration period, were you don’t have to pay any kind of property tax. This was established by the government as an incentive for national and foreign investments.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the high quality of our company’s and the Panamanian construction in general. Homes are well built and tastefully designed. Panamanian architects attend US construction industry conventions to keep up-to date on the latest in construction styles, floor plans and quality living. Another surprise is the refreshing variety of architecture styles. While in the rest of Latin America, Spanish colonial dominates, in Panama modern architecture bounds.
As a qualified pensionado/retiree in Panama, you will be entitled to:
- 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)
- 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
- 25% off airline tickets
- 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
- 30% off hotels stays from Friday through Sunday
- 25% off at restaurants
- 15% off at fast-food restaurants
- 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
- 10% off prescription medicines
- 20% off medical consultations
- 15% off dental and eye exams
- 20% off professional and technical services
- 50% closing costs for home loans and more...
Plus Panama’s pensionado law stipulates that anyone entering the country as a qualified pensioner today is guaranteed that status as long as he chooses to stay in the country.
The Tourist Pensioner Visa
This visa is designed for persons whose pension from a government entity or private corporation is $500 or more ($600 or more for a couple per month). It is granted indefinitely. The benefits include one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car. However, please note that under this visa you cannot qualify to acquire Panamanian nationality.
Private Income Retiree Visa
This visa is for persons who don’t have a monthly pension, are no longer working, and have received a retirement lump sum. As a visa requirement, that money is to be deposited on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, to yield at least $750 a month (at current rates the face value of the CD would need to be approximately $260,000). The visa is renewable every five years, as long as the CD is renewed. The Private Income Retiree Visa includes such benefits as a traveling Panamanian passport (that however does NOT grant nationality), a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000), and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car.
Person of Means Visa
Designed for those who wish to live in Panama off their own means, without the need or desire to work or start a business. The person must have a one-year certificate of deposit in any local bank of at least $100,000. Upon applying for the first, provisional renewal of this visa, the certificate of deposit must also be renewed for one more year. After renewal, the visa is granted permanently with the right to a cedula (local identity card). Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.
Designed for those who wish to establish a business in Panama (note, though, that some retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $100,000 and minimum of three, permanent
Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.
Small Business Investor Visa
It is designed for those who wish to establish a small business in Panama (note that retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $10,000 and minimum of three permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year, and needs to be renewed three more times before it is granted permanently with the right to a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to obtain Panamanian nationality.
Of course, one of the major concerns we all face living overseas, is receiving proper medical Attention. Excellent medical service is available in Panama City. Hospital Punta Pacifica recently opened and it is affiliated with John Hopkins. Panama City is only a three hour flight to Miami, it would be easy to return to the states for major Medicare treatments. Medical costs are far less than in the states. These costs are usually under what your normal deductibles would be anyway.
Security & Political Stability
Panama is a Democratic Republic. After the removal of Manuel Noriega in 1989, Panama’s growth has been a steady progression of investments and employment. As in Costa Rica, a national police has replaced the military. There is no political unrest. Since Panama is pursuing international investment and eco-tourism, foreigners are readily welcome. In fact, many new laws creating attractive incentives for the foreign investor have been recently passed. The culture is very similar to the U.S. Many of the same stores and restaurants, such as Sears, Price Costco, Bennigan’s, TGIF, and others, have branches here. Many people have a big misconception about Panama in thinking it is a jungle with hammocks strung between coconut trees. Panama City is a thriving modern metropolis where you can get most anything you can in the states at a lesser price. Luxury items are readily available.
Panama has the highest rating for tourist safety from Pinkerton Intelligence Services and a low crime rate in general. One of the first things foreigners who live in Panama will tell you is how safe they feel. In Panama City- petty street crimes that hinder tourists in other countries are uncommon. Panama City, like every big city has some neighborhoods best to avoid, but in general you can go about Panama City day and night without worrying. This is true for most of the country with few exceptions.
Since the U.S. dollar is the basis of the Panama currency, it makes investing simple. Major U.S. and international banks are well represented. Investment in Panama can become very profitable. As the community grows, there is an increasing need for more lodging, stores, restaurants and tourist orientated services.
In its effort to offset the losses from the Panama Canal and the closure of the military bases, the Panamanian government has created a host of incredible incentives to attract foreign investment.
To build hotels, restaurants, tourist agencies and any tourist related business.
- Tourist related industry:
- To develop hostels, motels, and restaurants within the recognized National Park tourist development zones.
- To crow and produce natural woods.
- To buy and restore national land marks.
For those qualifying under these special laws, here is a brief on some of the incentives.
The type and length of the basic incentive will vary depending on your particular endeavor.
- 20 year tax exoneration, from payment of taxes on real property.
- 15 year tax exoneration from the payment of taxes on the companies’ activities.
- 20 year exoneration from the local ITBM sales tax and taxes on imported items, used solely for your tourist business. This includes no taxes on vehicles, furniture and any other items not locally available in equal quantity or quality and must be business related.