Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Moving to Panama

The Republic of Panama is the southernmost North American and Central American country. It is an international business center with the largest economy in central America, and its capital is Panama City. Its official language is Spanish, but many know English as a second language.


There are many different types of visas for coming to Panama. All applications are to be made through a Panamanian lawyer. There is no age limit for visas, but if you are under 18, you must apply as a dependent of your parents. All overseas documents must be notarized by a Panamanian consulate or by a notary and the Apostille. There are many temporary residency categories you may apply under.

Work Permit

You must apply for a work permit through the Ministry of Labor, and the process can take 3-12 months. Once they approve your application, they will issue you a Resolution and a card that is valid for one year, which can be renewed. After working in Panama for ten consecutive years, you may apply to become a resident.

You must present the following documents to the Ministry of Labor:

  1. Power of Attorney and Application via a law firm
  2. Fees to the Ministry of Government and Justice, and to the National Treasury
  3. Medical certificate of good health
  4. Results from AIDS/HIV test
  5. Police record from country of origin
  6. Police record from Panamanian police
  7. Passport photocopy
  8. Four passport sized photos
  9. Certificate of parents’ names and nationalities
  10. Resolution issued by the Ministry of Labor, authorizing you to work in Panama as an employee
  11. Work reference on your company’s letterhead

Click here for more information, and the process of applying with your dependents or spouse.

Click here for information about applying to work as an employee of the Panama Canal.

Click here for information about applying to work in Agriculture.

Student Visa

To apply for a student visa and live in Panama, you must submit the following documents:

  1. Letter of admission from your school
  2. Payment receipts of registration for your program
  3. Certification from your school about your studies and its duration
  4. Proof of funds

If you are taking courses during the night, your school must provide proof that courses can only be offered during those hours.

If you are applying for a temporary, non residence permit, you must register your passport at Immigration, and present all required documents, with fees if necessary. You will be issued a 90 day multiple exit/entry visa, which can be extended.

Click here for more information.

Moving Pets

To move your cat or dog to Panama, you must submit the following:

  1. Vaccine card
  2. Sanitary certificate
  3. Certificate of origin
  4. Import form from the Health Department at the airport or Quarantine Department

Your animal may be kept in quarantine, or you may be required to keep it inside at your house. There are fees for both of these options.

Other Information

Click here for a list of Panamanian embassies.

Click here for information about real estate in Panama.


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