Getting a Panama business visa can be an important step to establishing a commercial presence in the country, whether the visa is for yourself or for someone who represents your enterprise. It is therefore important to choose the appropriate visa according to your business objectives and economic activity, to guarantee your smooth launch into market.
Panama’s advantageous location makes it a prime destination for investors seeking to leverage business opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The small nation has a highly strategic geographic position, linking South and Central America while being home to the famed Panama Canal. The Canal generates an estimated 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), with roughly 14,000 cargo ships transiting between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea through it annually.
Panama is considered a high-income country, with an average annual economic growth rate of 4.6 percent in 2019 and a business-friendly environment that saw it score a high 92.0 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report for 2020. In addition, Panama is a popular destination for expatriates to live and develop new businesses, due to its politically stable government and a strong banking sector. As such, a Panama business visa is highly sought over.
If you are considering company incorporation in Panama or entering the market some other way, read on to learn about the different types of business visas in Panama and the main application requirements.
What is a Panama business visa?
A Panama business visa grants foreign business executives legal permission to enter and remain in the country when the principal aim of their visit is to conduct business activities or represent a foreign organization. In this sense, a business visa can be granted to a foreigner working for a Panamanian company, or a legal representative, director, or executive of a company established abroad.
Note that there are multiple factors to take into account when choosing the visa that best suits your business needs, these include your nationality, the type of company, the economic activity to develop, and the duration of your stay in the country. Thus, it is essential to engage with a trusted immigration advisor able to help you make the best decision and guide you through the application process.
Types of business visas in Panama
There are different types of business visas in Panama. Some of the most popular types include:
Friendly Nations Visa
Getting a Friendly Nations Visa is by far the easiest way to do business in Panama. The application process for this type of visa is flexible and provides foreigners from certain nationalities a permanent business visa by incorporating a company in Panama and opening a personal bank account with at least $5,000 (USD).
Editor’s note: Changes have been made to the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, applicable as of August 2021. Read more here.
An Investment Visa is another fast way of getting a residence visa in Panama if you cannot apply for the Friendly Nations Visa. However, there are three ways to obtain an investment visa in Panama, as explained below:
1. Real estate investment: Foreign investors would need to purchase a property in Panama with a minimum value of $500,000 (USD). Furthermore, the applicant must prove that the investment came from foreign funds. The applicant must also present an authenticated copy of the property purchase agreement at least meeting the minimum value and an authenticated copy of the trust fund agreement.
2. Investments made through a brokerage house in Panama: The applicant must make one or more investments in the Panama Stock Exchange, with a value of at least $500,000 (USD). The applicant must present a certification issued by the brokerage house indicating the name of the investor, the amount of the investment, the investment titles, and the entity that has custody of the investment title, an authenticated copy of the resolution issued by the brokerage house, and a securities certification issued by the Superintendency of the Stock Exchange.
3. Investment through a fixed deposit account: The applicant must open a fixed deposit account in a local bank with a deposit of at least $750,000 (USD) and keep it there for at least five years. The applicant must present a certificate of the fixed deposit account indicating the amount deposited and validating the existence of the bank account.
Business visa for incorporating a company in a free zone
In order to get the Panama business visa, business executives can also consider the option of incorporating a company in one of the country’s free trade zones (FTZs) or Special Economic Zones (SEZs), such as Panama Pacífico, Colón Free Zone, or the City of Knowledge.
Note that the appropriate free trade zone to locate your company will depend on the type of activity your company develops. Panama Pacífico and Colón Free Zone welcome companies related to logistics, import, and export operations, while the City of Knowledge focuses on companies that dedicate themselves to the development of new technologies.
You will need to consider which option is the best for you, based on the type of enterprise you are launching. Note that establishing your business in an SEZ will grant migratory and tax benefits to employers and employees.
Get a Panama business visa with the help of Biz Latin Hub
At Biz Latin Hub, our team of multilingual legal and immigration experts is equipped to help you navigate the requirements for a Panama business visa and assist you with your application and business launch. With our full portfolio of market entry and back-office services, we can be your single point of contact to incorporate your company in Panama and take advantage of the business opportunities on offer in the country.
Reach out to us now to receive personalized assistance.
Learn more about our team and expert authors.