Panama: Pensioner Visa
Gray & Co., specifically Joan Villanueva (since 2006), has been assisting clients obtain the “Pensionado” or Pensioner Visa since we started in 2004. Assisting our clients to get their residency in Panama has been a backbone of our law firm, as we help clients relocate to this tropical paradise. We have assisted clients who are:
- simply travelling to Panama for the first time to see whether they like it,
- trying out being “snow bunnies” for a few years, as well as
- those who have made Panama their permanent home.
We’ve helped clients bring in their pets, organised their relocation services, and helped them find realtors that we believe to be trustworthy. Under the new rules, we have assisted our “pensionados” get their cédulas, apply for citizenship and get naturalized as Panamanian citizens.
So, how can we help you retire in Panama?
You will need to take care of getting two (or if you are married 4) principal documents:
- Proof of your pension
- Police record, which must indicate that it includes fingerprint checks
- Marriage certificate (if you are married and coming with your spouse)
- Police record for the spouse
How much money do you need?
The monthly income or pension can be no less than One Thousand Dollars (US$1,000.00) per month and must be “for life”. So, for example, if you have a personal investment account, that generates at least $1,000.00 a month, will you qualify? No. Because you could take that capital and use it to buy something else. The stock market could crash and you might lose your return on that investment. You could liquidate your investments and try your hand at setting up a business. In any of these scenarios, you no longer have $1,000.00 a month in income “for life”. The government of Panama wants $1,000.00 a month from a pension plan, not an investment account! But we do have other visas available for investors!
What if you only have a pension of $750.00? You could purchase a property iinvestorn your personal name: it needs to be valued at higher than $100,000.00. You could then still qualify for the pensioner visa. In this case, Gray & Co. would obtain from the Public Registry a certification regarding the property and its value.
If you are coming with a spouse, you will need an additional $250.00 to cover them in the application process.
What happens when one spouse doesn’t have a big enough pension to cover both of them? Then we have to look at whether the spouse has a pension that would qualify, or whether the above option of ownership of property would work (so the pension is just over $1,000.00, plus a property of $100,000.00 and so this would qualify both of them). Otherwise, we would need to look at other visa options.
Once you have the documentation together, Joan Villanueva will apply for your Pensioner Visa. She will make sure that you have the following documents to present:
In addition to the general requirements referred to in Article 28 of the Law, without the number 4, the applicant shall submit the following documents:
- Pension Letter Certification letter of being retired or pensioned by a foreign government, international organization or private company, confirming that they receive a pension of no less than One Thousand Dollars (US$1,000.00) per month or its equivalent in foreign currency and that this is for life.
- In the case of dependents, you must receive Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars (US$250.00) more in your pension.
- Certification from the Public Registry for the property (if applicable).
- If the pension or retirement is from a private company, provide the following documentation:
- Letter from the foreign company that administers the pension funds, the trust, the mutual funds, the insurance or the bank, which certify the existence of the funds that guarantee the lifetime pension of the applicant;
- Certificate of Good Standing which proves the existence of the company that is granting the pension and responsible for the administration of the funds;
- Copy of the payment chit or bank statement.
Note: All documents issued overseas (that were not issued in Panama) must be duly authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate or Embassy in the country where issue and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Panama or duly Apostilled.
- In the case of spouses, they may opt to prove the income required in point 1 with both pensions, in which case both parties must provide all documentation requested as proof of pension.
Joan will tell you the fees and costs of the Pensioner Visa.
Retirement in Panama
The following pages provide an overview of the pros, cons, costs and experiences that others have had retiring in Panama:
- Retiring in Panama: the pros and cons
- Is retiring in Panama still a good choice?
- 7 things retirement websites won’t tell you about living in Panama
- 13 important tips for retirees
- and my personal favorite: The complete guide to retiring in Panama, by Liz Laroquette