Living in Panama guide

Find out all you need to know to relocate and live in Panama with the expat guide

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General information


Visas, passports and entry requirements
  • Panama customs do not impose many restrictions on foreigners. However, firearms must be declared on arrival. These will be retained until your departure.

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  • Depending on your location, you can travel to Panama either over land or by plane. Citizens of a number of countries do not need a visa to enter Panama.

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  • You needn't be a resident to get married in Panama, however those marrying a Panamanian are granted permanent residence. Same-sex marriages are not legal.

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Work visas, work permits, working holiday visas and residence permits
  • The investor visa grants permanent residence in Panama for two years. The agricultural investment visa grants six years temporary residence.

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  • The tourist visa entitles you to a 90 days stay in Panama. This visa may be renewed at each exit from the country.

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  • To be authorized to work in Panama, you can choose between the temporary work visa and the specific countries program.

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  • Pensionado visas will cost between $1000-1500 per person. Because of the cost, you may find that this visa is not worth it.

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Labour market, how to find a job
  • Expat entrepreneurs are able to establish a business in Panama, though different types of company have different requirements.

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  • Panama City enjoys a developed and prosperous economy. There are jobs opportunities for expats notably in the construction and tourism sectors.

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  • You must have a good command of English and knowledge of Spanish to be hired in Panama. The minimum wage is around USD2 per hour.

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  • Expats must have a professional visa in order to work in Panama. Start your job search well in advance. Knowledge of Spanish is an advantage.

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How to rent a house or an apartment, leases and rental agreements
  • The real estate market in Panama is very active, and expats are permitted to purchase property in the country, even if you are not a resident.

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  • Panama's capital city offers a wide variety of accommodation options to expats. You can rent a studio, an apartment or an individual house.

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  • Panama has a variety of accommodation for expats of all tastes and budgets. The rental duration, conditions and the price can be negotiated with the owner.

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Student visa, University registration
  • If you want to study in Panama, you can register in a Panamanian public university, an American university or a private educational institute.

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Health care

Public and private health systems
  • Panama has many hospitals (public and private) and clinics which offer quality services, but you should subscribe to an insurance before travelling.

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Open and manage a bank account
  • It is fairly straightforward for an expat to open a bank account in Panama with the right documents and a USD1000 deposit.

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Tax system, income tax
  • There are different types of taxes in Panama, including income tax, capital gains tax, and value-added tax (VAT). Residents have to pay income tax.

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Train, bus, plane, car rental
  • Panama has a highly developed transport system including aircraft, bus, train, subway, taxi and boat. Cars are also available for rent.

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Driver's licence

Driving requirements
  • Expats are allowed to drive in Panama with your foreign driver's license for 90 days. You will need a local driver's license for longer stays.

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moving, formalities and useful tips
  • Your pet will need a health card and a rabies vaccination certificate in order to travel with you to Panama. Exotic pets require further approvals.

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  • Expats moving to Panama should find a reliable moving company, though those moving from the Americas may consider moving their belongings themselves.

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Phone line, internet provider, post office
  • Panama has several landline and mobile network service providers. Your choice will largely depend on the length of your stay in the country.

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  • Expats will find good internet coverage throughout most of Panama, though they may have to rely on internet cafes in some smaller towns.

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Sports, leisure and cultural activities
  • You can practice different types of sports in Panama: football, golf, tennis, squash, horse riding and cycling. Water sports also very popular.

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  • From visiting the famous Panama Canal, to sampling the local cuisine, there are a number of ways to spend your free time in Panama.

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