Visas for Panama

Visas for Panama
Updated 2017-07-31 10:00

There are different types of residency visas in Panama, including those for retirees and others for people wishing to work there or even set up and run a business. While it is certainly possible to arrange a visa yourself, it's a complex area and one where small changes in legislation can have unforeseen implications. In addition, one person's circumstances may be different from another's, which makes it impossible to generalise.

It is therefore strongly recommended that you find a Panamanian lawyer to conduct the process smoothly and quickly. In addition to the obvious reduction in stress for the individual needing a visa, the authorities appreciate dealing with a professional who knows the ropes and can ensure the necessary paperwork is in order before beginning the application.

The visa information in this article should be considered a guide, rather than a definitive answer.

It makes sense to visit the country in advance, getting a feel for the place, an idea of where to base yourself and making some contacts in the business and legal sectors. This can be done on a tourist visa, which is easy enough to obtain for citizens of most countries. Again, though, things can change quickly in the world of politics and international relations, so nothing is guaranteed. Contact your nearest Panamanian embassy or consulate to check the situation before spending time and money on your prospective Panama venture.

Until quite recently some people lived in the country as 'permanent tourists', popping over the border when the visa expired and coming back almost immediately with another legal period at their disposal. Those days are gone, however, as the regulations have been tightened up.

There is some confusion over the length of tourist visas, due to an ambiguous-sounding piece of legislation, but the latest news is that, while it may appear to be 90 days, it is in fact 180. Check with the embassy to confirm.

Documents required to obtain visas include:

  • a passport valid for more than six months as from the date of your request;
  • a medical certificate;
  • a clean criminal record for the past five years; and
  • six passport-size identity photos.

Fees apply.

National identity card

Once you have obtained your permanent residence permit in Panama, you are required to apply for Panamanian identity card. You lawyer will handle the procedures and notify you once it is ready. In general, documents required to obtain a Panamanian identity card are your passport or driving license.


Your request will be rejected if you are not dressed properly when the application is submitted and while taking the identity pictures. Men are required to wear long trousers, long sleeved shirts and closed shoes. Women should not wear sleeveless clothes, shorts or flip flops.

Useful link:

Immigration Service of Panama

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.