Financial News

Panama Residence By Investment Factsheet

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Panama has long been a popular destination for corporate entities and commercial investors, with a generous tax regime and very low taxation on registered companies. However, as a place to live, Panama also has one of the best-developed infrastructures in Latin America, with a prime position between North and South America that makes it a hub for trade and logistics.

Outside of Panama City, the small country has a diverse landscape with lush rainforests, magnificent mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, and thousands of tiny islands dotted close offshore. Within the capital, living standards are very high, with towering skyscrapers and exclusive resorts focused on tourism activities such as diving, fishing, surfing and golf.

The wildlife is just as mixed, with exotic species, including jaguars, golden frogs, sloths, armadillos and capybaras, living in the untouched habitats in more rural regions, offset by a thriving nightlife in the populated areas.

Foreign nationals wishing to live in Panama long-term can apply for permanent residency through varied investments in property, business or fixed-term bank deposits, with reduced investment thresholds for expats from ‘friendly nations’, including the UK.

About Panama


Both the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and the United States Dollar (USD) are legal tender in Panama, with the USD, pegged to the Balboa with an equal value.


Panama’s capital city is Panama City, which comprises three districts split into the historic zone, the restored district and the ultra-modern newly developed areas. The cobblestoned streets in the old town and colonial architecture stand out against the modern plazas, cafes and bars, all with the Panama Canal as a backdrop.

Towns and cities

The biggest towns and cities according to population size are Panama City, San Miguelito, Juan Diaz and David.


4.351 million

British expats

Around 1,000 UK nationals live in Panama, with US expats making up approximately 30 per cent of the foreign national population.


Spanish is the official language in Panama, with a slightly different Panamanian Spanish dialect also spoken. Roughly 14 per cent of people speak English.


Panama’s climate is tropical and warm, with the rainy season lasting from May until January and a short dry season in between. April is the hottest month, with an average temperature of 29°C (84°F), compared to October, with the coolest average temperature of 27°C (81°F). There are two seasons with similar temperatures throughout, although extreme weather is possible, including cyclones.


Panama’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $63.61 billion (£49.94 billion), with a strong economy bolstered by logistics through The Panama Canal and the Colón Free Trade Zone. Panama’s major industries include cement, adhesives, textiles, drinks and aircraft components, with exports such as shrimp, coffee, sugar, bananas and textiles.


Panama location on the globe
Source: Wikipedia

Panama is a small Central American nation that shares borders with Colombia and Costa Rica, forming a bridge between South and North America and with coasts along the North Pacific and Caribbean Sea.

Residence By Investment Options

Panama provides various ways for foreign nationals to secure permanent residency status, with tapered investment thresholds depending on their country of origin. The Qualified Investor route is the fastest, with applications processed in one month and investments required of:

  • $300,000 (£235,550) in property.
  • $500,000 (£392,590) in the Panamanian stock exchange.
  • $750,000 (£588,880) was invested as a fixed-term deposit in a Panamanian bank.

Expats relocating from a ‘friendly nation’, including United Kingdom citizens, can apply on the same conditions but with reduced property investments of $200,000 (£157,040) in property or a $200,000 fixed-term deposit. Professionals working with a company registered in Panama can apply through the Friendly Nations Visa – although processing times are longer.

The Forestry Investor permanent residency route is open to applicants who are investing in a business with a forest registry held with the Panamanian Ministry of Environment.

These investors can qualify for permanent residency by investing $100,000 (£78,520) in real estate or $350,000 (£274,810) in teak reforestation projects. Another option is to invest $100,000 in teak reforestation in return for a two-year temporary residency permit, which can then be upgraded to permanent residency.


Panamanian residency does not include visa-free travel rights but allows residents to travel freely to and from Panama.


Residency application processing times vary between visa categories. Qualified Investor applicants usually receive a permit within 30 days, whereas other applications take four to six months to process.


British passport holders do not need a visa to visit Panama for a short stay unless they arrive by ferry and must be able to show an onward or return travel ticket. Visas are unnecessary for any short stay of up to 90 days, although UK citizens should ensure their passports are stamped with a tourist visa upon arrival.

Longer stays require a formal visa, with strict rules around renewing permits, particularly for visa holders travelling to and from Costa Rica. There are various visas available depending on the reason for travel, and professionals moving to take up a position with a local business can apply for permanent residency with no further investment required, provided they comply with other eligibility requirements.

Learn more about Panama visas, entry requirements and permits.


Residents living in Panama for at least 183 days per year or more are treated as tax residents. They can apply for a Panamanian tax residency certificate, meaning overseas income outside Panama is not taxable.

Other benefits of the Panama tax regime include low taxes for offshore companies, and no income, capital gains, estate or corporate taxes on offshore companies that trade solely outside Panamanian jurisdictions.

The system works on a territorial tax basis, which means that residents and citizens do not pay tax on international income, and it is the responsibility of the payer to withhold tax as appropriate since the Panamanian tax office will not collect this. Non-residents are not taxed on tax-exempt income, including savings interest and government securities.

Cost Of Living

Living costs in Panama are lower than in the UK, with a single person needing a monthly budget of around $742 (£583) per month, excluding accommodation, and a family of four requiring roughly $2,660 (£2,090).

Everyday expenses are an average of 23.7 per cent cheaper than in Britain, with property rental prices 34 per cent more affordable in Panama.


Foreign nationals can purchase property in Panama without restrictions and can use real estate investments to qualify for permanent residency status. Property rights are universal, including for non-residents, and Panama has several laws which protect the rights of foreign real estate investors.

Expats can also rent a property – a popular option with overseas visitors – with variable lease terms and properties ranging from high-rise luxury apartments to beachfront condos and mountain villas.

One-bedroom city centre apartment$803 / £631
One-bedroom apartment elsewhere$489 / £384
Three-bedroom city centre apartment$1,553 / £1,220
Three-bedroom apartment elsewhere$875 / £687
Source: Numbeo

View properties in Panama listed for sale on Rightmove.


The healthcare system in Panama has improved considerably over recent years due to the influx of migration. The government invests in public healthcare services, with a range of public and private hospitals and specialists with similar standards to those in the US and Europe.

Basic coverage is available to all permanent residents and citizens. However, most people hold private medical insurance to ensure they have access to expedited treatments and a broader choice of services.

Expats without permanent residency must pay for medical expenses out of pocket. However, the public hospitals financed by the Ministry of Health through the social security system provide low-cost or free treatments in an emergency.

Panama Residence By Investment FAQ

Can the Panamanian government take away residency?

Permanent residents must visit Panama at least once every two years to renew their status – failure to attend may mean a foreign national has their residency suspended. Immigration officers may also choose to pause permanent residence at their discretion, although with clear justification or failure to comply with permit conditions.

When is a residence application rejected?

Panama has three potential investment routes for expats to apply for permanent residency; any non-compliance will likely mean an application is denied. For example, selling or transferring an investment before five years will mean Qualified Investor applicants cannot proceed with renewing their residency permits.

How long is the flight from Panama to the UK?

The average flight time is 10 hours and 20 minutes, and you can fly direct to Panama from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow to Panama City through Lufthansa and KLM.

What’s the currency in Panama?

Panama has two official currencies – the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and the US Dollar (USD).

Do British passport holders need a visa?

UK nationals can visit Panama without a visa for a maximum stay of three months. Longer stays require a valid residence permit, visa or work permit.

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.


  1. Official Website of the Panamanian Government:
  2. Ministry of Economy and Finance, Panama:
  3. Panama Immigration Office:
  4. Invest in Panama, the official investment promotion agency:
  5. Panama Canal Authority:

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