Panama like many other countries around the world has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. With a tourism sector that contributes 15% to GDP, the severe drop in tourism numbers had a profound effect on the Panamanians.
With the global transformation in how people live and work (the rise of the digital nomad) and to counteract the drop in tourism, the Panama Digital Nomad Visa became a solution. In May 2021 the Panamanian government created by Executive Decree 198 the officially called Short Stay Visa for Remote Workers.
Panama has joined a growing list of countries offering digital nomad visas or programs. In the Caribbean and Central America region, there are already programs in place for Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Dominica, Curacao and Costa Rica.
For a full list of all countries globally check out our ultimate list of Countries with Digital Nomad visas.
What is the Panama Digital Nomad Visa?
Panama's new short-term visa offers foreigners an opportunity to stay in Panama for a minimum period of 9 months working remotely. This remote work has to be done for a foreign company or as an independent freelancer. There is an extension available for an additional 9 months taking the maximum stay permitted to 18 months.
With this visa, Panama is hoping to attract remote workers and freelancers that will stimulate the economy through consumption and investment. For those that like it and want to stay longer in Panama, there is the friendly nations visa which is available to 50 nationalities.
Who can Apply for the Panama Digital Nomad Visa?
You need to meet the following criteria:
- Have a valid working contract with a foreign company or show that you are an independent freelancer doing remote work.
- The teleworking provided must be for business outside of Panama.
- The minimum income should be an annual amount of $36,000 provided by remote working.
What Are the Cost?
The total cost of the Short Stay Visa for Remote Workers is 300 balboas or $300 it is split between:
- $250 application fee to the National Immigration Service (Servicio National de Migración)
- $50 visa card issuance fee
What is the Duration?
The Panama Digital Nomad Visa allows you to stay for a period of 9 months. This can be extended for another 9 months.
How Long Will it take?
The whole process can be completed through an online platform in under 30 days.
What Are the Tax benefits?
Panama has territorial taxation in which remote workers are not taxed on any income from outside of Panama. If you decide to decide more than 6 months in Panama you can apply for tax residency. This could mean you can avoid taxation from your home country.
What is Panama Like to Live in?
Panama is the most developed nation in Central America with a high standard of living, a warm climate, great nature, beaches and vibrant cities. It has been a favourite destination for retirees and expats who have been drawn for decades to Panama.
For digital nomads what is important is that Panama ranks 49 out of 139 countries on the cost of living index on Numbeo. Average Internet speeds across Panama are 20.44 Mbps for mobile Internet and 137.38 Mbps for fixed Internet.
Panama Digital Nomad Visa Application Requirements
There are two types of applicants who can apply for the short-stay visa: those who are working remotely for a foreign company and those who are working as independent freelancers or autonomous business owners. The application requirements differ slightly depending on which category the applicant falls under.
All applicants must submit the following documents:
- A completed application form,
- A commitment to fund the costs of return to their home country after the expiration of the visa.
- Three passport size photographs.
- A copy of valid medical insurance with coverage for Panama for the applicant.
- Certified passport copies.
- Certificate showing a clean criminal record.
- Certificate of good health.
- Affidavit of non-acceptance of any job offers within Panama territory (this means that all work needs to relate to operations outside of Panama).
- Proof of annual income in excess of $36000. This is done by providing bank certification and authenticated bank statements to prove sufficient income and funding.
Applicants working remotely for a foreign company:
Submit a document with company letterhead signed by a legal representative explaining the following:
- Role and functions applicant exercises at the company,
- Applicant's monthly income,
- Work modality (how the work is performed from abroad).
Self-employed applicants must provide:
- Proof of the existence of the foreign company which is registered outside of Panama,
- A sworn declaration outlining the following:
- Business activities that they are engaged in,
- Services which they offer,
- Nature of their clients,
- Past revenue and projected revenue.
All these documents must be properly notarized and apostilled if originating from abroad.
If you want to know more about life in Panama as a tourist or digital nomad check out the following articles: