More and more foreigners are choosing to live in Panama. Although the country is quite small, it offers a pleasant climate and a multitude of landscapes: big cities, beaches, and mountains.
Its advantageous tax system and moderate cost of living are other assets that can encourage people to go for the Panamanian adventure, provided that they have a good command of Spanish in their daily lives, at work, or for administrative purposes.
What Kind of Visa is Needed for Living in Panama?
There are several types of visas for moving to Panama. A simple tourist visa allows you to stay in Panama for 90 days. It is renewable for each new entry into the country, provided that you have left the country before the end of the validity of your visa. But, in theory, it does not allow you to work.
For living in Panama with a professional project, it is necessary to obtain a specific visa or a work permit. This process can take a long time, so plan in advance.
Among the available visas, we find :
Temporary Panama working visa
This visa requires to be recruited by a Panamanian company and is valid for 3 months only.
This visa is for those who wish to invest or create a business while living in Panama.
Specific country program
Reserved for citizens of certain countries and their dependents, including the USA, Ireland, and New Zealand, this program aims to attract experienced foreign workers by offering permanent residence and a national identity card upon first application.
It is then possible to be naturalized after 5 years of residence. The obtaining of this residence permit is conditioned by :
- The deposit of a certain amount of money in a Panamanian account
- The ownership of a residence, the opening of a business or the signing of a work contract in Panama.
This visa is available to pensioners and their dependents who can prove that they have a certain amount of monthly income (approximately $2000 per month).
This visa grants interesting advantages such as tariff reductions and exemptions from customs duties.
Is There Work in Panama for Foreigners?
Finding a job in Panama can be quite difficult. It is best to find an employer before moving to Panama: the company will then be able to help you with the formalities and procedures.
Among the sectors of activity likely to recruit foreign workers because of their expertise:
- Financial services
- Trade and commerce
Fluency in Spanish is essential to working in Panama as a Foreigner, but English is also very useful.
The salaries offered to those who move to Panama are lower than those in other destinations known for their high level of remuneration, but the moderate cost of living generally compensates for this small inconvenience.
Unlike in France, salaries in Panama are paid bi-weekly.
Should I Take out International Health Insurance Before Moving to Panama?
One might think that it is not necessary to take out international health insurance before moving to Panama, as this has a cost, and because the country has a modern health care system thanks to government investments.
However, the hot and humid climate, tap water, and mosquitoes in Panama can lead to health problems that require prompt attention.
The country has many health care facilities, both public hospitals and private clinics, as well as well-trained personnel.
However, in the private sector, fees can be very high, and in most cases, you will have to pay the full amount immediately.
This is why it is highly recommended to take out an international health insurance policy before moving to Panama.
It will cover health and hospital expenses in the establishments chosen by the insured, will offer advantages such as third-party payment, and will also cover the insured in case of evacuation or repatriation, an essential guarantee when moving to the other side of the world.
International health insurance also has another advantage: it follows the insured everywhere and therefore allows the coverage of his expenses during his expatriation to Panama, but also during his stays in neighboring countries, or during temporary returns to his country of origin.
Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Panama
Yes, an US or European citizen needs a visa to work in Panama or to stay for more than 90 days. There are different types of work visas depending on the situation. A retirement visa also exists.
It is essential to speak Spanish when relocating to Panama, especially when working there. Speaking English is also a considerable advantage.