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Complete guide to obtaining a Panama retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

Panama has become a popular retirement home in recent years due to low government tax and price discounts for foreign guests and retirees. You can choose to enjoy your retirement by the beach, in rural areas, or in one of the beautiful cities of Panama. 

Panama offers foreign retirees one of the best retirement programs in the world. The Panama Pensionado program comes with great benefits for retirees. Foreigners who decide to join the retirement program in Panama need to apply for a retirement visa first.

Who Is Eligible for the Panama Pensionado Program?

To be eligible for a retirement visa in Panama, you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • You must have a verifiable minimum monthly income of $1,000. This could be Social Security or other government retirement funds (military, state retirement, police pension,  etc.) or retirement from a private corporation.
  • You must meet the age requirement. The retirement age in Panama is 62 for men and 57 for women. However, you can apply for a retirement visa even if you are not technically of retirement age, but you will not receive the full benefits of the Pensionado program.

Benefits of Pensionado Retirement Visa in Panama

Being amongst the best retirement programs worldwide, the Panama Pensionado Program offers you excellent benefits such as:

  • You can live and enjoy your retirement in one of the safest countries in Central America.
  • You will get exemption from import tax for household goods.
  • You will have exemption from import taxes to import a new car every two years.
  • You can get discounts on things like utility bills, airline tickets, medical fees, and entry fees for movie theaters and cultural and sporting events, etc., as follows:
    • 25% discounts on utility bills.
    • 25% discount on airline tickets and 30% on other transportation.
    • 15% discount on loans made in your name.
    • 1% reduction on home mortgages personal residence.
    • 20% discount on doctor’s bills and 15% on hospital services if no insurance applies.
    • 15% off dental and eye exams.
    • 10% discount on medicines.
    • 20% discount on bills for professional and technical services.
    • 50% discount on entrance to movie theaters and cultural and sporting events.
    • 50% discount at hotels from Monday to Thursday, 30% on weekends.

How To Apply For a Panama Retirement Visa?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a Panama retirement visa at the Immigration Office in Panama City. A step-by-step overview of the application process is as follows:

  1. Travel to Panama. You can enter with a tourist visa or visa-free and change your immigration status later on.
  2. Compile the document checklist. You must enclose all required documents, but the Immigration Office will inform you if any additional documents are needed.
  3. Fill in the retirement visa registration form. You can get a registration form for the retirement visa at the Immigration Office. Then, attach it to the rest of your documents.
  4. Submit the documents to the Immigration Office in Panama City. After your visa is issued, you have to go pick it up in person.

Applying  for a Panama Retirement Visa From Abroad

If you are applying for a Panama retirement visa from abroad, you must submit your application through an immigration lawyer in Panama – you cannot submit the application through the Panamanian consular offices. 

The immigration office of Panama requires applications for a retirement visa to be submitted and verified through an immigration lawyer if it is not possible for you to submit it personally. This means you have to send your lawyer all the documents so they can submit the application on your behalf.

However, if your application is approved, it is generally a requirement that you have to pick up your visa in person.

Document Checklist for a Panama Retirement Visa

To complete your Panama retirement visa application, make sure you have all the following documents:

  • A registration form. You can pick up the registration form at the Immigration Office in Panama.
  • Original valid passport. Also include copies of your passport pages (including cover), notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate.
  • Four photographs. The pictures must be 2-inch by 2-inch and taken on a light background.
  • Health certificate issued by a Panamanian Doctor. Provide an official document that states your health status. The professional health specialist (doctor) must sign the certificate.
  • Police records. You need police records issued by the authorities of your country of residence for the last five years authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate or by Apostille. 
  • Proof of your pension or income. You must submit a letter issued by a private company or public entity that states your condition of pensioner and the monthly amount you receive. The letter must be original and notarized.
  • Proof of the received amount authenticated by an apostille stamp or the Panamanian Consulate.
  • Sworn statement regarding your personal background. This is done in Panama through a lawyer.
  • A bachelorhood certificate authenticated by the Panamanian consulate (applicable only if you are single).

How Can I Bring My Family With Me?

The Panama Pensionado retirement program allows you to bring your family with you. However, to bring your spouse or minor children, you must increase your minimum monthly income by $250 per family member. 

You should also provide the following documents:

  • Marriage certificate authenticated by apostille stamp or at Panamanian consulate.
  • A notarized and authenticated police record of the last five years for each dependent.
  • Children’s birth certificate authenticated by the Panamanian consulate.
  • Passport copies.
  • Four photographs of each family member.
  • Health certificate issued by a Panamanian doctor.
  • Sworn statement about personal background. (Must be done through a lawyer.)
  • Letter of responsibility notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian consulate.

Note: Documents issued abroad must be authenticated by the consulate of Panama or Apostille stamp before submission to your lawyer in Panama.

Can I Become a Permanent Resident With a Panama Retirement Visa?

Yes, you can become a permanent resident in Panama with a Pensionado visa. Holders of the retirement visa are allowed to stay and retire in Panama for as long as they want to. 

Once you obtain a retirement visa, you will be granted permanent residency and enjoy your retirement in Panama.

You can apply for Panamanian citizenship after five years of being a permanent resident of Panama.

How Much Do You Need to Retire in Panama?

The low cost of living in Panama will give you a comfortable life without spending much. For example, a retired couple can live well for less than $3,000 a month, including rent, whereas a single person can live well from $1,400 to $1,700 a month.

Keep in mind that your lifestyle and residence location play a huge role in your budget. For example, the cost of living in big cities is higher than in smaller cities or rural areas.

Healthcare for Retirees in Panama

The Ministry of Health and Caja de Seguro Social (Social Security System) fund the public hospitals in Panama. Therefore, the services in public hospitals are not completely free. However, according to Panama Law, retirees are given a discount on healthcare services (check the benefits above).

Both public hospitals and private clinics in Panama have qualified medical staff and specialists and are equipped with modern appliances. 

Expats have access to public and private health insurance. 

Caja de Seguro Social

Caja de Seguro Social is run by the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES). CSS is in charge of administering the national insurance program for pensions, health, unemployment, and labor accidents.

Retirees who have reached the required age (57 women – 62 men) are eligible to apply for Caja de Seguro Social under the “Old Age Pension” and benefit from the CSS services. Depending on your preference, you can always go with private health insurance companies.

Where to Retire in Panama?

The tropical beaches, history, and wildlife are just some of the reasons why Panama is one of the most popular favorite retirement destinations.

Here is a list of some of the best places you can retire in Panama.

Boquete

Known as “Panama’s Top Expat Havens” and home to over 23,000 people, Boquete is perfect for expats looking for a simple and quiet retirement. The favorable climate, healthy lifestyle, natural landscapes, music, and art attract retirees around the world to move to Boquete and live the rest of their lives.

Pedasí

If safety is your main concern when looking for a new home, then Pedasi is the ideal place for you. Pedasí has the lowest crime rate in Panama. 

The rural region is surrounded by natural greenery and beautiful beaches and is perfect for people who love the ocean and fishing.

Torio

Torio is a small town on the Panamas Azuero peninsula with friendly people and a beautiful coastline. The town is famous for the fishing spots and surfing, but there are many more activities one can do during their stay, such as horseback riding, mountain climbing, etc.

If you decide to live in Torio, you will experience the feeling of nature and people uniting.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a great place to retire and enjoy the low cost of living and warm climate. The authentic town is perfect for a comfortable and simple life. As a retiree, you will enjoy the low cost of living, friendly environment, and stunning tropical location.

Bocas del Toro

For everyone who wants to spend a more luxurious retirement and feel like they are in the Caribbean but on a budget, Bocas del Toro must be your final destination. Bocas del Toro is home to over 400 expats. The beautiful province offers many daily activities and beautiful natural sights, so you can relax and live comfortably.

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