Residency Visa Requirements and Registration
Information about procedures and requirements for applying for a residency visa and how to register with the immigration authorities…
It is necessary to hire a Panamanian lawyer to begin and complete the process of getting a residency visa. An attorney is required to submit all documents and applications and generally charge between US$800 and US$1,500 to process a visa.
To obtain any visa, the following documents are required (additional requirements apply for some residency visas):
- Current passport - must be valid for at least another six months from the date of application. If the passport expires before this time, it must be renewed. It is advisable to have a passport that is valid for a year from the date of application, in case of any delays
- A certificate of general good health signed by a Panamanian doctor
- A police report from the national law enforcement agency in the applicant's previous place of residence regarding any criminal record within the last five years
- Six passport-sized photographs. Applicants should be dressed appropriately in this photograph; men in suits, women in dresses or blouses
Panamanian ID Card (Cedula)
The immigration lawyer will inform the applicant when their Panamanian ID Card (Cedula) is available for collection. At the immigration office, a photograph is taken of the applicant and the ID card is made. The applicant must provide proof of identity (for example a driving license or passport).
Note: The immigration office will turn away applicants that are not dressed appropriately - men should wear long trousers, a sleeved shirt and closed toed shoes; women should not have bare arms, or wear shorts or flip flops.
Authentication of Documents
All overseas documents must be translated, notarized and authenticated at a Panamanian consulate or apostilled in the applicant's country of origin before being presented to the authorities. The cost of authentication is US$30 per page and it can be done in person or by post.
To obtain authentication by post, a letter to the relevant regional Consulate General of Panama must be included. The letter should give details of the applicant's name, address, telephone number, and email address. It should also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a check to the amount of US$30 per page, made payable to the Consulate General of Panama.
All documents must be valid and current. If applying with a spouse and/or children, a marriage certificate and valid birth certificates for any children under 18 should be included. Photocopies are not accepted and copies must be issued by the authority originally in charge of recording the marriage or birth(s).
U.S. Police Records
Immigration now requires FBI records instead of state or local police records for any residency visa application from U.S. citizens or residents. These will then need to be authenticated by a Panamanian Consul.
- To request a signed FBI report: Click here
Renewing a Residency Visa
All visas can be renewed in Panama and the process is again carried out by a lawyer. The validity time of each visa and each renewal varies and the lawyer is charged with ensuring that the process is carried out properly and on time. The lawyer will notify the visa-holder when certain documents are needed to be submitted to the authorities for review and when to visit the immigration office. The residency card will be issued to the applicant and the lawyer will also keep a copy.