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Panama Citizenship

Panama Citizenship

Obtaining Panama citizenship can be the main reason why some foreign nationals choose to relocate here for business or employment purposes. Remaining in the country lawfully for a sufficient period of time is mandatory for this to be possible, along with other requirements concerning the applicant’s immersion in the Panamanian society and culture.

Applying for Panamanian citizenship is a process that can be fully assisted by our team of agents. We specialize in company formation in Panama, however, we are also able to help those who are interested not only in starting a business here, but also remaining in the country.

You can read this article to find out more about the conditions for obtaining Panama citizenship in 2023, as well as the general process.

Investors who need more information about how to relocate their business here, or how to incorporate an offshore company in Panama, can reach out to us for details prior to their arrival.

 Quick Facts  
 Minimum time in the country before applying for citizenship 5 years as a permanent resident in the country. 

 Conditions for applicants 

 Meet the conditions for naturalization, with a focus on lawfully living in the country as a permanent resident.

 Citizenship for children

For children born in Panama, or those who have a Panamanian parent. Conditions apply.  

 Citizenship by descent  When the applicant has a Panamanian father or mother, even if born outside Panama. Subject to conditions.
 Citizenship by adoption 

Possible when at least one parent is Panamanian. Subject to conditions. 

 Citizenship through reciprocity

 Applicable to citizens of foreign countries that have signed a reciprocity agreement with Panama (for example, some Latin American countries).

 Minimum age for citizenship applications 

 18 years, unless the parent/adoptive parent makes an application for a minor child.

 Citizenship for dependents who join the permit holder in Panama

Subject to individual application. 

 Citizenship for foreign nationals married to a Panama citizen

 After living at least 3 years as a permanent resident married to a Panama citizen, or being the parent of a Panamanian child (when the other parent is Panamanian).

 Citizenship application documents   Permanent resident card, police records, proof of economic means (income statement, other documents), medical certificates, passport copy. Some of these documents are presented in authenticated copies (our team can give you details).
 Costs to expect

Included in the overall costs for obtaining Panamanian citizenship are those related to the immigration application and those for the authorized copies/translations of documents. 

Citizenship applications processing department 

 The Panamanian National Immigration Service

 Processing time

 1 year or more

 Objection to the citizenship application decision

 The applicant may reevaluate the submission (and reapply) with the help of our team.

 Dual citizenship permitted    No

What are the main ways in which one can acquire Panama citizenship?

Foreign nationals can obtain citizenship in Panama once they have lived in the country for five years under a temporary or permanent residence permit.

Some of the main topics related to citizenship are briefly listed below:

  • – Citizenship by naturalization: this is the most common manner in which a foreign national who resides in the country for the minimum number of years can apply for citizenship;
  • – Citizenship by birth: Panamanian citizenship is automatic for individuals born in the country; those who were born abroad and have at least one Panamanian parent can also apply, as well as those who have at least one parent who was naturalized;
  • – Dual citizenship: under law, an oath of renunciation is made for the former citizenship, in case of naturalization; our team can give you more details;
  • – Loss of Panama citizenship: citizenship by naturalization can be withdrawn when the holder enlists in the army forces of another, enemy jurisdiction, upon obtaining another nationality, or in other cases.

What are the conditions for citizenship by naturalization in 2023?

A foreign national interested in gaining citizenship by naturalization will need to reside in the country for at least 5 years, or 3 years in some cases, before able to submit such as application with the Panama Immigration Office.

During the entire period in the country, it is mandatory to hold a temporary residence permit, renewed as needed, followed by a permanent residence permit. Citizenship will be granted based on the previously acquired status of permanent resident.

Foreign nationals who, during their temporary lawful residence in Panama, marry a Panamanian citizen or have Panamanian children with a Panamanian parent, can be subject to the reduced residency period for citizenship by naturalization.

Panama has several Reciprocity Agreements with other Latin American countries, as well as Spain, meaning that citizens of these countries can benefit from a reduced period for naturalization. It is advisable to reach out to our team if you are a citizen of Columbia, Argentina, Medico, Peru, Spain, or other countries, and wish to obtain residency in Panama, followed by citizenship.

Apart from having to comply with the conditions to renounce the other nationality, the individual who applies for Panamanian citizenship by naturalization will also need to bring satisfactory proof that he or she has basic knowledge of Spanish language, Panamanian law and history, as well as that he or she understands the political organization of the country and is immersed in the society.

The processing time for citizenship applications can be a lengthy one, given the fact that the process is based on a thorough consideration to grant this status, and the approvals need to be issued by several key entities in Panama. Applicants can expect one year to have their application approved.

You can also watch the video below for information:

What are the needed documents?

Proof of lawful stay in the country is required, and this is brought in the form of a temporary or permanent residence document. The applicant will also be asked to pay a fee, and provide a police record, identification documents, proof of accommodation and sufficient income.

When first acquiring temporary residence, this is possible under several investment programs. We list some of the financial conditions below:

  • – $40,000 investment in the Reforestation Program, which also allows the holder to bring his dependent children and spouse;
  • – $80,000 investment in the Reforestation Program, with this larger investment allowing the holder to apply for permanent residence after 1 year;
  • – $200,000 bank deposit, for individuals who wish to live in the country under the Persons of Means Visa.

Please keep in mind that the investments are subject to conditions and that the stated amounts can be subject to change. Our team specializing in company formation in Panama can give you more details.

In recent years, the Panamanian authorities have brought important changes to the types of residence permits available to foreign investors. One such example is the Friendly Nations Visa, which was modified in 2021 and it now allows investors to first have temporary residence (for two years), which is followed by permanent residency provided that they meet the ordinary requirements for this status.

Obtaining Panama citizenship after a lawful minimum stay in the country is the route now available to investors. This means that investments in the country will not grant automatic permanent residence or citizenship, the foreign national will need to follow the general naturalization process, based on the mandatory minimum time in the country.

If you are interested in company formation in Panama, our team will guide you not only through the process of setting up a business, but also the steps needed to apply for your temporary residence permit.

Applicants should keep in mind that residence permit applications require a general and a specific set of documents. The general ones apply in all cases and refer to personal identification documents such as one’s passport and/or personal status documents, such as the marriage certificate, if applicable. The specific documents refer to the ones that are unique to the permit type, such as proof of investment, or proof of minimum pension, among others.

The following list of documents is relevant for those looking to apply for Panama citizenship:

  • – Passport;
  • – The permanent resident ID card;
  • – Proof of economic means;
  • – Police records issued by the Panamanian police and the police in the applicant’s country of origin;
  • – Additional documents such as medical certificates, or other income statements, if needed.

Please note that authenticated copies and/or sworn translations are required for some of these documents. Our team specializing in immigration to Panama can give you complete details.

Are there other options available?

Foreign nationals who wish to retire to Panama can do so under the program for retirees. Proof of sufficient financial means is also required in this case. If they wish, they can apply for Panama citizenship after 5 years.

The program granting residency to retired persons can be seen as an attractive one by many foreign nationals looking to retire in a country with pleasant climate and beautiful islands. When the minimum income requirements are met, the holder of the retired person visa will enjoy his/her residency rights, however, given this type of visa does not lead to citizenship.

How can you help me?

Our team can assist you throughout the application process and with a pre-evaluation of your documents. Knowing if your file includes all of the needed documents, as required by the authorities, is important before making the submission. This way, you can make sure that no documents are missing and that the processing period will not be delayed if you have to submit additional documents.

Contact us if you need more information about how to apply for Panama citizenship in 2023. Our team of Panama company formation agents assists investors, entrepreneurs and other individuals who are interested in more than just opening a business. We can help you relocate and live in Panama.