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Differences between Friendly Nations Visa and Pensioner Visa.

  • April 21st, 2020

If you are looking for a relocation destination and Panama is on your radar, you’ve probably heard of the Pensioner Retiree visa and the Friendly Nations visa, two of the most popular immigration programs in Panama.

Although each program grants permanent residency, there are important differences in the requirements, costs, and benefits.

Let’s walk through some of those differences to help you better understand each visa and make an informed decision based on your needs and goals.

Applying For a Pensioner Retiree visa

One of the pros of the Pensioner Retiree Visa is that anyone over the age of 18 can apply, granted they fulfil the other eligibility requirements.

This means, clients who choose this option just have to meet the main requirement of demonstrating that they are actively receiving a pension (from a government or private entity) of at least USD $1,000 a month- guaranteed for life.

Applicants of the pensioner visa have to meet the minimum pension income requirement.

Unlike the Friendly Nations Visa, this immigration program is open to all nationalities. On top of that, once residency is granted, holders of this visa have access to many discounts in hotels, restaurants, airfares, and more.

Clients who meet the requirements prefer this visa as it is less expensive than the Friendly Nations visa. The cost for one main applicant is US$ 1,900 which includes all legal fees and government expenses. If you want to know the cost and fees of including dependents in your application you can use our fee calculator on our website.

The Pensioner Visa has one important limitation: holders can invest in Panama and own a business; however, they cannot be granted a work permit until after 10 years of residency.

When it comes to taxes, holders are not expected to file income taxes from their pension, since it is a source of income outside of Panama. However, if you own a business in Panama you’ll have to file a tax return for the business.

Choosing the Friendly Nations Visa

If you are not receiving a pension, you are interested in working in Panama, and you hold a passport of one of the eligible countries, the Friendly Nations visa is the better option for you.

Requirements include setting up a personal bank account in Panama and funding it with US $5,000 to prove financial solvency. This balance does not have to be maintained and can be used to cover some of the costs, as Marcos Kraemer explains in this vlog.

You also need to demonstrate economic ties to Panama, either by opening a corporation, owning real estate, or showing a letter of employment from a Panamanian company.

The Friendly Nations Visa is available to 50 countries around the world

The cost of the Friendly Nations Visa for one main applicant is US$ 2,900 which includes all legal fees and government costs. If you want to calculate costs including dependents you can visit our fees page.

Holders of a Friendly Nations visa have the ability to apply for a work permit (unlike holders of a Pensionado Visa), which is necessary even if you work for your own Panamanian company.

Similar processing timeframes

Once you have all the paperwork ready, each visa has a similar processing time frame. Each process is divided into three steps: (1) application submission – when a temporary residency card is issued, (2) waiting period – while application is reviewed, and (3) application resolution – when residency is approved and a permanent residency card is issued for each applicant.

Steps 1 and 3 require the physical presence of all applicants.

Both visas are the most popular because they are the fastest way to get permanent residency in Panama, with a processing time frame from 3 to 6 months.

Ready to apply? Let’s talk.


Take a look at the following table to compare the differences of each immigration program.

If you want to apply for the Pensioner or the Friendly Nations visa, our team at Kraemer & Kraemer is ready to assist you. Send us a note to info@KraemerLaw.com and we will be glad to give you the proper legal advice.