If you’re looking for a second residency with minimal physical presence requirements in a business-friendly jurisdiction, look no further than Panama. Although the hype over the Panama Papers might tell you otherwise, Panama is a high-quality banking and business jurisdiction, and it’s also a tax-friendly second residency with its territorial tax system.
Panama is also a great option if you want to live in Central America with all of the conveniences that you have at home. It has most of the Western amenities that you’re used to, and it’s relatively well-connected to other parts of the world. Panama also has an incredibly low cost of living, and it’s quite possible to enjoy big city living in Panama City for as little as $1,500 per month.
Out of all the countries on this list, Panama perhaps offers the largest variety of residency options. The easiest option for Panamanian residency is the Friendly Nations Visa, but if you’re not from a qualifying country, then you still have other options as well.
THE PANAMA FRIENDLY NATIONS VISA
Most Westerners can use Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa to become a Panamanian resident. To be eligible to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa, you must be able to deposit $5,000 in a Panamanian bank account, and you must also have an economic tie to the country. The easiest way to do this is to start a company there, but you can also choose other options, such as investing in Panamanian businesses.
If you’re married or have children, you’ll need to deposit an extra $2,000 per dependent. From there, the process for applying for a Friendly Nations Visa is quite simple. Once you complete the financial requirements and gather your required documents, you’ll be all set for your Panamanian residency. Additionally, under this program, physical presence requirements are quite minimal. Like Costa Rica, you’ll only need to spend a day in the country per year to keep your residence permit.
The problem with the Friendly Nations Visa is that it’s only available to citizens of 50 different countries, which include most EU countries, major Asian economies like Taiwan and South Korea, and, of course, the US. If you’re like me and do not have citizenship in one of these countries, then you will not be eligible for this visa. Additionally, if you plan to renounce your US citizenship, you may not be able to keep your Friendly Nations Visa after you renounce – unless you choose to get Panamanian citizenship.