Friendly Nations FAQs

Banking

Do I need to open a bank account?
Yes, opening a bank account is a required to file your permanent residency application.
How much are annual fees and should I maintain a balance?
Annual fees differ from bank to a bank. Our recommended bank charges $25 to open the account and $25 annually to maintain the account. Balances are not required, however, an initial deposit of $3000 is required.
Can I access my funds in the Panamanian Bank Account?
Your funds are immediately available for use once deposited.
Can I open my account from abroad?
Due to increased banking regulations, all banks in Panama require an in-person interview. Accounts can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to open, however, with the right connections at our recommended bank, an account can be opened in 1 day.
Can I open a corporate account?
While opening a corporate account is possible, it is a very complicated and time-consuming process. We recommend applying for a business license (separate to your corporation) and connecting the license to your personal account to conduct business transactions.
What is the minimum requirement of funds needed to prove financialy solvency.
Immigration requires a minimum deposit of $5000 in a Panamanian account. If you are opening a joint account with your spouse, the minimum deposit is $8000.

Business

Will I need to register a corporation?
Economic solveny is a required for residency and can be fulfilled by receiving a job offer in Panama, purchasing real estate in Panama or opening a corporation. Opening a corporation is one of the most common and easiest option. There is no oligation to conduct any business during your application or after permanent residency has been approved. In fact, you can dissovle the corporation after you have recieved residency. Corporations will incurr an annual tax fee of $300 as well as resident agent fees: varies according to lawyer appointed.
Should I open an IBC or LLC?
An IBC requires 3 directors and at least one shareholder. The LLC requires at least 2 managers and at least 2 partners. Depending on the goals of your company, either could be more suitable. We recommend opening an IBC and appointing 3 directors- this can friends, family or anyone you wish to appoint.
How can I ensure my privacy and remain anonymous?
Directors ' names are entered into the Public Registry. Therefore, if you would like to remain anonymous, you can utilize our nominee director services.
Are any restrictions as to the type of business I am allowed to own/operate/run?
Providing services (includes restaurants) and wholesale activities are permitted. Retail Business is prohibited to foreigners. However, you can get around this by issuing your business license under a Panamanian Citizen's name. A contract will be drawn up where you will remain the shareholder of the corporation.
Do I need a business license?
A general business license is required if you are planning on utilizing your corporation to conduct business. This should be purchased at the same time the corporation is orders as it will incur an addition $100 if purchased after the corporation has been opend. Depending on the nature of your business, additional licenses may be required.

Work in Panama

Do I require a work permit once I have Permanent Residency?
Yes, applying for a work permit is a separate process after you have obtained permanent residency. There are various work permits that can be applied for, however, they need to be renewed every couple years. We recommend applying for a work permit through your established corporation, where you will recieve and work permit valid indefinitely.
Are there restrictions as to the type of work I can and cannot do?
Professions that require a license such as Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, Architects, Etc. are prohibited for foreigners. However, you can still work in the field in another capacity such as a consultant.
I opened up my corporation, can I just work for myself?
Under Panamanian Law, you are permitted to supervise your company. However, if you would like to manage and be actively involved with your company's operations you will have to obtain a work permit. This can easily be done through the assistance of Kraemer & Kraemer. Online businesses do not require work permits.
What if I work without a work permit?
Many expats choose to work without permits. This does carry a level of risk, as fines can be quite pricey for employers and employees if caught.

Travel

Can we stay in Panama for the duration of the application?
Yes. You can stay in Panama up to 180 days as a tourist. Once you have filed your application, you will receive your temporary resident card and multi-entry visa and can stay in Panama or travel abroad as needed.
Can we purchase one way tickets into Panama?
No, border control requires an onward/exit ticket. A return flight to South Africa is not necessary, a flight to Costa Rica is sufficient and a more affordable option.
Is our physical presence needed to apply for residency?
Yes, everyone who is included in your application is required to apply in person.
Can I include dependents after I have filed my application
It is possible to include dependents at a later stage, however, this will be a separate process under the regrouping visa. Dependents will obtain temporary residency for 2 years. After the 2 year period, they will qualify for permanent residency. As this is a lengthy and more expensive process, we do recommend families apply together and the same time.

General Questions

I do not have a clean Police Record, can I still apply.
If there are any marks (no matter how minor or how long ago) on the police clearance certificate you must apply for the Viso Bueno before you submit your permanent resident application. This can take a couple of weeks where Immigration will determine whether or not you will be eligible for the Friendly Nations Visa.

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