Posted by: RAL CONSULTANTS BUREAU - PANAMA LAW | April 13, 2013

Tips For Your First Immigration Trip to Panama.

Once all the paperwork needed to apply for your Turista Pensionado Visa has been assembled plan on being in Panama City for at least five working days, minimum.

After our first meeting, your documents will sent for translation into Spanish by an officially-certified panamanian translation service.

We will then be making a visit to a doctor’s office for a physical examination as required by Immigration.

On our first visit to the Immigration offices you will be registered with the department and a couple of days later, when you are officially in the system, we will return to get your first one year- identification card, known as a carnet.

Do NOT plan on touring the countryside before this card is issued to you, since your passport, required to be able to tour the country, will be also needed to file the visa. You must be in the city to hand your passport to us. There are plenty of places to go and things see right here in the city to keep you from being bored.

Bring something with you to read or distract yourself. You will be waiting in the immigration offices.

Bring plenty of $20 bills. Immigration does NOT accept anything larger. Since Panama is an international banking center you can easily make cash withdrawals at any of the numerous ATM machines around the city with your credit card.

If you choose to start the process in November, bear in mind that there are five national holidays that month: the 3rd is Separation Day, the 4th is Flag Day and the 5th is Colon Day. Five days later, on the10th, it is The Uprising in the Villa de Los Santos and the 28th is our Independence Day. December 8th is Mother’s Day. These are all National Holidays and all government offices are closed.

Buy a prepaid cell phone when you get here. You will need a local phone number so my office can contact you. Cell phones are inexpensive in Panama and as you walk around the city you’ll begin to think there is a phone store on every block. You can buy one for as little as $30.00 and another $5 bill will give you more time than you’re going to use on your first visit. You also need to provide a local address when filing for your visa.

Proper dress is required when visiting the Immigration offices. You will not be admitted if you are wearing shorts or flip-flops. Other than the shorts and flip-flop rule your dress will not effect the processing of your application, but remember; you never get a second chance to make a first impression. While a summer-weight suit certainly shows you are serious about process, a pair of slacks and a sport shirt are perfectly acceptable.

Posted by: RAL CONSULTANTS BUREAU - PANAMA LAW | April 13, 2013

Pensionado Visa Paperwork Required

When you apply for your Turista Pensionado Visa there are several documents that must be submitted to the Immigration Department. You must get these in order before coming to Panama to start the process.

First, you must verify that your retirement income is at least U.S. $1,000.00 per month (or its equivalence, if is in foreign currency). If you are applying with a spouse and/or dependents an additional U.S. $250.00 is required for each.

If this income comes from Social Security it is very easy to confirm. Your local Social Security office will provide you with a statement of your account on request. If there is no Social Security office near you, you can request a Proof of Income letter online at:

Verification of income derived from a private pension is a bit more complicated. If the source is a private company you must have the following:

  1. A letter on the pension company’s official letterhead, from an administrator of foreign business of pensions, trusts, mutual funds, insurances, or banking, that certify the funds exist and must include the phrase that you receive the “pension for life.” It is extremely important that the exact phrase is used in the letter. The letter must be signed by a representative of the company with complete contact information for verification purposes;
  2. Certificate of existence of the business that administers the fund;
  3. Proof that the payments are being made. This can be done by providing copies of pension payment checks or bank statements showing deposits.

All of these documents must be “original,” “official,” “updated” and “authenticated.”

You need to provide a criminal background issued by the FBI (in the case of US Citizens). For citizens of other countries the criminal background must be issued by a Police agency that covers  the country. For an FBI background go to the following web site and follow their instructions.

Documents issued in one country and need to be used in another country, must be “authenticated” or “legalized” before they can be recognized in a foreign country. There are two ways you can get your documents “authenticated” or “legalized”. You can send them to the Consulate of Panama located in your area or apply for the “Apostil”. The Apostil in the case of US citizens, can be obtained at the Secretary of State.

The following table shows which Panamanian Consulate serves your state of residence:

State of Residence


District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland

Washington, D.C.


Philadelphia, PA

Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas

                       Houston, TX

Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Miami, Florida

Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia

Tampa, Florida

Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama

New Orleans

New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island

New York, NY

California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho

Los Angeles, C.A

All Other U.S. States

Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C.
2862 McGill Terrace, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 483-1407
Fax: (202) 483-8413

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
124 Chestnut St. Suite 1
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215)-574-2994
Fax: (215) 574-4225

Houston, Texas
24 Greenway Plaza, Suite 1307
Houston, TX 77406
Phone: (713) 622-4451
Phone: (713) 622-4459
Fax: (713) 622-4468
email: panama2@conpas

Miami, Florida
5775 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 200
Miami, FL 33126
Phone: (305) 447-3700
Fax: (305) 447-4142

Tampa, Florida
6107 Memorial Highway, Suite “C”
Tampa, FL 33615
Phone: (813) 886-1427
Fax: (813) 886-3624

New Orleans
2615 Energy Centre
1100 Poydras Street, New Orleans, L.A. 70163
Phone: (504) 525-3458
Phone: (504) 525-3459
Fax: (504) 524-8960

New York
1212 Ave of the Americas, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 840-2450
Fax: (212) 840-2469

Los Angeles
111 W. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1570
Long Beach, CA 90802
Los Angeles, CA.
Phone: (562) 612-4677/78

San Juan
1607 Avenida Ponce de León, Oficina 206
Sa Juan, Puerto Rico 00909
Phone: (787) 728-6688
Fax: (787) 728-7098

Make sure that all passports have at least six months validity before expiration.

Birth Certificates are only required for dependent children. A marriage certificate is required for a spouse.

When you arrive in Panama all of these documents must be translated into Spanish by an official-certified translation service. This cannot be done outside of Panama. We have working relationships with several approved services so you won’t have to worry about trying to find one on your own.

You must provide a complete photocopy of your passport, and complete means each and every page. You may either do that yourself before  coming to Panama or can have it done at one of the many internet cafes or office service companies in the city.

You must provide five (5) passport-sized photos of each visa applicant.

Prior to your first trip to Immigration you need to obtain a Certificate of Good Health, issued by a licensed Panamanian hospital or clinic, signed by a registered, licensed physician, indicating that the applicant (and dependents – if applicable) has no contagious diseases and is in good mental and physical condition. We will assist you with getting this certificate after your initial visit to our offices.

On your initial visit to our offices you will have to sign a:

  1. “Special Power of Attorney,” for the applicant and any dependents authorizing us to process the immigration applications and documentation;
  2. A “Letter of Responsibility,” signed by the applicant, whereby you take responsibility for your dependents (if applicable)
  3. A sworn statement of personal background: the “Declaración Jurada Sobre Antecedentes Personales” which we will provide for you.

When all the papers are translated and in order we will make our initial visit to the Immigration offices to begin the process.

Posted by: RAL CONSULTANTS BUREAU - PANAMA LAW | August 30, 2009

Panama: More Than Just A Canal

People over the world know Panama for its Canal that joins the world. But Panama is more than just a canal. It is a vibrant, modern country and each year thousands of people from around the world choose to retire to Panama, and Panama welcomes them.

There are many reasons people choose to move to Panama. They may have retired from the working world but they haven’t retired from life. They are looking for a new adventure to keep themselves young and active. Many come to Panama because the cost of living here is a lot kinder to their new, fixed-income status than it is in the United States and much of Europe.

In order to qualify for Panama’s retirement Pensionado Visa a person only has to have proof of a monthly income of at least $1,000 (an additional $250.month is required for a spouse and/or each dependent child), be in good standing with the police department, and pass a physical examination here in Panama.

When someone receives their Pensionado they are offered a shopping list of benefits unequaled almost anywhere else in the world:

They will be given a tax exemption on a new car imported to Panama every two years.

There is a one-time import tax exemption of $10,000 for household goods.

Other discounts apply to such things as:

50% off of entrance to recreation and entertainment such as movies, theaters and sporting events.

A 30% discount on transportation within the country (buses, trains and boats).

25% discount on air fares within the country and on international flights booked in Panama.

A minimum discount of the regular prices of hotels, motels and pensions of 50% Monday through Thursday and 30% off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

You are elibible for a 25% discount on food for each visa holder in restaurants (15% at fast food outlets)

A 15% discount in the total cost for services of hospitals and private clinics.

10% off in pharmacies for medications obtained with a medical prescription.

Other medical service discounts are 20% in consultation fees of general practitioners and medical and surgical specialists. 15% off on dental services and 15% off for optometry services.

There are also discounts for technical and professional services, prosthetic devices, electrical, phone and water services of between 20 and 25%.

Panama is an international banking center and throughout the country it is possible to obtain cash at ATMs with your bank debit or credit cards. While our official currency is called the Balboa, there is no such thing as a Balboa dollar bill. The American dollar is the paper currency here and the coins clinking in your pocket may be either U.S. pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters or Panamanian Balboas which are the same size and composition as their American counterparts.

Whole books have been written about the benefits of retiring and living in the Republic of Panama. As this blog develops we will investigate other aspects of living here including what you need to know about buying and investing in real estate.