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

Pensionado Visa Paperwork Required

When you apply for your 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.


  1. Dear Counsel:

    May US citizens (such as myself) retire using tax-deferred accounts such as “IRAs” or “401k” plans. We use the money in these accounts to fund our retirement. Some of us receive Social Security, but most do not receive “pensions.” I am thinking of retiring early (in my mid-50s) won’t be eligible for Social Security for many years and won’t receive a pension. However, I have a lot of savings, both in a retirement account (401k) and in available funds. Is there any kind of annuity I can purchase that would satisfy the “guaranteed income” requirement?

    Thanks in advance,

    Attorney at Law
    Belmont, CA

    • Dear Nicole.
      According to article 200, of the Executive Decree No. 320 dated august 8 2008, you can apply for a retirement visa in Panama, regardless of your nationality as long as you have a retirement pension for life of minimum $1,000.00 USD a month. Social Security retirement pensions are not the only form of retirement Immigration accepts. If you can obtain a letter from the company, entity, bank or insurance company, that holds your 401k retirement account or administers the funds in your behalf, certifying the funds exists to guarantee a pension for life of minimum $1,000.00 a month, you will qualify. In this case a certificate of incorporation or existence of the company or entity that administers the funds must also be provided along with a bank statement. The minimum required by immigration laws as pension amount, can be reduce to $750.00 USD per month, if you purchase a property in Panama, for a minimum value of $100,00.00 USD.


      Lizi Rose
      Attorney at Law

  2. What does this entire process typically cost?

    • Dear Jay.

      It depends on if you are applying alone or with dependents and the source of the pension. If you have social security the process is normally very simple. If you are using another form of retirement like from a private enterprise, mutual funds etc, more paperwork is required.

      $1,600.00 USD, for one applicant with a social security pension, will be more or less the total cost in this case.


      Lizi Rose
      Attorney at Law

      • How long before I move to Panama can I get the FBI report completed.

      • Dear John,

        Six months before you file the visa application.


  3. Will i be able to import a motorcycle with a lean on the title from my finance company. they will give me a release to take the bike to Panama will that be ok, Are there set duties and taxes or does it depend on the customs officer at the time..Thanks

    • Dear Hub,

      You need to contact a custom broker for this matter.


  4. Dear Counsel:
    Please answer the following questions,if possible.

    (1) Does one who has the Turista Pensionado have to verify to immigration on a yearly basis that they are still receiving their Pension from Social Secuity?

    (2)If a Turista Pensionado leaves Panama and returns within 2 years,is there a requirement of how long He must stay in Panama before leaving the Country again. I have heard one month. Is this accurate? Sincerely,J W Majors

    • Dear J,

      The only requirement in place is to notify the change of your residence address.
      As long as you return to Panama before the 2 years limit, you can leave again at any time.

      Lizi Rose
      Attorney at law

  5. Turista Pensionado,
    Does your office handle this application? What is the approx cost? Any ideas on the time to process?

  6. What about military retirement pensions? o I still need a letter or will the yearly statement do?

    • The yearly statement signed by the government offical is ok. As long as it states that it is retirement and the monthly payment amount.


  7. What if we have owned a house in Panama for several years and my SS benefits will be less than $1,000.00 per month – the house has a value in excess of $100,000.00 and is in the name of my wife and myself.



    • Dear John,

      According to Immigration laws you can apply if you own a property with a value of more than USD$100,000.00 and a pension of minimun USD$750.00.
      According to article 201 of the Decree # 20 dated 2009, you need to show additional income of USD$250.00 per dependent. This means you need a pension of USD$1,000.00 per month or a bank letter stating your have an account with a local bank that is minimum 4 figures (medium or high). Wich means more than USD$5,000.00 as proof of income to support your dependent (wife).

      I will advise to look into to the friendly nations visa also. To apply under this program you need to set up a corporation and also a bank account with a minimun of USD$5,000.00.


  8. Hello,

    I am retired with a clean record and a government pension (For Life) of over $4,000 USD per month.
    Can you tell me what residency program is easier to obtain?

    Panama’s Immediate Permanent Residency visa
    ( I have a IT background and would like to work in Panama if possible )
    Panama’s Pensionado Program

    Russ K

    • Dear Russell

      The pensionado visa program is easier. If you want to find a job with a company as an employee then the Panama’s Immediate Permanent Residency visa program works best. With the pensionado visa you cannot be an employee for someone else but you can run an IT business.


  9. My husband was born in Panama but he is an American citizen. He was retired by the Army at a early age. Do we qualified to apply for pensionado visa?

    • Dear Rosalba,

      Since he was boorn in Panama he can apply directly for the Panamanian ID which is the “cedula”.


  10. Dear Counsel:

    How recent must the FBI background check be when one applies for the pensionado visa? I am planning to visit Panama and other countries for a number of months starting in April 2014 and then come back to the US later this year or early next year and get my Social Security letter. Since the FBI background check can take a couple of months I am thinking of getting that done before I leave in April if it will still be good.

    Deb S

    • Deb,

      The FBI report is good for six motnhs from the date of issuance. Unless an expiration date is indicated in the report.


  11. My husband currently works remotely for a large phone and wireless company. It’s likely that they will wish him to continue this arrangement when we move to Panama in 2015. I will retire, but he plans to continue to work for them. What type of residence visas will apply for each of us? I have a lump sum distribution from my 401k available, to generate up to $2,000 per month.

  12. Hello,
    I am a disabled veteran and I have been classified and “Totally and Permanently Disabled.” I asked the Veterans Administration (VA) if they would put words “For Life” on the documentation of the verification letter of my monthly income. The VA told me they are not allowed to use these words “For Life” any more but can use “permanently” instead. I have sent my verification letter to the Consulate in Washington D.C. to be authenticated. I would like to know since the VA will not use the words “For Life” what kind of problems will this cause of obtaining a Pensionado Visa?


    • Hello Wolf,

      The Word permanently will work fine. You won’t have any problems.


  13. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I was permanently medically retired from the U.S. Armed Forces after 10 1/2 years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps. I comply with the permanent pension funding amount by the Republic of Panama. I am a 40 year old man. Although I have not yet visited Panama, I have spent considerable time in Latin America (including Central and South America). I plan to visit Panama soon and am interested in learning if I am able to receive a Visa de Pensionado should I enjoy visiting Panama as expected. However…

    I was arrested and convicted at age 18 for a Class A misdemeanor for Carrying a Concealed Weapon. I received a three year probation period which was terminated early. I went on to college, graduated, matriculated into the Officer Corps of the U.S. Marine Corps. Question – will a now 22 year old misdemeanor conviction, with my receiving no further arrests or convictions, potentially prohibit receiving the desired visa? One more note – I spent my American military career during a decade plus of military conflict. I was medically retired for both mental health and physical injuries (depression, anxiety, and neck/back/knee injuries). All of these conditions are treatable, I am stable, and I am able to handle my affairs. I simply want a new life experience and I am looking to retire to Panama due to the many attractive opportunities available for Americans. I also desire to continue learning the culture of Panama and Latin America in general. Hablo Espanol tambien.

    Please excuse the length of my message. In short, I am person with a professional history, but do have a 22 year old misdemeanor and some stable and treatable health issues present. Can you offer any insight or thoughts as how to proceed?

    Thank you very much for your assistance. I look forward to your reply.



    • Dear Josua,

      Do to the misdemeanor that will reflect your FBI background check you are not eligible for a resident visa in Panama.

      I will advise to contact the FBI agency to obtain guidence regarding the posibility of removing the misdemeanor from the report since it is a 22 year old misdemeanor.


  14. Hello PLS,

    I am a US Citizen, married to a Panamanian for 3+ years; We own (both names on the deed) a condo in Panama valued at over 150k (120k financed); I also receive a US Gov’t pension exceeding $1000/mo. I do not plan to live permanently in Panama for another 4-5 yrs…only visiting 2-3 times per year.

    Is a pensionado visa the track to pursue, or would another option make more sense?


    • Hello Donald,

      Yes. The pensionado visa is the track to pursue.


  15. Hi I am an Australian guy wishing to retire to Panama with my same sex partner of 36 years . We have around $4000 per month pension and in our 50s how do we go about this and will there be a problem being same sex

    • Dear Brian,
      If you have a proof of income you can apply under the retiree visa program.
      Immigration will not accept your partner as your dependent. He will have to apply for a visa separatly. If he have a proof of income (mínimum USD$1,000.00 per month) he can apply also under the retiree visa program.

      Please feel free to e-mail me any further questions you may have to


  16. I am a canadian citizen and would like to appty for the pensionado visa. My pension is through usa social security. Do I get this authenticated in the usa or through the panamainian consulate closest to where I live in Canada. Does it need to be notarized and if yes by who. Thanks Marilynn

    • Dear Marilynn.

      You must contact the Panamanian Consulate in Canada to inquire if they can authenticate the letter proof of pension or to refer you to the one that will do it. The Panamanian Consulate authentication is sufficent. It is not necesary to get it notarized after.


  17. Dear Attorney,

    My wife and I wish to obtain a pensionado visa and move next year. I am currently collecting Social Security disability, and have the original award letter stating the amount that I receive, which is more than sufficient to meet the program requirements. The issue is that it does not say “for Life” although it is U,S. Social Security. I have been collecting this for the last 3 years. Because it is a standard award letter, it does state that they will review my condition in 5 to 7 years, which is a formality as my disability will not change. Will this preclude the use of this type of social security payment from qualifying?

    I also receive a private pension that also qualifies, and on the paperwork I have when I elected to receive my pension, it does say “for life”. Although I know that getting the paperwork from my company would be many times more difficult.

    Could I still use the social security disability as my proof of pension? Or will I need to obtain the paperwork from my company that I am receiving my pension from? Thank you in advance for your response.


    • James,

      You will not qualify for the Pensionado Visa with your Social Security disability.


  18. I am receiving Canada Pension Plan and CPP Survivor benefits totalling $1500 Cdn per month. My common-law spouse of 15 years (not married) is only 50 and has no pension. May I apply with my common-law spouse as a dependent? We would apply now for police clearance and visit Panama in January or February to complete the process.

  19. I am a U.S. citizen and my wife is dual U.S., Belarus citizen. She will apply as my dependent using her U.S. passport. I have social security benefits of more than $1,250 per month. So, it appears that we can get a Pensionado visa.

    My wife has been in Belarus for over a year. She entered with her Belarussian Passport, but will enter Panama with her U.S. Passport. Obviously, she will apply as my dependent with her U.S. passport. She lived within USSR and then Belarus from birth to 2002, when she moved to the U.S. So my question is, will she need any Police Certificates from USSR/Belarus and, if so for what dates (they issue over a period of time). I believe (we are checking) her U.S. passport will show no evidence of foreign residency. We are not trying to hide anything, just to not incur any complications that are not needed.

    Second, I earn income in the U.S. that does not require my presence in the U.S. that I intend to transfer to Panama monthly. Does this cause any difficulties with the Pensionado visa?

    • Dear Michael.

      Since your wife has been living in her country of birth for the last 2 years she needs to obtain the police report in Belarus.
      Yes you can transfer your income to Panama. This will not cause you difficulties with the visa.


  20. I am in panama with only a notorized birth certificate and a non notarized social security income letter. What do I need to do now to get paperwork for a residency visa. I am 69 , my check is 1400 a month an I know I have a clean record. Is the background check for the last city I lived, or do I need the FBI to check me out.

    • Dear James,

      You need to have the social security letter notarized. If you have less than 2 years in Panama, you will need the FBI background check.

  21. I will be arriving in Panama in June 2015. I have a place I will be renting. I will have the necessary documents to apply for a Pensionnado Visa. Will I be able to stay living in the Country will I’m going through the process to get my Pensionnado Visa. Also do I have to show USD $5000.00 in my checking account. I’m a 100% Vet. The letter they gave me says “The official records of the Department of Veterans Affairs verify that( my name) the amount I receive per month for a service-connected disability and is rated 100%.”. Will that letter be accept as prove of monthly income. I also receive Disability Social Security check monthly. Thank you, for your time.

    • Dear Julie.

      The same day you apply for the visa, you will receive an identification card, that will allow you to stay in the country for a year.
      You don’t need $5,000.00 in the bank to apply for the retiree visa.
      I will have to review the letter. You can e-mail me a scan copy to


  22. HI I’m a disabled veteran in US at 100% permanent an total since 2003, but I’m only 33 years old. Is it possible to to get a pensionado visa at my age? Thanks

    • Yes. As long as your pension is permanent and meets the amount required to apply.

  23. I would like to obtain your services in applying for the pensiondo visa program. Please ptovide a place and time where I can meet with one of your representstives for a consultation.

  24. Hello, I would like to apply for a pensionado visa. I am a 55 year old female. I recieve $1900 monthly from social security disability. I also have the money for fees required. I have been divorced twice and one annulment. Will I be required to come up with documentation for these events that happened 20-30 years ago?? I would like to get this paperwork started. I also have a medium sized dog. No other dependents. Thank you for yor time. Best Regards, Lori

    • Hello Lori,

      With the amount of pension you receive you will qualify under de pensionado visa.
      Please contact me when you arrive in Panama. Just make sure you bring with you the FBI police report autenticated by the Panama Consulate and the letter proof of pension also authenticated by the Panama consulate. That is all you need to bring. No need to worry about the divorces. You won’t be required to come up with documentation for these events.

  25. My husband a I are looking for a new place to live. He is 35 and receives a Medically retired pension from the US Military. He is healthy just some back problems and other treatable conditions that come from serving the Army. He receives $1475.00 monthly. Thank you in advance.

    • Hello Lillian.

      Yes he qualifies under the pensionado visa program.


    • Hola Antonio,

      Solo debes sacar tu cedula panameña. No necesitas visa para vivir en Panama.

  27. I am a single female 66 retired and receiving 994.00 per month. I will also have income from selling my house. Is 6.00 American Dollar going to keep me from getting a Pensionado Visa ? This will probably go up next year because I have been working all year.

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