Official Name: Republic of Panama Capital: Panama City
Official Language: The official language of the Republic of Panama is spanish, nevertheless, many panamanians are bilingual (English/Spanish).
Climate: The climate of Panama is tropical and the temperature is usually uniform throughout all the year. The nights are generally fresh. The average temperature is 27°C (80 F). The country has two seasons: rainy and dry. The first one goes from May to December with rains that allow receiving the warm sun rays during great part of the day. During the dry station, called "summer", from mid December until the month of April, the pleasant trade winds blow permanently.
Taxes : All purchases in Panama are taxed with a 5% of Personal Properties
Transference Tax (ITBM), excluding this measurement are medicines, foods and
Currency : The Balboa (Balboas -- plural); 1 balboa = 100 cents. The American dollar circulates freely being the rate of change 1 Balboa = 1 American Dollar.
Gratuity : The gratuities are not included in the restaurants prices. It is custom to give between a 10% and a 15% of the total consumed.
License to lead : The visitors can drive up to 90 days with a foreign license. They will have to present their passport if they are request.
§ Commerce: 9:30a.m. to 19:00 hours in continuously. The commerce is open also Sundays in schedule from 9:30 to 19:00 hours.
§ Banks: 8:30 a.m. To 14:30 hours. The automatic tellers are in disposition of the users day and night. To see more Information
§ Public offices: 8:30 a.m. to 16:30 hours
Limits : At the North with the Caribbean Sea, to the South with the Pacific Ocean, to the East with the Republic of Colombia and to the West with the Republic of Costa Rica. Earth area : 75.990 square km (29,340 square miles) Territorial Sea : 200 nm
Ethnic Groups : 70% are racially mixed, 10% whites, 12% mulattos and 8% natives. Population: (Census 2000): 2,839,177)
Religions : more than 93% Roman Catholics, 6% Protestants. The National Constitution establishes "is free the profession of all the religions as well as the exercise of all the cults, without another limitation than the respect to the Christian moral and the public order".
Political division: 9 provinces and 1 Comarca; Chiriquí, Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Colón, Darién, Herrera, Los Santos, PanamaVeraguas, , Kuna Yala, Total Area: 78.200 square km (30,193 square miles).
Panama is one of the world's most visitor-friendly countries. It has the highest rating for tourist safety from the prestigious Pinkerton Intelligence Agency. It's people are warm, friendly and unspoiled. Panama has always been an international crossroads-Panamanians are accustomed to meeting people from other lands and English is a second language. Another great visitor convenience is that the US dollar is the Panamanian currency.
1. Panama has a great variety of world-class attractions all in close proximity.
Exotic tropical rainforests, beautiful mountain refuges, Caribbean-style
beaches, seven living Indian cultures, a Miami-style capital city, historical
sites, golf, diving, rafting, sport fishing- not to mention that 8th wonder of
the world and engineering marvel- The Panama Canal. And it's all in a country
just 50 miles wide, the size of South Carolina.
2. Panama is safe.
Panama has the highest rating for tourist safety from the Pinkerton Intelligence Agency. In a Newsweek magazine article on tourism safely worldwide, Panama received same tourism safety rating as the USA. Foreign residents in Panama will tell you how safe they feel living in Panama compared to any other country in Central America.
3. Panama has a First World infrastructure.
Panama has a first-world infrastructure starting with a safe cosmopolitan Miami- style capital city with high speed internet, first rate hotels, fine dining and beautiful shopping malls. The highway infrastructure, medical care, telecommunications and business services are excellent-comparable to the USA as noted in the ARRP's Modern Maturity magazine. Panama also has the second largest Free Trade Zone in the world and a banking sector with 100 banks.
4. Panama is close.
Located in Central America, Panama is easy
to get to. It is just 4-5 hours by plane from the States, there are non-stop
daily flights to Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Newark, Los Angeles, New York, and
Orlando served by Delta, Continental, American and Copa Airlines. From Canada,
AirTransat has a weekly Charter flight out of Toronto.
5. Panama is tourist friendly.
English is spoken as a second language. The Panamanian people are amongst the friendliest in the world. They are known for their peaceful, get-along and fun loving nature. As a result of the 90 year presence of Americans in the Canal Zone, Panamanians understand and appreciate Americans- thousands have worked with Americans as well as studied in the United States.
6.Panama has the US dollar as its currency.
Panama's currency is the US dollar. That's right! What a great convenience. In
Panama, there's no need for currency exchange. No need to be a mathematical
genius to figure out what that meal just cost or how much to tip the bellboy.
Your bank accounts and investments are also all of course in US dollars.
7.Panama has world-class medical care and a healthy environment.
Many Panamanian doctors speak English and are American-trained. Several hospitals have medical services on a par with US hospitals. Sanitary conditions are excellent- there is almost none of that tourism scrouge- "Montezuma's Revenge". You can even drink the tap water- a rarity in Latin America. An amazing abundance of fresh and inexpensive fruits and vegetables makes healthy living a pleasure.
8. Panama is the best place for nature travel, eco-tourism and eco-adventure today.
Panama has the easiest-to-get-to exotic nature in the world. It's position as a
narrow land bridge connecting two continents has endowed it with some of the
worlds' most pristine and bio-diverse rainforests in national parks covering 5
million acres. A key indicator of its bio-diversity: Panama has 944 recorded
bird species, more than the U.S. and Canada combined.
Furthermore, all that great nature is very accessible, with some of the best
locations less than an hour from Panama City. There is a local saying that
while in other countries you have 20 tourists looking at one bird,
in Panama you have one tourist looking at 20 birds
9. Panama has a wide selection of beaches and island venues and activities.
With two coasts, one thousand islands and Caribbean-style beaches, there is
much to choose from for beach vacations from all-inclusive resorts to
exotic island retreats.
10. Panama- the affordable exotic destination.
Normally this kind of pristine natural beauty comes at a fancy price. Panama
has just begun to promote itself as a tourism destination and so prices are
still some of the best in the market.
11. Panama is world-class for adventure.
International experts rave about river running in Panama which includes
rafting, kayaking and motorized river boats. There are rivers in Panama where
you can ride 20 sets of rapids in one afternoon. Cannoning, trekking,
rappelling and surfing offer similar world-class experiences for the hard and
soft adventure seeker.
12. Panama has world class fishing, diving, snorkeling and sailing.
One place in Panama, Pinas Bay, holds 170 world fishing records. There are five
world class diving areas: Coiba National Marine Park, the Pearl Islands, Bocas
del Toro archipelago, Portobello and for historical diving the Panama Canal.
13.Panama City is a smart choice for convention and incentive travel.
Panama City is a sophisticated and safe city with fascinating and fun things to
do nearby. Day trips from Panama City include world-class sport fishing,
rainforest adventures, golf, Indian village tours, scuba diving, fascinating
historical sites and the Panama Canal.
14. Panama Has no Hurricanes nor major destructive earthquakes.
Panama is blessed by nature-unlike the rest of her Central American neighbors,
Panama has no hurricanes-amazingly it's in a special climate area that is
totally hurricane-proof. It also has no major earthquakes. Your Panama vacation
will never be re-scheduled due to natural events. Your property investment will
always be safe from hurricanes and earthquakes.
15.Panama is Survivor Country.
How exotic and interesting is Panama? 14 countries have filmed their Survivor programs in the islands of Bocas del Toro and the Pearl Islands. CBS's Survivor has filmed four series Panama's Pearl Islands- the latest now appearing as the Exile Island Series. No other country has had Survivor more than once.
Panama is also a great place to buy a second home or retire.
In Panama, you will never feel too far from home.
When you stay for extended periods of time in another country, you want to feel away from it all, but not totally. Its important to have the familiar services and comforts of home within easy reach- no other country in the world fits that bill better than Panama. Why? Because the ninety year American presence gave Panama a modern American-style
American-Style Infrastructure, by-product of an Historical Relationship
Yes - one of the best things about living in Panama is the American-style infrastructure. 50,000 Americans made their home in Panama until 1999 when Panama took control of the Panama Canal. Those Americans call Panama their "Paradise Lost". Panama has a distinct, delightful Latin-Caribbean culture, but you will feel at home because American influences abound.
A Foreign Investor and Retiree-Friendly Government
Good news for investors and foreigners buying property- as of September 2004, Panama has an investor-friendly, anti-corruption, more corporate- style government. President Martin Torrijos and his top officials in the Finance and Economy ministries are like Torrijos himself, American-educated corporate- types. Recognizing that tourism and foreign retirees will create the jobs the country badly needs, they are implementing plans to make Panama one of the most investor and retiree-friendly governments anywhere. They are also implementing important programs of government transparency and changes in the judicial system to control corruption.
The Panamanian People-"Globalize", Peaceful, Friendly and Fun-Loving
Another reason why Panama is a great place
to live is because of the Panamanian people themselves. To begin with there is
a saying that Panama was "born globalize". As a historical crossroads, Panama
is home to immigrants the world over. The different communities comprised of
different nationalities have grown and gotten along amicably over the years.
Most common are "mestizo" or European and Indian populations typical in Latin
American countries. Blacks who originally came to help with the construction of
the Canal makes up the large Antillean population. European, American, Chinese,
Jewish, Hindu and Arabic communities also have a strong presence. Remarkably, in
Panama all these different peoples know how to get along. You will find that
Panamananians are friendly and fun loving. Of special note is their
predilection for beauty and elegance. This sense of beauty is visible in many
ways- from the delicacy of their Indian handicrafts, to their beautifully
groomed women and in the Panama City's many well appointed neighborhoods.
Dependable Travel in Panama-Roads, Highways and Public Transportation
Travel within Panama is dependable and inexpensive. Taxis in Panama City are cheap and reliable. You can go just about anywhere for less than $5. The highway system and the feeder roads off the main highways are excellent. For $12 you can travel across the country on a luxury bus from Panama City to Chiriqui province in West Panama. If you are renting a car, the Interamerican highway that goes from the border of Costa Rica to Panama City is a four-lane highway most of the way.
First Class Health Services and Medical care
More than any place in Latin America, you can readily find English speaking trained doctors and dentists. There are hospitals with the latest in diagnoses testing and services. Prescription and over- the- counter medication is available at low prices. Full coverage health insurance policies ate reasonably priced. Another big health plus is that you can drink the tap water- a rarity in Latin America. Sanitation is good... the " Montezumas revenge" illnesses that tourists are prone to in other countries of Latin America are almost unheard of. The Hospital Nacional in Panama City has an excellent International Office offering services to tourists and foreign residents, as well as the comprehensive list of English speaking and American trained Doctors on their staff.
For shopping everyone loves the fact there are 4 Price Costco's- three in Panama City and one in David in West Panama. The fabulous El Rey supermarkets make grocery shopping a joy- spotless and well organized, they stock just about everything you could find in an American supermarket but with better prices! Shopping malls include Los Pueblos, a giant shopping center with 150 stores and low prices and Multiplaza, a beautiful new enclosed mall in downtown Panama City.
Internet and Services
Panama is a so-called developing country but high speed internet access is more available than in the USA. Phone service and other basic services are also excellent - unusual for Latin America.
Another thing people love about Panama is the restaurant scene. As an
international crossroads, Panama City has many fine, reasonably priced
restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines. It's fun just trying to decide where you are going to dine. And if you're
homesick, American restaurants and fast food joints are everywhere including
TGIF, Bennigans, Wendys, Pizza Hut, Subway McDonalds, Burger King etc.
Banking Conveniences and a Strong Financial Services Sector
ATM machines providing access to your USA bank account are located throughout Panama City and in many locations outside Panama City as well. Panama has a sophisticated banking sector compromised in ninety different banks, including Citibank and Scotia Bank of Canada. If you are looking for offshore activities there are specialists who can provide personal or corporate services with strong financial privacy laws and no taxes on offshore profits.
Variety of Venues to Choose From
This is an exciting time to shop property in Panama. Beginning to develop as a retirement and vacation destination of choice, panama offers attractive buys with a wide range of prices. The three most popular places for homes are in Panama City, the beaches areas and highlands outside
Panama City is popular for
reasonably priced luxury apartments many with ocean views. On the beaches,
choose from beachfront lots, homes and condos on both the Pacific Ocean and the
Caribbean. Panama's highlands offer perfect all-year-round spring weather.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the high quality of Panamanian
construction. Homes are well built and tastefully designed. Panamanian
architects attend US construction industry conventions to keep up-to date on
the latest in construction styles, floor plans and quality living. Another
surprise is the refreshing variety of architecture styles. While in the rest of
Latin America, Spanish colonial dominates, in Panama modern architecture
abounds without losing their other more traditional styles such as French and
The Best Retiree Benefit Program in the World
The Panamanian government actually encourages retirees to retire here. Retirees
receive many benefits and discounts. To qualify for a retiree visa the only
requirements are a proven monthly income of $500, a health certificate, and a
Some of the Benefits for Retirees
50% off entertainment including movies, concerts, theater etc. ( a regular movie ticket costs $4 - the retiree price is $2.00.)
25% off restaurants
50% off hotel accommodations Monday- Thursday
30% off bus, boat and train fares
25% off domestic airline tickets
10% off prescription medicines (much cheaper than US prices to begin with)
15% off dental and eye exams
50% off closing costs for home loans
Unlike other countries, in Panama foreigners who buy property enjoy all the same rights and protections as Panamanians.
There are many good reasons why it's a smart choice to retire or buy a second home in Panama.
In no special order, here are some of the most important:
1. Panama is a beautiful country with a wide variety of world-class attractions- all close by
Panama has a wide variety of destinations, activities and world class attractions - and since it is such a small country ( the size of South Carolina) they are all in close proximity. You will never have a reason to be bored- Panama has it all - beach, mountains, nature, a sophisticated capital city, fine dining, golf, sport fishing, Indian culture, history...
2. Your investment will increase in value.
Panama today reminds real estate professionals of the Florida market twenty years ago- it has many of the same attractions of Florida and property prices are a bargain. It is not uncommon for Americans coming to Panama today to buy a condo in Panama City, a beach home and mountain home- all for less than the price of the home they just sold in the States. And because the Panama property boom has just begun, your investment is sure to increase substantially as more and more people discover what a great place Panama is to live and invest.
3. Panama has a stable democracy and Latin America's most stable economy.
Panama has a democratically elected president and historically the most stable economy in Latin America. The present administration of Martin Torrijos has excellent relations with the United States, is pro-business and working hard to create transparency and good governance.
4. Your family and friends will be impressed with your smart decision.
We hear this story all the time..."my kids and family thought we were crazy when we told them we were going to buy a home and live in Panama ...they thought we were having some severe mid-life crisis etc...then they came down and were blown away by the place..."
5. If you or your friends and family are beach lovers, Panama is the place.
There's a beach close by everywhere in Panama. The narrow isthmus is only 50 or so miles wide- this means a beach is never more than an hour away. With both a Pacific and a Caribbean coastline, Panama has thousands of miles of beaches and in addition over one thousand islands. This also means great water sport activities- in fact, fishing, diving surfing, sailing, sea kayaking is world-class.
6. Panama has a carefree climate.
In Panama City, the beaches and lowlands there's a year-round warm climate. Some places like Panama City are humid but that is easily remedied with air conditioning... and you go from an air-conditioned home, to an air-conditioned supermarket, to an aircondioned mall etc. and never are bothered by it. Evenings and early morning temperatures are perfect for walking or running. In the mountains and highlands weather year-round is spring-like temperatures-- no air-conditioning needed.
7. If you are an investor or businessman, you will find Panama's entrepreneurial class great to work with.
People starting small companies or major investments find it a pleasure to do business in Panama with the because so many business people are American-educated or worked for Americans in the former Canal Zone; is they understand Americans and know how to work with them.
8. Medical care is on a par with the United States Medical facilities compare favorably to US facilities and it is easy to find a Panamanian doctor or dentist that is US trained and speaks English.
Prices run about 50% less than the US.
9. Panama has one of the best road infrastructures in Latin America.
It is not perfect, mind you- this is the "third world"- but pretty darn good.
10. You will love the Panamanian people
One of the most common things you will hear from retirees is how friendly and helpful they find the Panamanian people - that means the man-on-the-street, neighbors, maids, taxi drivers, the mall security guards...etc. They feel safe and welcome- many are well traveled and say there is no place in the world they would rather be.
11. A Retiree Visa is easily and readily attained.
You can get a retiree visa in a short time for a reasonable price.
12. Foreigners can own property in Panama and have all the same legal rights as Panamanians.
Unlike some other Latin American countries, foreigners in Panama have all the same property rights as its' citizens.
THE BEST PLACES FOR CONDOMINIUMS AND HOMES
Panama City offers a wide selection of safe and beautiful neighborhoods for both condominiums and homes -from a condo on Panama Bay with spectacular bay and ocean views, to a restored townhouse in the historical Casco Viejo, to a home nestled up against a rainforest in the former Canal Zone.
Panama City is such a fun place with so many services and amenities, that many newcomers are deciding to buy a condo in Panama City and a beach or mountain home - all for a fraction of the cost of one home in the States.
Ocean Front Neighborhoods: Punta Pacifica, Punta Paitilla, Marbella
The most popular areas for foreigners to buy condominiums are those right on Panama Bay with bay and ocean views: Punta Pacifica, Punta Paitilla and Marbella. Many of the buildings are brand new. The views are simply spectacular and can include Panama Bay, the Pacific Ocean, the entrance of the Panama Canal, the Amador Causeway and Taboga Island in the distance, as well as all the color of Panama City itself.
Established Neighborhoods: San Francisco, El Cangrejo, and La Cresta
These neighborhoods are very popular condo neighborhoods. They are attractive, central, safe and with many conveniences nearby-services, restaurants etc. rice's are less than bay front neighborhoods. Yet, many have beautiful city or ocean views
Like an upscale Miami Development: Costa del Este
This is a residential area close to Panama Cities' beltway that runs from the International Airport to the downtown. It is a new area with upscale housing developments with million dollar homes and condominium projects in the mid to high end. Right off Panama's beltway, it's a convenient few minutes from downtown Panama City and the international airport.
When thinking to move to a new country several questions and doubts "pop" in your head. Normally these questions are related mainly to the different legal requirements needed in order to obtain residency, purchase real estate, local bank financing and the country's tax regime, among others.
We understand and relate to these concerns; therefore, we have performed a summary of the five (5) things a foreigner needs to know about investing in real estate, in the Republic of Panama.
1. Incorporating a Panamanian company. Normally, Panamanian corporations are used to purchase real estate since they limit liability and maintain the confidentiality of their owner; they are also flexible devices with no nationality restriction.
2. Local Bank Financing. The standard local financing parameters are the following:
a. Financing rate: Up to 70% of the purchase price or the appraised price, whichever is less.
b. Interest rate: Between 5.5% and 6.5%, plus an additional 1% interest rate per year referred to as "FECI".
c. Mortgage period: Up to thirty (30) years.
d. Life insurance requirement: The mortgage is required to obtain life insurance for the amount of the loan in order to secure payment.
3. Real Estate Purchase Procedure. The real estate purchase procedure starts with a complete due diligence of the property and the owner. Then we draft a promissory purchase and sale agreement and finally a real estate purchase and sale agreement which will be drafted in a public deed and then recorded at the Public Registry Office.
4. Real Estate Taxes. Real estate taxes in Panama are approximately 2.10% per year of the recorded value of the property and its improvements and the real estate transfer tax is approximately 2% of the purchase price. Our country has granted up to twenty (20) years of real estate tax exoneration for new properties. In the last twelve years Panama has implemented several tourism and real estate incentives that along with more flexible legal requirements and benefits complement our country's policy to welcome foreign investment and families.
The Republic of Panama in the last years has projected itself internationally as the "BEST PLACE TO RETIRE" and this is because of the wide rage of advantages that our country offers, the use of the dollar as of legal curse, the climate variety, an accessible real estate market and an international banking.
In view of the popularity that our country has gain and because of the multiple families that has decided to make Panama as their new home or business center, the Immigration and Naturalization Directorate has implemented new visas and has made more flexible some of the formalities in order to provide migratory stability to those foreigners retirees, pensioned, investors or tourists that has selected our country as their new home. Among the four (4) most common used visas by foreign investors or tourists that plan to reside in our country are:
a. Retiree Visa
This visa requires the retiree to establish a Long Term Deposit account in Banco Nacional de Panama, with duration of at least five (5) years, for an amount that would generate a monthly interest of at least US$750.00, amount that would be considered the retirees monthly income.
1. Indefinite residence after 15 years of applying for the provisional residence permit.
2. A Special Passport (this document does not offer Panamanian citizenship).
3. Multiple tax exemptions and discounts in diverse services offered in Panama.
b. Pensioned Tourist Visa
The applicant must be pensioned or retired by a foreign government, international entity or private company. The person must receive a monthly rent or pension of at least US$500.00 and an additional US$100.00 for each dependant.
1. Automatic indefinite residence once the person applies.
2. Multiple tax exemptions and discounts in diverse services offered in Panama.
c. Self Economic Solvency Visa
The applicant must choose one of three (3) ways to obtain the Self Economic Solvency Visa. These options are:
1. To establish a Long Term Deposit account in a local Bank, with a duration of at least two (2) years, for minimum amount of US$200,000.00.
2. To acquire real estate in the Republic of Panama, under its name, for a minimum value of US$200,000.00 and submit proof of economic solvency to cover its daily and general needs.
3. To acquire real estate in the Republic of Panama, under its name, for a minimum value of US$80,000.00 and to establish a Long Term Deposit account in a local Bank, with a duration of at least two (2) years, for minimum amount of US$120,000.00.
1. Permanent residence after 1 year of applying for the provisional residence permit.
2. Right to a Panamanian identification card.
3. Option of applying for the Panamanian Nationality after five (5) years of having the permanent residency.
d. Small Business Investor Visa
This type of visa requires an investment of a minimum amount of US$40,000.00 and a maximum of US$150,000.00.
1. Permanent residence after 4 years of applying for the provisional residence permit.
2. Right to a Panamanian identification card.
3. Option of applying for the Panamanian Nationality after five (5) years of having the permanent residency.
4. All documents issued outside the Republic of Panama must be apostilled or certified before a Panamanian Consulate at the place of issuance.
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