Before relocating to Panama – A checklist of things you need to do

  1. Research Panama Immigration Visas.

Panama has lots of options for permanent residency visas, including visas for retirees, investors, businessmen, and even citizens of 50 “friendly nations”. While Panama’s embassy and consulate websites can provide some basic information, we can assist in finding a qualified Panama immigration lawyer to go over specific visas and find out what’s the best for you.

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  1. Research Customs Duty and Taxes.

If you’re planning on shipping anything during your move, you’ll need to find out how much it will cost in duty fees and taxes. You can check this online via Duty Calculator Online: http://www.dutycalculator.com/country-guides/Import-duty-taxes-when-importing-into-Panama/

  1.         Medical Health Insurance.

Check with your healthcare provider to see if you are covered internationally, and for the duration of your stay. If you are planning on relocating permanently, you should consider  local insurance, unless you work for a company that already provides health insurance with coverage in Panama.

  1.      Make Sure You Have Your Important Documents in Order.

Before you apply for a Panamanian immigration visa, you’ll need to have a number of documents apostilled in your home country.

This typically takes about three months to process, so it’s best to be prepared.

These documents could include:

  •       F.B.I Report
  •       Marriage and birth certificates
  •       Passport, naturalization document, green card, proof of citizenship, etc.
  •       Social security cards
  •       Vaccinations, dental and medical records
  •       Insurance policies
  •       Academic records and diplomas
  •       Employment records
  •       Proof of residency (utility bills with your name and address)
  •       Driver’s licenses
  •       Original reference letter from your bank (two banks would be better) addressed to a specific Panamanian bank and   signed by a bank official.

An Apostille is an internationally recognized method of authenticating government issued documents such as birth and marriage certificates and driver’s licenses. In the U.S., a state’s Secretary of State Office can do the Apostille.

  1.     Notify Your Bank.

You’ll most likely keep a bank account open in your home country even after a move to Panama, especially for the first few months while you are settling in. Make sure you notify your bank, and let them know your plans to relocate and that they can expect future transfers to be made to Panama.

  1.     Bringing Pets to Panama.

Like anything else, there’s a process for transporting your pets, but it is fairly straight forward whether you are coming from Canada, the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.
See the Pet Immigration process: BRINGING PETS TO PANAMA for more information.

  1.     Moving & Shipping

An international shipping company will help to provide all the correct paperwork for shipping your household belongings to Panama. Keep in mind the rules of packing when you are preparing to move. Make a detailed packing list in either English or Spanish and include the value of each item. This document is required to ship to Panama, and it will help the cargo shipping process run smoothly and quickly.

Shipping costs can vary depending on the shipping mode of transport, weight of goods, and the Service Company hired. Do some price comparisons and re-search in order to find a suitable option. If you’re shipping large containers or cars, you will most likely pay a significant import tax.
Many expats tend to ship less items, and replace them locally, it can save you a lot of money in the long run.

  1.     Vehicle Insurance

If you buy or import a vehicle in Panama, you’ll need to have local insurance coverage. Car insurance is affordable in Panama, and there are a number of coverage options depending on your budget.
Cars made in the year 2000 or newer can be insured for Full Coverage; civil responsibility (personal injuries and damage to foreign property), medical assistance, and coverage for the insured vehicle (collision and comprehensive).

If you import your vehicle from a foreign country to Panama include the entry taxes as part of the value of the car.
If you are financing a car, banks will require you to have a full coverage policy.
Your insurance policy has roadside assistance included! This covers jump-starts, towing, a tire change, or gas delivery (gasoline costs are not included).

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