By Michelle Hammond
Planting flags around the world is today not only a smart choice, but a necessity. A person’s citizenship defines them, in every sense. It dictates where you can live, where you can travel, and what government limitations can be imposed on one’s personal, economic and financial freedoms. A second residence or a citizenship offers you choices and secures your biggest asset: you and your family.
One great option for a second citizenship is Panama, which is the only country in the world where residents and tourists alike can watch the sun rise on the Pacific and set in the Atlantic. It has the Caribbean Sea on the North and the Pacific Ocean on the South. Not only is Panama a small and beautiful country in Central America that boasts 1,550 miles of coastline with some of the world´s most spectacular beaches, it is also home to the famous Panama Canal – one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
On top of that, Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in the Americas; it has become a popular offshore jurisdiction and an international hub for business and living. The country is renowned for its highly developed banking sector, sophisticated infrastructure for commercial and financial activities, and advantageous tax benefits. Panama has also become one of the top destinations to obtain second residency, offering applicants the benefits of a business and tax friendly environment along with a multicultural lifestyle in a tropical paradise.
In the past, obtaining residency was a quick and affordable process with applicants able to obtain permanent residency within six months through the Friendly Nations visa. However, with the recent changes to the visa, investors are now seeking other ways to obtain residency in Panama. One option is the reforestation visa, which is projected to become a popular residency program that combines investing in worthy, eco-friendly, and sustainable green investments with the advantage of obtaining permanent residency and eventually citizenship in Panama.
Reforestation Project Aims and Benefits in Panama
Burning, logging and degrading has resulted in the destruction of millions of acres of rain forests, every year. Numerous studies have shown the dramatic impact of deforestation on the environment, including damage to natural eco-systems, loss of biodiversity, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, frequent forest fires and climate change.
In the fight against deforestation, countries are introducing polices to regulate land use and reduce the amount of forest loss. However, viable solutions are needed to offset the impacts and help restore forests and create new cycles of replanting and harvesting trees. Forestry projects allow for sustainable sourcing and are becoming vital to preserve natural resources including for:
Air: Trees act as carbon sinks and absorb carbon dioxide and harmful pollutants for the air and release clean oxygen. This can help reduce the effects of climate change and improve the quality of the air we breathe.
Water: Trees have an intricate infiltration system where rain water is captured and absorbed through their roots. This helps reduce the rate of water absorption into the soil and thus preventing soil erosion, waterslides and flooding.
Biodiversity: The loss of trees threaten the survival of many different species of animals, and has even lead to extinction of some. Trees provide shelter and food and with the implementation of forestry projects, natural habitats are restored to hundreds of different species of animals.
Social Impact: Reforestation projects provide jobs to local communities, giving them the education, tools and management to improve their livelihoods and allowing their communities to grow.
The hot and humid climate along with the dry and wet seasons allows Panama to offer an ideal environment and conditions for forestry projects to grow, thrive and provide high-quality timber.
Panamanian Reforestation Visa Criteria
Along with direct investment into a government-approved reforestation project, investors must be of at least 18 years of age and hold a clean police report (minor offences may be accepted on a case-by-case basis). A customized list of documentation needed will be provided by a local Panamanian attorney to ensure all requirements have been met as well as to ensure a smooth and successful application process.
Investors have a number of options:
- With an investment of $350,000 into an approved forestry program for a minimum of eight years, investors can obtain permanent residency status within 30 days.
- With an investment of $100,000 into an approved forestry program for a minimum of eight years, investors can obtain provisional residency and then permanent residency status after three years.
Investing into a forestry project means investing in an eco-friendly, sustainable green investment that offsets the impacts of deforestation and creates a positive and social impact on our rainforests, environment and local communities.
Teak has become a premier choice of wood and as the global supply diminishes, demand has significantly increased. History shows the trends will continue to grow and strengthen, proving teak to be a safe, long- term investment.
Reforestation projects offer many tax incentives including tax exemption on harvested wood for 25 years, inclusive of export taxes as well as any capital gains tax. Property taxes levied against the land will be tax-exempt for the duration of the reforestation project.
Permanent residents can apply for naturalization after five years of maintaining residency status and obtain a strong passport allowing visa-free access to over 127 countries. Applicants must pass an exam covering Panama’s politics, economy, and history and pass an interview to qualify.
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