Please be advised all foreigners will be eligible to obtain Panamanian citizenship through a naturalization process only after five consecutive years with permanent resident status. To maintain the permanent resident status as active, it is only required to visit the country at least one day every year.
How quickly can we convert Panama residency to citizenship?
I am from South Africa. If I open a bank account and obtain residency via the Friendly Nations visa, how long will it take for me to apply for citizenship? Alternatively, if I pay for my resident visa now, then open a bank account and put money into it for a period of five years, will I be able to obtain citizenship after five years? Will I need to live in Panama to obtain my citizenship, or can I simply use my Panama business to invest in property?
Please note that five years after permanent residency is granted, you might apply for citizenship. You don't need to live in Panama to obtain your citizenship; you can invest in properties. However, you should keep your personal bank account. Also, please note that the process of the citizenship can take between nine months and four years, or even more.
If you open a bank account and obtain residency through the Friendly Nations visa, you are eligible to apply for citizenship after five years. Those five years begin when you receive your permanent resident ID, not when you apply. You do not need to live in Panama full time to be eligible for citizenship. However, to maintain your residency you must visit Panama for a couple of days before two years pass without visiting the country. The citizenship process is discretionary, and you must be able to pass a test in Spanish that covers the geography, history and politics of Panama. You can use your Panamanian corporation to invest in property, but it is not required.
A permanent resident may apply for citizenship five years after having obtained the “permanent” status. Being from South Africa, the easiest way for the applicant is to apply to the Friendly Nations residency program. This way, the applicant may become a permanent resident within the next four months after submitting the application. The applicant must open a bank account with at least $5,000 U.S. dollars and incorporate a Panamanian company, as well. However, the only way to start a citizenship application is by becoming a permanent resident first; opening the bank account without applying for permanent residency won’t be enough. There’s no need to live in Panama to apply for citizenship. Yes, the company that the applicant must incorporate to apply for residency may be used to invest in property without living in the country.