General rule is that to work legally in the country, a work permit is mandatory. You can apply for a business investor visa, which requires an investment of at least $160,000 USD in a new or existing business in the country with a minimum payroll of five employees. Even though there is no work permit option for this visa type either, and because there is no written rule on the matter, the labor office has stated that if you obtain this residency-by-investment you can work in your business without the need of a work permit.
As a Panama residency-by-investment visa holder, how can I work for my own business?
I want to live and start a business in Panama but I know I am not allowed to legally work in the country even though I legally can own a business. Is there any kind of exception? Am I able to receive profits for a business I don’t technically work for?
You are able to receive profits from the company you own. However, in order to work for it, you’ll need to hire Panamanian citizens (at least nine) and yourself, under certain rules.
As a Panama residency-by-investment visa holder, you are allowing to work for your own business, because there's no a real labor relationship between you and the business. You don't need to be in social security or have a work permit, and you won't have a labor contract with the business. And yes, you are able to receive profits for your business.