Perfect Fit in Panama: A Guide to Immigration for the Crossroads of the Americas


Panama is known for the Panama Canal which is a famous achievement of human engineering. The country’s capital, Panama City boasts modern skyscrapers, casinos and nightclubs which contrasts with the country’s colonial buildings in several districts and rainforest of the metropolitan park.

Find out how you can experience life in this beautiful country in Central America. We’ll guide to many ways you can legally work and live in this country on an isthmus.

A work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and must be renewed each year. In addition, a work permit is tied to a legal employment contract, so if you decide to change employer then you would need to start the process for a new work permit.

There are many ways to obtain legal status in Panama, in fact, there are several ways to get a work permit in Panama.

  • If the Panamanian company can only have 10% or less foreign employees.
  • If you have 10 or more years of residency in Panama
  • If you are married to a Panamanian nationality
  • If you are an expert or technical worker within the 15% of the specialized personnel
  • If you work as an executive in a company of the Colon Free Zone
  • If you work in a company that has less than 10 workers (Marrakech Agreement)
  • If you are an employee in the film and or audiovisual industry, you can apply for a Special Temporary Residency Visa
  • If you are a national of 50 friends of Panama nations
  • If you are a Domestic Worker
  • If you work for government or semi-autonomous companies, you can live and work in Panama for 6 years

Application for a work permit is submitted to the Ministry of Labor while the residency visa is applied through the Immigration Office.

Your company is responsible for applying for your work permit through their legal representative or an authorized third-party immigration specialist or you may want to hire one yourself in case your company does not have legal representation in the country.

General Requirements for Panama Work Permit application are:

  1. Application filed by an attorney at the Ministry of Labor
  2. Letter of Responsibility issued by your Panamanian employer
  3. Original and (2) copies of signed local employment contract
  4. Certificate of School Records and Professional Experience, legalized by Panama consul or internationally recognized apostille.
  5. Passport-sized photos (8 pcs)

It is important that you seek immigration advice from professionals for accurate information and steps that you need to do in order to start your smooth transition to a prosperous life waiting for you in Panama.

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