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Panama - Citizenship

Those who wish to become citizens of Panama can only do so once they have been a legal resident of the country for a minimum of five years. An expat must have the status of an immigrant, rather than retired expat status. If you are married to a Panamanian citizen then you need only wait three years to apply for your own citizenship status. Citizenship status is no longer permanent in Panama. Obtaining immigrant status or citizenship is not difficult but it can be removed at any time.

In order to make an application for Panamanian citizenship there are a number of documents that are required. An applicant must have five testimonials from Panamanian citizens who are not related to the applicant in any way. These must state that the applicant has been a legal resident of Panama for the minimum three or five years and has been living in the country on an uninterrupted basis.

Medical documentation is also required. Proof of a negative HIV test must be presented, along with a lung X-ray and proof of a general medical examination which shows that the applicant is in good health and free from any infectious disease or suffering from any mental incapacity.

There is a requirement for a notarised copy of the applicant’s passport, but note that this must be a copy of the entire passport and has to be submitted along with two passport-sized photographs. There are fees payable and the amounts change frequently but the latest information can be obtained from the Panamanian immigration department.

An applicant must also write a statement which declares that they are renouncing their current citizenship. It should be noted that the applicant’s home country may not consider this to be legally binding and this should be clarified before you make the declaration. Also included must be stamps to a total of $300 (USD) attached to the letter of naturalisation.

Those wanting to become citizens of the country will need to be able to prove that they have a means of income and with this in mind they will need a letter from their employer to confirm the salary amount they earn or a letter from the applicant’s bank to show that they have savings that will support them while they are living in the country. If the applicant has already been working in the country they may also need to obtain a copy of their Social Security Fund record to show that they have made contributions.

Other documentation that should be included is a power of attorney form to request confirmation from the Personal Identification Division of the date that the identity card was issued to confirm that the applicant has met the minimum three or five year requirement of immigrant status.

Once the application has been submitted the applicant will need to meet with the Electoral Tribunal and submit to examinations on a number of subjects about Panama including geography, history and civil rights in the country, as well as an examination to show that they have a good level of fluency in Spanish. Spanish is not a requirement for immigrant status but those who wish to obtain a passport do need to show that they want to integrate into society and learning the official language is a good measure of that.

Once the application has been approved the new citizen can be given a new ID card and passport. They will have the right to vote in Panama and have all the same rights as those born in the country. They must also meet with the governor of the province in which they are living and swear an oath of respect to the Panama constitution and law. There is a fee for this which is payable to the governor’s office.

Those who are under the age of 18 must have an application made on their behalf by their parents and all documents that are presented with an application must be recently issued. Passports must have at least one year left to run.

Those with a great deal of money to invest can make an application for an immediate Panama passport if they agree to deposit an amount of money in the national Bank of Panama which earns a minimum of $750 dollars in interest each month.

Useful Resources

Servicio Nacional De Migracion (Immigration Service)

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.