I need to lead with this disclaimer; I AM NOT AN AUTHORITY ON THIS SUBJECT!! For details and advice, contact me and I will put you in touch with the best lawyer in Panama, Magalis Arruz Duncan.
Foreigners from all over the world live, play, and operate various forms of businesses. Most are here legally; some are not.
I take pride that I went through the legal process to first obtain my ‘Pensionado’ status, and last week finalized the permenate resident cedula. I picked it up at the David office of the Electoral Tribune. I’m officially a CHIRIGRINGO!
When I first began visiting Panama from Costa Rica, I came into the country on a tourist visa. Back then you were allowed to stay in the country 90 days. Then they changed it to 30 days and I started the Pensionado process. It took a while for me to get my ducks in line back in the US because I was having too much fun here in Central America. I finally bit the bullet and went back to AZ for a few months on a book tour. I was able to supply my attorney, (the afore mentioned Missus Duncan), all the documents needed for her to begin the process. The government issued me a temporary card (tramete) to use while my Pensionado status was being processed. This card presented along with my US passport allowed me to remain in the country while the red tape was being wound. (That was a big deal back then – one had to visit Costa Rica or Colombia ever 30 days and stay gone for 3 days’ not only a pain but expensive.)
Now, with the change in the law last year,(or maybe a new one) I was able to obtain a Panamanian Cedula. This provides more than a permanent visa. I’m actually a foreign resident.