At a Glance
|GDP Total||$65.1 billion|
|GDP Per Capita||$15,575.10|
When traveling to Panama, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.
What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?
As a business visitor to Panama, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:
- » Attend business meetings and negotiations
- » Buy goods for sale outside the country
- » Tour a company facility
- » Receive classroom training
If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Panama?
Nationals of the European Union, the United States, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Panama. Additionally, many foreign nationals who normally require an entry visa to Panama but who have a valid visa or residence permit from Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, or South Korea, or have a Schengen Visa may also be exempt from the entry visa requirement.
If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver, you must obtain a Tourist Visa from a Panamanian Embassy or Consulate prior to travel. Please obtain an individual assessment before traveling to determine your eligibility for a visa waiver.
What types of activities require work authorization?
The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Panamanian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Panama, even if conducted for a short duration.
- » Systems installation
- » Hands-on technical work
- » Consulting
- » Software development
- » Auditing
Business visitors traveling to Panama to engage in select professional activities, such as establishing business subsidiaries, carrying out commercial transactions, and/or participating as a bidder of public tenders, may be eligible to apply for a Short Stay Business Visa after arrival to Panama. Please consult with your immigration counsel for additional information and to determine your eligibility for a Short Stay Business Visa.
If I am traveling to Panama for work, what type of work authorization do I need?
The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, nationality, on the nature and duration of your work, and on whether your employer has an entity in Panama. The most common types of work authorization for Panama are:
- » Transient Visa and Temporary Work Permit (short-term work authorization for technical activities)
- » Temporary Sedes de Empresas Multinacionales (SEM) Visa and Temporary Process Card (short-term work authorization for managers, executives, and other highly-skilled workers assigned to, or temporarily hired by, multinational companies headquartered in Panama)
- » Long-Term Sedes de Empresas Multinacionales (SEM) Visa and Temporary Process Card (long-term work authorization for managers, executives, and other highly-skilled workers assigned to, or temporarily hired by, multinational companies headquartered in Panama)
- » Temporary Residence Permit and Work Permit – Labor Code 10% (long-term direct-hire work authorization for those working in non-specialized industries)
- » Temporary Residence Permit and Work Permit – Labor Code 15% (long-term direct-hire work authorization for specialists, managers, and those working in technical industries)
- » Foreign Professional Permit, Temporary Residence Permit, and Work Permit (long-term work authorization for those whose university degree was either obtained in Panama or validated by the University of Panama and who intend to work in specific job sectors not reserved for Panamanians)
- » Friendly Nations Residency Permit and Work Permit (long-term work authorization for nationals of countries on the Friendly Nations List)
Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?
Panama does not offer long-term work authorization exemptions.
Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.
Copyright © 2023 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.
News and Events
At a Glance
|GDP Total||$65.1 billion|
|GDP Per Capita||$15,575.10|
COVID-19: New testing, quarantine measures in place for...
PANAMA 2 Apr 21
COVID-19: Country’s rollout of vaccine to include foreign...
PANAMA 2 Mar 21
COVID-19: Commercial air travel resumes for citizens and...
PANAMA 2 Sep 20
COVID-19: Filing extensions announced for residence permits, other...
PANAMA 9 Jun 20
International flights halted to mitigate COVID-19 spread
PANAMA 23 Mar 20
Foreign travel suspension and quarantine announced
PANAMA 19 Mar 20
Reinstatement of Status process streamlined
PANAMA 8 Oct 19
Options expanded for SEM visa holders seeking permanent...
PANAMA 27 Jun 19
Sweeping immigration, labor law changes take effect
PANAMA 11 Jun 19
New regulations set for Specific Countries Permanent Residence
PANAMA 6 Jun 19
5-year business visas introduced for nationals of 5...
PANAMA 18 Oct 18
New visa rules now in effect for restricted...
PANAMA 23 Aug 18
Entry visas eased for certain nationals
PANAMA 9 Apr 18
Switch to online processing for minors’ exit permits
PANAMA 23 Feb 18
Visa requirements eased for Chinese nationals
PANAMA 28 Nov 17
Venezuela reciprocates with visa requirement for Panamanians
PANAMA, VENEZUELA 30 Oct 17
Fines increased for immigration violations
PANAMA 18 Sep 17
Panama to impose visa requirements for Venezuelans
PANAMA, VENEZUELA 23 Aug 17
Panama shortens duration of stay for nationals of...
PANAMA 8 Jun 17
Panama adopts new investment visa option for foreign...
PANAMA 1 Jun 17
Panama revokes rule that would have impacted quota...
PANAMA 24 Feb 17
New rule to affect counting of foreign-hire ratios
PANAMA 16 Feb 17
Immigration changes touch on length of stay, temporary...
PANAMA 30 Jan 17
New visa rules take effect for restricted nationals
PANAMA 20 Jan 17
Panama drops salary minimum for certain international workers
PANAMA 15 Dec 16
Entry procedures at airports could cause delay
PANAMA 11 Nov 16
Method for calculating foreign worker quotas changed
PANAMA 29 Aug 16
Immigration authorities enforcing visa-cancellation procedures
PANAMA 21 Jun 16