Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa

In May of 2012, President Ricardo Martinelli issued a Presidential Decree 343 declaring that citizens of 22 friendly nations could apply to become permanent residents in a fast track manner.

Since then, other Decrees have increased the number of friendly nations to 50.

The formal wording of this permanent Panama residency visa is for “citizens of friendly nations with professional and economic ties with the Republic of Panama”.

List of 50 Friendly Nations for Panama Visa

  • Great Britain
  • Germany
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Republic of Korea
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Slovakia
  • France
  • Finland
  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Czech Republic
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Sweden
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Croatia
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Israel
  • Denmark
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Luxembourg
  • Liechtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Andorra
  • San Marino
  • Taiwan
  • Costa Rica
  • Mexico
  • Paraguay

Clarifying the Residency Requirements

The words “professional and economic ties with the Republic of Panama” means that citizens of these 50 countries must establish professional or economic relationship with Panama.  This can be accomplished by either of the following two options:

Option 1:

Set up a new Panama corporation (or purchase an existing Panama corporation).

This option proves an “Economic Activity”, which means the applicant owns a Panama corporation (either a newly set-up corporation, or purchase an existing corporation) which does business in Panama.  Please note that Foreigners (non-Panamanian citizens) are prohibited from owning a Panama “Retail” business.

Option 2:

Be hired to work as an employee for an existing Panama corporation.

This alternative option proves “Professional Activity”, meaning the applicant must be employed by a professional Panama corporation, must obtain a Panama work permit, and must be registered with Panama’s Social Security system.  In this case, proof of income such as the employment wages must be provided by the employer.  Documents proving these activities must be submitted.  Please note that Foreigners (non-Panamanian citizens) are prohibited from practicing certain professions such as: medical & veterinary doctors, attorneys, architects, and engineers.

In either of the above Options, Proof of Economic Solvency is a requirement.  This requirement can be met by opening a Panama bank account, and depositing at least $5,000 USD (plus $2,000 for each dependant).  Whether an applicant is solvent enough is not clearly defined, leaving the matter up to the discretion of the immigration officials.

Dependants include the spouse and children up to the age of 25 if they are full time university students.  The applicant must provide a written letter of responsibility regarding the dependants.  Every son or daughter dependant over the age of 18 must prove they are not married by providing an authenticated certificate of “single” status (not married) from their respective country.

After the application is filed along with all required documents the immigration office will issue a one year temporary residency card (carnet) which will be replaced by a permanent residency card once the application is approved.

Once the application has been approved, the Client / Applicant can apply for a Work Permit. Panama’s President recently issued a Presidential Decree ordering Panama’s Ministry of Labor to fast track acceptance of work permits for the 50 friendly nation’s citizens.

Important Documents & Procedures:

  • Scheduling:  Client / Applicant(s) must contact our law offices with at least 30 days prior notice to schedule appointments & coordinate documentation that is required for immigration processing.  Please note that the immigration application process takes a total of approximately 7 to 9 business days, so plan on being in Panama City for at least that time frame.
  • Document Validity: All required documents must be recently issued within 90 days (3 months) prior to the presentation of the Panama immigration residency application.
  • Document Authentication:  All required documents for immigration processing must be apostilled or authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate in the country of issue.
  • Document Review:  All required documents for immigration processing should be sent via scanned email or fax to our law offices for review and approval, at least 30 days prior to client / applicant(s) arrival in Panama.
  • Document Preparation:  For highest level of efficiency and time savings during applicants’ trip to Panama, we recommend applicants’ to send to our law offices (by courier) all required and duly authenticated or apostilled documents, at least 2 weeks prior to applicants’ arrival in Panama.  This will allow our attorneys enough time to process the necessary authentications of the documents at the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
  • Clients With Dual Nationalities:  If the Client / Applicant has two (2) different Nationalities (Passports), then at the moment of “entry” into the Country of Panama (at the airport or border), the client / applicant should enter Panama using the same Passport that will be used for the Panama Immigration residency application, and said passport should be stamped when entering Panama.  The required documents for immigration processing that the applicant must provide (police/criminal history report, etc.) must be issued in the same country of the applicants’ passport, because if not then the applicant would need to provide proof that they are residents in the country where the documents are issued from.
  • Dress Code:
    • For Men: Male Clients / Applicants must wear long pants, collared shirt, and shoes with socks. Do not wear shorts, cut-off shirts or t-shirts, or any footwear that shows toes.
    • For Women:  Female Clients / Applicants must wear a dress or long pants, collared shirt or top that covers shoulders, and formal footwear (shoes).  No mini-skirts, shorts, cut-off shirts or tops showing shoulders or t-shirts, and no sandals or footwear that shows toes.

Friendly Nations Visa Required Immigration Documents:

Law 3 of 2008 under Article 28 requires the following documents from an applicant:

1.  Eight (8) Passport Size Photos Per Applicant;

2.  Criminal history background check from the applicant’s country of origin or the country where he/she has lived for the two past years. The Panama immigration department requires the applicant to provide an authenticated criminal history report issued by a “federal”, “central”, or “national” police force or criminal investigation authority. This document must be authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate of Panama, or Apostilled. If the applicant provides a criminal background check from another country they must also provide an identification from said country which can be a drivers license or any other government issued ID.

(a) If the applicant is providing a criminal background report from a country where he/she is not a citizen, but a resident, the applicant must provide the legal residency identification, of said country, which must be authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate of Panama, or Apostilled.

(b) If the applicant has been residing in Panama for the past two consecutive years (without leaving the country) the criminal background check must be prepared by the national police (DIJ) in Panama.

Panama immigration will require the national criminal history report to be authenticated by a Panamanian Embassy or Consulate, from the country that issued the document or by Apostille, which is an internationally recognized government agency authentication of its issued documents by attaching certain seals to the document.  Contact Us for a list of Panama Consulates Worldwide or learn more about an apostille.

Note 1: The criminal history background check has a validity term of 3 to 6 months from its issuance date, depending on the specific nationality of the client / applicant, according to the Immigration Department of Panama.

Note 2: Between the issuance date of your criminal history background check, and your Provisional Residency application, there can be only “one (1) entry stamp” in your passport in the Republic of Panama. This means that after the date of your last trip to the Republic of Panama (Stage 1), and prior to your following trip for your provisional residency application (Stage 2), you must process your Criminal history background check (Police Report) as explained previously in the required documents.

3.  A written Statement describing the economic or professional activities to be conducted by the applicant in Panama.  These can be explained in the following manner:

Option (a) Economic Activity: Provide documentation that the applicant is a member of the Board of Directors or majority shareholder (50%) of a Panama Corporation or is the owner of a Panama company.  If the Panama Corporation or Panama Company is new, provide proof of its franchise tax being paid.  If the corporation or company is over one year old, provide proof of its tax return, and good standing certificate. In other words, the applicant must set up a Panama Corporation and be appointed in the Board of Directors. This Corporation must be existent until the Residency process is approved.  Under the current law, the corporation does not need to be active in business, it simply needs to be formed (inscribed in the Public Registry of Panama).

Note: The economic activity of the company cannot be one reserved for Panamanian nationals such as a retail business.

Option (b) Professional Activity: A professional activity is a job or work contract with a Panamanian company.  The applicant must provide proof of an employment contract, the company must be registered with Panama Social Security, and the applicant must get a social security card and work permit.  There are several ways to obtain a Panama work permit including the allowable 10% foreign employees or the Marrakech Treaty (which allows Panamanian companies to hire a certain percentage of foreigners).  The professional activity cannot be one reserved only for Panama nationals such as an attorney, architect, engineer, medical doctor or veterinarian doctor.

4. Copy of Applicant’s second I.D. (other than Passport): Issued from applicant’s country of origin, such as a driver’s license or government issued photo I.D.  This requirement is in addition to the passport to prove residency and citizenship.  This document must be Apostilled or authenticated by a Panamanian Consulate where the document is issued. If you do not possess a second ID from your country of origin you can provide a birth certificate that is apostilled or authenticated by the Panamanian consulate in the country of issuance.

5. Proof of Solvency: In addition to the documents that demonstrate the applicant’s economic or professional activity the applicant must also provide the following:

(a) Proof from a Panama bank that the applicant has at least $5,000 USD deposited, plus $2,000 USD for each dependent – this is done by requesting a bank letter of reference; or

(b) Proof of income such as employment salary with a letter from the employer which includes applicant’s social security number and work permit.  Note: Part (b) is vague which can be interpreted by Panama immigration at its discretion to verify the applicant’s solvency.

6.  Dependants require a letter of responsibility from the primary applicant (we will draft this letter of responsibility).

(a) Client must provide proof that the dependants are related either with a “birth certificate”, if children, or if it’s a spouse, a “marriage certificate”. This document must be Apostilled or authenticated by a Panamanian Consulate where the document is issued. This document must be issued within six (6) months before the residency application date (this means that at the time of application, this document should not be over 6 months old).

(b) Dependants other than a spouse can apply up until the age of 25 if enrolled as full time university students or are disabled, and must provide an authenticated certificate of single status (not married).

(c) Dependants over the age of 18 must submit an affidavit that they are single (not married) which must be Apostilled or authenticated by a Panamanian consulate.

7.  Personal Sworn Affidavit explaining the purpose for seeking Panama Permanent Residency and ability to support family and dependents. (This form will be supplied by Panama Offshore Legal Service’s immigration attorney.)

In “summary”, client must provide the following documents:

1. Eight (8) passport size photos.

2. Criminal history background check, duly authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate of Panama, or Apostilled.

3. Copy of Applicant’s second I.D. (different than Passport) from applicant’s country of origin such as driver’s license or government issued photo I.D., duly authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate of Panama, or Apostilled.

4. Birth certificate, if dependants are children, or if dependant is a spouse, a Marriage certificate, duly authenticated by the Embassy or Consulate of Panama, or Apostilled.

5. A bank reference letter, from a licensed bank in Panama, addressed to: “Servicio Nacional de Migracion”, that certifies that the applicant has at least US$5,000 USD deposited in a “personal bank account” (in clients personal name) plus the amount of US$2,000 USD must be deposited for each dependant.

6. Certification from the Public Registry of Panama, certifying that the applicant appears on the board of directors of the Panama Corporation.

Required Documents that our Law Firm will process:

1. Application for Permanent Residency with a Special Power of Attorney authorizing our Law Firm (Panama Offshore Legal Services) to act on behalf of the applicant, duly authenticated by a Panamanian Public Notary with the proper government stamps.

2.  Copy of the entire passport notarized by a Panama Public Notary.

3.  Original medical examination report from a certified Panama medical doctor. Our paralegal will personally accompany Client to the clinic for the medical examination.

4. Two Certified Checks:

(a) $250 USD in favor of “Tesoro Nacional” (National Treasury) for immigration fees; and

(b) $800 USD in favor of “Servicio Nacional de Migracion” (National Immigration Service) for repatriation purposes (deportation fund).

IMPORTANT: Once immigration has issued a resolution of an approval (or denial) of the application of residency, the above mentioned checks are then non-refundable.

5. Official translations, signed by a licensed official public translator from the Republic of Panama, of all documents from the English to the Spanish language. If documents are in a different language than English and Spanish, then the Client must pay the fees of the respective licensed official public translator in Panama to translate the documents from whatever language they are in to Spanish.

Visa Application Procedure & Stages:

The following are the steps involved in applying for the residency program:

Stage 1 (Trip No.1 to Panama): Open a Personal Bank Account in Panama:

The first step is to open a personal bank account in a licensed Bank in Panama. To begin the account opening process, you only need to be in Panama for 1 business day, to interview with the banker, sign the bank forms, and submit the required documentation to the bank.

The time frame for actually opening a personal bank account in Panama varies depending on what bank you open the account with. The bank account opening process can take 1 day or it could take as much as 1 month, depending on the bank you choose to open the account with, and depending on the supporting documents you provide to the bank, since all banks require doing a due diligence investigation on the client prior to the account approval. If you open the account through the banks that we recommend, and you provide all the required documentation, the account can be opened very quickly, in as little as 1 day in most cases. Once your personal bank account is approved by the bank, you need to fund it and make a minimum deposit of US$5,000.00 for qualifying for the residency process, plus you need to add US$2,000.00 per dependent you want to include.

Please contact us prior to your visit, if you want us to help you with setting up an interview with a bank officer to attend you. We will assist you through the account opening process and help you to come prepared so you don’t waste time.

The basic requirements by the bank for your personal bank account are:

  1. Passport copy.
  2. Second I.D. copy (for example: drivers license, state or country I.D.).
  3. Original bank reference letter, addressed to the bank in Panama where you are applying to open the account. This letter should be issued within 3 months from the account application date and must contain an email or phone number from the issuing bank so that the bank in Panama can confirm the letter.
  4. Annual tax declaration, employment letter, or retirement income document (document that proves your source of income). This requirement is very important since the bank needs to know how you make money or the source of your funds to be deposited to the account.
  5. Personal resume / curriculum vitae, describing your education and work history.
  6. Letter addressed to the bank, explaining the purpose of establishing the bank account, what banking services will be required such as checking/savings account, debit card, credit card, online banking, etc, the estimated monthly deposits / withdrawals, and estimated average balance of the account.
  7. Any other documentation that the bank may require from the client / applicant.
  8. Personal interview required at the bank.

We recommend that when you come to Panama, be prepared to interview with 2 different banks just in case, in order to assure that you will get an account opened, because some banks may deny the account, depending on the due diligence documentation provided.

Stage 2 (Trip No.2 to Panama): Passport Registration and Provisional Residency Application:

In this Stage we would require your stay for minimum of 7 to 9 business days as follows:

BUSINESS DAY 1 (PASSPORT REGISTRATION):

  • Client / Applicant(s) presence IS required. NOTE: No shorts, t-shirts or sandals are permitted in government offices.
  • At 8:00 a.m. Client / Applicant(s) should meet at our law office with two (2) Passport size photographs, US$5.00 in cash, and the actual original physical passport in hand.
  • At around 8:30 a.m., our Immigration Attorney and/or Paralegal will guide the Client(s) to the government Immigration office of Panama City.  The passport registration process is generally done in the same day, however, the time it takes will depend on the volume of applicants ahead of you in line, so the earlier you get there the better.
  • The Panama immigration office will place a “stamp” in the applicants Passport that will show a Registration number, which is used throughout the immigration process, which is why it is also advisable that the passport used should have at least 1 to 2 years time remaining before the passport expiration date.  Once the passport is registered at the Panama Immigration office, the applicant will receive their passport back. Client should keep a photocopy of their passport and entry stamp page with them at all times in Panama.

BUSINESS DAY 2 & 3 (DOCUMENT PREPARATION):

  • Client / Applicant(s) presence is NOT required.
  • A complete photocopy of the applicants’ passport (including a copy of the Panama Immigration Registration stamp page) must be made and it must be authenticated by a Public Notary in Panama, which requires that we have the passport accessible.  If time permits, this step could be completed on Day 1.
  • Other documents such as the Health Certificate (this can only be done in Panama, through a Licensed Medical Doctor in Panama), authentication of all documents, and translation to the Spanish language of all documents that are issued outside of Panama, etc.  There is a possibility that we could expedite the authentications and translations of documents, if the client / applicant(s) delivers all documents to our law office by courier prior to their arrival in Panama.  By all means (as mentioned above), client should always scan and email or fax these documents to our law offices prior to their arrival in Panama, for verification purposes to ensure that the documents are prepared correctly.

BUSINESS DAY 4 (RESIDENCY APPLICATION PRESENTATION):

  • Client / Applicant(s) presence is NOT required, however, we will need to keep applicant(s) original passport for the immigration application presentation.  The passport will be returned the same day or the following business day.
  • If all documents are ready, authenticated, translated to Spanish, and the completed package with a full set of copies for the Immigration office is ready, then our Attorney/Paralegal will file the application by going to the Immigration office early in the morning.

BUSINESS DAY 5 (TEMPORARY RESIDENT CARD ISSUANCE):

  • Client / Applicant(s) presence IS required.
  • At 8:00 a.m., the client / applicant(s) should meet at our law office.
  • At around 8:30 a.m. our Immigration Attorney / Paralegal will guide the Client / Applicant(s) to the government Immigration office for the Temporary Residency Card issuance. A photograph of the client / applicant(s) will be taken at the Immigration office, and the Client / Applicant will receive a “Temporary Resident Card” (I.D. Card). This card will have a validity of one (1) year, which means that within that one (1) year the Immigration office should approve the client / applicants’ residency resolution. From our experience, the Immigration office generally approves this residency program in 3 to 6 months time frame.
  • Our attorney / paralegal will need to keep applicant(s) original Passport for the Multiple Entry-Exit Visa application & processing.
  • Applicant(s) will keep their Temporary Residency Card and a photocopy of their Passport with a photocopy of the most recent entry to Panama stamped page.

BUSINESS DAY 6, 7 & 8 (MULTIPLE ENTRY-EXIT VISA APPLICATION AND PROCESSING):

  • Once the “Temporary Residency Card” is obtained, Client(s) / Applicant(s) require a Multiple Exit and Entry Visa, in order to exit and enter the country.
  • Client / Applicant(s) presence is NOT required, however, our attorney / paralegal will need to have applicant(s) original passport for the presentation of the Multiple Entry-Exit Visa, which approval will take approximately 3 business days.  Applicant(s) will receive their original passport back once the Multiple Entry-Exit Visa is completed (3 business days).
  • Our Attorney/Paralegal will file the application for the applicant(s) Multiple Entry-Exit Visa, which is required for applicant(s) to travel out of and into the Republic of Panama.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you leave Panama without the Multiple Entry-Exit Visa, a fine of US$2,000.00 will be applied by the Immigration officials.

BUSINESS DAY 9 (RETURN OF PASSPORT & MULTIPLE ENTRY-EXIT VISA):

  • Client / Applicant(s) presence is NOT required.
  • Our Attorney / Paralegal will go to the Immigration office to collect applicant(s) original Passport with the stamp of the Multiple Entry-Exit Visa, and applicant(s) may pick up their passport(s) at our law office that afternoon.

NEXT STEPS:

Once the residency application has been submitted, the Immigration office will take several months to process the resolution of approval. Our immigration attorney and paralegals will perform a weekly follow-up at the Immigration office and all the different departments where the paperwork is processed, and will inform you by email or phone, once the resolution of approval is issued, at which point you will need to return to Panama to continue the immigration process. Generally you will have a term of 3 months to come to Panama, once the resolution of approval is issued, so you will be informed in advance.

Stage 3 (Trip No.3 to Panama): Permanent Residency Approval (at the Immigration):

Once the permanent residency resolution is issued with the approval, you will have a term of 3 months to come to Panama to get your picture I.D. card at the Immigration office. One (1) business day is required for this process.

Stage 4 (Trip No.4 to Panama): Permanent Residency Card (at the Civil Registry):

Once your permanent residency card is issued by the National Immigration Service, you could request the permanent residency card issued by the Civil Registry (“cedula”), which is optional.

This process, from Stage 3 till Stage 4, could take around 2 to 3 months, for the Immigration File to reach the Civil Registry. Then, the Client will be required to just come to Panama and stay 2 or 3 business days for this 4th stage.

Once our Immigration Attorney or Paralegal informs you that the permanent residency card is ready at the Civil Registry of Panama, you would need to make a trip for one (1) business day to sign the card and to take your picture at the Civil Registry.

 

Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa

POLS offers experienced immigration lawyers who can assist you with obtaining a Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa.

Law N° 16, of June 30,1960 created this program to offer international investors the opportunity to obtain Panama legal residency, Panama citizenship (and a Panama passport) by making certain Panama investments.

Currently, the Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa offers three (3) different Panama investment options to qualify for Panama residency:


Panama Investment Option #1:

Panama Investment: Invest a minimum of US$300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand US Dollars) in a three (3) year time deposit (or “certificate of deposit” or “CD”) at any Panama bank account.  If the applicant has dependents, the applicant needs to invest an additional Two Thousand US Dollars (US$2,000) for each dependent.

Stipulations: (1) The Panama bank time deposit (CD) account must be in the personal name of the primary applicant (it may not be in the name of a Panama corporation, Panama foundation, or trust).  The interest earned from the Panama bank time deposit (CD), will be deposited monthly into any savings account at the Panama bank that you designate (the Panama savings account may be a personal account, or a corporate account).  The interest income is NOT taxed by the Panamanian government, nor is it subject to any tax reporting requirements.

Dependents: For each additional dependent that applies for residency under this Panama immigration program, the investment must be increased by US$2000 (two thousand US Dollars), plus the primary applicant must prove that he or she has enough income to support the living costs of each dependent.


Panama Investment Option # 2:

Panama Investment: Invest a minimum of US$300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand US Dollars) in titled Panama real property.  This must be equity, as mortgages do not count.  If the applicant has dependents, the applicant needs to invest an additional Two Thousand US Dollars (US$2,000) for each dependent.

Stipulations: (1) The titled Panama real property can either be in the personal name of the primary applicant or in the name of a Panama Private Interest Foundation; as long as the primary applicant is either the Founder or a Beneficiary (it may not be in the name of a Panama corporation or trust).  (2) The primary applicant must also prove that he or she has sufficient income to support him or herself.

Dependents: For each additional dependent that applies for residency under this Panama immigration program, the investment must be increased by US$2000 (two thousand US Dollars), plus the primary applicant must prove that he or she has enough income to support the living costs of each dependent.


Panama Investment Option # 3:

The third option is a combination of a 3-year Panama bank CD with Panama real estate purchases equity (excluding mortgages) with both totaling a minimum of US$300,000.  If the applicant has dependents, the applicant needs to invest an additional Two Thousand US Dollars (US$2,000) for each dependant.

Requirements to Qualify for a Self Economic Solvency Visa

Foreigners that invest the minimum sum of Three Hundred Thousand US dollars (US$300,000) in Panama real estate or a Panama bank time deposit or a combination of both will be able to qualify for this visa.  If the foreigner has dependents, the applicant needs to invest an additional Two Thousand US Dollars (US$2,000) for each dependant.

Qualifying for a Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa with a Fixed Panama Bank Time Deposit

In addition to the basic requirements established in Article 28 of the Decree Law, the applicant must submit the following documents:

1. Panama bank certification that the foreigner opened a Panama bank time deposit account in the applicant’s name for a minimum of three (3) years in any Panama bank for a minimum value of Three Hundred Thousand dollars (US$300,000), or its equivalent in foreign currency;

2. Copies of the Panama bank time deposit certificate authenticated by the bank.

Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa by Investing in Panama Real Estate

In addition to the requirements established in Article 28 of the Decree Law, the following documents must be submitted:

1. Certificate from Panama’s Public Registry verifying personal title of the applicant with a minimum value of Three Hundred Thousand dollars (US$300,000), free of debt or liens.

Note I: In the case that the title of the Panama real estate is under the name of a Panama Private Interest Foundation, the applicant will qualify if he or she is the Founder and/or one of the beneficiaries.  The certificate of the Public Registry must designate the applicant as either the Founder or Beneficiary.

Note II: In the case when the applicant has paid the minimum required cash sum of Three Hundred Thousand dollars (US$300,000) towards the total price of the Panama real estate, he or she will be able to finance the remainder through mortgage loans.

Panama Self Economic Solvency by Combination of Panama Investments (Fixed Panama Bank Time Deposit and Panama Real Estate Purchase)

Stipulations: (1) The Panama bank time deposit (CD) account must be in the personal name of the primary applicant (it may not be in the name of a Panama corporation, Panama foundation, or trust).  The interest earned from the Panama bank time deposit (CD), will be deposited monthly into any Panama bank savings account that you designate (the savings account may be a personal account, or a corporate account).  The interest income is NOT taxed by the Panamanian government, nor is it subject to any tax reporting requirements.  (2) The titled property must be in the personal name of the primary applicant or in the name of a Panama Private Interest Foundation where the applicant is the Founder and/or beneficiary.  (3) The primary applicant must also prove that he or she has sufficient income to support his or her general costs of living.

Dependents: For each additional dependent that applies for Panama residency under this Panama immigration program, the primary applicant must prove that he or she has enough income to support the general costs of living of each dependent.


Option #1 Procedures for Applying for Panama Residency:

1. Provide all required documents, and sign the Special Power of Attorney for our law firm to handle your Panama immigration paperwork.

2. The Panama bank account is opened, and you make the time deposit.  The Panama bank then provides a certificate of deposit, and a copy of the time deposit contract.

3. Register passport at Panama Immigration office.

4. Present application with all required documents to Panama immigration, with Government fees & Repatriation Deposit (if applicable).

5. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

6 . Panama immigration department issues applicant 2 year Temporary Permit (Visa).

7. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

8. Panama immigration department issues applicant Permanent Residency Permit (Visa).

9. After 5 years of Permanent Resident status, applicant may apply for Panama citizenship through Naturalization process (once a citizen, then a Panama passport may be obtained), which is optional.

It is not necessary for applicants to reside in Panama to qualify for or maintain Panamanian residency or Panama citizenship, however, a short visit to Panama is required for the processing of the Panama Temporary Immigrant Visa, the Permanent Resident Visa, and for the Naturalization (Panama citizenship and Panama passport).

When the immigration visa is approved plan to visit Panama for two weeks because immigration may hold onto your passport for 5 business days while they insert the official stamps and information in the passport.


Option # 2 Procedures for Applying for Panama Residency:

1. Provide all required documents, and sign the Special Power of Attorney for our law firm to handle your Panama immigration paperwork.

2. The Panama titled real property is purchased.  The Public Registry issues a certificate of ownership, and a registered copy of the Panama real property purchase contract.

3. Register passport at Panama immigration office.

4. Present application with all required documents to Panama immigration, with Government fees & Repatriation Deposit (if applicable).

5. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

6. Panama immigration department issues applicant 2 year Temporary Permit (Visa).

7. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

8. Panama immigration department issues applicant Permanent Residency Permit (Visa).

9. After 5 years of Panama permanent Resident status, applicant may apply for Panama citizenship through Naturalization process (once a Panama citizen, then Panama passport may be obtained).

It is not necessary for applicants to reside in Panama to qualify for or maintain Panamanian residency or Panama citizenship, however, a short visit to Panama is required for the processing of the Temporary Immigrant Visa, the Permanent Resident Visa, and for the Naturalization (Panama citizenship and a Panama passport).

When the immigration visa is approved plan to visit Panama for two weeks because immigration may hold onto your passport for 5 business days while they insert the official stamps and information in the passport.


Option # 3 Procedures for Applying for Panama Residency:

1. Provide all required documents, and sign the Special Power of Attorney for our law firm to handle your immigration paperwork.

2. The Panama bank account is opened, and you make the time deposit.  The Panama bank then provides a certificate of deposit, and a copy of the time deposit contract. The Panama titled real property is purchased, and the Public Registry issues a certificate of ownership and a registered copy of the purchase contract.

3. Register passport at Panama immigration office.

4. Present application with all required documents to Panama immigration, with Government fees & Repatriation Deposit (if applicable).

5. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

6. Panama immigration department issues applicant 2 year Temporary Permit (Visa).

7. Panama immigration department issues applicant a Temporary Permit (Visa) & Multiple Entry-Exit Visa.

8. Panama immigration department issues applicant Permanent Residency Permit (Visa).

9. After 5 years of Permanent Resident status, applicant may apply for Panama citizenship through Naturalization process (once a Panama citizen, then a Panama passport may be obtained).

It is not necessary for applicants to reside in Panama to qualify for or maintain Panamanian residency or Panama citizenship, however, a short visit to Panama is required for the processing of the Temporary Immigrant Visa, the Permanent Resident Visa, and for the Naturalization (Panama citizenship and a Panama passport).

When the immigration visa is approved plan to visit Panama for two weeks because immigration may hold onto your passport for 5 business days while they insert the official stamps and information in the passport.


POLS Fees:

For Primary Applicant:

Stage 1:
Legal Fee – 2 year Panama Temporary Immigrant Visa: US $2,000
Government Fees and Costs: – To Tesoro Nacional (National Treasury): US $250
– Repatriation Deposit (refundable once permanent visa is approved): US $800
– Other Fees: US $350
Total Government Fees & Repatriation Deposit: US $1,400

Stage 2:
Legal Fee – Panama Permanent Residency Visa: US $1,500
Government Fees and Costs: US $500

Stage 3 (optional):
Legal Fee – Panama Naturalization (Citizen / Passport): US $5,000
Government Fees and Costs: US $2,000

For Dependents (spouse or children under 18 yrs):

Stage 1:
Legal Fee – 2 year Panama Temporary Immigrant Visa: US $1,500
Government Fees and Costs: – To Tesoro Nacional (National Treasury): US $250
– Repatriation Deposit (refundable once permanent visa is approved): US $800
– Other Fees: US $350
Total Government Fees & Repatriation Deposit: US $1,400

Stage 2:
Legal Fee – Panama Permanent Residency Visa: US $1,500
Government Fees and Costs: US $500

Stage 3 (optional):
Legal Fee – Panama Naturalization (Citizen / Passport): US $5,000
Government Fees and Costs: US $2,000

Required Documents (for Panama Immigration office processing):

1. Photocopy of valid passport of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable), including the picture page (that shows the picture, name, date of birth, passport number, place of issue, etc.), and all pages showing entry/exit stamps (all pages used in the passport).

2. Original Police record of the applicant, from the place of residence (and spouse & dependents over 18 years of age – if applicable), duly notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you.

3. Original Marriage Certificate (if applicable – for Spouse only), duly notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you.

4. Birth Certificate (if applicable – for the dependents only), duly notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you.

5. Three (3) passport sized photographs of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable).

6. Certificate of Good Health, issued by a licensed Panamanian hospital or clinic, signed by a registered, licensed physician, indicating that the applicant (and dependents – if applicable) has no contagious diseases and is in good mental and physical condition.

7. Original Financial Reference Letters: These can be from any bank, brokerage firm, or credit union.  It has to be authenticated from the consulate of Panama in your country.  They should be on the financial institutions letterhead, signed by a representative of the financial institution, and show the contact information (address, tel, fax, email, etc.) for the reference to be verified.  To view an example of a Financial Reference Letter, click on the underlined words.

THIS MUST BE DONE DURING YOUR INITIAL VISIT TO PANAMA.

Documents that our law firm will provide to you:

1. Special Power of Attorney, signed by the applicant (and dependents – if applicable), authorizing our law firm to process the Panama immigration applications and documentation.

2. Letter of Responsibility, signed by the applicant, whereby the applicant takes responsibility for his/her dependents.

3. Panama Immigration Applications are completed and signed by the applicant (and each dependent).

* Note: for authenticating documents through the Panamanian Consulate, please contact us to request the contact information of the Panamanian Consulate nearest you.

Required Documents (for opening Panama bank account / CD):

1. Photocopy of valid passport of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable), including the picture page (that shows the picture, name, date of birth, passport number, place of issue, etc.), and all other pages in the passport including the cover (the entire passport).  The photocopy of passport should be notarized.

2. Original Financial Reference Letters: These can be from any bank, brokerage firm, or credit union.  They should be on the financial institutions letterhead, signed by a representative of the financial institution, and show the contact information (address, tel, fax, email, etc.) for the reference to be verified.  To view an example of a Financial Reference Letter, click on the underlined words.

3. Two Original Commercial Reference Letters: This can be from any company or professional (a company, attorney, accountant, etc.).  They should be on the company or professionals letterhead, signed by a representative of the company (or the professional), and show the contact information (address, tel, fax, email, etc.) for the reference to be verified.  To view an example of a Commercial Reference Letter, click on the underlined words.

4. Proof of Address: This can be a utility bill, such as a light / power bill, phone bill, rental contract, or property title deed of your residence that is in your personal name.

5. Proof of Origin of Funds: A letter should be prepared and signed by the applicant, explaining the source or origin of the funds to be deposited to the bank account.  This letter should be accompanied by documentation such as last 2 or 3 years tax returns / declarations, or audited financial statements.

Note that immigration office request that the applicant must be present physically at the immigration office in Panama, at the time of Visa application, for any type of visa.

Panama Immigration will not allow people to visit the immigration office wearing shorts, t-shirts, or sandals.

When the immigration visa is approved, plan to visit Panama for two weeks because the immigration office may hold onto your passport for 5 business days while they insert the official stamps and visa information in the passport.

How to Obtain Permanent Residency Visa in Panama

Panama Permanent Residency Visas

Panama offers several permanent residency visa programs.  Foreigners have several options to choose from in order to live permanently in Panama.

Here is a list with a short explanation of every Panama immigration visa that grants permanent residency:

1. Panama Friendly Nations Visa

If you are a citizen from one of the 50 friendly nations listed below and wish to relocate to Panama in order to conduct economic or professional business activities, you can qualify for this fast track permanent residency program:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Marino, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, United Kingdom (Great Britain & Northern Ireland).

Learn more about Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa

2. Panama Self Economic Solvency Visa

There are 3 options available to qualify for this unique Panama economic solvency visa created to attract wealthy foreigners to become permanent Panama residents:

a) Make an investment of at least $300,000 USD in Panama real property equity (not counting loans or mortgages amounts).  For every dependent to be included with the visa, an additional $2,000 USD must be invested.  The title can either be in a person’s name or in a Panama Private Interest Foundation (the primary applicant must either be a beneficiary or the creator).  The property cannot be in the name of a Trust or a corporation.  The primary applicant must also show the ability to support the family while living in Panama.

b) Make an investment of at least $300,000 USD in a 3 year Panama bank time deposit (“Certificate of Deposit”).  For each dependant, an additional $2,000 USD
needs to be invested.  The Panama bank CD can only be in the name of the primary applicant and not in a trust, corporation, or foundation.

c) Combine the first two options by making an investment in both Panama real property and a Panama bank CD where the equity and cash amount total at least $300,000 USD (or foreign currency equivalent).  An additional $2,000 USD must be invested for each dependent.

To learn more about Panama’s Self-Economic Solvency Visa Click Here

3. Panama Business Investor Visa

Foreigners can obtain a Panama Business Investor Visa by investing in a Panama business with at least $160,000 USD in capital stock.  The investor can apply for the visa as an officer or shareholder of the Panama corporation.   An additional $2,000 must be invested per dependent.

To learn more about Panama’s Business Investor Visa Click Here

4. Panama Reforestation Investor Visa

Permanent residency leading to full citizenship can be achieved with just a minimum $80,000 USD investment to purchase at least 5 hectares of titled land in a government certified reforestation project.  An additional $2,000 will be needed for each dependent.  Panama reforestation investments have averaged annual returns of 23% over the past 20 years.

Learn more about Panama’s Reforestation Investor Visa 

5. Panama Retired or Pensioned Program

Retirees or people with lifetime annuities or pensions can qualify for the Panama Pensioner Visa, also know as the Panama retirement visa.  This permanent residency visa is for anyone over 18 years of age who obtains monthly pensions or annuities of at least $1,000 USD for the rest of their lives.  An additional $250 per month must be received for each dependent. Married couples can combine their annuities or pensions to meet the minimum requirement.  An exception exists where the primary applicant purchases Panama real estate valued at least $100,000 lowering the monthly minimum to $750.  The annuity or pension can come from a government, its military, a corporation, a bank, an insurance company, a Trust, or private company.  There are many discounts available to card carrying pensioners in Panama including pharmacies, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, concerts, and domestic airfare.

Learn more about the Panama Pensionado Visa

6. Marry a Panama Citizen

A legal, valid marriage (not a sham) to a Panama citizen can lead to permanent residency. Learn more about How To Marry in Panama

Procedures for Applying for Panama Residency

The procedure for all resident permits (Panama visas) is the following:

1. Register passport at Panama Immigration.

2. Present application with all required documents to Panama immigration, with Government fees & Repatriation Deposit (if applicable).

3. Panama immigration department issues applicant “Provisional Processing Card” and Multiple Entry-Exit Visa (valid for 3 months to 1 year).

4. Panama immigration department issues applicant Permanent Residency Permit (Panama Visa) and “Panama Pensionado Resident Card”.


Passport Registration:

A short visit to Panama is required to register and stamp your Passport at the Panama immigration Office.  NOTE: No visitors wearing shorts, t-shirts or sandals are permitted in government offices.

The requirements are:

1. Two (2) passport sized photographs of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable).

2. Complete Panama immigration registration Form (Our law firm will provide this to Client, who only needs to complete and sign).

3. Original passport, and one (1) photocopy of passport (the original passport will be returned to the Client immediately after the registration).


Required Documents (for Panama Immigration processing):

Documents that Client must provide (for applicant and dependents – if applicable):

1. Photocopy of valid passport of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable), including the picture page (that shows the picture, name, date of birth, passport number, place of issue, etc.), and all other pages (all pages of the passport).
This should be provided after the Passport Registration is registered at the Panama immigration Office.  Please note that the passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of the immigration application.

2. Six (6) passport sized photographs of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable).

3. Certificate of Good Health, issued by a licensed Panamanian hospital or clinic, signed by a registered, licensed physician, indicating that the applicant (and dependents – if applicable) has no contagious diseases and is in good mental and physical condition.  THIS MUST BE DONE DURING YOUR INITIAL VISIT TO PANAMA.

Documents that Client must provide (for applicant):

4. Documentation of Proof of Pension from either of the following:

a. If Pension is from a Government Institution or Social Security: Client must provide certification from the respective Government institution that pays the applicant’s retirement or pension income, certifying that the person receives a “pension” in the amount of at least US$1,000 per month FOR LIFE.  This document must be ‘original’, ‘official’, ‘updated’ and ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation of these terms below).

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the pension income certification document issued by the Government or by Social Security does not specifically state that the payment is a “PENSION” and it is for “LIFE”, then the applicant must provide a signed Affidavit (Sworn Declaration) stating that the payment is in concept of a “RETIREMENT PENSION” and that it is for “LIFE”. This Affidavit (Sworn Declaration) must be authenticated by a Public Notary & Secretary of State Apostil if issued in the USA, or otherwise, authenticated through the US consulate office in Panama.

b. If the Pension is from a Private Company: Client must provide a letter on company letterhead from the company that pays the applicant’s retirement or pension income, signed by a representative of the company, with complete contact information for verification purposes, certifying that the person receives a “pension for life” (the Pension Letter must use the words “pension for life”) in the amount of at least US$1,000 per month.  This document must ‘original’, ‘official’, ‘updated’ and ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation below of these terms).


IMPORTANT:

– Clients should send in advance all of the required documents by courier before his/her first visit, or they can bring them during his/her first visit.

– Clients should download, fill out and complete the Immigration Departments’ “Filiation” Form and the Personal Background Info Application (Our law firm we will provide these forms). Please send these two application forms by fax or email before your first visit, so we can review them.

Documents that our law firm will provide to you:

1. Special Power of Attorney, signed by the applicant (and dependents – if applicable), authorizing our law firm to process the immigration applications and documentation.

2. Letter of Responsibility, signed by the applicant, whereby the applicant takes responsibility for his/her dependents (if applicable).

3. Panama immigration Declaration Forms, to be completed and signed by the applicant (and dependents – if applicable).

* Note: for authenticating documents through the Panamanian Consulate, please Contact Us to request the contact information of the Panamanian Consulate nearest you.

– All documents that come in a language other than Spanish, must be translated in Panama through an official certified Panamanian translator.

– All Passports validity should not be less than six (6) months prior to processing the Panama immigration application.


Meaning of terms:

– Original: Original issued documents, not copies.

– Official: Issued directly by the respective Institution/Company, not internet printing nor other external source.

– Updated: With a recent date, not more than six (6) months, since the document was issued.

– Authenticated: Notarized and Authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you (or Authenticate by Apostil).

– Panama Permanent Residency obtained through the Panama Pensioned Visa Program provides holder of a Panama Permanent Residency Card for certain discounts and exonerations of certain taxes.

Panama Immigration department will not allow people to visit the Panama immigration office wearing shorts, t-shirts, or sandals.  The Panama immigration office will not accept U.S. currency in denominations of US$50 or US$100, only bills of US$20 or less are accepted.

Note that all applicants for visas must be physically present at the Panama immigration office in Panama, at the time of Visa application.

When the immigration visa is approved, please plan to visit Panama for at least two weeks because immigration may hold on to your passport for several days (approximately 5 business days) while they insert the official stamps and information in the passport.

Panama Retirement Visas (Visa Pensionado)

Retirees or persons with “lifetime” pensions may qualify for the Panama retirement visa, also called the “Panama Pensionado Visa”.  POLS has a dedicated staff of immigration attorneys with extensive experience in processing the Panama retirement visa.

The Panama Pensionado Visa allows foreigners to obtain legal residency in Panama under the condition that they have a pension income guaranteed for life.  According to the Panama Immigration Department, there is no minimum or maximum age required to qualify, you only need to provide the requirements and documents listed below.

The applicants’ retirement income (or pension income) must be for life, and must be a minimum of one thousand US Dollars (US$1,000) per month.  If your lifetime pension income is less than US$1,000 per month, but equal to or more than US$750 per month, you may purchase any Panama real estate property with a value of at least US$100,000, which reduces the lifetime monthly pension income requirement down to a minimum of US$750.

The Panama retirement visa applicants’ pension income must be proven by providing documentation such as a letter from the institution or company that pays the retirement or pension income. This certification must be notarized and authenticated by the Panamanian Consulate nearest you (or by apostile).

Panama Retirement Visa Benefits

Here is a summary of the benefits of the Panama retirement visa:

  • One time Duty tax exemption for household goods up to a total of $10,000.
  • Duty exemption for importing a new car every two years.
  • 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, concerts, sports)
  • 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
  • 25% off airline tickets
  • 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
  • 30% off hotel stays from Friday through Sunday
  • 25% off at restaurants
  • 15% off at fast-food restaurants
  • 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
  • 10% off prescription medicines
  • 20% off medical consultations
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 20% off professional and technical services
  • 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans
  • 25% discounts on utility bills
  • 15% off loans made in your name
  • 1% less on home mortgages for homes used for personal residence

Tax Exemptions: As a qualified “Panama pensionado visa” holder, you will be entitled to:

  • A one-time exemption of duties (taxes) on the importation of household goods up to US$10,000 in total value.
  • 100% duty exemption on the importation or purchase of an automobile every 2 years.

Click here to read more about Panama tax exemptions for pensionados

 

Panama Retirement Visa Requirements

Here are the basic requirements to qualify for a Panama Pensioned Visa / retirement visa:

Article 201.4.a states the following:

“Article 201.(4): If the pension or retirement fund is from a private company, the following is required:

a.  Letter from a foreign company that administrates pensions, a trust company, a mutual fund company, an insurance company or a bank, that certifies that the funds exist to guarantee a lifetime pension for the applicant.
b.  Certification of the existence and validity of the private company that issued the pension and administrates the funds.
c.  Copy of the proof of payment or statement of account from the bank.”

This is important because now applicants can use an Annuity issued by a bank, an insurance company, or even a private company to meet the Panama Pension Visa requirement.

Also, in the same article 201(4) it states in the final Paragraph:

“In the case of spouses they may opt for proving the sum established (US$1,000) in the numeral 1 with the pension of both, in that case they should comply with the requirements previously established for both pensions.”

What this means is that if a married couple both receive a pension, and their combined pensions equals at least $1,000 they can apply for the Panama Pension Visa.

Also, the law states the following regarding dependents:

“Article 202. In the case of dependent children, the dependents permit (resident visa) shall be temporary until 25 years of age, as long as they prove that they are full time students, however, they shall not have the right to permanent residency nor the condition of “Pensioned”.  The exception is for dependent children that suffer from a proven profound disability (such as a physical or mental disability).”

This means that if a dependent child does not attend college full time after the age of 18, then their Panama Pensionado Visa will be cancelled for that dependent.  It also means that dependent children cannot use the parents Panama Pensionado Visa to obtain Panama permanent residency.  They will have to find another Visa to apply for Panama permanent residency.

The law requires the applicants’ pension amount to be increased by US$250 for each dependent or alternatively this requirement can be solved by providing a Panamanian bank reference letter indicating that the applicant earns at least US$250 per month in interest income from local bank deposits.

Also, its important to note that the law does not discriminate based on age, so anyone, regardless of age, that has the lifetime pension income mentioned above, can apply for this Panama visa.


Procedures for Qualifying for Panama Pensioner Visa

Foreigners that receive a lifetime retirement or pension from a foreign government, international agency or private enterprise, who enter Panama to live and have sufficient economic means to cover all of their living expenses for themselves and their dependents, will be able to request the Panama Pensioner Visa.  The income or monthly pension must not be less than One Thousand US Dollars (US$1,000) and should be granted to the applicant for life.

Note: If the applicant can show that they acquired Panama real estate with the property title in their personal name, and the property has a registered value of at least One Hundred Thousand dollars (US$100,000), the monthly lifetime pension income may be reduced to a minimum of Seven Hundred Fifty dollars (US$750).

In addition to the basic requirements of Article 28 of the Decree Law, the applicant must submit the following documents:

1. Certification letter of his/her retirement or pension by a foreign government, international agency, or private enterprise, confirming that he/she receives a pension of at least One Thousand US Dollars (US$1,000) monthly or its equivalent in foreign currency and that the pension is for life.

Note: In the case of spouses, the two can be approved if they have a combined sum of at least US$1,000 per month pension income for life.

2. If the applicant has dependents, they must pay an additional application fee in favor of the National Panama Immigration Service, for the sum of Two Hundred Fifty US Dollars (US$250) for each dependent;

Note: In the case of dependent children, their permission will be temporary until they turn twenty-five (25) years old if they can prove they are full time students. However, they will not have the right to the continuance of the Panama Pensioner Visa, except for those dependent children that suffer a verified physical or mental disability.

3. Certificate of Public Registration of the Panama real estate with title in the applicants personal name (if applicable);

4. If the pension or retirement is from a private enterprise, they must submit the following items:

a. Letter from an administration of foreign business of pensions, of trusts, of mutual funds, of insurances, or a bank, that certify that the funds exist to guarantee an annuity of the applicant for life;
b. Certification of existence and work of the business that offers the pension and administers the fund;
c. Payment proof with a copy of payments or statement from the bank.

5. If the Pension Letter is from a private company, then the applicant must also provide a Certification from the Government authority that certifies that the Company that pays the pension is in good standing and duly registered.  This document must be ‘original’, ‘official’, ‘updated’ and ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation below of these terms).  The private company administering the annuity or pension must also provide an original letter certifying that this company is administering said annuity or pension.

6. Copies of proof of pension payments (copies of pension payment checks, bank statements showing deposits, etc.) from Institution/Company to applicant.  This document must be ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation below of these terms).

7. Police record from the country of last 5 years of residency.  This document must be ‘original’, ‘official’, ‘updated’ and ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation below of these terms).

8. Marriage Certificate (for the spouse – if applicable), and/or Birth Certificate (for children under 18 years of age – if applicable).  This document must be ‘original’, ‘official’, ‘updated’ and ‘authenticated’ (please check explanation below of these terms).

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