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is it worth getting naturalised

Panama is a country known for the diversity of nationalities that converge in its territory. It is
something that we Panamanians have seen since we were children. In fact, many Panamanians
have friends who remained in Panama due to work or love. It is common to encounter a Chinese
owner of a convenience store, or a merchant with a foreign accent in a shopping mall. The abovementioned situations are but a few examples of the great diversity of cultures in Panama.
However, despite the fact that Panama has a long-standing tradition of welcoming foreigners from
all over the world, it has developed labour laws designed to protect Panamanians' jobs. The
labour laws in Panama limit the percentage of foreigners that can work for a company. Several
professional licenses are prohibited for foreigners, including medicine and law. We do not intend
to pass judgment on the labour laws as appropriate or inappropriate; we only refer to them to
inform our readers.
It has been possible to overcome some of these legal setbacks through the promulgation of
migratory and labour legislation creating new immigration statuses. For example, foreign
university graduates or nationals of a country among those appearing on the list of 48 privileged
countries, commonly known as "friendly nations", are now eligible for one of the new immigration
Nevertheless, this does not provide a solution for everyone, and much less to those who, despite
having one or more university degrees, cannot work in their profession as a result of a law that
prevents them from obtaining a license reserved only for Panamanian nationals.
Neither do such legal restrictions provide a solution to the ever growing number of foreign
investors who are eager to trade their products in the retail sector, which is another activity
reserved for Panamanians by the Constitution. Such persons, quite often pressed by
circumstances, may choose to naturalise or become citizens.
This is basic information for lawyers, but it is also good for others to keep in mind that the National
Constitution sets out three separate conditions under which a person may request naturalisation:
1. Five consecutive years of residence in Panama
2. Three consecutive years of residence in Panama if there are children born to a Panamanian
mother or father or Panamanian spouse in Panama
3. By reciprocity, if the person is a national of Spain or another Latin American country, and fulfils
the same requirements for naturalisation of a Panamanian in that country.
In any event, one should bear in mind that the above-mentioned residence needs to be
permanent and obtained in accordance with the respective migratory procedures. In addition,
proficiency in Spanish and basic knowledge of Geography, Spanish, and Panama Political

Organization must be proven through a test given by the Electoral Tribunal. A foreigner seeking
naturalisation should note that the National Constitution requires renouncing the nationality of
origin. Although an affidavit is used for this purpose, same which is attached to the naturalisation
file, those documents need not be presented to the country from which a person renounces.
Howeve r, it must be taken into account that in some countries renouncing nationality has legal
effects, whereas there are no such effects in others.
Naturalisation is usually a lengthy process considering that by law the President of the Republic
needs to review such requests, and that the matter itself, due to national security, requires
participation of certain government agencies.
As we do not foresee a Constitutional amendment in the near future, and modification of certain
laws regulating the subject entails long consultation periods, it may well be wise to start thinking
about the naturalisation process as a viable option.
Immigration Services Offered by Mossack Fonseca
Our full suite of immigration services encompass all of the current Panama visa programs for
tourists, immigrants, workers, investors, foreigners married to Panamanian businessmen/women,
and others. A partial list of the many visa programs we can assist you with includes:
Naturalisation as Panamanian Citizen
Friendly Nations Visa
Pensioner Visa
Professional Employment Visa
Reforestation Investor Visa
Self Economic Solvency Visa
Business Investor Program
Married to Panama Citizen Visa
Parents of Child Born in Panama Visa
Tourist Visa
Tax Free Processing Zone Investor Program
In addition, we can assist clients with extensions, exit and entry permits, residency, and a host of
additional visa, immigration, and other legal services.
If you have any questions or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact your
local Mossack Fonseca office, or email us at rcoronado@mossfon.com or