[Choices of Visas]
[Definitions and Terms]
Immigration - Definitions and Explanations
[Authentication of Documents] [Birth
Certificates] [Cédula] [Certificate
of Good Standing] [Certification
of Parents' Names] [HIV Test] [Marriage
Certificates] [Medical Certificate] [Naturalisation]
Embassies] [Payroll] [Permanent
Residency] [Police Certificate
of Good Conduct] [Provisional
Residency Permit] [Repatriation Deposit] [Temporary Permit]
The following definitions and explanations are intended to assist you in
understanding what certain documents are and where they can be obtained.
They have not been listed in any particular order. If there are any terms
which we have mentioned throughout the various sections which are not defined
below and which you do not understand, please
let us know.
- Authentication of Documents
- There are 2 possible ways to authenticate or legalise the documents
which you are bringing from overseas to Panama:
- Authentication via Apostille - which is explained in our page
regarding The Hague
Convention on the Legalisation of Documents; or
Authentication via the closest Panamanian
in the country in which they are issued.
In either case, once the documents
arrive here in Panama, we will take them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to
be further authenticated.
Irrespective of which of these two routes you choose,
you MUST get the documents Notarised by a local notary public before
proceeding. This is always going to be the first step of the
authentication. We usually recommend that you choose the form of
authentication according to which is most convenient to you, given your
current location and the source of the documents. If you're not sure how
to proceed, please do not hesitate to
- Birth Certificates - if you have
children, and wish to obtain their visas or residency documents as
"dependents", then you do need to bring the authenticated birth certificates
for each child. Usually the birth certificate is obtained from the
country in which the child was born. You will need to bring your own
birth certificate ONLY if you are bringing your parent with you as a
dependent. In this case, the purpose of the birth certificate is to show
your relationship with the parent and then proceed to show them as your
dependent. On the other hand, if you are married to a Panamanian, then
your spouse will need to provide an authenticated copy of their Panamanian
Birth Certificate (this is obtained from the Panamanian Civil Registry - where
they certify it) to present to the Immigration Department, as part of the
proof of the spouse's citizenship.
- Cédula - A cédula is an ID card which is
issued by the Civil Registry of Panama, which basically states your name, date
of birth, and other basic details. The new cédulas have a magnetic strip
on the reverse side with the details, whereas the old cédulas simply have a
thumb-print. Once the immigration department has authorised your
permanent residency, they will prepare a letter to the Civil Registry,
authorising the issuance of your cédula which you will need to go and get.
Certification of the complete names and nationalities of the Applicant's
parents - this is simply an affidavit prepared by our law firm, which
the applicant signs, swearing to the complete names of their parents as
appears in their passport or other documentation. The purpose of this
affidavit is quite simply to ensure that your complete name is then indicated
in all documentation issued by the Immigration Department. It is not
necessary to have your parents sign anything.
- Certificate of Good Standing
from the Public Registry - this is a certificate issued by the Companies
Registry of Panama, which indicates all the essential details of a Panamanian
Corporation: company name, incorporation date, registration numbers, officers,
directors, registered agent, and authorised capital (among other things).
This will need to be requested in some cases.
- HIV Test - At the moment, the HIV test is
not required for most Immigration Applications. However, if you have
already had it taken, then it does not hurt to present it. In some
cases, the doctor will require it before issuing a Certificate of Good Health.
The test should specify the test method used and be signed and sealed by the
lab technician, along with their name, code and registration number.
- Marriage Certificate - if your
spouse is going to be one of your "dependents", then it will be necessary to
show that you are legally married before the status of "dependent" can be
shown. The marriage certificate (this is not the marriage license, which
is the document which allows you to be married) will need to be obtain from
the jurisdiction in which you were originally married (or if you have
registered this marriage in the jurisdiction in which you are living, then
from this jurisdiction. If the Marriage Certificate is to be used for
the purpose of obtaining the visa and residency as a spouse of a Panamanian,
then this must be issued by the Panamanian Civil Registry (either because you
were married in Panama or have actually registered the marriage in Panama).
In this case, the marriage certificate must be no more than six months old, at
the time of presenting the application.
- Medical Certificate - Most
clients obtain their Medical Certificate of Good Health in Panama (to avoid
the hassle of authentication of the document), by a local doctor or clinic.
Some doctors request that an HIV test be done before signing off on the
Medical Certificate. The certificate must be no more than three (3)
months old at the date of presentation to the Immigration Department. It
should also be signed and sealed, with the name, code and registration of the
doctor clearly apparent.
- Naturalisation - In order to
naturalise and become a Panamanian citizen, you need to have lived for 5 years
in Panama as a Permanent Resident (or 3 years if you are married to a
Panamanian). Naturalisation is an application in which you request
Panamanian citizenship from the Ministry of Government & Justice. The
naturalisation letter is signed by the President of Panama, and may take a
considerable length of time to obtain.
- Payroll - This is a document issued by the
Social Security Board, with respect to a Panamanian company. It is known
in Spanish as the "planilla" and basically lists each employee of the company,
what they earned and how much social security they paid (or the company paid
for them). This document is important for those people who are getting
their immigration status as investors or who are applying for work permits.
- Permanent Residency - This is
probably best defined as "indefinite leave to remain", which means that you
may remain indefinitely in Panama without any further hassles or trips to the
Immigration Department. There are also no more time limits on your stay
in Panama, and you will be granted a "cédula" at this
- Police Certificate of Good
Conduct - This should be from the applicant's country of origin and
should cover the last five years. Many police departments do not
actually indicate in the police certificate the period which is covered and to
date we have not had any trouble presenting certificates of this nature.
In some cases, the "Certificate" is simply a letter from the local police
department indicating that the person in question does not have a criminal or
arrest record. If the applicant has resided in Panama for the last five
years, then usually a police record is requested here.
- Provisional Residency Permit
- In the case of the investors in a small enterprise, as well as reforestation
and agricultural investors, applicants are initially given provisional
residency permits, which are valid for one year. This permit must be
renewed 2-4 times (depending on which programme you are in) before you are
eligible for permanent residency and a cédula.
- Repatriation Deposit - This is a
Certified or Cashier's Cheque payable to the Ministry of Government & Justice,
for US$500.00, which is for the purpose of repatriating the immigrant or visa
holder in the event of deportation from Panama. It is basically in the
nature of a bond, but it is only returned to the Immigrant under very
stringent conditions. For more information see:
Repatriation Deposit paid to the Immigration Department for Immigrant Visas.
- Temporary Permits - These are cards
issued by the Immigration Department when you are in the process of obtaining
your visa or your permanent residency. They are simply documents issued
(usually for a 3-month period) which give you permission to reside in Panama
while Immigration reviews your application and decides whether or not to grant
your visa/residency request. Occasionally you may find that the
immigration department renews this temporary permit for a further three-month
period while they finalise their decision (they usually do this when they have
misplaced the file or when they consider the documentation to be incomplete,
so it is not usually a good sign to receive a renewed temporary permit).
During the course of your experience with immigration, you will probably find
that you receive 3-4 of these. The reason for this is that at the end of
each stage, when applying for a renewal of the 1-year or 2-year visas or
residency cards, the immigration department automatically issues one of these
while you wait. However, you should only receive one of these each time
you make an application to move on to the next stage. If you don't, then
it is quite likely that something has gone wrong.
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08-May-2009 12:07 -0400