Quick facts about Panama
Panama is one of the most popular destinations in Central America and is famous for its financial sector, beaches, mountains, and colonial and contemporary architecture.
The country has vast biodiversity, with over 700 animal species unique to the country and more than 978 bird species, making it a special place for people looking to explore nature in different ecosystems.
Suppose you are looking for a destination where you can experience nature, enjoy pristine beaches, walk through a piece of living history, and take advantage of an open and booming economy. In that case, Panama might be the right place for you!
Quick Visa Facts
Living in Panama as a digital nomad
Living in Panama as a digital nomad is a fantastic experience. Panama has one of the strongest economies in Central America, so you’ll find an affordable cost of living and significant growth opportunities.
Plus, the country is beautiful! With the tropical weather, gorgeous beaches, and exciting cities, you’ll always have something new to explore.
The locals are friendly and always ready to give you recommendations. Panama welcomes digital nomads and ex-pats, so you’ll never go a day without a warm smile from a local.
Attractions and best places to visit
Panama’s capital, Panama City, is the largest city in the country and the only capital in the world with a rainforest! The city is diverse and exotic. You’ll find ruins that remain from when the city was looted and burned by pirates, but you’ll also find an ultra-modern city center.
Panama’s most famous attraction is the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You’ll get the chance to see the massive ships piled high with colorful containers, gliding quietly into the locks. Taking a boat tour through the canal will allow you to explore everything that makes the Panama Canal so tremendous.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is Panama’s leading destination in the Caribbean. They’re a collection of low-lying tropical islands far from the Costa Rican border. In Bocas del Toro, you’ll get the chance to enjoy soft-sand beaches and crystal-clear, azure-colored waters. It’s the perfect place for anyone looking to go surfing, swimming, diving, or sunbathing on the beach.
Boquete is a mountain town located in the westernmost Province of Chiriquí. The town is relaxed and safe, perfect for ex-pats and anyone looking to escape the winter weather. This town is also visited by many locals for a weekend away. Boquete is known as one of Panama’s most important coffee-growing areas. Here you’ll find many hiking trails and hotspots for nature and wildlife. Plus, the town has many good restaurants and a variety of hotels and luxury inns.
Digital Nomad Hotspots
The primary hotspot for digital nomads and remote workers is the country’s capital city. Panama City is a highly modern metropolitan city that will have all the amenities you need. There are plenty of hotels, inns, and Airbnbs. You’ll also find many local restaurants and cafés perfect for working. Not to mention many coworking spaces.
As mentioned above, Boquete is a town that attracts many ex-pats and digital nomads every year. This town is perfect for those looking for a slower-paced lifestyle. It’s away from the big city, but you’ll still find plenty of accommodations and places to work remotely.
Bocas del Toro
Many digital nomads also opt to stay in Bocas del Toro. The proximity to the beaches is a big perk of living in this region. The weather can get scorching, but if you enjoy a more beachside lifestyle with fantastic nightlife, Bocas del Toro is the perfect place.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Panama is low. So you’ll get to enjoy everything this wonderful has to offer while spending less than you’re used to.
One-bedroom apartment in Panama City – $918/month
Three-bedroom apartment in Panama City – $1,750/month
One-bedroom apartment in the rest of Panama – $730/month
Three-bedroom apartment in the rest of Panama – $1,290/month
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $8
Combo meal at a fast food restaurant – $6
One-Ride ticket (local transport) $0.35
Monthly pass – $30
1 GB data for 7 days – $9
3 GB data for 30 days – $18
Hand-picked for you: How to travel cheap as a digital nomad
Digital Nomad Essentials
Panama City is an excellent place for digital nomads due to its high speed. Panama has the fastest internet in all of Central America, with a download speed of 94.76 Mbps and an upload speed of 14.18 Mbps.
Getting a SIM card in Panama is easy. Paying for international roaming can be expensive, so we recommend you purchase a local SIM card to use while staying in Panama.
Do not purchase a SIM card at the Panama City airport. Prices are more expensive there than at a local shop in the city center. For example, in the airport, a SIM card may cost you $30, but in the city center, it’ll only be $15 approximately.
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On May 7th, 2021, the Panamanian government created the short-term visa for remote workers or digital nomads through Executive Decree 198.
The primary purpose of this visa is to encourage tourism for telecommuting travelers. It will allow foreign nationals employed by companies operating outside of Panama or self-employed to live and work remotely from Panama.
This short-term visa will be valid for nine months and extendable for the same period.
Current travel restrictions
Panama no longer requires travelers to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. However, it is essential to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines before traveling to Panama.
Stay up to date with the current travel requirements on this website!
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Who Can Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa for Panama
Two types of applicants can apply for this short-stay visa. You must work remotely for a foreign company or be an independent freelancer or autonomous business owner.
Regardless of what category you fall into, you must meet the following criteria:
Have a valid working contract with a foreign company or show that you are an independent freelancer doing remote work.
The teleworking provided must be for business outside of Panama.
Have a minimum annual income of $36,000 from remote work.
How to Apply for the Panama Digital Nomad Visa
Applying for a short-term visa for remote workers is relatively simple. However, remember that you must process your application through an immigration lawyer in Panama.
Gather all your documents. We will detail everything you’ll need below.
Fill out your application. You must fill out the needed application form, which your lawyer can give you.
Pay the application fee. You must send this with your application.
Once your lawyer has submitted your application, you must wait for approval. You should receive your letter of approval within a few weeks, not longer than 30 days.
Documents required to apply for the digital nomad visa in Panama
A completed application form
Three passport-size photographs
Certified passport copies
A copy of valid medical insurance with coverage for Panama
Certificate showing a clean criminal record
Certificate of good health
Affidavit of non-acceptance of any job offers within Panama territory (this means that all work needs to relate to operations outside Panama)
Proof of annual income of at least $36,000 by providing bank certification and authenticated bank statements to prove sufficient income and funding
A commitment to fund the costs of return to their home country after the expiration of the visa
If you’re working remotely for a foreign company, you must also provide the following documents:
Role and functions applicant exercises at the company.
Your monthly income.
Work modality (how the work is performed abroad).
If you’re self-employed, you must also provide the following documents:
Proof of the foreign company’s existence, registered outside of Panama.
A sworn declaration outlining:
- Business activities that you are engaged in.
- Services which you offer.
- Nature of your clients.
- Past revenue and projected revenue.
How much does it cost?
The total price for a short-term visa for remote workers is $300.
$250 application fee to the National Immigration Service
$50 visa card issuance fee
Timeline for Applying
The whole application process should take under 30 days.
Taxes for Panama digital nomad visa
Panama is a tax-friendly country that will not tax remote workers on any income sourced from outside of Panama.
Additionally, residing in Panama for nine months or more is enough time to apply for tax residency, which means you may be able to avoid paying taxes in your home country.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Panama as a digital nomad destination, you should be able to decide if it’s the right place for you!
Are you looking for other Central American countries to live as a digital nomad? Check out the visa page for Costa Rica or Belize!