What are the Requirements for a Work Permit in Panama

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Did you know that many foreigners are interested in moving to Panama and working? However, before making the decision, it is important that you learn what options are available when working as a foreigner in Panama, including the types of Panamanian visas and work permits.

An alternative to becoming an employee of a Panamanian business is the one that many foreigners with an entrepreneurial spirit are choosing, which is starting a business in Panama.

This has resulted in providing a favorable climate for business growth.

Work permits are required for foreigners wanting to work in Panama. Despite that, don’t be discouraged. There are 11 different ways to obtain work permits in Panama.

Requirements for work permit

In Panama, the process of obtaining work permits is accompanied by the immigration status of the citizen requesting said permit. That is why it is important to bear in mind that not all immigration categories can request a Work Permit in Panama. The categories that allow it are:

  • Power of attorney and request through original attorney and copy)
  • Work Contract (start and end date of 3 months)
  • Notice of Operation of the employing company
  • Public Registry Certificate of the employing company (original)
  • Legible photocopy of the passport containing the general information of the applicant
  • The suitability of the worker if he is a technician duly apostilled
  • Letters of reference of previous works that certify the expertise of the same, duly apostilled.
  • Health certificate
  • Two passport-size photos
  • Company return and proof of payment from the Social Security Fund.
  • For the extension, you must present an original note signed by the company stating the general statements of the Panamanian worker who will be trained by the foreign applicant.

There are different types of permanent work permits, among them are:

Work Permit for Foreign Artists:

According to legal Law 10 of 1974.

  • Documentation submitted 20 days in advance.
  • Power and request by lawyer
  • Operation Notice that establishes that the company is dedicated to the presentation of international artists.
  • Public Registry Certificate of the employing company
  • Copy of identity card of the legal representative
  • International Contract: Original and 5 copies.
  • Work Contract of the Panamanian Artist (alternation)
  • Folk artist employment contract
  • LEGIBLE copy of the general passport
  • Affiliation of the Artists.

Work Permit for Alternators:

  • Power and request by lawyer
  • Original contract and 3 copies
  • Updated HIV test
  • General medical health examination
  • MEF tax payment
  • One passport-size photo
  • Legible copy of the general passport
  • Legible copy of the National Migration Service card
  • Control of the clinic.

Why is the work permit important in Panama?

The importance of obtaining your work permit in Panama City is based on the working conditions that have been determined in the country. Since the Panamanian Labor Code defines an employment contract as a verbal or written agreement by which a person is obliged to provide their services or perform a work, under the subordination or dependence of this, contracts are classified as: indefinite, by work completed or indefinitely.

The work permit is necessary for any foreigner or tourist who plans to stay in Panama for a while and find a job, since the work permit will allow them to enjoy the benefits established by the law of the Republic of Panama.

How long does the Panama work permit last?

This permit is granted to those people who wish to be residents in the country and who wish to work, the time for which the work permit will be issued is for a period of 2 years, where it can later be renewed.

Exceptions to obtain a work permit in Panama

The work permit exceptions are:

  1. When the company has less than 10% of foreign workers on its payroll. 10% or less of the workers of a Panamanian company can be foreigners, as long as the employee is paid a minimum of $ 850 per month and only for a maximum of 6 years.
  2. Temporary visitor via the Marrakesh treaty for small companies. The Marrakech Treaty is for temporary workers who intend to live in Panama for a maximum of 5 years. The Marrakesh treaty, created by the World Trade Organizationl (World Trade Organization) and allows you to be granted a temporary visitor visa that is only available to companies employing 3-10 employees earning at least the minimum wage. Only one foreigner is allowed, who must be paid a minimum of $ 1,000 per month.
  3. City of Knowledge Work Visa Program Work at the City of Knowledge, which is located within the former US military base of Fort Clayton, has a work visa program through which foreign investors who own a company located within the special economic zone can have 5 special work permits for your foreign employees. This work permit is valid for up to 6 years for foreign entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers, students and technicians.
  4. Marry a Panamanian Once you marry a Panamanian you can apply for a work permit.
  5. Panamanian visa for specialist workers The Panamanian Visa for Specialist Workers is a new visa with a work permit for a maximum of 9 months. The National Immigration Service will create the registry of businesses that are engaged in specialist activities within the Republic of Panama. No one knows what a “Specialist” is until the immigration department issues rules and regulations defining what kind of job title or functions qualify to be “special.” Due to the maximum stay of 9 months; This is intended as a temporary specialist position.
  6. Cultural, Sports or Educational Visa The Cultural, Sports or Educational Visa is when the Panamanian immigration law allows companies to hire a foreigner to work for a single occasion carrying out cultural, technical, musical or artistic work, sports, the educational, professional, or scientific field , You may request this visa for a maximum term of three (3) non-extendable months.
  7. Domestic Worker Visa The Domestic Worker Visa is a new immigration law that allows Panamanian citizens or a permanent or temporary resident to hire a foreigner to work as a domestic worker. You can apply for this visa for a term of one year (renewable four times). This includes maids, cooks, drivers, gardeners, babysitters, and butlers.
  8. Short Stay Visas Short stay visas are also a new type of Panamanian visa that allows a stay of up to 9 months in order to establish commercial subsidiaries; researchers and scientists conducting research for embassies or foreign governments or businesses; investors or entrepreneurs who enter Panama to analyze investment possibilities or to carry out transactions in the Food Export Processing Zone, Call Centers, or special areas designated for the development of the Audiovisual and Film Industries.
  9. Residence Permit and Temporary Work The Temporary Residence and Work Permit is another new immigration law that allows a foreigner to live and work in Panama for 6 years as a government employee, semi-autonomous companies, small businesses that contract with the government, executives or administration for the Zone. Colon free, non-diplomats working for a foreign government or an international agency; news media correspondents.
  10. Special Temporary Residence For Special Reasons. The Special Temporary Residence for Special Reasons is an immigration visa that provides temporary residence for 6 years for all employees of the film and audiovisual industry (this includes producers, directors, actors and technical support); Panama Canal Workers; Workers from the Panama-Pacific Special Economic Area (such as the former US Howard Air Force Base); Foreigners hired by businesses within the Food Processors for the Export Zone; Foreigners employed by Call Centers for commercial purposes; Foreigners hired as executives for an international business with a subsidiary in Panama.

Are there jobs that do not require a work permit in Panama?

Panama is one of the countries characterized by a growing economy, due to this it is one of the countries considered by professionals.

To work in Panama it is necessary that all foreigners who enter the country have a valid visa, the only ones who are exempt from this are:

  1. Nationals with whom there is some type of agreement or treaty as an example: Italy-Panama and Friendly Countries Agreements, under Executive Decree No. 1174
  2. Accredited international air transport crew foreigners.
  3. Foreigners who are processing any immigration category in Panama.
  4. And foreigners who have diplomatic passports, as specified in article 257 of Executive Decree No. 320.

If you have a visa you can start processing your work permit, this procedure is carried out in the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development. Only this entity is authorized to approve these permissions.

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