Panama Reforestation Residency Visa and Citizenship Programs
Panama enacted Law 24 to encourage private investment in efforts to restore the country's rapidly diminishing tropical forests. At the time the law was passed, Panama's tropical forests were disappearing at the rate of 79,000 hectares (about 195,213 acres) per year. To reverse this trend, Law 24 offers significant tax advantages and residency visa eligibility to investors in government-approved reforestation projects.
Panama's environmental protection agency (Ministerio de Ambiente) oversees reforestation projects. Below are the key benefits of the reforestation program to investors.
- All wood that is harvested within the project is exonerated from Panamanian taxes, including export taxes, for 25 years. All capital gains from the project are tax exempt, and all direct and indirect investments in the project are 100% deductible from the investor's Panamanian income tax. In addition, no real estate taxes are levied against the land while in the reforestation project.
- Any equipment and materials purchased for use in the reforestation project can be brought into Panama tax-free. This includes vehicles and heavy equipment, which would normally be subject to import taxes.
- Individuals who present proof that they have invested more than $80,000 in an approved reforestation project, including the purchase of the land itself, can apply for a Panamanian reforestation residency visa. This visa is particularly advantageous for those who want to live in Panama but who do not qualify for a retiree visa or friendly nations visa and want to avoid the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining a standard investor's visa which can be very challenging for citizens of some nations.
- 5 years after holding a permanent residency status, an individual may apply to become a naturalized citizen of Panama and receive a Panamanian passport. It is not necessary to live in Panama while your visa application is being processed, although periodic visits to the Panama City immigration office are required.
- Panama places no age limits on the reforestation residency visa, other than requiring that the applicant be at least 18 years old. Dependents can also be covered in the program, including the applicant's spouse and any children under 18. Children between the ages of 18 and 25 who are unmarried students with no children of their own may also qualify as dependents of the applicant.