PANAMA: Changes to Friendly Nations Work Permit

May 13, 2019

Effective 24 April 2019, the Ministry of Labour has introduced some changes to the work permit for nationals of so-called ‘friendly nations’ (paises amigos).

What has changed?

  • The work permit will now be issued for three years, renewable for an equal term. Previously, it was granted for an indefinite term.
  • The applicant will now be able to apply for the work permit as soon as they have obtained their provisional ID card: they will not have to first wait several months while their permanent residence is processed and approved, as previously. The provisional ID card (Carné de Trámite) can be obtained in one day, once the permanent residence application has been submitted, and allows the applicant to legally reside in Panama while the permanent residence application is processed.
  • The cost of the work permit ID card has been reduced to USD 250.
  • To apply for work permit renewal, the applicant will have to submit, in addition to the requirements established for the initial application, the following: i) Social security quota certification issued by the Social Security Authority; or, ii) income tax statement and income tax good standing certification.


  • Existing work permits under the friendly nations category will maintain their indefinite status and will not need to be renewed.
  • Applications submitted before these changes, and which are still pending, will be approved for an indefinite term, according to information from MITRADEL (the Ministry of Labour).


This process is a post-arrival change of status, with an indefinite residence term and an exemption from the usual quota rules for foreign national employees.

It is available to employees or shareholders of a Panama entity, who are nationals of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States or Uruguay.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact their Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Panama, please email us at [email protected]