You can obtain Panamanian citizenship in three different ways, as established in article 10 of the Constitution
The simplest way to obtain Panamanian citizenship, for those who aren’t Panamanian by birth, is through naturalization. This applies to those foreigners who have resided for a minimum of five years in the country. In this case, the person will renounce the citizenship he has at that time. Be aware, renouncing before Panama doesn’t mean that you will necessarily lose your nationality.
The applicants must demonstrate that they have a command of the Spanish language. They will have to answer questions where they prove their knowledge of the Country’s history, geography, and political system.
If you have had a permanent residence for more than 5 years in Panama and have doubts about the naturalization process, consult us.
The second path toward Panamanian citizenship is for foreigners who have resided permanently for at least three years. In this case, he/she must have contracted marriage with a Panamanian citizen or have a child born in Panama.
And last, the third path is known as “reciprocity”. Spanish or Latin American citizens can apply for this. The local authorities will apply the same requirements that these countries demand of Panamanians seeking naturalization.
In this option, waiting periods vary, depending on the applicant’s nationality. For example, Uruguayans will have to wait three years, whereas for Argentines, Ecuadorians, the Spanish, Mexicans, Nicaraguans and Peruvians, it’s only two years. Meanwhile, it’s only one year for Colombians.
How long is the bureaucratic process?
Generally, the applications for Panamanian citizenship takes less than a year. However, the entire process may take from 2 to 5 years to be approved by the government. Several State entities take part in this process. For example, Immigration, the Council of State, the Electoral Tribune, the Government and Justice. And, to finish, The President of the Republic is the one who signs the naturalization.
After this presidential approval, the naturalization paper reaches the hands of the Mayor. So then, the applicant presents himself before the Mayor, to take an oath.
Documents to be presented for requesting Panamanian citizenship:
- Power of Attorney
- Certificate recognizing the person’s immigration status
- Notarized copy of permanent resident card
- Type E Panamanian identification
- Bank account balance showing financial solvency
- Income tax return from the General Tax Administration
- Copy of passport
- Medical certificate proving the applicant’s physical condition
- Criminal record, issued by the Panamanian police and another sent by the police authorities of the applicant’s country of origin
- In the case where the person is applying through the third manner (“reciprocity”), he will have to present a notarized copy of the reciprocity law, in the Panamanian consulate in his country of residence
The process is long and tedious, and it’s important that the presentation of the documents is made properly. It should be underlined that complying with the requirements doesn’t automatically give you the right to citizenship. Any one of the institutions participating in examining the application can reject it.
The lawyer Giovanni Caporaso Gottlieb can assist you, not only as a lawyer, but also because he has also personally gone through this process. Who else can explain what to do and what not to do?