Getting Residencies in Panama and Paraguay - Caleb Jones

I’m typing this while I’m 35,000 feet in the air flying over South America, a six hour flight from Panama City, Panama to Asuncion, Paraguay. This is my second time visiting both countries, though this time, I have a very specific objective: to get permanent residency in both countries so I can later apply for citizenship and hopefully a passport in at least one of these two nations. 

It’s a continuing part of my five flags plan. For my Country B (where I have citizenship but don’t live full-time or have assets) I am currently working on these three countries: 

  • Panama 
  • Paraguay
  • Italy 

For Panama and Paraguay, I am pursuing citizenship via residency, which will take many years. For Italy, I am pursuing citizenship by ancestry, since my grandparents on my mother’s side were native Italian. This will take about 3-4 years. I also consider Antigua an optional fourth possibility, but only if it’s absolutely necessary, since I’d be getting that passport via investment (i.e. simply buying the passport). That only takes about six months but costs a lot of money, as in well over $100,000. Hopefully I won’t have to resort to that. 

My goal is to eventually have two passports in addition to my American passport, for a total of three. This will give me peace of mind that no matter what happens with any country, including the USA in the long-term, my freedom of travel and movement won’t be abated, and I can save a lot of money on taxes later in life. Best of all, I’ll be able to bank internationally at banks and financial institutions that don’t take American customers because of America’s horrible FATCA laws. 

This entire process will take 7-10 years, which is fine with me. I plan on living a very long time, and as always, I play the long game. It’s the only game you’re guaranteed to win. 

I just spent ten days in Panama going through the process and am about to spend another ten in Paraguay to do it all over again. Here is an update on my experience with everything so far. 

First, I had to get all the documents in order. I had to get copies of my birth certificate, criminal background check, power of attorney, and various other things. Then I had to get them “apostilled,” which, to make a long story short, is essentially an international certification. Documents from one country that have been apostilled can be “trusted” by another country.  

I had to do this by sending the original documents into my respective state governments, paying a fee, and then getting them returned. This also meant that I needed several “original” documents, so I had to order those as well. There was a lot of mailing back and forth before I left for my trip. Some of the documents were delayed so I had to have Pink Firefly FedEx them from our home all the way to Paraguay, so they would meet me when I arrived from Panama. 

Panama’s residency process is a little more complicated than Paraguay’s, which is to be expected, since Panama is a first-world country and Paraguay is not. Panama requires you to set up a personal bank account at a Panamanian bank as well as a Panamanian corporation.  

During my ten-day stay in Panama, this is what I accomplished: 

  • Filed all the paperwork with the local residency attorneys there (who were very good). 
  • Opened a bank account and put in the minimum deposit ($1500).  
  • Registered my passport with Panama’s immigration department. This is the first real step in the process and means I am now “ready” to apply for residency. 
  • Filed several forms with the Panamanian government. 
  • Started the process of creating my Panamanian corporation. 

All this stuff required me to make several visits to the attorney’s office, two visits to the bank, and one very long visit to Panamanian immigration, which took about three hours, even with the help of one of the attorneys who acted as my liaison and interpreter. Had I not had him, I would have literally been there all day, perhaps 7-8 hours or more. 

There were a few problems, but most everything went pretty smoothly. The biggest inconvenience I had was that none of my US banks would allow me to make a $1500 Swift wire transfer to an international bank without me being physically located at the US bank. WTF? There were ways to do it, but it would have taken a week or more, and I didn’t have that kind of time. 

After making several phone calls to several of my American banks, I finally gave up. I used my various US debit cards and ran around to various ATMs two days in a row and was able to pull out the $1500 in cash needed to open the Panamanian bank account. (Panama uses American dollars, which is fuckin’ awesome.) 

When I get back home I’m going to set up a banking system where I can make an international wire transfer anywhere in the world I want, to and from any bank I want, and do it all over the phone or online. I probably should have set that up before I left, but hey, live and learn. It won’t happen again. 

Now I wait about 2-3 months for things to get approved. Once that happens, I’ll have to go back to Panama for a few days to sign papers and get my temporary residency card. This is then replaced by a permanent residency card six months later. Fantastic. In the USA, non-citizen residents (the “Green Card”) need to renew their residency once every 10 years. Not in Panama; once you’re a resident, it’s for life. I will then have full residency in Panama for the rest of my life. I will be able to go there as much as I want and stay there for as long as I want without any visa or exit requirements. 

Then, I have to wait five years before I can apply for full citizenship and a passport. At that time, my attorney said I may have to spend two to three months in Panama, which is fine with me. The citizenship application usually takes about two years, and then hopefully I get my passport. That means 7.5 years from start to finish. 

During my five year waiting period, I have to visit Panama regularly to qualify for citizenship, so I’ve worked that into my long-term five flags travel rotation plan. I have no problem with this; I truly love Panama and enjoy spending time there. Now if it wasn’t so damn hot… 

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. A few weeks ago I ran into my first major setback in my five flags plan. I was disappointed, but not surprised.  

Right in the middle of doing all of my document pre-work for this trip, my attorneys in Paraguay informed me that their Supreme Court just made a ruling that decreed any non-citizen resident of Paraguay seeking full citizenship (in other words, that passport) would be required to live in Paraguay for at least three years and be gone no more than three months per year. 

Fuck. That probably just blew my entire plan for a Paraguayan passport. I have no plans to live in Paraguay for three years, at least not at this stage of my life. 

The attorney informed me that there might be some other options, but that they were all “complicated.”  

Dammit.  

I didn’t change any of my plans. At least I could still get Paraguayan residency. That would be useful to have, and is worth getting, at least for me. The more residencies in key countries I can get, the better it will be for my long-term plans. And, who knows? Perhaps there are some Paraguayan citizenship options I can qualify for, or may be able to qualify for in the future. Residency is always the first step to citizenship, so that’s required no matter what. 

I find out more when I arrive in Paraguay and I’ll keep you all posted. 

This problem precisely demonstrates why I am pursing citizenship in multiple countries instead of just one. Spending years of your time going after citizenship for just one country that can change its laws at any time is just stupid. You’ve got to spread that risk over several countries. I’m going after three, maybe four, to get one or two. I expect problems. 

A core Alpha Male 2.0 concept is redundancy. Multiple businesses instead of just one. Multiple streams of income instead of just one. Multiple women instead of just one. And, in five flags, multiple countries instead of just one. If I had just been working on Paraguay this entire time and no other countries, I would have been severely disappointed. But instead, I just frowned for a few minutes and then proceeded as normal. Redundancy works, folks. 

Anything important requires more than one. 

More to updates on this five flags journey to come. 

32 Comments on “Getting Residencies in Panama and Paraguay

  1. When I get back home I’m going to set up a banking system where I can make an international wire transfer anywhere in the world I want, to and from any bank I want, and do it all over the phone or online. I probably should have set that up before I left, but hey, live and learn. It won’t happen again.

    Very good idea. I have been through the process recently after some inconvenience that made me set up several accounts in several mobile / international banks. I have accounts in different currencies with proxy banks located in a few countries with some of them and each of them gives me a payment card. Then I spent time connecting all my accounts to each other. Excellent.

    I am also currently having residency in one country and passport in another and another. I still need to figure out how to get a passport from another country for my situation but thats for later…

  2. I have been through the process recently after some inconvenience that made me set up several accounts in several mobile / international banks. I have accounts in different currencies with proxy banks located in a few countries with some of them and each of them gives me a payment card. Then I spent time connecting all my accounts to each other. Excellent.

    Yeah it’s all doable; it just takes time.

  3. Yeah it’s all doable; it just takes time.

    Yes it did but it took less time than most would think. Most of these extra accounts I opened entirely online within minutes. Of course waiting for the cards to be delivered and transferring money in between and setting up address books with my other accounts in all of them took some time, but still not so bad, maybe a couple of hours in total on my side and about 2 – 3 weeks waiting time for the cards.

  4. If you do get that Italian citizenship, will you go for a Portuguese NHR status?

  5. If you do get that Italian citizenship, will you go for a Portuguese NHR status?

    Unlikely, since that’s only for Portuguese tax residents, and I believe there is a minimum stay requirement to qualify. Once you’re NHR there isn’t a minimum stay requirement, but to be the required tax resident first, I believe there is.

  6. The whole concept of non habitual residency is well beyond ridiculous. Not saying anything about possible advantages but the concept just demonstrates the nonsense levels we are reaching now in the modern society. At least they should call it something else.

  7. I am enjoying these 5 flags articles. It will be interesting to see what investing/arbitrage opportunities you will encounter when the next emerging markets crisis hits. Emerging assets always get real cheap and easily had whenever one of these crises hits. Anyone who has the patients and guts to invest for 5-10 year payback can really make money. It may happen pretty soon too. A good chunk of the world’s economy seems to be entering a slow patch, maybe even a recession.

  8. FYI:
    “apostiled”
    and
    Documents from one country that have been “apsotilled”

    Should probably be: “apostilled”

  9. Emerging assets always get real cheap and easily had whenever one of these crises hits. Anyone who has the patients and guts to invest for 5-10 year payback can really make money.

    Yup.

    A good chunk of the world’s economy seems to be entering a slow patch, maybe even a recession.

    Yup.

    Should probably be: “apostilled”

    Yes, fixed. Thanks.

  10. Hey I just read everything and as I am from Paraguay, maybe I could give you some hints. First, they told you that you have to live in Py for 3 years, yes, that might be right but you don’t exactly have to be living here. You rent a place for a few months and then you could go to a police station (if I’m not wrong), and declare that you live in that city/neighborhood and then go to whichever country you like but just leave the country through Ciudad del Este and go to Brasil and take a plane there. It’s not the most legal way to leave the country but I’m sure that it will work as I’m sure that nobody will go and look if you are really living in that place, ever.

  11. Unlikely, since that’s only for Portuguese tax residents, and I believe there is a minimum stay requirement to qualify. Once you’re NHR there isn’t a minimum stay requirement, but to be the required tax resident first, I believe there is.

    You have it exactly backwards. A requirement is not to have been a tax resident within the last five years. What you need to have is the right to reside in Portugal (which the Italian citizenship automatically gives you) and either live there or have a place in Portugal (own or rent). I’m sure it’s easy to get someone to sign a fake rental contract with you, or to buy a shed in a village or whatnot.

    You might want to explore this option a bit more.

  12. Hey I just read everything and as I am from Paraguay, maybe I could give you some hints. First, they told you that you have to live in Py for 3 years, yes, that might be right but you don’t exactly have to be living here. You rent a place for a few months and then you could go to a police station (if I’m not wrong), and declare that you live in that city/neighborhood and then go to whichever country you like but just leave the country through Ciudad del Este and go to Brasil and take a plane there. It’s not the most legal way to leave the country but I’m sure that it will work as I’m sure that nobody will go and look if you are really living in that place, ever.

    I don’t understand. How is leaving the country through Ciudad del Este any different than leaving the country via a plane out of Asunscion?

    You have it exactly backwards. A requirement is not to have been a tax resident within the last five years. What you need to have is the right to reside in Portugal (which the Italian citizenship automatically gives you) and either live there or have a place in Portugal (own or rent). I’m sure it’s easy to get someone to sign a fake rental contract with you, or to buy a shed in a village or whatnot.

    You might want to explore this option a bit more.

    Very interesting. I shall. Thanks!

  13. I don’t understand. How is leaving the country through Ciudad del Este any different than leaving the country via a plane out of Asunscion?

    I think he is suggesting you can cross the border there without anyone checking your passport so they don’t know if you left the country.

  14. I don’t understand. How is leaving the country through Ciudad del Este any different than leaving the country via a plane out of Asunscion?

    He is right. The triple frontier is a mess!

    You could very well leave Paraguay through Ciudad del Este via bus or foot, then take a plane from Brazil back to the US without anyone realizing you left. After the probation period expires, you just go back to Paraguay via Brazil using the same route and voilá.

    Just ask the locals when you get there, I’m sure they know a way.

  15. Hey Caleb,

    I looked into Panama quite a bit. The only thing that sucks is the corporation (if you’re not actually using it). Yearly agent/gov/nominee fees add up to about $1000, every year for 8+ years with uncertain payoff of passport. Thoughts?

    Btw any difficulties in opening the Panama bank account? Which bank do you recommend?

  16. Do you seriously envisage Italy? It’s in europe, where the decline is even more advanced than in the usa!

  17. Hi Caleb,

    I got this from the sovereign man:

    The first is Act 20, which allows entrepreneurs on the island to start a local company servicing foreign clients and pay just 4% in corporate tax.

    The other is Act 22, which qualifies investors to pay 0% tax on dividends and capital gains in Puerto Rico.

    And for maximum tax benefit, both regulations can be combined– allowing you to pay only 4% corporate tax and then ZERO percent on the dividends your company pays out to you.

    Basically, before the end of 2019, you are eligible for these perks in Puerto Rico. I was wondering if you’re looking to do something like this for your businesses?

  18. You could very well leave Paraguay through Ciudad del Este via bus or foot, then take a plane from Brazil back to the US without anyone realizing you left. After the probation period expires, you just go back to Paraguay via Brazil using the same route and voilá.

    Ah, understood.

    I looked into Panama quite a bit. The only thing that sucks is the corporation (if you’re not actually using it). Yearly agent/gov/nominee fees add up to about $1000, every year for 8+ years with uncertain payoff of passport. Thoughts?

    I won’t need to maintain the corporation, nor do I want to, as it would be a violation of five flags.

    Btw any difficulties in opening the Panama bank account?

    Some, mostly with my own banks. I have some videos coming soon on my social media where I describe my entire banking experience there.

    Which bank do you recommend?

    I can’t answer that. Read this if you want to know why.

    Do you seriously envisage Italy? It’s in europe, where the decline is even more advanced than in the usa!

    Correct. That’s why I’m not going to live there, just get the ancestral passport there.

    Basically, before the end of 2019, you are eligible for these perks in Puerto Rico. I was wondering if you’re looking to do something like this for your businesses?

    I looked into it already. My understanding of 20/22 in Puerto Rico is that you need to live there most of the year to take advantage of the 4% corporate tax. So I probably won’t be using PR for my Country C (unless I’m mistaken).

  19. Correct. That’s why I’m not going to live there, just get the ancestral passport there.

    So to recap:
    Country A. Live there.
    Country B. Citizenship(s).
    Country C. Legal entities.
    Country D. Assets and investments.
    Country E. Shopping.

    It’s pretty obvious countries on the decline can’t be your C or D. It’s also obvious B and E are OK.

    However: What’s the problem with living in a country on the decline, provided no Yugoslavia-scale breakdown is in the cards?

  20. Caleb,
    Surprised by the fact you consider Panamá a first world country, but consider Argentina not part of the West.
    Also, I understand why would you consider a Paraguayan passport, but astonished why not a Chilean, Brazilian ir Argentinean one, in that order.
    Italian citizenship from your grandparents will be much easier and faster (at least in my experience with the Consolatto in Buenos Aires) if your mother gets it first.

  21. However: What’s the problem with living in a country on the decline, provided no Yugoslavia-scale breakdown is in the cards?

    Depends on the extent of the breakdown or perhaps you don’t enjoy seeing it. Many of us live in such countries and don’t enjoy watching the gradual social, political, demographic and economic changes. Not to mention it could become crazy violent / politically restrictive later on.

    Also, as I understand he still lives in the US now so he is planning to live somewhere else in the future when things go much much worse in the US.

    Furthermore if you have a lot of money there is a question of taxation. Some countries think they can tax your worldwide income if you are resident there over certain amount of time, in fact most do. Then where is it lowest?

  22. Blackdragon,

    How did you find the Panama weather in the rainy season? I’m all but certain I will move there from Cyprus in less than a year. Can’t wait to leave the EU.

  23. What’s the problem with living in a country on the decline, provided no Yugoslavia-scale breakdown is in the cards?

    1. Sometimes none. Its mostly a matter of personal preference. I’m almost at the point where I hate living in the USA.

    2. Depends on how/if they tax worldwide income. Most Western countries do, even if you’re not a citizen.

    2. How do you know there will be never be any Yugoslavia-scale breakdown in your collapsing country? Are you willing to bet your life on it?

    Surprised by the fact you consider Panamá a first world country, but consider Argentina not part of the West.

    “First World” and “West” are two completely different things and one has nothing to do with the other.

    Examples. Singapore is First World and not part of the West. So is Panama. It’s not part of the West, but it’s First World (though the lower end of First World). Argentina is not part of the West either, and I consider it high-end Second World, but certainly not First.

    Also, I understand why would you consider a Paraguayan passport, but astonished why not a Chilean, Brazilian ir Argentinean one, in that order.

    Those countries require me to live there to get a passport. Panama does not.

    Italian citizenship from your grandparents will be much easier and faster (at least in my experience with the Consolatto in Buenos Aires) if your mother gets it first.

    Interesting. Noted, though my mother has no interest and probably won’t bother.

    How did you find the Panama weather in the rainy season?

    Tolerable not not great. We only had two rainy days while I was there during my 10 day stay.

  24. I’m curious as to why you hate living in the US so much. For me, if I tune out all the political talk going on in the media, everything seems fine. But if I start listening to that garbage my blood starts to boil.

    Is it mainly that, or is it the taxes? I understand money is important and it’s hard enough running a business, let alone one that crazies would like to censor.

  25. I’m curious as to why you hate living in the US so much. For me, if I tune out all the political talk going on in the media, everything seems fine.

    Go into the archive and do some more reading at this blog, particularly with America’s skyrocketing government and consumer debt, skyrocketing spending, 8 different wars, near-highest taxes in the world, stagnant wages for 45 years, etc, etc, all of the other economic indicators.

    None of this stuff has to do with political talk. Political talk doesn’t bother me; I ignore that stuff. America’s massive and growing problems do.

  26. Italian citizenship from your grandparents will be much easier and faster (at least in my experience with the Consolatto in Buenos Aires) if your mother gets it first.

    Same here. As he said. the whole process becomes faster and easier.
    Plus your mom is the daughter of an italian…she also gets a faster process than grandchilds.

  27. stagnant wages for 45 years

    People often talk at lenght about this topic but I wonder your take on it? Or have you already done an article on it?

  28. Caleb,what do you think about getting the Paraguay passport without staying there,by leaving the country through Ciudad del Este,without anyone knowing that you left the country?If you would not be a public person,would you pursue this “loophole”?

  29. People often talk at lenght about this topic but I wonder your take on it? Or have you already done an article on it?

    I’ve mentioned it many times but never done an entire article on it. There is no “take.” It’s just a fact. American average middle class wages as adjusted for inflation have not risen since 1971. This is due to money printing, corporatism, tax law, and various other factors, all due to big government.

    Caleb,what do you think about getting the Paraguay passport without staying there,by leaving the country through Ciudad del Este,without anyone knowing that you left the country?

    Scroll up and read the comments above.

  30. I’ve mentioned it many times but never done an entire article on it. There is no “take.” It’s just a fact. American average middle class wages as adjusted for inflation have not risen since 1971. This is due to money printing, corporatism, tax law, and various other factors, all due to big government.

    Yes, by take I mean possible reasons which you just mentioned, although I was expecting something more along the lines that most men are very beta and too docile to aggressively push for salary raise – the corporations would certainly in most cases be able to afford it (albait at the cost of lower profits for investors and or lower salaries at the high end of the corporate ladder, so I attribute the fact that average Joe doesn’t get salary increase to the fact that he doesn’t know how to ask for it / is too afraid to do it). I also think the flooding of the market with university degrees is also a contributing factor.

  31. Yes, by take I mean possible reasons which you just mentioned, although I was expecting something more along the lines that most men are very beta and too docile to aggressively push for salary raise

    I’m sure that’s a one of the smaller factors, but that’s it; a very small factor. The vast majority of it is governmental, not cultural (other than the fact that we live in a culture that keeps voting for Democrats and Republicans even as they keep screwing everyone).

    I also think the flooding of the market with university degrees is also a contributing factor.

    Yes, that is another factor, but a small one.

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