How to work remotely from Panama as explained here involves first understanding Panama’s laws, including immigration and taxes. We cover that all here for a complete guide to working remotely.
Definition of Remote Worker
People often ask, “What is a remote worker”? Business dictionaries define a “remote worker” as an employee working outside of a company’s workplace. Often from home or an outside office. Communications mainly occur by telephone, email, or text messaging.
Over the past 10 years, remote workers also include people working outside of their countries. Whether in a company’s satellite office in another country or as an independent contractor in a foreign land.
Types of Remote Workers
Three types of remote workers categories fit nearly every remote worker in Panama, including:
- Working for a company as a remote employee – Your company transfers you to work in their branch office in Panama. As a foreigner working for a foreign-owned company in Panama requires an immigration residency visa and a work permit. Read the explanation of these requirements below.
- Freelancer – You move to Panama in order to support yourself by being a freelancer. Depending upon the types of clients and customers you intend to have may require the proper immigration residency visa and a work permit as explained below.
- Online entrepreneur – You come to Panama and become an online entrepreneur only servicing clients online. Again, depending upon the types of clients you service online determines whether or not you need a work permit or pay Panama income taxes.
Finding a Remote Job in Panama
As a foreigner, working in Panama as an employee, whether for a local company or a foreign multinational company’s office in Panama, will require the right immigration residency visa and a work permit.
The best ways to find remote jobs in Panama include:
- Online jobs found through Craigslist, Encuentra24, expat (expatriate organizations) blogs, and forums, and local online newspaper classifications sections advertising available jobs.
- Newspaper classifieds found in every major national newspaper in Panama like the La Prensa newspaper (Panama’s largest).
- Employment agencies in Panama looking for workers like Manpower and Adecco.
- Tourist hotels and tour companies often look for English speaking workers (or other languages) to interact with foreign guests and advertise in their countries.
- Language schools are abundant in Panama where you can teach English (or any other language you are able to teach) to Spanish speaking children and adults. On the other hand, if you are proficient in Spanish, you can teach English speaking expats and others seeking to learn Spanish in Panama.
Panama Immigration Residency Visas for Remote Workers
In order to legally work in Panama, you need the right immigration residency visa. Instead of explaining all the requirements and details for applying and the costs involved for every visa option available, our website contains web pages explaining all of them.
Start with our Panama Visa introduction. You will learn that Panama provides 8 permanent residency visas. If you prefer, you can watch our Panama immigration video and get all the information you need.
On the other hand, read the summary of the most relevant Panama immigration residency visa for remote workers:
Friendly Nations Visa
The most popular of all permanent residency visas leading to full Panama citizenship (if you desire) for citizens of 50 nations considered “friendly” with Panama. This is the fastest method to obtain permanent residency in Panama.
Read more about the Friendly Nations Visa, which highlights the list of the 50 friendly nations, visa requirements, and costs.
Several other options exist for a foreigner with sufficient funds to invest in Panama’s economy or marrying a Panama citizen. Read more about “How to Gain Permanent Residency in Panama”.
Panama Work Permits
Panama City of Knowledge Work Permit
The Panama City of Knowledge Work Permit specifically designed for the former U.S. military base (Fort Clayton) converted into foreign-owned companies and world organizations Business Park.
Foreigners coming to Panama to work as professors, researchers, technicians, businesspersons, or students for the companies and organizations located in the City of Knowledge can obtain work permits.
Learn more about the requirements, application process, and costs involved with obtaining a City of Knowledge Work Permit. Besides the City of Knowledge Work Permit, 10 other ways to obtain a work permit in Panama exist. Learn about all of them Here.
Panama Labor Laws
Working remotely in Panama explanations should include the Panama Labor Laws. We have an informative web page dedicated to explaining the complex Panama Labor Laws in an easy to understand Questions and Answer format.
Working as a Remote Freelancer in Panama
Choosing to work remotely in Panama as an independent contractor (freelancer) requires knowing the correct immigration residency status. Some residency visas prevent foreigners from performing any type of work in Panama. Others allow you to work as a freelancer in Panama. For instance, entering Panama on a tourist visa prevents you from doing any type of income-producing work here.
Pay close attention to the permanent and temporary residency visas explained above to see if you can freelance in Panama using one of them.
Besides your immigration residency status in Panama, a work permit may not be required if your freelance business is totally dependent upon clients and customers residing outside of Panama. However, if your freelance work involves Panama residents you may be subject to Panama income taxes.
Depending upon the business relationship between yourself and your clients, a Panama work permit may be required. Keep in mind the “independent contractor” relationship not allowing your clients to exert control over your hours, duties, functions, and other factors indicating more of an employee to employer relationship.
Panama Income Taxes
Earning money within Panama’s borders may require paying income taxes.
However, working remotely in Panama and only obtaining payment from foreigners residing outside of Panama may not be interpreted as “earning income within Panama”. That’s because Panama is a territorial taxation country. That means income taxes are levied only upon persons (and companies) earning money within Panama’s borders and not from outside of Panama.
Other countries (like the United States and some Asian & EU countries) impose income taxation on all “worldwide income”. That means their online freelancers are subject to taxation on all of their globally sourced income.
Take a look at our guide to Panama Income Taxes.
Panama Relocation Checklist
Before moving to Panama, take a look at our informative Panama Relocation Checklist to learn about required documentation to bring pets to Panama, vaccines, health insurance, documents required to open a Panama bank account, vehicle insurance, and other important information.
Contact Us regarding all of your Panama relocation, immigration, work permits, taxation, and employment law needs.