Residency! (and a good lawyer)

It’s official, we are now legal residents of Panama! We went to Panama City last Wednesday, spent a bit of time at immigration, and left with our official residency cards.

I wrote a post about our application process HERE, which we did in December 16th. On February 15th our lawyer told us that our residency was ready (two months – very fast).

It can happen that there is actually some problem so rather than call us to Panama City for nothing, our lawyer requested that we send our passports and temporary cards to him by Uno Express. He took them to immigration to verify that there were no problems to be ironed out and everything was good to go.

On the 25th (after I returned from a short trip) we touched base and he told me that yes, everything was ready and we only needed to come to Panama City. We met on Wednesday morning, March 4th, at immigration. When we arrived there was a line around the building. We waited for maybe 30-45 minutes, and then waited in another long line inside where you request a number for the department you need. It worked out that our lawyer made it through the outside line just before we got to the desk at the head of the inside line, so when we got our number we were all together and ready to proceed to the next step.

There was almost no waiting for photos. I was asked to sign an electronic pad and then look at the camera, and then it was Joel’s turn to do the same. After his photo was taken my card was put in my hand, and then his was handed to him. That was it. We were done! Except for waiting in lines the process took only a few minutes. It is still sinking in that we are legal now. We have our permanent cards which are good “indefinitely” (it says so right on the cards!)

I cannot thank our lawyer, Marcos Kraemer, enough. The whole process went smoothly and he gave us all the information we needed at every step of the way. So many of our friends have been tripped up because they didn’t know or have some important thing. This can cause delays, increased costs, and of course a lot of frustration. I feel so fortunate that everything went smoothly and we were so well taken care of.

If you need a lawyer, I highly recommend Marcos. His website is HERE. He may look like a young guy but he is very competent and experienced. He may show up in jeans and a polo shirt, but he doesn’t want to look like a lawyer with a briefcase who may have computers and documents worth stealing. He carries files in plain folders. If he has passports they are kept elsewhere apart from folders and documents to keep them extra safe. He has done this enough times to know where any possible hiccup may happen and he works hard to make everything go smoothly.

An aside, about the short trip I mentioned. Marcos recommended that I not travel since at that time I had only copies of my passport and temporary residency card. I went to Santiago on the bus which meant I had to pass through the check point at Guabala where they always check your ID’s. This time though, both ways, the officials didn’t even get on the bus. On our way to Panama City it was the same, but on the way back the officials were not only carefully checking documents, they were looking in backpacks and personal belongings! But, we had our brand new residency cards to show them. They looked, smiled, nodded, and went on. Yeah! It feels really good to be legal. And, it also felt good to pay $10.60 for the bus ticket, instead of the usual $15.25.

Soy Chiricana (my friends say that now I am Chiricana – a person from Chiriqui Province). Esto es bueno 🙂


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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21 Responses to Residency! (and a good lawyer)

  1. 4sarge says:

    Congrats Kris, I LOVE the Panama success stories.


  2. 4sarge says:

    Reblogged this on 4sarge and commented:
    Congrats Kris – another Panama Success Story


  3. Alex says:



  4. Anonymous says:

    Great! Hope to be there one day soon. All the best!


  5. ¡Felicitaciones!


  6. jeff and deDee says:

    Kris, I posted one a year ago and my wife and I have made 3 trips to Panama since. Driven the streets of Panama City in downpours and in sun and met people who have given us directions every time. We speak little Spanish, but have had good luck every time. We have been to Boguete, David and every town in between. Just before our last trip I caught a post from you re Obama Care in the USA and wonder with it now why you left. Our experience has been so bad I cannot bear to spend the time to reiterate, but simply said, we have had 2 doctors quit and one go in to boutique medicine where patients pay a fee to see him. We pay $400 a month and have a $15,000 deductible each and all co pays are high w OBCare. The biggest problem is our medications which we have been on for years are all going off our plan in Nov of 2015 and we will buy them. You commented that you are now a legal resident of Panama, but like OBCare as it is a benefit for you in the USA. We would leave as it is proving to be the exact opposite for us. I cannot imagine traveling back to the US for the purpose of OBCare treatment if you have benefits in Panama and you like the doctors and care. I just signed up for Medicare and my wife will in 2 years, but feel the entire US system is topsy turvy. We have worked our whole lives and now feel totally unprepared in this medical upheaval. That opinion seems so different from your perception and reality. Having passed this bill and remembering the comments by Rep Pelosi that “you will need to pass it to find what is in it’ was bizarre to begin with. We woud hope our move to Panama would allow us to dump OBCare and leave all of his minions far behind. What are we missing.



    • You had doctors?! See, that’s the thing. As a self employed contract worker I could not get insurance at all. A serious illness or injury would have wiped us out, and I can’t tell you the last time I saw a doctor (maybe that sinus infection in the 90’s?). I know the system is a mess. I know about doctors quitting or doing other things just to stay afloat. I’m a nurse and spent 30+ years working in the system in a variety of positions.
      Yes, I like the medical care in Panama and I could actually afford to go to the doctor here for most things. But, if I need a new knee, or bypass surgery or chemo or something really big, now I have a safety net. I can go back to the US for things I couldn’t afford in Panama. After spending pretty much my whole life with the possibility of financial disaster, I really appreciate having this safety net. I’m not getting any younger and the possibility of needing something increases with age.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi. Can you share the cost with an attorney? Appreciate it! And congratulations. Joy


    • I’d rather refer you to him with that question. We started working with him over two years ago when we thought my husband would get residency immediately, so his prices may have changed since then or your situation may not be exactly like ours.


  8. Carole says:

    Congratulations on becoming a Resident of Panama. It helps to get a good lawyer working for you. Enjoy your retirement and residency! We are going to retire from our business in June, we will see if we can survive in the VI. If not we will liquidate our assets and possibly move to Panama. But we will give it a year here to see if it will work. I was lucky I had emergency insurance, I had a major accident with a tree falling on me and if we didn’t have emergency insurance we would have been wiped out financially. I have been stuck in the house for 4 months, my leg is getting therapy now so I can start to walk again. We don’t have a good insurance here, had to get insurance from England which is expensive. Medical reasons and health insurance is what we were considering if moving to Panama.


  9. Steve M says:

    Kris, congrats to both you and Joel. Sounds like your attorney is really squared away. Very hapy for you both.


  10. I am so excited for you and Joel. Congratulations. Life will be so much easier now for you. No more border runs. Woopie!!!!


  11. Rick Flaherty says:

    Hi Kris,
    We are going to talk to your attorney. Ours has not replied to any of our emails in 2 months. We have the temporary card, but have not heard on our permanent. Thanks for the heads up!
    Rick and Sally Flaherty


    • How frustrating! If you have had your temporary card more than two months your permanent card could be there waiting for you. Marcos has always answered emails in a day or two, and hopefully he can help you out.


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