Work, Taxes, Driver’s License

  • In Panama, it is only worthwhile to work independently because the salaries of employees are very low. 
  • In the future, our best solution will be selling the organic food which we will produce at Finca Bayano.
  • Panama = tax haven: Income from agriculture is tax-free up to $250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand dollars).
  • Foreign driving licences are only valid for 90 days after entering the country. After that period, a Panamanian driving licence should be applied for, as driving without a valid licence is a serious offence.



Skilled workers are very welcome in Panama, but various professions, such as doctors and lawyers, may only be practised by Panamanians for the protection of their own population. Foreigner must first be naturalized if they wish to work in these professions. The application for naturalisation may be submitted five years after the the residence permit has been granted. Marrying locals shortens the waiting period to three years.

Assuming that the world economy will not be getting better in the future, we should concentrate on products that are always needed: Food! If we also assume that consumers will become more and more aware of the fact that poisoned food causes illness, the logical conclusion is to produce organic food. This is all the more true because it is not easy to return to natural production in fields that have been treated with chemicals for decades – it takes years before the soil recovers. And we can’t be wrong to produce organic food once we consider that incomes that result from agriculture are income tax-free in Panama. Only companies that declare more than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars income per annum, are eligible to pay income taxes. For that reason, we should specialize and concentrate on the production of organic food, in this politically and economically exciting time, hoping that the future crash won’t affect us too much.

In any case, we have to work independently, because employees in Panama do not earn much. Opening organic shops to sell products from Finca Bayano is therefore the best solution.

From 2018 onwards, organic bananas from Finca Bayano can be produced and sold in large quantities. Also, the water from our spring may be sold as first-class drinking water. Fish can be produced in aquaponics plants and the production of poultry in large quantities should not be a problem. The first residents will move to Finca Bayano by the middle of 2018 and I hope that the community will soon be large enough to coordinate the production, transport and sale of our products. This requires four teams. The first team will be responsible for the cultivation, maintenance and harvesting of the plants. The second team will organize fruits, such as mandarins, which we do not produce yet, from nearby villages. The third team will be responsible for the transport, the fourth team will organize the sales. 

Most of the people who have bought land at Finca Bayano are not farmers, or have never worked in that profession. Some even say that they don’t have the slightest idea of agriculture. The same thing applies to around 90% of the people who are interested in buying land in the future, as modern professions are more lucrative today. So, don’t worry, if you are a teacher, an architect, a sales(wo)man or a doctor or if you have a profession that has absolutely nothing  to do with agriculture. As long as you are willing to change, as your profession might not be needed in the future, or it might not be needed in Panama, you’re welcome to the teams of Finca Bayano. Certainly, the physical work, such as planting and harvesting, is in much better hands with our employees. Very few of us would be strong enough to spend the whole day at Finca Bayano cutting grass with a bush knife or planting bananas. Our work is supervision and organization – at least as long as it is possible to sell our products. 



The cost of living in Panama is low –  taxes are extremely low: 27% is the maximum income tax rate. Income which is earned abroad is absolutely tax-free. Foreigners who live in Panama and make money over the Internet pay zero taxes. Whoever builds or buys a house does not have to pay property tax for 20 years. Income from agriculture is tax-free up to $250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand dollars). Another advantage is the low fuel price: one liter of diesel costs 70 US cents, gasoline costs 80 cents.

I am not saying that low taxes are a reason to emigrate to Panama. If everything would be fine in your home country, you would certainly stay there to keep on paying higher taxes and possibly you would have never  visited this website. “Tax haven” is just another argument for emigrating to Panama.


Driver’s License

Foreign driving licences are valid in Panama only for a period of 90 days. If this time has elapsed, it is advisable to have the foreign driver’s license converted to a Panamanian one. This requires visits to the following authorities or service providers:

  • Embassy or Consulate of the home country.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de relaciones exteriores).
  • Medical Laboratory.
  • Driving Licence office SERTRACEN.


The following documents are required:

  • Valid Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Panamanian I.D. Card (if available)

The foreign driver’s license must be certified by the embassy in Panama City. After the certification, the signature of the embassy employee must be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The responsible branch of the Ministry is called “Departamento de Autenticación y Legalización”, in English Department for Authentication and Legalization. It is located on the Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro, in the Banco Nacional Building in the El Dorado district of Panama City. Here’s what you have to do there:

  • Draw a waiting number on the first floor.
  • Have the signature of the employee of the Embassy authenticated.
  • Have the receipt stamped in another room.
  • Go to Banco Nacional, pay a two-dollar fee, have the receipt stamped by the bank (it is advisable to have a staff member of the Ministry help you fill the receipt).
  • Hand in the receipt together with the embassy documents.
  • The authenticated documents are either ready on the same day or the next.

Afterwards, an analysis must be made to determine your blood group, as this is noted in the driver’s license. The test must be done in Panama, no matter whether the blood type is already known or not. There is a doctor or an appropriate laboratory in almost every city.

Finally, all documents must be taken to the SERTRACEN driving licence office. There is one in all provincial capitals of the country. Here’s what you have to do there:

  • Draw a waiting number.
  • Ask for a Panamanian driving licence.
  • Have a simple eye examination made – Applicants should know numbers and colors in Spanish.
  • Have a simple hearing test made.
  • Have a photo taken.
  • Pay the fees and pick up your Panamanian Driving Licence, which is valid for four years only. It must be renewed after this period has elapsed.

The total cost is about $150. If you do not yet have a permanent residence permit, you must provide a domestic address. If foreigners continue to drive with a foreign driver’s license after a stay of more than 90 days, the consequence can be a severe penalty, especially after an accident, as driving without a Panamanian driver’s license is considered to be driving without a driver’s license.


You only have to earn half in Panama to have the same!