Panama is one Latin American country that has a more open policy towards foreign workers than others. Officially, outside of the Canal Zone and other economic zones, domestic companies can employ overseas workers for up to ten per cent of their workforce. For those companies within the investment zones there are no restrictions, but most recruit from the local labour force, which is well educated and skilled. To get a work permit in Panama all you need to have is a health certificate and a job offer. Although unemployment is falling, any foreign worker will face a lot of competition from native job seekers.

If you don’t have any particular skills that an international company would wish, then you can teach English in a school or privately, become a translator for the smaller companies in the business zone that wish to trade internationally or become a real estate agent. A lot of people are going to Panama for various reasons and the construction industry is booming. English speaking or bilingual agents are in demand. It is also possible to freelance as an agent by setting up a shell company, which is probably easier than applying for a work permit. Another way is to set yourself up as a consultant.

The Panamanian government actively encourages foreign investment and will give favourable tax benefits to anyone wishing to set up a business there; it doesn’t seem to matter how small. Tourism is booming and they are quite happy for foreigners to come and help expand the industry in any way possible.


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