If you’re looking to open a Panama corporate bank account for your Panama corporation or Panama Private Interest foundation, there are a number of options available to you and we can help you make the right choice in terms of which bank to choose based on your business needs.
We have been helping people navigate the Panama banking system for years, and stay up-to-date on current policies, rules, and best practices. We can assist in finding the right bank, making introductions, preparing the required forms, and ensuring you stay in compliance with local Panamanian laws and regulations.
For assistance in setting up Corporate Panama Bank Accounts with our recommended Panama banks, we charge an introduction and documentation processing fee of US$700.
For assistance in setting up Corporate Panama Bank Accounts with other banks in Panama, we charge a set up fee of US$1,000. If you know of a particular Panama bank that you would like to set up a corporate Panama bank account at, you simply notify us and we can assist you in setting it up .
* Time frames for setting up accounts with Panama banks other than our recommended Panama banks may take longer due to additional documentation that may be required.
Panamanian Banks are among the most stable banks in the region, being home to one of the largest international banking centers in the world. Panama is home to the Panama Canal, making it one of the most important shipping routes in the world, and there are many international ports here used for import-export of all kinds of products to all parts of the world. In addition, Panama has several international free trade zones and special economic zones where hundreds of service and import-export related companies as well as major multi-national enterprises have established their regional headquarters. Last but not least, Panama is a tourism hub and major producer of all types of services and agricultural products, including coffee, cacao, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, beef, poultry, and more for export. Panama’s local economy is very diverse, and the Panamanian people are accustomed to using Panama bank financing for the real estate & construction industry, shipping industry, agricultural industry, and many other business related transactions. As such, the banking center of Panama provides an important role in facilitating transactions of all kinds for our diverse and dynamic economy.
There are currently around 100 international banks in Panama. Our law firm has relationships with a variety of local and international banks in Panama through which our clients may open corporate Panama bank accounts at. However, we mainly assist our clients to open corporate Panama bank accounts through a few Panama banks, with which we have excellent working relationships.
Most of our corporate clients are handled by the Private Banking Departments of the Panama banks that we maintain relationships with. A bilingual, English and Spanish speaking Private Banking Official is assigned to each of our clients, and the bankers’ contact information is provided for direct communication for executing Panama banking transactions.
Most Panama banks will only open corporate accounts for Panama corporations if they have a local business operations permit. This means that the company must file an annual tax declaration in Panama, and pay tax to the Panamanian government on income generated from sales within the territory of Panama. Panama has a territorial tax system in that only net income (after deductible expenses) that was generated from within the territory of Panama is taxable in Panama (at a corporate tax rate of 25%, plus 10% dividend withholding tax), and any income generated outside of the territory of Panama is not taxable income in Panama, although it still must be reported on the annual Panama tax declaration and it is subject to a 5% dividend withholding tax in Panama.
The banks in Panama offer very attractive interest rates* for savings accounts or time deposits (certificates of deposit). Deposits are generally in USD but the Panama Banks also offer deposits in EUR in some cases. You can expect that interest rates are generally more competitive in Panama, however, please note that Panama banks do not offer any insurance on your deposits.
*Quoted rates on checking and savings accounts may; change without notice, vary depending on the LIBOR (London InterBank Offering Rate), be subject to minimum deposits and/or minimum balance requirements and/or certain terms for CD’s.
Internet access to your corporate Panama bank account is offered through most Panama banks. Panamanian banks use the most up to date online security technology so your Panama banking information is 100% secure and confidential. Our recommended Panama banks offer online banking for account viewing / downloading statements, transfers between accounts, international wire transfers, payment of credit card balances, as well as payment of local utility bills (if applicable). Please note that some Panama banks require a signed letter either emailed or delivered to the Panama bank to execute wire transfers.
Most Panama banks offer secured corporate credit cards (Visa or MasterCard). Our firm charges a processing fee of US$500 for assisting in setting up of secured corporate credit cards, as this process may require preparation of certain corporate resolutions and documentation for the application of the corporate credit card.
Secured credit cards require that the client place a security deposit as collateral for the credit line in an amount equal to 125% of the credit limit chosen for their corporate credit card. The security deposit is frozen in the corporate Panama bank account (savings account or CD / time deposit) until the credit card is closed, although the funds held as collateral will still earn interest while in the security deposit. As the credit card is used, the Panama bank will automatically debit the entire monthly balance of the credit card charges from the remaining balance in the corporate Panama bank account at the end of the monthly credit card billing cycle. Therefore, the client must maintain enough funds in the bank account to pay for the monthly credit card charges.
Annual fees for corporate credit cards start at US$50 or more according to the type of credit card chosen. Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Airline miles credit cards are available for earning airline flight miles for corporate credit card usage.
Debit cards are offered for corporate Panama bank accounts through some of our recommended banks in Panama. Debit cards have the “Clave” symbol on them, and can be used at any point of sale or ATM that accepts “Plus” or “Interlink” cards (accepted world-wide). The Panama banks annual fees for debit cards are from US$20. There are transaction fees of $1 to $2 for local ATM cash withdrawals, and there may be slightly higher fees associated with point of sale transactions, or ATM cash withdrawals at ATMs outside of Panama, depending on the merchant you purchase from, what country you are in, or what bank or ATM you withdraw cash from.
Most banks in Panama offer time deposits (certificates of deposits, or “CD’s”), which are referred to as “Plazo Fijo”, in Spanish. Each Panama banks rates vary according to their banking regulations, business practices, etc. Under Panamanian law, the minimum amount for a time deposit at a Panamanian bank is US$10,000.
Through most Panamanian banks, Corporate Panama Savings Accounts are available. Interest rates vary depending on the deposited amount.
Local Checking: This account is useful for those who wish to operate an actual business within Panama, and need an account for making USD payments to any local person or business in Panama. However, the checks from this account are only valid for deposit or compensation locally within the Republic of Panama.
Certified Local Check Fee: $5.00
Cashier’s Check Fee: $10.00
Wire Transfer In Fee: From $20 to $40 (depends on amount)
Wire Transfer Out Fees: $50 – $250 (depends on amount)
*Fees are subject to change without prior notice. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the above published banking fees as the bank may change the fees at any time without notice.
** Acceptable deposits are USD cash, USD Checks (personal or bank certified checks), or wire transfers. Unacceptable deposits are money orders, travelers checks, double endorsed checks, foreign items/thrift withdrawal orders, returned checks, and checks referring to more than one account number.
Panama banks are very strict when it comes to due diligence and they will examine everything about you and your business before opening a corporate account. Panama has “know your customer” laws that force the bankers to do extensive due diligence on their clients, not only at the time of opening the bank account, but throughout the history of the banking relationship, the bank will question your transfers of funds into or out of your accounts, and require you to provide supporting documentation on your transactions (invoices, contracts, etc).
For set up of Corporate Panama Bank Accounts, the following documentation is required by the Panama bank for each signatory, director/officer and shareholder / beneficiary:
A. Photocopy of passport & second ID: The banker will make a photocopy of the original passport and second ID (such as drivers license or national ID card) at the bank during the interview with the banker. Generally the main shareholder and signatory is required to be present during the bank interview. In some special cases, the bank will accept interviews to be done by video conferencing, but normally they require a personal interview in Panama.
B. Financial Reference Letter & Source of Funds. The financial reference letter can be from any bank, brokerage firm, or financial institution. The letter should be an original on the financial institutions letterhead, and should include the signature of an official, and the contact information (address, telephone, fax, email, etc.). There is no specific format that the reference letter must be written in. Most Panama banks will also require proof of source of funds which may include previous years tax returns or tax declarations, financial statements, letter of employment, previous months bank statements, or other documents to support the source of your income.
C. Commercial or Professional Reference Letter. The commercial or professional reference letter can be from any company or professional that you have a commercial business, or professional relationship with. The letter should be an original on the company or professionals letterhead, and should include the signature of the representative of the company or the professional, and the contact information (address, telephone, fax, email, etc.). There is no specific format that the reference letter must be written in.
D. Company Profile Letter and/or Business Plan. The company profile introduction letter should be on your company letterhead, signed by the signatory(s) on the account, with complete contact information. The letter should be accompanied by a business plan that explains in detail the nature of the business activities, an explanation of what products or services the company is selling, the regions where the company is conducting business, the purpose of the account, and a brief description of the estimated monthly banking activity anticipated for the account (incoming deposits and outgoing payments).
E. Proof of Address. The Panama bank requires that you provide a photocopy of a recent utility bill (such as an electric power bill, water bill, cable tv bill, internet service bill, phone bill, etc.) showing your personal name and physical address (P.O. Box is not accepted).
F. Signed Account Applications. Each signatory must sign the original bank account applications. As account signatory, you will have the power to execute all types of banking functions with your corporate Panama bank account. Most Panamanian banks’ policies require an interview face to face with the client. In other words, the signatory must come to Panama for a personal interview with the bankers, and sign all the required account applications.
G. Company Documents: All the corporate documents must be provided to the bank, including copies of the articles of incorporation, a recent (new) certificate of incorporation from the Public Registry of Panama showing that the company is in good standing, copies of shareholder registry / share certificates showing shareholder ownership, as well as the local Panamanian business operations permit and corporate resolutions signed by the legal representatives authorizing the opening of the corporate bank account. The law firm provides these documents.
* Documentation requirements are subject to change without notice.
** Banks other than our recommended banks may require additional documentation.
Below we have included the Panama bank account set up procedures for the Panama banks that we maintain relationships with (Please note that set up procedures may be different if dealing with other banks):
A. Contact us – Contact our law office to explain your business needs, and our attorneys will determine what Panama bank will work for your business needs, and you will receive a quotation for legal fees and expenses.
B. Submit Payment – Payment instructions will be provided.
C. Interview at the bank – Once we receive the payment, we will contact you to coordinate and schedule the interview at the requested Panama bank. The account applications will be completed at our law office, and signed at the bank in front of the banker. The banker will take photocopies of your passport and ID, and receive all the corporate documents, for review by the banks compliance department.
D. Account is Set Up – The bank account number will generally be provided within 4 to 8 weeks from the date the final due diligence documents are submitted to the Panama bank. Please note that new account processing times may vary depending on the volume of bank accounts that the particular bank is processing at that time.
E. Begin Using Account – Once the bank account is approved by the Panama banks compliance department, the banker will email you the complete bank account protocol for making deposits, executing wire transfers, contact information of the Panama bank, etc. At that point, you deal directly with the Panama bank for all account transactions.
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