Foreigners can open bank accounts in Panama but must provide more due diligence documentation than banks in Europe or North America require.
To open a Panama bank account you will need the following:
- A copy of your passport photo and information page and Panama immigration entry stamp page, and a second ID such as a drivers license;
- One or two bank reference letters, as well as proof of income such as your last few years tax returns, financial statements, or letter from your employer;
- A reference letter from a professional (lawyer, accountant, etc.); and
- Proof of address such as a utility bill showing your personal residential address.
All documents must be recently dated (usually within three months).
Different banks may require more information such as the source of funds you intend to deposit. Every bank has its own application forms.
- If you are residing in Panama on an immigration visa, you will need to provide copies of the immigration visa and immigration identity card (carnet).
- If a business account is being opened, most banks will require copies of your income tax returns from the previous two years for the company opening the account.
- All documents must be translated into Spanish.
Panama Bank Introduction Service
Many Panama law firms offer their services for Panama Bank Introductions where they provide their own professional reference and have special relationships with certain banks to smooth the application process.
Most Panama banks require a minimum deposit ranging from $100 to $1000. Once the account is opened you can make deposits with cash, local checks, and bank wires.
Panama Bank Products
Every Panama bank offers savings and checking accounts along with time deposits (CD’s), ATM, debit and credit cards, and many offer full online banking. Panama banks will require a 125% of the monthly maximum credit limit deposit to obtain a credit card. If you want a $1,000 monthly credit limit, you will need to deposit $1,250 before obtaining the credit card. Credit card rates and fees vary for each bank so it is recommended that you shop around for the lowest fees. ATM cards can be obtained using the Clave (Latin America) or Plus (worldwide) logo systems to use at the many ATM machines in the country.
While Panama banks utilize modern facilities, the same bank branches in the rural areas may not have modern facilities or the same services as their city branches.
There are approximately 100 banks operating in Panama varying from global banks, private banks, local banks, and investment banks. The government owns two banks which are popular with the locals which offer the same services as the other banks, however, they are quite difficult to open accounts at if you are a foreigner.
Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3 pm and on Saturday 8:30 am to Noon or 1 pm.
IMPORTANT NOTE: US persons (citizens or residents) are obligated by US law to report all their bank accounts world-wide. Panama banks automatically report all US persons bank accounts to the US fiscal authorities.