We assist you in the opening of bank accounts for private individuals and companies. We closely monitor the opening process so that all necessary documentation is processed as efficiently as possible.
Our independent banking service advisors can also assist you in choosing the most convenient bank in the most convenient location based on your individual needs.
Services range from providing assistance with a client’s application for a banking license to drafting the loan and security documentation associated with a complex financing transaction.
We assist our Clients in opening bank accounts from overseas, without physically having to come to Panama.
We do not, in any case, manage the Client’s bank accounts.
We do, however, offer Escrow Account Services.
Is My Money Safe in Panama?
In reality, most modern banking jurisdictions have very strict and stringent regulations in place to ensure liquidity and the safety of depositors.
These regulations or systems may be different from what you’re used to, but that does not mean that the protection is less. As a case in point with Panama, the Superintendence of Banks exists to regulate local banking and to ensure stringent accounting practices. Therefore, it is not easy to obtain a banking license in Panama. Banks must prove certain reserves or capital requirements before they can even open their doors to the public. In addition, special reserve deposits are maintained with the central bank at all times.
Establishing an Offshore Bank Account
An offshore bank account is an account which is held in the jurisdiction that is noted for its legislation, which favors a tax-free environment. Such accounts are open for a plethora of reasons such as; asset protection, private banking, e-commerce, international investments, as well as the access to foreign currencies which may not be available in the jurisdiction in which the person resides.
- Greater privacy
- Low or no taxation
- Offshore Asset Protection
- Diversification of your personal or corporate banking structure
OPENING BANK ACCOUNTS IN PANAMA:
Since the 1980’s Panama has become an important regional banking center and at the moment there
are about 90 banks operating in Panama. Of these 90 banks, around 40 bear a general license,
which allow them to provide general banking services to local and foreign residents.
Our banking system is very well regulated, and differs from other jurisdictions in that banks always
need to have a physical presence (offices, staff, operations, etc) and comply with all required safeguards and asset minimum, as well as with banking rules, the Bassel Conventions and are under the regular supervision of the Banking Superintendent’s Office.
However, deposits in banks in Panama are not insured by the government.
Only institutions that hold a valid license with the Banking Superintendent are allowed to carry out
banking businesses in Panama.
Due to worldwide money laundering prevention measures, since 1995, Panama created a Financial
Analysis Unit, which supervises and investigates suspicious transactions and receives reports from the banking center and other financial entities of cash activity over $10,000 or any unusual activity.
Although Panama has banking secrecy rules, the banks will disclose information to the Financial Analysis Unit if money laundering is suspected or regarding transactions over $10,000 in cash. Our laws and regulations on money laundering are strictly enforced and the use of the financial center for moving or keeping proceeds from crimes related to drug trafficking, terrorism, arms trafficking, trafficking in human beings, kidnapping, extortion, fraud and other serious crimes is considered money laundering and subject to harsh punishment. There is no bail in Panama for these offences.
The above has resulted in the banks exercising special care when opening bank accounts, both for local and foreign nationals and implementing a strict know-your-client policy, and this makes the approval process longer than in other countries (approximately 1-3 weeks depending on the bank).
Therefore, even if you open an account through a Panamanian or foreign corporation, you will be required to provide information and documents to the bank of the beneficial owner of the corporation
(or private interest foundation), as well as information and documents on any signatories in the account.
We do not act as signatories in our clients’ accounts.
If you require a bank account in Panama due to your choice of visa or due to your permanently living in Panama or for any other valid reason, there are requirements, which vary from bank to bank, which will need to be fulfilled before opening the account. Also, you will need to physically come to Panama and meet with the bankers in order for the account to be opened.
Banks tend not to welcome walk-in clients, nor will they readily answer calls or emails from nonclients.
Once you choose a particular bank, we will let you know their requirements. And we will assist you by accompanying you to the bank and introducing you to the banking officer, completing the bank account opening form and obtainment of any corporate document necessary in those cases where a Panamanian corporation is opening the account. Our fees for assisting you to open corporate accounts are $500 and for personal accounts are $400. Our legal fees will be subject to 7% Services Tax.
However, please understand this is a charge for the services we offer you in complying with the account opening process, we are NOT a bank NOR do we provide banking services ourselves, and it is the compliance officer of the bank you choose, the one who will ultimately approve the account, require further documentation or decide against opening the account.
We give you no guarantee on the bank’s decision regarding your account. Furthermore, we only offer this service to persons who are applying for a visa in Panama or are making investments in Panama.
In order to open the account banks will request at minimum the following for each of the signatories in
a) 2 bank references and 1 accountant or lawyer’s reference. or
b) 1 bank reference, 1 broker’s reference and 1accountant or lawyer’s reference.
All references must be to the attention of the bank of your choice. Banking or brokerage references should include mention of the amount of funds you keep there (actual or average balance), since when you are a customer (MUST HAVE BEEN A CUSTOMER FOR AT LEAST 3 YEARS) and that the account has been managed appropriately. References must be dated no more than a month and a half prior to your interview with the bank;
2. Source of funds evidence:
a) letter from your employer or retirement agency stating your income; or
b) copy of your last two tax returns
3. Other documents:
a) copy of utility statement (water, electricity, etc) on the house you live (even if it is not in your name).
b) your passport and another photo I.D. (to be presented to the bank during the interview).
To initially fund the account, you must use either cash or wire transfer.
For your information, travellers’ checks are accepted sparingly in Panama. U.S. Postal money orders are not valid in Panama. International bank drafts or U.S. checks are acceptable provided they are issued in the name of the person or corporation which has the account in Panama, and will take 20 to 30 days to clear.
Although Panama does not have currency controls and bringing funds in or taking them out of the country is not illegal or restricted, nor does it require a special permit, please note that if you bring into
the country more than $10,000 in cash or issued checks or other monetary instruments made to bearer or to your name, you must declare them in the Customs form you will be given at the airplane.
If you fail to report any incoming cash or monetary instruments above $10,000, they will be seized and you will be subject to a fine of up to five times the amount you did not report.
If your home jurisdiction has a global tax system, you must seek legal advise from a lawyer in your
jurisdiction as to what your reporting requirements are if you open a bank account in Panama.
If you have any Queries or Questions?
please feel free to contact us using our contact form below.