Banking in Panama

Panama uses the US Dollar as its circulating currency and many people from all over the world open bank accounts or brokerage accounts in Panama because Banks and Brokers offer financial privacy from their home governments tax authorities.

Panama is a major international banking center, second in the world to Switzerland. The banks in Panama do not report to your local government as do the banks in the USA, Canada, England and many other countries. All interest income or capital gains income is tax free in Panama and there are no reporting requirements to the Panamanian government. Plus, banks offer higher interest rates on savings accounts, checking accounts, and CD’s (time deposits). Some banks offer up to 6% annual interest on savings accounts, and up to 8.5% on time deposits (CD’s).

Most banks and brokers offer the same types of services that your local bank and broker offers now. They offer access to your account information and funds through Visa Credit Cards, Visa Debit Cards, ATM Cards, Checkbooks, and Internet banking or brokerage services. You can invest in CD’s (time deposits) with the banks or invest right back into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, money markets, etc. on the markets you are used to dealing with (NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Hong Kong, etc.).

The banks and brokers Panamanians deal with are major, reputable, registered and insured international banks and brokers. Panama has one of the most advanced banking infrastructures in the world today.

The goals that individuals consistently cite as they explore international solutions to their concerns include:

  • Relief from Harassment Lawsuits
  • Relief from Excessive Tax Rates
  • The Need to Re‐establish Financial Confidentiality
  • The Desire for Complete Diversity of Investments
  • Re‐invoicing for Import / Export Businesses
  • Passage of Estate to Designated Beneficiaries without Legal Delays or Deductions
  • Diversification of Risk

In some cases people establish personal offshore accounts. It is generally recommended that foreigners establish a corporation in with a corporate bank or brokerage account (or both). You are appointed as the sole signatory on the account so you maintain complete control over your funds. Corporations provide you with total anonymity and confidentiality. Corporations offer “Bearer Share Certificates” and “Nominee Directors”, plus there are no taxes or reporting requirements to the Panamanian government. There are many advantages to corporations.

Bearer shares enable you to own a corporation without anyone knowing you own it, because the shares of the corporation are not registered to you, rather they are registered to “The Bearer”. In other words, they are like cash and can be passed from one person to the next without having to re‐register them or report it to anyone. You receive Bearer Shares once the corporation is established.

 

Documents Needed to Establish a Bank Account in Panama

The following documentation is required for each signatory:

Photocopy of Passport. The photocopy of passport should include the photo of the person, the personal details (name, date of birth, passport number, etc.), and the signature. The photocopy should be clear and legible.

One (1) Financial Reference Letter. The financial reference letter can be from any established bank, brokerage firm, or credit union. The letter should be on the financial institutions letterhead, and should include the signature of an official, and the contact information (address, telephone, fax, email, etc.).

One (1) Personal or Professional Reference Letter. The personal or professional reference letter can be from any friend, business associate, attorney, accountant, or any company you deal with personally or professionally. If from a professional or company, the letter should be on letterhead, and should include the signature of the representative issuing the letter, and the contact information (address, telephone, fax, email, etc.).

Proof of Address. This can be a utility bill, phone bill, insurance bill, bank statement, or any bill or statement showing your physical address.