Private bank account opening in Panama
The Republic of Panama or simply Panama is a country located in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the West and Colombia to the Southeast. Panama City is the largest city as well as the capital of the country and is home to two million people, which is approximately 50% of the population. Panama's official language is Spanish due to Spain's ruling in this territory until 1821.
Revenue from Panama Canal represents a significant portion of Panama's GDP, while such industries as banking, commerce and tourism are important and growing sectors. Thanks to the Canal, Panama has managed to build the largest International Financial Centre in the region of Central America, which assets represent over 3 times Panama's GDP. Stability is seen as the key strength of the financial sector of Panama along with favourable business and economic climate. Panama's banking system is compliant with the Basel Core Principles of effective banking supervision. Nevertheless, Panama has a worldwide reputation of a tax haven. Especially, since the release of Panama Papers in 2016, the country has made a significant progress to improve the compliance with recommendations regarding anti-money laundering. In February 2016, Panama was removed from the grey list of FATFGAFI, but IMF still sees the necessity to strengthen the financial transparency and fiscal structure of the country.
Bank account in Panama
Panama is known to have one of the strictest bank secrecy laws in the world. While foreigners are also welcome to open a bank account in Panama's banks, often they will have to provide even more documentation than in the European or North American banks. Therefore, opening a bank account in Panama can be relatively long process – unless you have someone trustworthy to connect you to a bank's account manager, it can take from two weeks to even two months to set up a bank account.
Different banks might require different information upon bank account opening, but you should be ready to provide documents and other information as listed below (all documents must be in Spanish):
- Copy of your passport photo, information page and page with an immigration entry stamp of Panama;
- Up to two bank reference letters;
- A reference letter from a lawyer or accountant;
- Copy of another ID – country ID or driver's license;
- Bank statement from the last 3 months;
- Evidence of income;
- Proof of your relation to Panama (ex: proof of your property, utility bills, cedula, etc.);
- Filled forms with information about you and your family as well as your source of funds.
Furthermore, if you decide to withdraw more than 5,000 USD, you might be asked to report how you are planning to use these funds.
Bank account opening procedure in Panama
Generally, bank account opening procedures may slightly differ from bank to bank, but if you choose to cooperate with a service provider who specialises in bank account opening for foreigners, the process could turn out to be faster and easier for you. Companies offering such services typically have their partner banks and they are familiar with the procedures and legal requirements. Bank account opening procedure generally consists of five steps:
- Submit an online application;
- Submit payment to the bank account opening service provider;
- Interview – banks in Panama require a personal interview before opening a bank account. The interview is coordinated by your service provider. All applications and required documents are submitted during the interview.
- Due diligence procedure (this takes approximately 20 to 30 business days);
- Bank account set up – when the account opening procedure is finished, you will receive the bank account number, protocol for making deposits and executing wire transfers as well as the contact information of your bank.
If you want to open a bank account in Panama – please check our list of offered banks in Panama or simply contact us now.