Opening A Panama Bank Account
Panama has one of the strictest bank secrecy laws in the world assuring utmost privacy in your financial affairs. Foreigners can open bank accounts in Panama but must provide more 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;
• One or two bank reference letters;
• A reference letter from a professional (lawyer, accountant); and
• A second ID (driver’s license or country ID).
The letters must be on the company or bank’s letterhead addressed to the Panama bank and signed by a manager or high authority. 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.
• 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 $150 to $300. Once the account is opened you can make deposits with cash, local or foreign 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. VISA or MasterCard are available in all Panama banks. 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.
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.