Opening a bank account in Panama can be a daunting prospect for a new expat, international businessman or global nomad, especially if you are not fluent in Spanish. This article sheds some light on the process of opening an account which we hope you will find useful.
Requirements to open a bank account in Panama
Along with the routine requirements such as proof of identification and address, most banks in Panama require appointed signatories of a bank account in Panama to attend a personal face to face interview. Despite advancements in technology and the internet in enabling business to be more widely conducted remotely e.g., through the use of video calls Banks in Panama are purposely more conservative when opening bank relations with clients owing to the law requiring them to have strong “Know Your Client” practices in place. This hurdle may be avoided and accounts can be opened from a distance, through a service provider such as Trust Services or a law firm, as long as the client has been thoroughly evaluated and approved. Other requirements can include;
- Provision of banking reference letters with contact details so they may be verified
- Prior evaluation of the client’s commercial activity
- Identification of who the beneficial owners are of the account in the event the account is in the name of an entity such as a Panamanian Corporation or Private Interest Foundation.
- Declaration in the application forms of the anticipated amount of funds to be deposited as well as level of monthly transactions
- Proof of source of origin of funds for all transfers that are in excess of USD$10,000
Of course, in comparison to other jurisdictions, these requirements may seem overly burdensome and time consuming however these strong measures also give an indication upon how stable and reliable Panamanian banks are. Once you factor in the other lucrative advantages of doing offshore business in Panama, these early hurdles are worth that extra bit of effort. Depending upon which bank in Panama is chosen, and the complexity of the ownership structure of the account holder, the process to open an account can take between one week and two months.
What if you can only be in Panama long enough to submit the application and will not be in Panama full time?
If a signatory of a bank account is only to be in Panama for the purpose of opening the account and will not be in the country on a permanent basis then it is advisable for the signatory to appoint additional signatories to the account who are based locally. These additional signatories should be responsible persons who may also serve as administrators to the account and it is advisable that local based service providers who specialise in providing this service should be appointed. Such service providers can follow up on the account opening process and co-ordinate the documents to be presented, the initial account opening deposit to be made, online banking facility to be set up and arrange for delivery of cards, cheque books and PINs.
What Banks in Panama would you recommend?
In Panama, like all jurisdictions, banks differ in how best they serve the individual needs of their clients as they each have their own restrictions about the activity and nationalities of their clients. If you are a foreign national, and do not speak Spanish fluently, we would strongly recommend you receive the appropriate council to discuss your needs before applying to the bank. A local service provider, who speaks your language whether it be in English or Spanish can assess your commercial activity and make suitable recommendations that best fit what you are looking for from a bank in Panama. Trust Services, S.A. has excellent relationships with several well-established banks both in Panama and worldwide and we only work with first-class institutions.
How Trust Services can be of assistance
Commonly, we find that having a local bank account in Panama can be a fundamental part of having an offshore company. For clients interested in opening a bank account in Panama we offer a bespoke range of services with the advantage of speaking your language, whether it be in English or Spanish or just access to plain, old-fashioned common sense. Our services include the following;
- Panama bank referrals
- Private banking services referrals
- Investments and brokerage accounts referrals
- Assistance with the process of opening a bank account with a local bank
- Assistance with obtaining any local corporate documents required for banking due diligence purposes
- Nominee director services
- Signature and completion of bank forms by nominee directors
- Asset protection
Important notes to consider
- Trust Services can make referrals to banks in Panama however the process of opening an account and its related requirements is solely dependent on the banks.
- Depending upon which bank in Panama is chosen, and the complexity of the ownership structure of the account holder, the process to open an account can take between one week and two months.
- Bank account applicants must fully comply with the bank’s due diligence process in order to have their account opened.
- The bank is responsible for the final decision in regards to having a new account approved. If the bank has any cause to doubt the integrity of the client´s motives to have the account opened, our experience suggests they will usually err on the side of caution and reject the application.
Our firm can help you avoid any pitfalls when seeking to establish business relations in Panama, whether this be banking, accounting or succession planning. Considering our experience in attending to our clients banking needs, for over 40 years, you can be rest assured we offer safety and peace of mind when handling your overseas accounts. Let our experience be your guide and contact us through the link in our contact page.