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Bank Account in Panama

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    The Best Bank Account for You

    In Panama there are a lot of different banks, both local and international, in this article we will focus on personal bank accounts, for standard purposes. Having a bank account in Panama could be useful for receiving your salary from a local company, to make day by day payments, paying your rent and taxes, etc.

    Most banks in Panama are expat-friendly and with English support, do not charge ATM fees and get you a savings account which generates a return of around 2% per year. The local banks also offer a savings option that guarantees higher return “plazo fijo” but is needed to keep your money blocked for 6 months at least.

    Largest Banks in Panama

    Local Banks

    • Banco General, the first and largest Bank in Panama by market capitalization, with more than 1 million clients.
    • Banco Nacional de Panama, is the second largest Bank in Panama and one of two Panamanian government-owned banks.
    • Banistmo, part of a Latin American financial group, is one of the largest banks in Panama and Central America.
    • BAC, BAC Credomatic is a financial entity from Central America, with operations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Bahamas.
    • Global Bank, a 100% Panamanian bank founded in 1994. It has 38 branches across Panama and more than 141 ATMs all over the country.

    International Banks

    • Citibank, one of the most important U.S. banks, with 4+ trillion dollars in financial flows globally.
    • Scotiabank, a Canadian multinational banking and financial company, the third-largest Canadian bank by deposits and market capitalization.

    How to Open a Bank Account in Panama

    To open a personal bank account you should meet some requirements regarding the initial deposit, proof of income documentation, and Anti Money Laundering AML.

    The first step is to go in person to the selected bank and ask them how to proceed to open the bank account. You could facilitate the process by asking a law firm to identify the bank and help you in the process of opening an account, but usually, it is a process that can be done alone. If for immigration purposes you are already in contact with the lawyer, usually they include this service in the “residency package”.

    Every bank could require different types of documentation, by the way, the most common documents are:

    • Passport and/or Panamanian ID (Cedula)
    • Current/Last year's tax declaration (Panamanian or foreign)
    • Proof of wealth and income (invoices, payslips, etc.)
    • Bank reference letter (Panamanian or foreign)
    • Professional or commercial reference letter
    • Curriculum Vitae or Resume

    Important Facts:

    • All the bank accounts are in United States Dollars
    • In January 2018, the Government of the Republic of Panama signed a Multilateral Agreement between Competent Authorities to facilitate the automatic exchange of information of financial accounts (CRS MCAA).
    • The amount stated on your annual tax declaration will be used as a reference. You should manage an amount of money based on the info provided.

    Transferring Money Internationally

    International Bank Transfers

    • Outgoing Transfers: Most of the banks allow international money transfers from Panama to abroad. It will take from 2 to 7 days and the cost depends on the senders and the receiver and you'll need the recipient's bank details, including SWIFT/BIC codes. Be aware of transfer fees and exchange rates if you’re sending a currency other than USD.
    • Incoming Transfers: For receiving money in Panama, provide the sender your bank account details, including your bank’s SWIFT code. International transfer fees and waiting times apply.

    Online Money Transfer Services

    Wise, Western Union, MoneyGram, and PayPal are some of the companies which allow you to send and receive money internationally. Such services are often faster and cost less than the traditional international bank transfers. They give you the possibility to transfer money to a bank account, or for cash withdrawal.

    Cryptocurrency Transfers

    Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin provide an alternative way of sending money internationally. This can work efficiently and cost-effectively, but it is crucial to consider the associated risks and the regulations involved in this kind of transfer.

    Crypto-friendly Bank in Panama

    In Panama, the crypto regulation is still in process. The banks are not willing to accept transfers from crypto platforms or derived from crypto transactions, and in most of cases they will freeze your bank account. The only bank that allows you to make crypto activities is Towerbank.

    Towerbank, is a Panamanian financial institution with more than 40 years of banking experience, and the only ”Bitcoin friendly” bank in the country. Towerbank permits you to transfer money from the most common crypto exchanges like Binance and Coinbase.

    Sources & Foot Notes

    [1] Banco Nacional de Panamá - Official Website
    [2] Wikipedia - National Bank of Panama
    [3] Wikipedia - Grupo Banistmo
    [4] Wikipedia - BAC Credomatic (Spanish)
    [5] Citigroup - Official Corporate Website
    [6] Wikipedia - Citibank
    [7] Popular Bank Panama - Official Website
    [8] OECD - Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement
    [9] Cointelegraph - Bitcoin-Friendly Top 30 Panama Bank

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