Panama has very strict banking regulations and secrecy. As a result, Panamanian banks makes sure that the information you provide is true, be it your residential address or the source of your money. This process can take up to a month to complete, we recommend you begin the process as soon as possible to ensure your local funds are available when you need them.
Requirements for opening a bank account:
There is always a list of some documents that is required for the paperwork to open an account. Different banks may have different requirements, though the majority of the requirements are the same at all banks. In Panama, they require more documents than any other bank would ask for. Most importantly, you have to select some banks to have your letters made out to them. You will be asked for new letters if you are not having the letters written in the name of the bank you applying to. The information in the documents that you provide should be current and within 6 weeks of the date of the submitting the documents while opening an account.
Bank account requirements:
1. A photocopy of your Passport that should include your photo with personal details, signature, exit stamps and recent entries. You may be required to notarize your passports also.
2. Second ID is also needed. You will have to submit a photocopy of the second ID
3. Two financial reference letters. These letters are to be made by a company who has dealt with you in past, on their official letterhead. It should mention the clear contact details. An official of the company needs to sign this letter. Your current bank and investment broker are good sources for these letters.
4. Two professional or commercial letters for reference that can be from lawyers, financial consultants on the respective organization’s official letterhead with all the necessary contact information. If the references are from the people of Panama, it will give more weight to your application.
5. Photocopy of your income tax returns for of last 2 years may be necessary - have this available upon request.
6. Signed account applications.
7. Statement showing your pension status or letter from employer
How to apply?
There may be some changes in the procedure for opening a bank account in Panama, as the process may be different in some banks.
1. In case you don’t speak Spanish, then make an appointment with some one who speaks English.
2. There is a minimum deposit amount that is required at the time of opening a bank account. It can vary from bank to bank. The least amount that is needed to open a bank account is $150 to $300. Until you bank account is opened, the bank will hold this amount.
3. You may deposit money via cash, USD check, or bank wire transfer.
4. After receipt of funds, within 7-10 working days, the account should be available.
5. You can request at the time of opening a bank account if you want the bank to provide online banking, checkbooks and an ATM card. Banks also give you the option of online bill pay. Debit cards issued in Panama bear the “Clave” logo. This “Clave” logo allows you to use your debit card in any of the ATM machines that has “Plus” or “Interlink” symbol. Almost all bank accounts come with debit cards and there may be various charges for use.