How to open a Personal Bank account in Panama

The purpose of this article is to guide you through the procedure of opening a bank account in Panama. This piece of information is really important for those who are interested in coming to Panama and opening a bank account here. The process is tiring and it requires a lot of time from the newcomers side. You will have to have prepare yourself to be patience.

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. Panama keeps a record of your information and sees to it that there is no chance of fraud. So whenever you try to open another bank account in Panama it becomes easy as they already have all of your information and paperwork in their records which must have been previously verified.

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. This letter is to be made by the company who has dealt with you in past, on their official letterhead. It should mention the clear contact details and should be made out in the name of the bank where you are applying to open a bank account. An official of the company needs to sign this letter

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.

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.

Types of cards: Credit and Debit cards.

A wide variety of credit cards are available. The major different between credit cards is their limits and membership fees.  Various options for credit cards include Platinum, Silver, Gold, and Air Miles/Points Card. You will have to have to a minimum amount of fixed deposit in your account which is set by the bank on your credit card.

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.

Types of accounts: Saving and term deposits, checking accounts.

Saving accounts and term deposits’ with varying interest rates. Interest rates become better as your balance increases. Checking accounts have various benefits and needs which depend on the account type. You should ask about local checking accounts and international checking accounts.