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Mag Illa – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bla, bla, bla......  No ill feeling towards Panamanian Banks, but they do NOT want your business.  What they have learned from Americans is; "It's not our fault, they made us do it...."  If Panamanian banks wanted American business, expats with PA pencionado or Cedula ID, would walk in, show proper identification including tax ID, they could check it out, they have the where-with-all.  No letters from big daddy at your hometown bank, or months of previous depository data.  'Just the facts!'
 
I'm not trying to hide anything, so a Panamanian bank account would only serve to do transfers for local accounts such as utilities or mortgage/rent, or to pull cash.  A US citizen could, establish a Charles Schwab checking account, pull cash locally and get the $5.25 charged by banks refunded, as well as no foreign exchange fees.  
 
"Just the FACTS mam...."  It is what it is, all in all, I'd still rather be here and put up with their requirements.  Best to all!
 
Kristin Wilson of Orbis Relocation – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bancafe Panama  logo – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOpening a bank account in Panama is a huge headache if you are a foreigner, non-resident, but especially if you are American. Some banks won't accept Americans at all while others will have a very long list of bank requirements, some of which may be impossible to produce. Most documents need to be original and dated within 30 days. 
 
If you are up to the task, it is possible in theory. The regulations change regularly so it is recommended to go to bank branches in person to get the most updated info. If you go door to door visiting 20-30+ banks in Panama, eventually you will find one with a reasonable list of requirements. I recommend applying to open an account with at least 2-3 different banks if you are going to try it this way on your own, to increase the odds of one accepting you. 
 
The best way to get through this process while maintaining your sanity and keeping your blood pressure down is to hire a lawyer with a good track record for helping people open bank accounts. That's what I do for all my relocation clients. Even then, it can still take 4-6 weeks to open the account. Legal fees range from $500-1,500 on average but it's well worth it. 
 
(Logo for offshore bank in Panama, Bancafe, pictured.)  
Jeff Barton of Punta Pacifica Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Banco National de Panama supports an art exhibit, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOpening a bank account in Panama is not necessarily the easiest process, and it does depend on your nationality.
 
Banks in Panama are very prudent and cautious, which is one of the main reasons why, while there was the economic bust in the US and throughout the rest of the world with regard to mortgage loans, Panama was not affected very much.
 
With most banks in Panama, you can walk right into the bank and start the process to open up an account.  Because of the US legislation FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), for US citizens, Panamanian banks are more strict in needing to determine where the assets you want to deposit are coming from and why.  However, as long as you can provide what they normally ask for, which may include bank references from your country of origin, possibly a job letter, other standard due diligence items, where the funds came from and why you want to deposit them in a Panamanian bank, you can go ahead and open an account.
 
( The bank of Banco Nacional de Panama supports an art exhibit, Panama, pictured. )
David De Franco Levi of DEFRANCORP- Business Consultants – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama City, Panama skyline at night – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe first step to open a bank account in Panama is to be here in Panama, because you have to meet with the bank manager. If you’re an American, you should know that the banks here are pretty strict when it comes to compliance with FATCA. Apart from that, it should be very easy. As an American, you can open a bank account here in a matter of three weeks. For other nationalities, it only takes about a week to open a bank account. The process is longer for Americans because there are compliance issues with the IRS, etc. 
 
There are banks in Panama that do not want to open accounts for Americans anymore because the costs of complying with the IRS and FATCA has become greater than the benefit that they receive from dealing with American clients.  
 
Panama is currently on the Gray List (an official list of countries that need to be more strict in monitoring money laundering activities), so they are tightening up all security and due diligence when it comes to their clients. As a result there is a law here saying that the bank has to know who its client is. A bank cannot just open up a bank account for somebody it doesn’t know, so part of the compliance with this is meeting with the person who wants to open the account. If you apply for a bank account, they will talk with you, and they will check your documents. You have to bring two bank references and one personal reference. The bank then does their own due diligence, including looking you up online. 
 
(Pictured: Panama City, Panama skyline at night.) 
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panamá Bank Accounts
 
Panamá is one of the strongest banking centers in the world.  The banking laws in Panamá, are constantly changing, due to numerous international laws, and international agreements signed at summits and international roundables.
Local banks in Panamá extended a bulletin on July 1, 2014, that basically says the following:
 
"In compliance with international requests, Panamá will comply  with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was set in the United States on March 18, 2010. " The stated intention of FACTA is to prevent tax evasion using offshore banking accounts.
 
In order to comply with this agreement, the banking institutions in Panamá must provide financial information from any of their customers identified as US persons to the tax entity in Panamá, and from here, to the Internal Revenue Service in the United States.
 
At the moment of opening a bank account, prospects must present proper documentation, including if they are, or are not, a US citizen.
 
Proper and more extensive information regarding this law, can be found in Google under "FATCA" law, or you can go to any bank to ask them for their policies.
Randy Hilarski of High Impact Media Group Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
This advice is only for Americans because opening a bank account here can be a challenge for us. When first moving to Panama set up a PayPal account and order the PayPal Business Debit Card. Connect it to your bank account and easily transfer money back and forth between accounts. The ATM fees are only $4, if you use Caja de Ahorros or Banco General.
 
Opening a bank account for non- Americans is much easier due to the FATCA rules. To this day I still do not have a Panama bank account.
Jose Broce of Broce-Pinilla & Asociados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
To open a bank account in Panama, you should first get a recommendation from your bank in the United States.
 
To make things easier, you can get an attorney to deal with all the paperwork. Once you have your recommendation, just hand it to your lawyer and your attorney will accompany you to the bank to introduce you and present you as an honorable person. The bank personnel will put your information in a system called, “World Check” to ensure that you’re of good character.
 
Our law firm has a relationship with banks that makes the process easier. If I opened a bank account for you, it would only take less than a month for the whole process to be done. That is because we’re going to open your bank account with the banks where we have clients. The paperwork is not an issue, because we have done it before, so we know how to handle it.
 
If you have enough time and patience, you can open your bank account by yourself. You don’t need a lawyer. However, it could take you 3 months to open your bank account.
 
If you’re going to open a commercial bank account, a US $5,000, first deposit would be required. If you want to open a personal bank account, the minimum deposit would be around $500.
Paul McBride – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Opening a bank account in Panama is not difficult but it can certainly be time consuming, particularly if you’re a US citizen.
 
Recent legislation in the United States requires Banco General in Pnama, fromt view of bank – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingall foreign banks to increase the amount of information needed to open an account for an American and the banks have greater reporting requirements.  With this in mind, most Panama banks are being careful when opening accounts and the time needed to complete and approve the account application is much longer than it used to be.
 
To open an account, you need two letters of reference from existing banks and a letter of reference from someone in Panama (typically your attorney).  Depending on the bank, you may be required to show up to 3 months of your current bank statements to prove where the money to open your Panama bank account will originate.  Some banks also require that you are physically present in PanamaGlobal Bank in Panama, view of sign and background of building – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living when the account is opened.  Since it can take up to several months to get an account approved this can be difficult if you’re not living in Panama.
 
For non-US expats, the process is a little less complicated but it still takes time.
 
It isn’t necessary to hire an attorney to open a bank account in Panama.  However, a good attorney can help you expedite the process.
 
Finally, if you receive permanent residency in Panama and get a cedula (a national identification card) opening an account is much easier and faster.
Moises Montero Randino of Montero Randino - Attorneys at Law – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There are more than 150 banks or branches in Panama, and when it comes to the question "How do I open a bank account in Panama?" my advice is that its like anywhere else... Different banks have different requirements to fulfill in order to open a bank account.  Depending on the purpose, an attorney or consultant should drive you to the proper bank that will fit perfectly into your needs.  From a general point of view, larger and more secure banks will have more requirements and paperwork while newer or more aggressive banks may have easier policies... In the end, with a little bit of patience you will  be welcomed to the Panamanian bank system and enjoy of its services.
Keila Mulero  of Savvy Link – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Here is my personal experience opening a bank account in Panama to obtain a debit card and to use for my household expenses, such as groceries and internet services (Cable Onda), etc.  After some research I found that Banco Azteca has fewer requirements, so, prior to obtaining my residency I opened an account there.  There was no need for attorneys or bank references.
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The requirements for an individual to open a savings account in Panamá, according to Multibank (a large bank here), is as follows: 
  • Minimum amount $50 for locals, $1,000 for foreigners.
  • ID copy: cédula for locals, valid passport for foreigners.
  • Second ID: For foreigners, their country of origin ID; driver´s license, or Social Security ID.
  • A completed bank application.
  • Two (2) bank or two (2) commercial reference letters, within  30 days  of validation, in the original.  Letters could be combined one banking and one commercial. A letter from the credit bureau of the foreigner's original country would be highly beneficial.
  • Client evidence of income. For example, a letter or work certificate, income tax form, or other income proof.
The cost of bank reference letter (in Panamá) is $15.00 per letter.
 
Howard Jones of The Haven Hotel and Health Spa, Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Like many things in Latin America be patient and you will get your Panamanian bank account opened. Paperwork is the order of the day so be prepared at a minimum to have a reference from you existing bank. Once you are here you will make a connection with a lawyer and other friends who will provide you any other references needed. Fortunately most banks have English-speaking employees to make the process that much easier without having to need an interpreter.
 
Roy Cannon of Gestoria Cocle - main office in Penoneme – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Due to the impending FATCA regulations imposed by the US government, some banks in Panama are reluctant to accept US Persons as personal clients, and even corporate accounts that have a US Person associated with the company.  
 
There are several banks in Panama that are open to ex-pats, and most of these have someone who is English-speaking to help you with the paperwork.  You do NOT need a lawyer to open a normal bank account, however there is a paperwork issue that will take some time.  One of the key points is to bring TWO bank references from your home country, can be in  any language, and these can be simple formats that say that Mr XX has been a client for YY years and has an average balance in the four figures (1,000+ for example).  Generally the amount is less important than the proof that you have at least 2 banks that think you are a decent client.  The rest of the paperwork can be done once you arrive.  If you have a resident visa of some sort, this makes things a bit easier to find a bank that will accept you.
 
Ask your friends or neighbors which banks they use.  Not all are friendly to foreigners, while others seem to be courting our business.
 
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
To open a bank account in Panama you will need to get a lawyer or a person fluent in Spanish to do this. There will be needed an address in Panama. Two bank references in Spanish from your bank/s and copy of your cedula (residency card.) They will take numerous copies of you paperwork and it will take some time to get it all approved. It will also depend on the bank that you choose and your lawyer if using one.

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