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Jeff Barton of Punta Pacifica Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 Panama Balboa – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanama uses the US dollar. The official currency of the Republic of Panama is the Panamanian Balboa coin, which is at par with the US dollar.  99.9% of the transactions in Panama are done in US currency.
 
It is possible for Panama to de-couple from the US dollar, which is the reason that the official currency in Panama is technically the Balboa. For this to happen, the circumstances would have to be extraordinary.
 
(Panamanian Balboa, pictured.)
 
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Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Pfizer logo – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPanamá, as a very well known international business center, offers all kinds of interesting business opportunities. Therefore,  many major corporations, and some banks, large law offices, among others, offers banking transactions in 
U.S. dollars, as well as (European) Euros.
 
Even though the official currency of Panamá is called the "Balboa," the normal currency around the country is the U.S. dollar, which has the same value.  You can get Panamanian coins as change, or for souvenirs.   If you want to transfer money, or purchase and international money order, no "Balboas" are mentioned, just US dollars. 
 
The economy in Panamá has been very stable since Panamá is a republic, and the  economic growth continues at a very high speed every year, offering multiple opportunities to those who want to invest, or open businesses here.  As a matter of fact, a large industrial area, called "Panamá Pacífico" hosts over 140 multinationals that have decided to transfer their headquarters offices to Panamá because of the  enormous benefits and stability in the country.
 
(The logo for the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc. which has a branch in Panama, pictured.)
 
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Obverse of a 1915-S Panama-Pacific gold dollar – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe official currency in Panama is the Balboa, but they all use the US dollar. The only Balboas you get here are in small change, which are coins. Otherwise, they use US dollars here all the time.
 
Never come to Panama with traveler’s checks. There’s also no way to exchange foreign currency. If someone comes with Euros, forget it. They just do not exchange currency here. There’s no Foreign Exchange. The banks won’t even exchange foreign currency, so bring US dollars.
 
Your ATM card and credit cards will work fine as long as you have them registered for use out of the country. A lot of people make this mistake of paying with their VISA card, but haven’t told VISA that they intended to use the card outside their country of origin.  VISA may then think that the card was stolen or is being used improperly.
 
If you have Euro card, you can just convert your money it in a machine. You can use a Euro card or a Pound card and the machine will give you the equivalent of dollars as per the exchange rate.
 
((An obverse of a 1915 Panama-Pacific gold dollar, pictured.)
Gloria Valderrama  of Infante & Perez Almillano – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The official currency in Panama is called Balboa.  However, the US Dollar is legal tender in Panama, so if you have US Dollars you can use them freely in Panama for any transaction. The US Dollar and Panamanian Balboa have the same value. The exchange rate is 1:1.
 
The Balboa is minted as coins with denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 100 cents (B/. 1.00). The US coins and Balboa coins are mixed between banks, shops and individuals.
Ian Usher of House Sitting Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The official unit of currency in Panama is the Balboa. The value of the Balboa is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1:1, so 1 Balboa = 1 USD.
 
currency money Panama Bocas del Toro retire expat Caribbean – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn fact the two currencies are so closely linked that Panama doesn't produce any of it's own bank notes, and paper US Dollars are used here as currency. A 1 Balboa coin was introduced in 2011 by the current government, and is very commonly referred to as a "Martinelli", after the current president, Ricardo Martinelli. The 1 Balboa coin is actually minted by the Royal Canadian Mint, chosen because they already have experience of minting bi-metallic coins. (The Canadian "toonie" $2 coin is very similar to the Balboa coin)
 
The Balboa is broken down into 100 sub-units, just as the US Dollar is. Here the cents are called centesimos, or often colloquially as centavos. US coins are accepted everywhere, although Panama does have it's own set of coins too. These aren't accepted back in the US, so sort your pocket change when heading north!
 
currency money coin Balboa Panama Martinelli Bocas del Toro expat gringo retire – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs well as the "Martinelli" there is a 50c coin, and the rest of the set that will be familiar to North Americans - 25c, 10c, 5c, 1c. These are all the same size and weights as the US versions.
 
The gentleman depicted on the coins is Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
 
From Wikipedia - "Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1475 – around January 12–21, 1519) was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World."
 
Balboa Panama Bocas del Toro money currency expat gringo retire caribbean – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living
One of my friends once made me laugh when I showed him one of the Panamanian coins. "I bet he was sat on a horse when he had that photo taken!"
 
Señor Balboa has had his name attributed to many things in Panama. There can't be a town in Panama without at least one road or street carrying his name. He has quite a few statues erected in his honour too. He even has a port town and a district named after him. Further afield he has appeared in the lyrics of a Randy Newman song ("The Great Nations of Europe") and even has a lunar crater named after him - now that really is having your name live on long after you have died.
 
beer Balboa Panama expat retire Bocas del Toro – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingTo add further potential confusion to Panamanian conversation and transactions, one of the national beers is also named after the ubiquitous Señor Balboa:-
 
"Bring ten Balboa to the meeting on Friday night!"
 
Cheers!
Roy Cannon of Gestoria Cocle - main office in Penoneme – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The official currency of Panama is called the Balboa, but there are no paper Balboas in circulation; just US greenbacks, often soiled and falling apart.  Instead, the US dollar is what you use in Panama (with the official exchange rate of one Balboa equal to one US dollar). Most people prefer to use bills of $20.00 or less since many merchants will require that you fill out a form if you want to pay with a $50 or $100 bill - time consuming at the checkout register.

The Balboa does exist as coins, with the same denominations and size as US coins, with a couple of coins not seen in the US.  The 1 Balboa (called a Martinelli after the current President) is equal to $1.00 and you will also from time to time see a 50 cent piece.  You will also see other Panamanian coins in circulation, similar in size and appearance to the US coins for the 1, 5, 10, 25  and 50 cent denominations.
 
Panamanian Balboa coins cannot be exchanged or used outside of Panama, although they do fit into US vending machines.  US coins are freely accepted in Panama, but check your change when leaving as only US coins are legal tender back in the US.
 
 

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