The Costs of banking in Panama vary depending on the applicant’s personal ties to Panama, local economic substance, Panama banking requirements, how they plan to open a Panama bank account, and their account activity.
We’ll dig into each of these Panama-specific variables below and share how they can impact the cost of banking in this popular, yet controversial, Central American banking hub.
This article is based on our team’s experience banking in Panama for more than a decade, including helping our premium members from around the world successfully open Panama bank accounts both in person and 100% remotely.
If you would like access to our free Panama banking series, click the link above and unlock our team’s expert take on Panama banks, Panama opening requirements, sending money to Panama, and much more.
You can also use the table of contents and jump to the section that matches your Panama banking needs and continue learning about the costs of banking in Panama.
Table of Contents
- Costs of Banking in Panama?
- How Much Does It Cost to Open a Bank Account in Panama?
- Costs of Operating a Bank Account in Panama?
- Frequently Asked Panama Banking Questions
- Do You Want Help Opening Panama Bank Accounts?
Costs of Banking in Panama?
The costs of banking in Panama range between USD 180.00 to USD 600.00 per calendar year, depending on the bank you choose to open with. However, in most cases, these costs can be offset through various services and bank products, resulting in no cost to banking in Panama at all.
That said, different client profiles will incur different expenses. So, in this section, we will start with a general look at the relevant expenses when opening Panama offshore accounts. This will then be followed by Panama personal bank accounts, Panama business bank accounts, as well as Panama private bank accounts.
- Panama is a moderately expensive banking Jurisdiction
- Account opening fees are rare for most applicants
- Certain banks do charge a FATCA fee to Americans
- Monthly account fees can be high for non-residents & entities
- Transaction fees are high but standard for offshore banking
- Deposit requirements are low compared to other countries
To begin, let’s explore how much it costs to open a bank account in Panama, broken down by account type.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Bank Account in Panama?
When it comes to opening and operating a bank account in Panama, there are seven (7) main expense categories that Panama banks typically charge individuals and entities.
These costs will vary depending on which bank you have accounts with in Panama and your client profile. But, generally speaking, Panama banks have been known to charge compliance and due diligence fees, maintenance fees, transfer fees (domestic and international), check fees, debit card fees, safety deposit box fees, and fees for special requests.
Costs to Open and Operate a Panama Bank Account
- Compliance and due diligence fees
- Maintenance fees
- Transfer fees (domestic and international)
- Check fees
- Debit card fees
- Safety deposit box fees
- Fees for special requests
Importantly, Panama banks vary widely in the way they charge fees to foreign and non-resident individuals and entities.
Likewise, while foreigners with Panamanian residency can access a wide range of Panama banks, non-residents with no ties to Panama will have limited (and more expensive) options.
So, needless to say, it’s best to review all of your Panama banking options before deciding which Panamanian bank is best for you.
That said, there are additional fees that you may be charged when opening a Panama bank account. With this in mind, let’s look at the extra charges and explore how much it really costs to open offshore bank accounts in Panama.
How Much Does it Cost to Open Offshore Bank Accounts in Panama?
Offshore bank accounts in Panama can include personal bank accounts, business bank accounts, or private bank accounts. We will cover each of these accounts and their Panama-specific cost considerations below.
But first, we want to discuss the costs that everyone should expect when opening a bank account in Panama. These costs include Panama account opening requirements that most Panamanian banks will require you to provide.
Not surprisingly, each Panama bank and the way they apply fees is different. So, if you are planning to open offshore accounts in Panama, you should confirm with each bank directly before applying.
Panama Account Opening & Document Costs
- Bank reference letters (Certain banks charge fees)
- Document apostille (Required in certain instances)
- Certificate of good standing (Certain entities older than one year)
- Sending documents to the bank by courier (Sometimes required)
Of course, if you are planning on visiting Panama City (the capital city of Panama) to open your Panama bank account in person, you will have many more (and much higher) expenses to consider as well.
If you are looking to open an offshore bank account in Panama, you can use this link to access our free guide.
On the other hand, if you are looking to open a personal bank account in Panama, here are the Panama-specific costs to be aware of.
How Much Does it Cost to Open Personal Bank Accounts in Panama?
Whether you are a Panama permanent resident or a non-resident of Panama, you can open a Panama bank account without paying application or opening fees. Of course, you still need to pass each bank’s onboarding and compliance process.
That said, individuals that Panama banks deem high-risk may need to pay additional due diligence and compliance costs and consider the risks of banking in Panama before applying. Though, this is common in many offshore banking jurisdictions.
Additionally, depending on the Panama bank you choose, US citizens may be required to pay a FATCA fee. This is common in a few other jurisdictions as well, such as Belize.
If you are looking to open a personal bank account in Panama, you can use this link to access our free guide.
Alternatively, if you are looking to open a business bank account in Panama, here are the Panama-specific costs to be aware of.
How Much Does it Cost to Open Business Bank Accounts in Panama?
Opening a business bank account in Panama can be challenging, this is true whether you are opening for a Panama-registered entity, a foreign entity, or an offshore entity.
Additionally, while it is relatively easy to open accounts for domestic businesses in most jurisdictions, local Panama businesses struggle to open accounts even in Panama when they are owned by foreigners.
As a result, there can often be additional costs involved in applying for a Panama business bank account. This is primarily caused by the need to provide multiple documents, accountant and lawyer letters, and the possible requirement of showing up in person.
With this in mind, we suggest reviewing our free guide on how to open a business bank account in Panama before deciding where to apply.
Alternatively, you could also explore other business banking hubs around the region with the direct support of our team through GlobalBanks IQ.
On the other hand, if you are looking to open a private bank account in Panama, here are the Panama-specific costs to be aware of.
How Much Does it Cost to Open Private Bank Accounts in Panama?
Unlike personal and business banking, private banking has a long list of costs that prospective customers need to consider. This is true whether you are looking to open private bank accounts in Panama, Switzerland, or any other banking jurisdiction.
Panama Private Banking Costs to Consider
- Outbound transaction fees
- Trading fees
- Discretionary management fees
- Active advisory fees
- Fees for investment-related activities
- And much more
In most cases, the costs to open private bank accounts in Panama are high considering the limited services provided. This is especially true when comparing Panama to more sophisticated banking jurisdictions. Likewise, every jurisdiction has something different to offer when it comes to private banking. So, if you are looking for specific banking benefits in Panama, you should compare similar jurisdictions as well before applying.
Costs of Operating a Bank Account in Panama?
To recap, the costs of operating a bank account in Panama will differ depending on the type of account, the client, the banking services required, and more. With this in mind, here is a look at the typical costs that you can expect when operating a bank account in Panama.
How Much Are Panama Bank Fees Usually?
The following are examples of standard bank fees charged by Panama banks. Before applying for a bank account in Panama, always request an up-to-date fee list from each Panama bank you are considering.
- Account maintenance in Panama: Up to $50.00
- Inbound SWIFT fees in Panama: $25.00
- Outbound SWIFT fees in Panama: $25.00 to $100.00 (plus a percentage fee)
- Inbound Panama transfers: $0.00
- Outbound Panama transfers: $5.00
It’s important to note that Panama banks will charge additional fees as well, including fees for falling below the minimum account balance and fees for using your Panama ATM card. With this in mind, before opening accounts, you should confirm whether balance requirements are applied to each account (in case of multicurrency) or if they only apply to your primary Panamanian currency account.
How Much Does It Cost to Use an ATM in Panama?
The following are examples of the costs of using an ATM in Panama and abroad with Panama banks. That said, each Panama bank will set their own fees. So, before using a Panamanian ATM card abroad, be sure to confirm all relevant fees with the bank.
- Domestic ATM fees in Panama: $1.00
- International ATM fees outside of Panama: $5.00 (plus a percentage fee)
How Much Does it Cost to Transfer Money to Panama?
The following are examples of how much it would cost to send money to Panama from the United States using bank transfers via SWIFT, money transfers via providers like Western Union, and digital transfer services like Wise.
- International bank transfers: $25 to $100
- International money transfer: 5% to 7% of the value
- Digital transfer service: 3% to 5%
How Much Does a Mortgage or Loan Cost in Panama?
Mortgages and loans in Panama are not affordable for most foreigners. This includes both residents and non-residents with foreign-sourced income.
In most cases, Panamanian banks ask foreigners to make a 40% down payment. Additionally, these Panama lenders typically charge between 7% and 9%. Of course, local residents have significantly more attractive local financing terms available, per the standards set by the regulator. ← Link to local gov
Additionally, while there are service providers available to help with securing a mortgage, they typically charge clients between USD 10,000 and 15,000 directly, on top of any payments owed to the bank.
Not surprisingly, these financing terms make Panama one of the most expensive places for foreigners to purchase investment properties and second homes unless they are paying cash.
What Are the Other Costs of Banking in Panama?
If you plan on visiting Panama City in order to facilitate the opening of a Panama bank account, you will need to pay for flights, hotels, transportation, and daily expenses. That said, once you arrive in Panama the costs are relatively affordable.
However, it’s important to note that showing up in Panama does not guarantee account opening success. This is especially true since there are only a handful of Panama banks that accept foreign non-residents.
Additionally, certain individuals need to consider the additional costs of disclosing and making tax-related filings about their Panama bank account to their home country. For example, US citizens are required to complete an FBAR (FinCen 114) and Form 8938 when their Panama bank accounts (and other foreign accounts) surpass certain thresholds. ← Link to IRS
Frequently Asked Panama Banking Questions
Below are a few questions we receive from people exploring the costs of banking in Panama. If you have further questions you would like answered about Panama banking don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.
Can a US Citizen Open a Bank Account in Panama?
Yes, a US citizen can open a bank account in Panama. This is true whether the individual applying is a Panama resident, a resident of another country, or a resident of the United States. In most cases, US citizens can even open a Panama bank account 100% remotely.
Can I Transfer Money From a US Bank to a Panama Bank?
Yes, you can transfer money from a US bank to a Panama bank. To do so, you can either schedule an international wire transfer through the SWIFT network, or you can send a digital transfer using a platform like Wise. That said, not all Panama banks accept transfers from Wise. So, it’s important to confirm with your bank whether this is an option before proceeding.
What Is the Best Bank in Panama for Expats?
Banco General is often referred to as the best bank in Panama for expats. However, only foreign expats with Panama residency and clear ties to the country will be able to open accounts here. With this in mind, one of the other banks in our list of banks in Panama is often a better choice. Though, the specific bank of your choosing will depend on your client profile, desired deposit, and required services.
Are There Any American Banks in Panama?
Yes, there are American banks in Panama, including Citibank and JP Morgan Chase. However, both Citibank and JP Morgan Chase are large commercial banks that do not open personal bank accounts. In fact, JP Morgan Chase does not have a local banking license and instead operates a representative office. On the other hand, Citibank does have a general banking license but the bank focuses on trade finance and correspondent bank relationships for Panamanian commercial banks.
Do You Want Help Opening Panama Bank Accounts?
If so, you can get access to GlobalBanks IQ in just a few clicks.
GlobalBanks IQ is our flagship international account opening solution. It gives you instant access to the…
+ Expert insights on which banks to choose & why
+ Step-by-step reports to open accounts in the best banking hubs
+ GlobalBanks international bank database & detailed bank profiles
+ Tried & tested banks for high-risk, offshore, & non-resident clients
+ Plus, get YOUR most pressing bank account opening questions answered by our team!
And “yes!” GlobalBanks IQ helps foreigners and non-resident individuals open bank accounts in Panama.
Use this link if you would like to see what you receive with GlobalBanks IQ or contact us directly with any questions!