The Panama Banking Center


About the Panama Banking Center

Background:  The International Banking Center of Panama was formally created in 1970 through Decree 238, which changed the oldest Banking Regime and created the “National Banking Commission” as the supervising entity. Decree No. 238 was in force until 1998 when it was replaced by Decree Law 9, which replaced the National Banking Commission with the “Panama Superintendence of Banks”, which is now our days the main authority of the banking system locally.

Banking Center Asset:  The assets of the International Banking Center increased to more than $ 120,000 million, according to the financial statements of the Superintendence of Banks of Panama in 2018:

Regulation:  Panama is a fully regulated financial center, where its banking procedures are much more exhaustive than other financial centers in the world.

Due Diligence:  Panama has a model baking regulation that is continually updated and has concentrated valuable efforts to prevent the improper use of banking services. The strengthening of regulation, supervision, transparency and commitment of the local authorities have positioned Panama as a model for the region.

Central Bank:   Panama does not have a central bank, nor does it have a monetary authority, since its paper currency is the US dollar as legal tender. The bank assets custody and verification functions that are regularly performed by a central bank, are managed between the Superintendence of Banks of Panama and the National Bank of Panama.

Banks:  There is a great offer of banks to evaluate, which depends on the personal choice or the business need in each case. The Panamanian banking system has more than 70 banks with a general, international or representative license.

Restrictions:  It is important to understand that in some Panamanian banks the opening of accounts to “tourists” may not be possible; however, some financial entities allow foreigners to have an account if they already have one in the international branch of the same bank, or if they have initiated a process of formal migratory residence in the country.

Banking license:  Within the Panamanian Banking System there are 3 types of licenses to practice banking:

  • General license banks: There are banks with a general license, which are allowed to perform both, local and foreign banking operations. 
  • International license banks: It is a license granted to those banks to carry out foreign operations, prohibiting open accounts locally, but can participate in the local interbank market.
  • Banks with Representation license: Basically, they are offices of foreign banks from which they carry out the promotion of their banking services with their potential clients, both in Panama, and in the region.

Time frame:  Having complied with all the required documentation according to the banking due diligence regulations, the opening of accounts can take approximately 1 to 2 weeks, after this period everything usually flows with the same normality.


If you want assistance and guidance in the correct way to open your account in Panama, Contact us. or call us: +507-391-8878


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