Establishing a company in Panama

Panama is located in Central America, northwest of Colombia and southeast of Costa Rica. Its eastern shores border on the Caribbean Sea, and its west coast on the Pacific Ocean. Its total area is 75,420 km2 and it constitutes the narrowest part of the isthmus connecting between Central and South Americas. Panama gained its independence in 1903 when separating from Colombia with the assistance of the U.S. The Americans were fiercely interested in taking control of the Panama Canal being built at the time.  Its population is 3.5 million. The official language is Spanish, and companies undergoing the registration process can receive relevant documentation in English as well.

Panama’s government is a presidential democracy. The president and two deputies are democratically elected for five year terms. The legislative body is a national assembly that includes 70 representatives of the various provinces with the number of representatives for each relative to the number of province residents. The political situation is stable.

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Five things you did not know about Panama:

  • Excavation for the 77 km Panama Canal began in 1880 by France, but was forced to stop due to disease and other hardships. It was finally opened in 1914 after having taken a death toll of 27,500 who died in its construction.
  • Panama has over 900 varieties of birds and an endless supply of spectacular scuba sites.
  • Unlike most areas of the state, the capital of Panama City is a Western and developed city of modern skyscrapers and the liveliest and most interesting night life in Central America.
  • The economy is based primarily on the famous Panama Canal which brings in 80% of state revenues.  In 2007 the decision was made to extend and deepen the canal, and improve the towing apparatus which is so lucrative to the state. The area around is the second largest free trade area in the world, a fact that provides many advantages to companies working there.
  • Additional significant economic sectors include construction, cement, agriculture and financial services. The latter is based on a developed banking system, and various tax breaks that registration there a popular and easy decision.

Panama's Economy

Companies registering in Panama are subject to certain restrictions: they may not deal in banking, trusts, insurance, finance and several other fields.

Additional information about establishing offshore companies in Panama:

General
Type of company
Panama foreign Corporation (Non Resident)
Relevant Companies Law
Corporation Law No. 32, 1927 Commercial Code (Decree-Law No. 5 of 1997, Article 5)
Offices
Law requires companies to provide a local office address
Language of original incorporation documents
Spanish (certified English translations can be provided)
Finance and Taxation
Currency
Balboa (PAB) and USD
Corporate tax rate
0%
Standard share capital
10,000 USD divided into 100 or 500 voting shares of 100 USD or 20 USD respectively
Office Holders
Secretary
Obligation to appoint company secretary
Required
Obligation to appoint local secretary
Not required
Type of entity that may function as company secretary
Individual and/or company
Director
Obligation to appoint company director
Required
Obligation to appoint local company director
Not required
Minimum number of directors
3
Type of entity that may serve as company director
Individual and/or company
Shareholders
Obligation to register shareholders
Required
Obligation to register local shareholders
None
Minimum number of shareholders
1
Type of entity that may register as shareholder
Individual and/or company
Type of shares
Registered shares or bearer shares
Accessibility of Information
Company registrar
Information regarding office holders is not accessible to the public
Annual Assembly and Reporting
Obligation to hold annual assembly
Not required
Obligation to prepare financial reports
Not required
Obligation to submit financial reports
Not required