Panama as an Offshore Jurisdiction
Panama’s Offshore Benefits and Business Advantages
Panama is a 100% Full-Fledged Tax Haven
Non-resident Panamanian International Business Corporations (IBC's) and Private Interest Foundations do not pay tax on any of their income (as indicated below), nor do they have any reporting requirements to the Panamanian government.
- No tax reporting requirements.
- No income tax.
- No capital gains tax.
- No interest income tax No sales tax.
- No tax on issuance of corporate shares.
- No tax to shareholders.
- No stock sale or transfer tax.
- No capital stock tax.
- No property tax.
- No estate tax.
- No gift tax.
- No stamp tax.
- No succession tax.
- No inventory tax
Favorable Incorporation Laws
Panama offers the most favorable and most flexible incorporation laws available in the world. Private Interest Foundations are also available, and are one of the most widely used estate planning structures in the world today.
- Panama is the registered domicile for over 400,000 corporations & foundations, making it one of the most popular jurisdictions to incorporate in the world.
- Panama does not impose any reporting requirements for non-resident Panamanian corporations.
- Panama does not allow "piercing the corporate veil".
- Panama corporations share certificates can be issued in Nominative or Bearer form (anonymous form of ownership), with or without par value.
- Panama corporations do not require Paid-In Capital, nor is there a time limit in which authorized capital must be fully paid.
- Panama corporations directors, officers and shareholders may be of any nationality and resident of any country.
- Neither the directors nor the officers of Panama corporations need to be shareholders. Meetings of directors, officers, and shareholders may be held in any country and accounting books may be kept in any country.
- It is not necessary for the interested parties to be present in Panama for the purpose of establishing a corporation. Corporations conducting business outside of Panama do not require a commercial license for offshore business activities.
Stable Currency With No Currency Restriction Regulations
Panama's circulating currency is the US Dollar, and Panama has no currency exchange controls or currency restrictions so funds can flow in and out of the country freely.
- Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its legal tender (currency), instilling tremendous fiscal and monetary discipline while keeping inflation very low - under two percent for the last 40 years.
- A dollar economy insulates Panama from global economic shocks. During the Asian monetary crisis of 1998, Panama became one of the healthiest economies in Latin America.
- No currency exchange controls. Panama has no restrictions on monetary remittances abroad, including dividends, interests, branch profits and royalties. No restrictions on funds flowing in or out of the country.
Strict Privacy Laws
Panama continues to maintain what we consider to be the most solid banking and corporate book secrecy laws in the world, which are engraved in its' constitution. With Britain's proposed regulation for removal of bank and corporate book secrecy in the UK offshore territories, plus considerable dilution of privacy laws in jurisdictions such as Bahamas, Antigua, St. Vincent etc. it is clear that Panama remains the most secure offshore financial center - where privacy and confidentiality is not only respected, but vigorously protected by constitutional law.
- Panama offers the best bank secrecy laws in the world.
- Panama offers the best corporate book secrecy laws in the world.
- There is no such thing as "piercing the corporate veil" in Panama.
- Revealing banking information to third parties is a crime, punishable by prison.
- Panama has no mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT's) for sharing of banking information with any other nation and does not recognize court rulings from other countries. (Under the new laws, they make exceptions in cases of drug money laundering or drug smuggling plus terrorist and arms smuggling related cases)
- Panama Corporations offer "Bearer Shares", allowing shareholders to maintain 100% anonymity and privacy.
- Panama Private Interest Foundations allow for Private Protectorate Documents and Private Letters of Wishes, enabling controllers (Protectors) and beneficiaries of Private Interest Foundations to remain 100% anonymous and private.
Panama has what is considered by government analysts to be the most stable government in all of Central or South America.
- Democratic government since 1990. The Government of Panama is headed by the executive branch, which is composed of a president and two vice presidents, democratically elected for a five-year term by direct vote.
- Mireya Moscoso, 52, assumed power on Sept. 1, 1999 after winning the presidential elections held on May 2. Moscoso is the country's first woman president and the leader of a country at a moment of great historical importance as the Panama Canal begins a new era under Panamanian administration. Martin Torrijos, the son of the late dictator of the 1970’s who negotiated with the U.S. Carter administration to cede its sovereignty over the Canal, was elected in 2004 and has successfully obtained a “Yes” vote on the referendum to expand the canal, a project of such scope that will have a huge economic impact on the country.
- The Panamanian military was abolished by constitutional amendment in 1994, and the government still has a unique security arrangement with the U.S. due to the Neutrality Treaty of the Panama Canal. As a result, the risks of going back to the earlier military regime are virtually non-existent (Source: Euromoney Report/Lehman Brothers, Feb. 26, 1999).
- Stable government with excellent government infrastructure.
- Pro-business government attitude and policy.
- Roman law system.
- Moody's has issued Panama a sovereign debt ceiling of Ba1 and Standard & Poors has assigned a default-risk rating of BB+.
- Panama is a peaceful country with no military. Unlike many neighboring countries, personal security concerns are limited. Panama has the lowest crime rate in all of Central and South America.
Panama's economy is one of the most stable, prosperous, and most advanced in all of Central and South America.
- Panama is home to the second largest international distribution and trade center (free trade zone) in the world next to Hong Kong. Panama's Colon Free Zone has over 1500 international import/export businesses operating within it, receives more than 250,000 visitors yearly, and generates exports and re-exports valued at more than US$11 billion annually.
- Panama is a genuine international trade and banking center that is well known and respected throughout the world.
- The banking and commercial trade industry is alive in Panama with the US Dollar as it's circulating currency. There are over 150 international banks in Panama.
- Virtually zero inflation - Panama's inflation rate in 1998, 1999, and 2000 was under 1.5%.
- Panama's GDP is over US$7 Billion. In recent years, the service sector has accounted for over 80% of the country's GNP. The Panama Canal is also a large contributor to Panama's overall economic success.
- Panama is at the top of the list of the world's freest economies, according to Canada's Fraser Institute (Economic Freedom of the World: 1998/9 Interim Report, Nov. 1998). Ranked eighth with Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Panama represents an environment conducive for the creation of companies, jobs and prosperity.
- Panama is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is a beneficiary of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). Panama is negotiating the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and will become the headquarters for the administrative offices between the years 2001 and 2003. Panama has initiated formal negotiations pertaining to free trade agreements with numerous countries and regional groups.
- Panama has been ranked first in Central/South America for low cost of living, operational cost and index of labor by the Tripartite Committee, which consists of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
- Political Risk Services (PRS) placed Panama in the top three countries of the hemisphere with the best risk-investment qualifications. The Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation's annual Index of Economic Freedom found Panama second in the region.
- Panama's open economy offers the lowest tariffs in the region, which has helped increase foreign investment in both the public and private sectors. There are more than 40 laws and decrees that offer investors special import, tax, and operational incentives. Sectors enjoying these incentives include tourism, export processing zones, mining, reforestation, insurance and re-insurance, agro-industry, petroleum free zones, infrastructure and construction.
- The Investments Stability Law (Law No. 54 of July 22, 1998) guarantees all foreign and national investors equal rights, continuing Panama's long-standing policy of providing a foreign-investment environment that requires no special authorizations, permits or prior registration.
- Major companies in Panama include Federal Express, DHL, Sears, Price Costco, Bell South, Kansas City Southern Railways, Continental and American Airlines, ICA (construction), Cable & Wireless, Evergreen and Hutchinson Whampoa, and many others. Donald Trump is adding its contribution to the rapidly expanding Panama City skyline with its Trump Center which is the largest Latin American real estate mega-project ever and only the second project outside of the U.S. for the Trump Organization.
Excellent Banking System
Panama City is home to the second largest international banking center in the world next to Switzerland. Panama has the most modern and successful international banking center in Latin America, with more than 150 banks from 35 different countries.
- Approximately 150 international banks are located in Panama. Total assets in Panamanian banks are over US$150 billion.
- Panama offers a modern and technologically advanced banking system.
- Panama is one of the most stable banking jurisdictions in the world. Panamanian laws require over US$15 million in proven capitalization just to apply for a full banking license ($3 million for an international license, all of which must be put on deposit with Banco Nacional de Panama – the government owned bank). Other tax haven countries today issue banking licenses with as little as US$500,000 in capitalization.
- There has not been a bank failure in Panama in over 7 years. Only a few banks have failed in Panamanian banking history. Switzerland had 5 bank failures just in 1999 - 2000, not to mention other tax haven's bank failure rates.
- The Panamanian government has enacted strict bank auditing guidelines, to monitor banking practices, credit guidelines, and overall bank administration. Each bank must submit monthly auditing reports to Panama's Banking Superintendence, which is under direct supervision by the Banco Nacional de Panama (BNP).
- The Panamanian banking system is set up to ensure depositors the security of their deposits, similar to the US banking system. The National Banking Commission (NBC) and the Banco Nacional de Panama (BNP) execute the functions of a central clearing bank. The NBC oversees the banking system, sets the reserve requirements and regulates interest rates. The BNP functions as the Panamanian governments principal depository, manages the country's international reserves and is the clearing-house for the banking system.
- Panama's new comprehensive banking law (Decree No. 9) meets the standards of leading financial centers around the world for transparency and regulation, and conforms to the statutes of the Basle Commission.
- Some of the banks present in Panama's banking center are: Citibank, HSBC, Dresdner Bank, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of Boston, Banco Nacional de Paris, International Commercial Bank of China, Societe Generale, Banque Sudameris, BBVA, Banco Uno, Banco General, PriBanco, Banco del Istmo, Global Bank, MultiCredit Bank, PanaBank, ABN Amro, Banco Aliado, Banco Continental, BancoLat, BIPAN, Lloyds TLB Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia BIPAN, Bank of Nova Scotia, and much more.
- The Panama Stock Exchange is the fastest growing in the region with an average total trading volume of US$900 million.
- Some of the brokerage firms present in Panama are (some through affiliates): Merrill Lynch, Pershing / DLJ, Paine Webber, Solomon Smith Barney, Bear Stearns, etc.
Excellent Communications System
- Panama's communications systems and infrastructure are the equivalent of any first world country such as the USA, Canada, or the United Kingdom. Telephone, fax, internet, and cellular communications are all offered in Panama by the worlds largest communications companies.
- Panama has the highest level of communications infrastructure for telephone, fax, internet, and cellular communications in all of Central & South America, including the Caribbean.
- Panama's privatization efforts in the telecommunications sector were initiated in 1995, with the restructuring of the state-owned monopoly operator, INTEL, the subsequent concession to Bell South in 1995 to operate one of the two (2) cellular mobile telephone licenses and the sale of 49% of the shares of INTEL to Cable & Wireless (a UK company) in 1997.
- Cable & Wireless enjoys complete management responsibility, exclusivity in certain telephone services (including international long distance services) for a period of five years which expired in 2003 and has a license to operate in the mobile cellular communications sector. Bell South has the second largest share in the mobile cellular communications sector and now has sold out to Spanish giant Telefonica.
- Panama has the best access to multiple high-bandwidth continental fiber optic networks in telecommunications infrastructure. The extremely low risk of natural disasters (hurricanes etc.), gives the Panama telecom sector security and reliability of service as well as a competitive advantage over other offshore jurisdictions.
- Panama is extremely easy to access from almost anywhere, due to its central location in the middle of the Americas. Its proximity to large cities in the US and Europe makes it relatively cost effective to bring in specialist know-how for installation and maintenance.
- Panama's long history as an international banking and services jurisdiction, has resulted in the availability of technical know-how in internet technology and information technology as well as sufficient human resources to install and maintain ecommerce operations. The MAYA-1 and ARCOS-1 ring systems link the continental Americas and the Caribbean Basin, which was completed in December of 2000.
- All the preceding advantages, incentives and infrastructure place Panama as an ideal location for: Internet Service Providers, E-Commerce Providers, Applications Outsourcing ASP, Broadband Content Providers, New Media Content Providers, and Exchange Traffic.
Panama’s official language is Spanish, however, English is the second most widely spoken language. Eight out of ten Panamanians living within the banking sector of Panama City are bilingual in English and Spanish.
- English is a widely spoken language in Panama.
- 9 out of 10 educated Panamanians have traveled to the USA.
- Panama has a very high literacy rate in comparison with other Central and South American countries.
Time Zone Compatibility & Close Location
The Republic of Panama is located at the narrowest point of the Central American Isthmus, which connects the continents of North and South America. It is just 2.5 hours by air from Miami, FL, USA and located in the same time zone as the U.S. East Coast (five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time).
- Panama is located between Costa Rica & Colombia.
- Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (same as New York, USA).
- Panama is just 2.5 hours away by air from Miami, Florida, USA.
Panama is the ideal jurisdiction for international investors and businessmen to operate their offshore corporations, banking, investing, finances, and all other areas of international trade as well as a great place to live and work and invest in real estate!
After careful research, you will find Panama to be the ideal jurisdiction for your offshore needs. The Panama corporation law was promulgated over 70 years ago and has since been copied by many of the other tax haven nations such as Bahamas, St. Vincent, Bermuda, Belize, Isle of Man, etc.. Panama is one of the most popular places in the world to incorporate, with currently over 350,000 registered entities.
Panama Offshore Solutions from Sovereign
Visit these pages for more information on Panama-based offshore company formations available from Sovereign: