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How to Open a Bank Account in Panama:
A Guide for Expats

If you're considering moving to Panama, one of the first steps you'll want to take is opening a bank account. Panama offers a wide array of banks and financial services, but it's crucial to understand the ins and outs of this process. Here we'll provide you with essential information on how to open a bank account in Panama.

Banks in Panama City

Banking Options in Panama

Panama boasts a diverse range of banks that offer various services, including savings and checking accounts, time deposits, ATMs, debit and credit cards, and online banking. Currently, there are 78 banks operating in Panama, with 29 holding international licenses. Some of the prominent banks in Panama include: Atlas Bank, BAC International, Banco General, Banesco, Banistmo Bank, Capital Bank, Credicorp Bank, Global Bank, Multibank, MMG Bank, Tower Bank, among others. 


Each of these banks specializes in different financial products and services. For example BAC International specializes in credit cards, whereas Metro Bank focuses on crypto currencies. The choice of the right bank depends on your individual financial needs. For instance, Banco General is an excellent choice for daily transactions and bill payments, while other banks might be more suitable for fixed-term deposits, international wire transfers or business accounts. 

Banco General

Banco General stands as one of the most popular banks in Panama. If you already have your Cedula E, you can conveniently open an account online. It is an excellent choice for handling day-to-day expenses in Panama. Furthermore, Banco General offers a payment service called Yappy, facilitating easy mobile-to-mobile money transfers for its account holders.


Banesco also allows foreigners with a Cedula to open an account online. This bank offers a wide range of banking services, including savings and checking accounts, debit and credit cards, as well as online banking options. Banesco provides comprehensive financial solutions to meet your needs in Panama.


Credicorp Bank is another established institution in Panama, well-known for its financial stability and range of financial services. Whether you require personal or business banking solutions, Credicorp Bank has you covered with a variety of offerings to suit your requirements.


Banistmo, a subsidiary of the Colombian Grupo Bancolombia, offers a multitude of banking services in Panama. This bank facilitates PayPal transfers and even accepts international transfers from Fintech banks, a feature not always available at Banco General. Banistmo provides a convenient and accessible platform for your banking needs.

All of these banks collectively offer a wide spectrum of financial services, making it easier for expatriates and residents in Panama to manage their finances efficiently. Whether you prioritize online convenience, international transactions, or robust customer service, Panama's banking landscape has something to offer for everyone.

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Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Panama?

For expatriates, opening a bank account in Panama is entirely possible but comes with specific requirements. Many banks will accept foreign clients only if they already possess a residence permit in Panama. In contrast, some banks allow you to open an account as part of your application for a residence permit, like the Friendly Nations Visa, usually requiring certification by your immigration lawyer. 

How to Open a Bank Account in Panama

To ensure a smooth account opening process in Panama, you should have the following documents readily available:

  • Bank Reference Letters: You'll need at least one, preferably two, bank reference letters from two different financial institutions in your home country or your country of permanent residence. These letters should include information about the duration of your banking relationship and contact details of the bank representative who issued the letter.

  • Proof of Income: Panama has stringent banking regulations in place, requiring banks to verify the source of funds. You'll need to demonstrate the legitimacy of your income. This can typically be done through your last two income tax returns or income tax statements.

  • Passport and Secondary Identification Document: Prepare a copy of your passport and a secondary identification document such as a driver's license or ID card.

  • Residence Permit: Most banks in Panama will only accept foreign clients who possess a valid residence permit in the country. Nevertheless, it is possible to open an account as part of the Friendly Nations Visa application process. 

In Conclusion

Opening a bank account in Panama can be a straightforward process if you've gathered the necessary documents and information in advance. As an expat with a Cedula E, some banks now allow you to even open an account online.


However, if you haven't obtained a visa for Panama yet and need a bank account as part of your residence permit (like your Friendly Nations Visa application), it's advisable to seek professional guidance. The process of opening a bank account as an expatriate requires careful preparation and pre-approval from the bank.


Thanks to our long experience and contacts, we are able to open bank accounts as part of the Friendly Nations Visa application process within one day or online.

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