Broken piggy bank

Getting a Bank Account in Panama

After almost two years, I finally have a bank account in Panama!  Normally I would not be all that excited for something as boring as a bank account and I have never seen the need to really have one in Panama.  But having a bank account is part of the process of obtaining a residency visa in Panama.  I just wanted to share the process that I went through in case anyone else needs help with opening a bank account in Panama because as a foreigner it is not easy.

I set up my account at the Multibank on Via Israel; they have a girl that speaks English in case you don’t know any Spanish. And just a warning, this is not a one day, in-and-out process (I decided the Multi in Multibank stands for multiple day setup process).  Before arriving to the bank you will need to bring the following documents:

1. Passport and a second form of identification.

2. Two bank reference letters.  These need to be from two separate banks in your home country and must be original, no scanned copies.

3. Employment letter or a letter showing that you own a business in Panama.

4. As a foreigner, the first deposit must be at least $1,000 but you do not need this until the final day of the setup process.

Bring all these documents to Multibank and they will start the paperwork and setup process.  After this they will tell you to come in another day after they finish verifying the bank letters. This ended up being one of my biggest hurdles.  They called and told me that they could not verify my letters because my banks would not verify personal information.  I mean of course my banks are not going to give you my personal information just because you say you are a bank in Panama (I would think that is so sketchy if I was the banker in the US that received that call).  I ended up having to go in and call both of my banks over speakerphone to verify that all of my accounts and balances were true.

After this I had to wait a few days for them to approve my account.  So then I had to go in, sign some final papers, and make my first deposit.

I have ended up really liking Multibank because they have online banking, iPhone apps, and there is never a long line when I go in there.  I used to have to cash checks at Citibank and HSBC, which are the worst banks ever!  It would usually take 45 minutes to get in and out of there so I am enjoying my new five minute transaction time.

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  1. Will Shaw

    Good information on how to set up an account down here. Some of the rules differ from bank to bank but, for the most part is all the same…the bank's main concern is money laundering by foreigners and the US banking rules as stated by Frankie. I'm glad i dont have to go thru this process.

  2. Frankie DRgringo

    dude… I can´t believe Multibank didn´t require that you show more than a tourist visa! That´s good to know. I opened an account with HSBC in 2006 thanks to a referral by a Panamanian lawyer to his pal at the bank. Since then the laws have tightened up and most foreign banks require that you show more than a tourist visa. Especially US citizens since the control freak US government now requires every bank on the planet to report every US citizen account over $10,000, so the foreign banks now frown upon US citizens because it is extra reporting forced by a foreign government.

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