Need To Register A Corporation? Consider Panama!

Charlotte Miller

Panama is the grandmother of all tax havens, and it has not lost its appeal even after the notorious Panama Papers. It is one of the best jurisdictions for those who want to set up a corporation, and figures prove that: the number of offshore businesses in the Caribbean region is still inferior to Panama alone. According to the World Bank, Panama is one of the top 20 countries in terms of attracting investments. We offer Panama to our customers as one of the best destinations for business and banking.

If you need more information on the country, you can use our knowledge base of articles: read a longer version on Panama business incorporation basics on our portal called International Wealth. It is fully devoted to international business, banking, investments, taxation, and citizenship-by-investment programs. Our articles are written by practicing experts who help people with different issues related to business, banking, or tax optimization on a daily basis.

You can book an individual session with our consultants to find out all the details you need to know before you make an informed decision. We provide some services at no fee: for example, if you need to start a company or open a bank account but struggle with the choice of the jurisdiction or the bank, we will analyze your situation and help you for free. And if you want to obtain a fully operational corporation in Panama remotely without much hassle, you can buy a turnkey package and get it in no time!

Panama Corporation Overview

The legal form that we refer to as a “corporation” is called “Sociedad Anónima” in Panama (or “Anonymous Joint-Stock Company”), and this is the most widespread form of business registered by the locals and foreigners alike.

When you establish a corporation, you will need to list the kinds of business activities you are going to engage in, such as investment, ownership of assets, or trade. It is a very important step as you can conduct business operations only in some of these, but you will not be allowed to do anything outside this list.

Panama Corporation: Main Benefits

  • The shares of a Panama corporation can be fully owned by a foreigner of any nationality or residency.
  • If you need enhanced confidentiality, you will have every opportunity to take advantage of it in Panama: the identities of the beneficial owners and shareholders will be kept secret if you need to, and you can officially use a professional nominee director to bring your incognito to a new level.
  • The Panama company is required to have at least one shareholder which can be an individual or a legal entity.
  • The threshold for the paid-up capital is not set, but the standard is 1,000 US dollars.
  • The company capital is not subject to any control by the state.
  • A registered agent in Panama is a must for each foreign company.
  • There is no need for the corporation founder to be physically present to settle all administrative issues. We can do it for you on the basis of a Power of Attorney or using a nominee.
  • The term of company registration does not exceed 7 business days. However, there are additional steps you may need, such as opening a local business account or receiving the necessary licenses. If you need all these services, expect your company to be ready for operation within 6 to 7 weeks.

Stages of Establishing a Panama Corporation

  1. You cannot register a corporation in Panama on your own as you are required to have a registered agent. You can find one at the International Wealth portal (just follow the link above) or contact a private lawyer in Panama.
  2. The corporation shareholders are required to provide a package of documents to pass the Know Your Customer and due diligence procedures.
  3. You will have to make up all the company management documents (such as the Articles of Association) and provide them to your registered agent.
  4. The company package of documents will be registered in the Panamanian Business Registry.
  5. As soon as this is done, the legal representative will register the company’s Certificate of Registration with the local authorities.
  6. If you are going to carry out business operations in Panama, you will need to obtain a license for each kind of business activity. However, if you intend to operate outside Panama only, there is no need for any licenses.
  7. If you want to take advantage of excellent Panamanian banking, you will need to set up a business account in Panama at this stage (however, this is optional).
  8. Deposit the minimum required amount in your business account, and start your operations!

Panama Company Registered Agent

Your company in Panama cannot be set up without a registered agent. This person will be a point of contact for any matters and the recipient of legal documents on your behalf. A registered agent is a private lawyer who conducts his or her activities in Panama or a law firm based in Panama.

The specialists of the International Wealth portal will use an in-house law firm to set up your corporation locally.

Panama Corporation Name

We usually request our customers to provide at least three names. The matter is that the Panamanian register is quite old (kept since 1929), so it will not be very easy to come up with a unique name on the first attempt.

You can use any foreign words in the name, but be sure to add SA, Corp., or Inc. to it. You can also supply translations into different languages to have different identities for various countries.

Make sure not to use words like Foundation, Bank, or Trust: these may mislead the customers into thinking that your corporation is a governmental agency rather than a business entity.

Panama Corporation Shareholders

  • The minimum number of shareholders is one, and this may be an individual or a legal entity.
  • The shareholders have limited liability – that is, they are only liable for the corporation’s debts with the amount of capital they invested in the corporation.
  • If there is only one shareholder and you want to open a local business account for your company, the bank may require extra documents to check the beneficial owner’s identity.

Follow the above link to read more practical details on the Panama corporation or book a one-on-one session with our experts to clarify all matters. We are just a click away!