Doing Business and Building in Panama

The World Bank publishes many great articles about every country to help you make a comparison.  At, you can research the economy, government stability, average wages, starting a business, and much more.

See the FREE 59-page “Doing Business in 2019” report below.

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries worldwide. They are not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique partnership to reduce poverty and support development. Established in 1944, the World Bank Group is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank provides low-interest loans, zero to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries. These support a wide array of investments in such areas as education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, and environmental and natural resource management.

They also provide or facilitate financing through trust fund partnerships with bilateral and multilateral donors. Many partners have asked the Bank to help manage initiatives that address needs across various sectors and developing regions.

The World Bank supports developing countries through policy advice, research and analysis, and technical assistance. Our analytical work often underpins World Bank financing and helps inform developing countries’ investments.

To understand what’s happening in countries, the World Bank does extensive research, which they share with you on their website,

Before you embark on any business or construction in a country, it is a good idea to go to the website to better understand what is going on in that country and what the rules are.


The World Bank has a lot of data about Panama.  And they even publish annual reports about a variety of different topics.  You should certainly consult with an attorney in Panama to get the rules but it would be a good idea to start with the research provide at the World Bank to avoid getting in to trouble.

Unfortunately, some people think Panama is a third world country with no rules. Some think they can just move to Panama without getting a residency Visa or that you can just start selling a product or a service without getting a business license or a work permit.  They have obviously not done their research about the rules for doing business in Panama.

What’s even more scary, is that some people don’t do their research and think that they can buy land and start building what ever you want without getting a building permit.  It may have been that was 20 years ago, but now in Panama there are a rules for construction.  In many instances an environmental impact study is even required before any construction can begin.

Click on the by the World Bank “Doing Business 2019” graphic to the left to see the 59-page report about the procedures for starting a business and rules for construction in Panama.  This report also lists the estimated costs for starting a business and for preliminary construction steps and costs.

I’ve said it many times before that it is much better to to RENT for at least 6 months before you decide to buy.  Then when you do decide to buy, it is better to buy an existing house to avoid the hassles of new construction.

If you’re thinking about starting a business, it would be a good idea to wait at least 6 months for that too.  This will give you time to evaluate the market to see if there is even a need for the product or service you plan to market.  Just because your business was a success in your country does not mean it will be a success in Panama.

Keep in mind that only certain Visas allow you to work in Panama.  If you get a Pensionado Visa, you can never work in Panama or sell a product or service in Panama.  The only exception for Pensionado Visa holders who want to work is if they have an online business.


Another thing to take in to consideration is, if you do sell a product or service in Panama, you will need to pay taxes in Panama and perhaps in your home country too. You’ll need to hire a Panama CPA to make sure your taxes are filed properly.

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

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