Wiring Money In To and Out Of Panama Banks


When you retire in Panama, you’ll need to decide how to get access to your money that is in the bank in the country you moved from. The best way is to set up a Panama bank account then wire money from your bank account to your Panama bank account. This Livestream has more details about how to get access to cash when you move to Panama or when you are just on vacation in Panama.

Wires sent before noon usually arrive the same day.  Wires sent after noon usually arrive in your Panama bank account within 24 hours.   You can do most wire transfers using online banking. International wires usually cost about $50

You can use affordable services like Wise or OFX to wire money into your Panama bank account. Their fees are about 50% less than doing an international wire transfer from our bank.

Many ex-pats have their Social Security checks or pensions automatically direct deposited into their Panama bank account.  The money shows up like clockwork.

UPDATE: Veterans can get their military payments direct deposited into their Panama bank account. Set up an appointment with the Federal benefits unit with the US Embassy in Panama City to process the paperwork. It will take 1-2 months.

Rest assured that you can wire money from banks or credit unions from other countries, into banks in Panama.  And you can wire money from banks in Panama to banks in other countries.   You can also get access to cash at ATM machines which are throughout Panama.

SAVE MONEY!  Do This Instead…

If you have a United States bank account, you can deposit a check from a US bank or credit union directly into your bank in Panama.  Most Panama banks have a check limit of $3,000 per month and it will take 5-7 business days to clear.  There is “no fee” if you deposit a check into your account.   If you have two Panama bank accounts, that means that can deposit $3,000 in each bank, or $6,000 a month! Once you establish a good relationship with the bank, they will allow you to deposit checks for even more.

Just visiting?

If you’re just visiting Panama and need access to cash, you can get cash from ATM machines using your debit card. There is a $250 USD limit per transaction and it will cost $5.25 per transaction.

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.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Latitude Adjustment: Two Wanderers in Panama says

    Great info! Thanks!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Glad you enjoy the information at PanamaRelocationTours.com

    • Douglas says

      I’ve sold some real estate in Panama. I use Banistmo Bank. How much can I wire to myself in the US at one time?
      Thanks

      • Jackie Lange says

        there is no limit on how much $ you can wire out of Panama or into Panama

        • Salma says

          Can you please tell me which banks in Panama are good in case of international wire transfers? I am looking for a bank with low transfer fees and unable to get one.

          • Jackie Lange says

            All banks in Panama charge the same transfer fees — which are NOT low.

    • Heide lambert says

      Hi Jackie,
      Thanks for the great article. I have a Banesco account and I found Wise could not wire from my US account to it. Wise said the bank was blocked by the intermediary bank. That was about 1 year ago when it was transferwise. Any experience with that?

      • Jackie Lange says

        I know others who have a Banesco account and they have been able to use Wise. Maybe things changed since you tried it

  2. Ancon says

    It seems to matter the size of the transfer. Recently I had a problem with a transfer from the U.S. to Panama for the purpose of buying land. The amount was over $100k. One official said that under about $100k, no problem but over yes. We eventually got the transfer through but it took 2 weeks. The bank was banco general

    • Jackie Lange says

      I’ve never had a problem wire transferring money to Panama. It usually arrives within 24 hours. I’m sure it depends on which bank you are with and if you have a residency Visa or not.

    • Cynthia Lee says

      I also bank with Banco General. They are strict but if you have all your proof then it’s just a matter of proving things to them. It can be a pain because it’s so much easier in the states but that just makes me feel more secure having my money there. I’ve wired money plenty of times and it’s been available immediately the next morning but the one time I wired over $100K to purchase a condo they held the money and requested information on where it came from. I quickly supplied the info required and the money was quickly available. No big deal just a little paperwork. Also, I wanted to save money on wire transfers also and took Jackie’s advice and just deposited a check but there was a fee of $21 and it took 3 weeks to clear. Banco General clearly told me that before I even deposited it. It was still cheaper than a wire but there was still a cost. But overall I have no complaints about banking in Panamá it’s safe and secure and the interest is even better there. I’m alewife convinced and have made Panama my second home. 🇵🇦

      • Jackie Lange says

        Banco General does not have online banking in English and Spanish. It is only Spanish. They do not charge a fee for check deposits at the branch in Boquete.

  3. Trish says

    Thanks for all the very useful info Jackie. I’m looking forward to Panama so much. Banistmo has been recommended to me in Volcan as the easiest to open an account but I can’t get any English on their website. Am I missing something or lacking fluency should I chose a different bank?

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Trish

      To get English on the Banistmo website, first click on Sucursal Virtual at the top. On the next screen/page, you will see a little ENGLISH link at the top right. Click that to convert the page to English. Unfortunately, the English option is not on their home page.

  4. Jim says

    Can you simply set up automatic deposit of a pension or social security check into a Panama bank? Are you charged a fee for that?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, you can set up automatic deposits of your Social Security and Pension checks. Most banks do not charge for this service and there is no limit to the amount deposited monthly if you do this.

      • Terrance Newton says

        I just started a new job and plan to go on the June 15, 2019 tour. Can you open up a bank now before arriving in Panama? If yes, can you recommend one or two banks?

        • Jackie Lange says

          HI Terrence

          I look forward to meeting you during the June tour. You cannot open a bank account without being IN Panama. It normally takes 3-5 days to open a bank account in Panama but with our connections, you will be able to get your account opened during the tour in about 1 hour. See you in June! Jackie

  5. crist says

    is there any limitations in depositing money in panama and doesnt covered by anti money laundering

    • Jackie Lange says

      There are no limits to wiring money or depositing money in to a Panama bank but they may ask where the money came from.

  6. Alicia says

    Do you have to pay a tax to wire funds out of Panama? I was told that you will get tax around 7% so if I want to transfer $10,000 from Panama to the US there will be a $700 tax withheld in addition to bank fees. Is this correct? Thanks in advance.

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Alicia, there is NO TAX on the money you wire out of Panama. There is a wire fee which is about $50-$60.

      • chalo says

        Hi Jackie. I have seen the 7% tax on all pages that I looked at regarding this topic (including Banco General). Even western union mentions the 7% tax: https://www.westernunion.com/pa/en/send-money.html

        Could you specify where you found an option to send money to the US with just a $50-60 fee?.

        • Jackie Lange says

          I wire money from a US bank to a Panama bank every month. There is a flat fee of $50.

          I don’t use Western Union.

          • Gonzalo de la Vega says

            Hi Jackie – the issue is sending money out of Panama (not into). I haven’t found a way to do that without the 7% tax.

          • Jackie Lange says

            There is NO 7% tax if you wire money from a Panama bank to a bank outside of Panama.

  7. M says

    Trying to make a transfer my self to that bank. How did you do it?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Most banks in Panama publishes their international wiring instructions online. Either take those instructions in to the bank in your country to get them to do the international wire or use the instructions to do an online international wire transfer. If you are IN Panama, you can deposit a check from a US bank in to your account in Panama.

      • Dr Michael Elinski says

        Can a personal check of $1500 on a USA account be used to open a new a Panama checking account? Or is cas preferred to open the account. I’m hoping to open my bank account around my tour time of May 22-29. Should I use a lawyer for assistance, or do you offer guidance on opening bank accounts?

        • Dr Michael Elinski says

          I just saw above that with your help, opening a bank account takes about an hour! That’s great. Would I need cash, or is a US personal check acceptable?

          • Dustin Lange says

            You need cash.

        • Dustin Lange says

          Opening a bank account is a (completely optional) part of our tour itinerary. Checks are not accepted when opening an account. You must deposit at least $1,500 in cash. More info.

  8. InJa says

    Hi Jackie, Happy Valentine Day to you and all there!! My husband Bill & I, we’re waiting list on Sep & Oct. of this year tour.. Hope one of these will come up for us, if not.. we’ll book for next year! whenever we take a tour, we’ll make sure that, will have check ready, for opening our bank account. We hope that, we’ll fine the place around Boquete area to retire. Thank you for all your advice and help! o(^-^)o ..Blessing to you all! Fondly,♥ InJa

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI InJa, we’ll be be adding more tours soon.

  9. Dr Michael Elinski says

    FYI : I usually wire funds around the world using XE.com. They take 5 business days to transfer funds, on average, but there is no transfer fee. They are reliable, located in Canada, transfer from and to anywhere, and charge NO TRANSFER FEES. I highly recommend them and I’ve never had a problem. Their currency conversion rates, if applicable, are fair.

    • Jackie Lange says

      I don’t believe you can wire money in to Panama using XE

      • Gino F Palazzolo says

        I use remitly to send $ to my fiance in Panama. i have used for several months successfully. it is much cheaper than wire transfer or western union. She can go to Lafisa bank or other option and pick up the $.

  10. W Greg Veilleux says

    Hi, great site! Do you know if they will accept checks written on a Canadian bank, or would a cashiers check in US funds be better?

    • Jackie Lange says

      They only accept checks from US banks to deposit into your Panama bank account. . Panama banks do not accept cashier’s checks.

  11. Alan Wells says

    Thanks for all your work to help people “work the system” in Panama. I wonder if I can write a check to a counter party in Panama which she could deposit in her Banco General account?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, you can write a US check to a third part for them to deposit in to their Panama bank account.

  12. James Coleman says

    Wife and I are Panama Pensionados, own and rent property their. Your site does not address sending USD to US other than the ABA SWIFT system of wire transfer normally used for larger amounts of money. What about the difficulty of sending under $10,000 to US, like $1,000-$2,000 for example Since Bank Regulations became stricter, wire transfer charges by sending bank, NYC Intermediary and Receiving Bank costs are high. Please address other forms of Usd transfer to get lesser $ out of Panama, ie., ACH, alternate $ Transfer Services, Debit to Debit Card transfers, and Debit to Bank Account transfers. We have found many alternatives to send USD to Panama…large or small amounts. ACH, Transfer services
    are not yet US serving! Internet Money Transfer like P2P has questionable Security. Please describe more efficient money transfer for under $5,000. Paypal/Xoom, Venmo, etc. not an option at this time.
    In future Transferwise will finally serve Panama but when is the question. Friends and Family transfer options also do not work for Panama. Please let us know current methods of transfering smaller Usd transers to the USA. Thanks Much James

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI James. You can wire money from Panama to a US bank with no problems

  13. John Crowe says

    Hi Jackie, I just read your article about wire transfers to Panama I have a lot of concerns. My wife is Panamanian and also a US citizen if I retire I will have more than $6,000 coming into my account how does that work with Social Security, pensions and everything else my wife what’s the go, I’m still uneasy about the procedures I am retired military.

    • Jackie Lange says

      i wire money to my panama banks every month. never had a problem in 11 years! you an also deposit a US check into your acount, up to 3k a month per account

  14. Melissa says

    Hi Jackie! I’m in the process of looking for a financial institution to open a business account in Panama City. I already have a business entity there and now need to finalize having banking set up. I’ve reached out to a few banks via their online form and only received a call back from Banistmo – their fees seemed a little high and I have my attorney in Panama recommending Banco General. Do you recommend a particular bank that is best to open a business account with? Also looking for a bank that is a bit easier with the criteria to open an account – I was told I’d need to be there in person to open, but want to make sure I have all necessary docs/criteria met before I go.

    Lastly, I saw in your post that sending money via Wise(Transferwise) is available. I do regularly use Wise, but couldn’t easily find online that they have a presence in Panama. If you can confirm I’d appreciate that because I believe the fees would be better than processing wires from my US bank directly to my Panama bank.

    Thanks for your guidance in advance!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Banistmo.com is best for personal and business accounts. They have online banking in English and Spanish too

      • Melissa says

        Thanks for your feedback Jackie.
        On wire transfers, are you having any issues using Wise/Transferwise to get monies transferred from US to Panama?

        • Jackie Lange says

          I do not use Wise but I know many others who do with no problems

  15. Jim says

    Hi All,

    Thanks for all the info.

    Wise says that they are in Panama now for personal banking — just not with business banking.

    Ok, well, I’m a resident now in Panama with a Banco General (international use) account that isn’t working with Wise for me.

    I’ve spoken with both the bank and Wise multiple times and they both say that there is no problem on their respective ends regarding my accounts.

    However, I’ve not been able to deposit the initial $ into Wise.

    Even with the bank pre-authorizing the payment.

    It’s frustrating.

    Any helpful advice would be very appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Jim

    • Jackie Lange says

      I do not use Wise but I know many others who do successfully. Make sure the currency is US dollars.

    • Jon says

      Hi Jim, i have the exact problem with Bac Credomatic. Both (the bank and wise) authorize the transaction, however, the transaction is always cancelled. I use debit card to try to deposit money in my wise ballance.

  16. Wayne Inglis says

    I thought that you could not have more than $10,000 in Panama bank at one time. Am I wrong?

    • Jackie Lange says

      That is not correct, you can have an unlimited amount of money in your Panama bank account. But if you are a US citizen and get to $10,000, you must report it to the IRS and treasure department.

  17. Elliott says

    Thank you for all you do Jackie!

    For those of us that are opening a bank account (have to fly down) what is the best way to move a large sum of money so we qualify for the 200k residency program?

    I am torn–I go there open an account and then do I have to go back home to move the money? Surely there is a better way

    • Jackie Lange says

      you can wire the money into your Panama bank account. Be sure to visit with your current bank to find out what you need to do for an international wire. You should be able to do the international wire with online banking.

  18. Amanda Correa says

    Hi Jackie, thanks for the info!

    Question, when making a transfer via swift (using my Banco General account) we can use the currency on the transfer in USD since it is used here, correct?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Yes, Panama uses the US dollar.

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