Note that Panama’s currency is the U.S. dollar. Panama does not print paper money – even if a price is quoted as “20 Balboas” you will be expected to pay using a US$20 bill. There are $1 Balboa coins in circulation as well as smaller denominations that are, within Panama, interchangeable with U.S. coins.
Business practices and customs in Panama are a unique blend of North American methods and traditional Latin style. Foreign corporations operating in Panama are important in shaping the style and manner of doing business.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs maintains current travel-related information at www.travel.state.gov. International travelers and citizens on extended stays overseas are advised to visit this site for foreign travel information and, when appropriate, warnings.
You can view the U.S. Department of State’s Panama-specific information here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_994.html.
Further information can be obtained from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Panama, Unit 9100, DPO AA 34002, Tel: (507) 317-5332, Fax: (507) 317-5278, or at http://panama.usembassy.gov/.
U.S. citizens may enter Panama with a valid passport (min. 6 months) and a return airline ticket, and are automatically authorized to stay in the country for 180 days as tourist. The 180 day period is nonrenewable. An old tourist card requirement was eliminated. There are three types of visas available to businesspersons wishing to spend extended periods of time in Panama:
Inversionista (Investor): A minimum of US$ 160,000 must be invested in setting up a company in Panama with a minimum of five Panamanian employees in its payroll, and US$ 1,050 must be deposited in advance (US$ 800 with the National Immigration Service and US$ 250 with the National Treasury).
Permiso Temporal (Temporary Permit): For executives transferred from an overseas office to work in Panama temporarily or technicians working with a company in Panama for a limited time. Executives must prove their income will come from outside of Panama. Foreign technicians shall not exceed 15% of the employees of the company. The visa is valid for one year and is renewable up for six years.
Visa Corta Estancia Por Negocios (Short Stay Business Visa): For businesspersons coming to Panama for the purpose of setting up a branch office of a foreign company in Panama. The visa is valid for up to nine months and is nonrenewable.