By: Anaya & Luna
Lawyers in Bocas del Toro

 Bocas del Toro has become one of the top destination places to do businesses in Panama. Our Law Firm, can assist any foreigner investor from any nationality who is looking to do commercial activities.

If you are one of those persons looking to do business in Bocas del Toro, there are a number of steps you will need to follow: 

 1.    Create a New Panamanian Corporation: Panamanian Corporation (also known as “Sociedad Anónima” / Anonymous Society) offer many advantages when doing business in Panama. Foreigners that have their own Corporation can only obtain Business License Type A (Service Business), this is because there is a restriction on Businesses for License Type B, which are reserved only for Panamanian citizens.
Setting up a Corporation takes only 7 working days.
2.    To register the New Corporation with the Panamanian Tax Authority (DGI – which equals the IRS in other countries).  This registration is simply so that the New Corporation gets a “Tax Registration Number” – this number is actually given for registration purposes so the Panamanian Tax Authority can track all business transaction done by the New Companies.
3.    To Apply “online” for the necessary Business License (known in Spanish as Aviso de Operaciones): With the Law Nº 5 from January 11th, 2007, Panama created a very modern online system ( operated by the Government of Panama. With the creation of this system all Business Licenses will have to be registered and acquired online. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the authority in charge to regulate and look that all requirements are fulfilled before granting a License.    

The applicant will have to be registered and fill the required information about the specific business activity which the investor wants to operate. Keep in mind that there are a few business activities (Type B) which are reserved only for Panamanian citizens.  Please note, that in the Commercial License application the system will require a physical address of the exact location of the business, so it is important to have already identified (or rented) the building where the business is to be located.

Once the applicant has submitted their application and filled all the requirements, the system will issue a tax rate that needs to be paid at the Panamanian National Bank (BNP),the tax rate is USD $55.00 for Corporation. After the payment been made the system will allow to print the “Aviso de Operaciones”, this one will need to put up on the wall in a prominent place, where it can actually been seen (so that any Government officer can see it).  The Commercial License basically contains the following information:  Company Name, Name (if different from the company’s registered name), Principal Business Location, details of the Legal Representative/CEO of the business, and a brief description of the business activities of the company. 

4.    Registration with the Social Security:  The New Company will have to be registered with the Social Security. Yes, Bocas does has a Social Security office located on first street where all the process can be made. This will be very necessary in case  your intention is to hire any employee for your Business or if you are considering on applying for an immigration programs: “Immigrant Investor Visa Program”, then you will need to have at least 3 Panamanian employees on the payroll.  It is necessary to register all employees with the Social Security, and pay their Social Rights, as well as making the statutory Social Security contributions and deducting their quota from their wages before paying them every month.
5.    Registration with the Ministry of Labor: What is necessary to do here is to actually provide the Ministry of Labor with copies of the employment contracts of your employees. When you hire an employee, three originals of the Labor Contract should be made – one for the business, one for the employee, and one for the Ministry of Labor.  Our Lawyers will assist you drafting a proper Labor Contract.
6.    Registration with the Bocas del Toro Municipality: All business Bocas del Toro pay a certain amount of municipal tax on a monthly basis.  This tax is set by the Resolution 18 of November 18th, 2010, the rate is set depending on the commercial activity, size of the business and amount of employees. 

 If you need more information about this topic please feel free to send us an email to: