Starting a Business in


Below is a detailed summary of the bureaucratic and legal hurdles faced by entrepreneurs wishing to incorporate and register a new firm in Panama. It examines the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a commercial or industrial firm with between 10 and 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Panama to 189 other economies.

  • No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs

    Hire a registered agent

    Agency: Law firm

    It is necessary to hire a lawyer or law firm to serve as Resident Agent of the corporation and prepare its Articles of Association.

    1 day USD 200

    Notarize articles of incorporation

    Agency: Public Notary

    The articles of incorporation to be notarized must include:
    (a) the name and domicile of each subscriber to the articles of incorporation;
    (b) the domicile of the company and of the resident agent, who must be a lawyer or law firm in Panama;
    (c) the names and addresses of the directors and the officers;
    (d) the name of the corporation, set out in such a way to distinguish it from other registered names already registered with the Public Register;
    (e) the company purpose or general objectives;
    (f) the name of at least the president, the secretary, and the treasurer, who may or may not be the same as the directors and need not to be shareholders and who may hold more than one office or title;
    (g) details about the capital and the type and number of shares into which it is divided;
    (h) the company duration, which may be perpetual;
    (i) any other provision the subscribers may wish to include.

    1 day USD 75

    Register at the Mercantile Division of the Public Registry and pay Annual Franchise Tax

    Agency: The Mercantile Division of the Public Registry

    The entry fees are the following (since July 2013):
    - USD 50.00 for the first USD 10,000.00 in capital stock
    - 0.75 cents for each additional 1,000.00 or fraction.

    The Annual Registration Tax of USD 250 must also be paid. Payments can be made at the National Bank of Panama or at any cashier of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The National Bank of Panama has a booth at the Public Registry.

    2 days see comments

    Obtain a notice of operation (“aviso de operación”) through the “Panama emprende” website

    Agency: Ministry of Trade & Industry

    The Law 5 of January 11, 2007 established a new on-line system called “Panama Emprende” (www.panamaemprende.gob.pa) which facilitates the creation of companies. The new system replaces the obtainment of commercial licenses for the obtainment of a notice of operation.

    In addition, since April 24th 2012, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the municipality of Panama are interconnected through the online platform Panama Emprende. As a result, it is no longer required to visit the municipality to obtain a taxpayer number. Now entrepreneurs receive automatically the municipal taxpayer number together with the operation permit through Panama Emprende.

    1 day USD 55 for legal entities

    Request an employers’ inscription number from the Social Security Administration

    Agency: Social Security Institute

    The Social Security Administration manages insurance programs for pension, health, unemployment, and occupational accident and injury.

    1 day no charge