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Guide to Starting a Business in Panama

Formal registration of companies has many immediate benefits for the companies and for business owners and employees. Legal entities can outlive their founders. Resources are pooled as several shareholders join forces to start a company. Formally registered companies have access to services and institutions from courts to banks as well as to new markets. And their employees can benefit from protections provided by the law. An additional benefit comes with limited liability companies. These limit the financial liability of company owners to their investments, so personal assets of the owners are not put at risk. Where governments make registration easy, more entrepreneurs start businesses in the formal sector, creating more good jobs and generating more revenue for the government.

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 up to 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected from World Bank: Doing Business 
No.ProcedureTime to CompleteAssociated Costs
1Hire a registered agent1 dayUSD 200
2Notarize articles of incorporation1 dayUSD 75
3Register at the Mercantile Division of the Public Registry and pay Annual Franchise Tax2 dayssee comments
4Obtain a notice of operation (“aviso de operación”) through the “Panama emprende” website1 dayUSD 55 for legal entities
5Register with municipality; get a “paz y salvo municipal”1 dayincluded in procedure 4
6Request an employers’ inscription number from the Social Security Administration1 dayno charge
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