The 6 Steps of Setting up a Company in Panama

Obtaining a business license in Panama is not only a crucial step but also an essential requirement for anyone looking to establish and operate a business successfully in the country. This document aims to provide you with a detailed overview of the process involved in obtaining a business license in Panama and Setting up a Company in Panama, together with the necessary requirements and procedures you must follow.

Determine the type of business entity

The first critical step in obtaining a business license in Panama is to carefully determine the type of legal entity that best suits your business needs. When meeting with your lawyer, they will explain the types of entities and provide you advice on the entity that best suits your needs. Panama offers a wide range of options, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. Understanding the types of entites, with their own unique requirements is essential to making a a decision. This might also play into your options for residency, be it as an investor, an employee or the owner of the business. 

Settling on a unique company name

Once you have decided on the type of legal entity for setting up a Company in Panama, the next important step is to reserve a unique company name with the Panama Public Registry.  Your lawyer should ask you for at least 3 names you have in mind so that you have the best chance to have a name that suits your company.  Choosing a name can be done conveniently either online or in person, but it is crucial to choose a name that is not too similar to existing businesses to avoid any potential conflicts. It goes without saying that a strong company name can provide a competitive edge as well as offer many branding opportunities.

Prepare the required documents

It’s important to have all the critical documents for submission. These documents include a copy of the company name reservation certificate, a copy of the passport or identification document of each shareholder or director, proof of address for each shareholder or director (such as a utility bill or bank statement), a sworn declaration from a Panamanian attorney stating the purpose and activities of the company, and either the Articles of Incorporation or the Articles of Association, depending on the type of legal entity you choose.

Submit the documents for Setting up a Company in Panama

Once you have gathered and organized all the required documents, your lawyer will submit them the Panama Public Registry. Along with the documents, you will also need to pay the corresponding fees, which vary depending on the type of legal entity and the amount of authorized capital. Submitting your documents and paying the appropriate fees sets the process moving. It’s now a matter of waiting until an approval is received.

Obtain the business license

After submitting the required documents and paying the fees, the Panama Public Registry will carefully review your application. If everything is in order, they will issue a business license, also referred to as a Commercial Operations Notice (Aviso de Operaciones Comerciales). This documents guarantees that your business is a legitimate business in Panama and legal to operate.

Additional steps

Depending on the nature of your business, there might be additional licenses or permits required from other government agencies or regulatory bodies. For instance, if you are planning to Setting up a Company in Panama that is a travel company or offers touristic services, you will need to obtain additional permits based on the type of activity that you will do. This process is critical and unlike many other countries setting up a company requires the assistance and help of a diligent lawyer who understands the law and has your best interest in mind. Frugality in selecting your lawyer may not always lead to be best results for you.


In conclusion, obtaining a business license in Panama is a comprehensive process that involves several important steps, including determining the appropriate legal entity, reserving a unique company name, preparing the required documents, submitting them to the Panama Public Registry, and obtaining the business license. By following these steps and complying with all relevant regulations, you can establish and operate your business successfully in Panama. This is an assisted service we offer through our Concierge department. Feel free to reach out!

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