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Legislation of Panama

  • Incorporation time: 9 days
  • Shelf companies: Yes
  • Accounting: Yes
  • Secretary: Yes
  • Nominee Shareholder: Yes
  • Nominee director: Yes
Tax 0%
1 USD = 0.73 €

Trade and Market Information

Panama is a member of the World Trade Organisation and has signed the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer. The main import rules apply to certain products considered hazardous to health and to specific products (weapons, plants and animals). However, the Colon Free Trade Zone presents the advantage of allowing the import of all kinds of goods without taxes or restrictions. Customs duties are calculated in line with CIF values and range between 3% and 40%.

Half of the products imported are not subject to tax, but 48 types of products are taxed at over 90%. Panamanian imports do not require a licence and only permits may be requested, although the possession of a business permit allows any product to be imported even if it is not regulated.

Here is the list of the main documents to be presented when importing products: import declaration, commercial invoice, air freight letter, bill of lading, business permit (for specific activities), certificate of free sale.

The retail sector in Panama is direct and importers sell both direct wholesale and retail. There is no large-scale retail. Goods transport is mainly by sea, supported by the Canal. Modern motorways and airports enable travel throughout the country. Only 4,000 kilometres of road are paved (out of a total of 11,000 km in the country) and there is only one railway line.

The most influential industrial sectors are construction, cement production and sugar milling.

Employment Legislation in Panama

Employment in Panama is regulated by law, which distinguishes between four different types of work:

  • Day work: maximum of 8 hours a day, 48 hours a week, between 06.00 and 18.00.
  • Night work: limited to 7 hours a day, 42 hours weekly between 18.00 and 06.00.
  • Day/night work: maximum of 7.5 hours a day, 45 hours a week.
  • Rotation work: work across the different time slots given above.

The retirement age is 57 for women and 62 for men, the minimum monthly salary is 310 USD with social insurance contributions of 10.75% from the employer and 7.25% from the employee. 14.2% of employees are union members.

Intellectual Property Regime in Panama

Type of rights Legislation Validity of protection Agreements signed
Patents Law 35 of 10 May 1996 20 years -Patent Cooperation Treaty
Trademarks Law 35 of 10 May 1996 10 years, renewable – Nice Agreement concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services
-Trademark Law Treaty
Designs Law 35 of 10 May 1996 10 years, extendable for 5 years
Reproduction rights Law 15 of 1994 on copyright Copyright protection for the lifetime of the author and his heirs – Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
-Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers
-WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
-WIPO Copyright Treaty
-Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms
Industrial designs Law 35 of 10 May 1996 10 years


Links :
Panama General Directorate of Customs
Panama Maritime Authority
Panama Aeronautical Authority
Transport and Traffic Authority
Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture
Federation of Enterprises

Panama Political Data

The President of Panama holds the executive power and is elected for five years. Currently, Juan Carlos Varela, heads the government. Legislative power is held by the single chamber of Parliament, with its 78 members being elected for five years by universal suffrage.

The Republic of Panama has a multi-party system, of which the main are: the Democratic Revolutionary Party, Panamenista Party, the Socialist Party, the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement, the popular party and the Liberal National Party.

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