Panama

Premier Areas of Coverage

  • David (Chiriqui)
  • Panama City

Country Details

Panama is considered a very safe and prosperous country, boasting a healthy and effective democratic system.  Spanish is the official language of Panama, although various indigenous languages are also spoken.  The official currency is the US Dollar (USD), although in some cases people still use the Balboa currency which has the same value as the USD.

Important things to know when renting a property in Panama:

Common Expat Areas - The areas where affordable, desirable rentals are most likely to be located within Panama City are:  Costa del Este, Avenida Balboa, Punta Pacifica, Punta Paitilla, Albrook, El Cangrejo, Obarrio, Clayton, Bella Vista, El Dorado, Altos de Panama, San Francisco.

  • All landlords require a guarantor.  If the company doesn’t serve as the guarantor, the landlord may request the full year up front.  In case the transferring corporation is unable to guarantee the lease, they may also be asked to provide an employment letter indicating the position, monthly allowance and years the employee has been working at the company.  It is up to the landlord to accept this letter in lieu of a guarantor.

Q&A

  • Who pays rental commission? The landlord pays the rental commission
  • How much is the rental commission? The rental commission is one month
  • Advance rent required? Only if the company does not serve as guarantor.  The landlord may request up to six months up front
  • Who holds the funds? The landlord holds the funds
  • Standard lease term? The lease term is one year, renewable
  • What is the frequency of payments? Payments are made monthly
  • Is there a security deposit? There is a one month security deposit
  • Who holds the security deposit?  The landlord holds the security deposit
  • The lease written in what language? The lease is written in Spanish
  • The lease is normally prepared by? The lease is prepared by the destination services provider, preference is to use the corporate template if one is available to insure that the legal aspect has been approved
  • Is a business release clause accepted? Yes, most landlords will accept with 30 - 60 day written notice.  Even though the landlord accepts the clause, in most cases the security deposit will not be returned to the tenant

UTILITIES
Utilities are generally not included as part of the rent. Costs vary based on family size and usage.  Tenant is responsible for connecting new service under their own name and information.  The tenant is responsible for paying for utilities, including telephone, cable and internet service. 


Telephone - To obtain telephone services you will need a copy of your lease.  These companies provide cable, internet and phone service:

Cable and Wireless Panama - www.cwpanama.net
Cable Onda - www.cableonda.com

Cell Phone - There are a variety of cell phone companies that offer good services.  Most companies have corporate contracts and a phone may be provided for you, unless a pre-paid package is purchased.  The most common companies are:

Cable and Wireless Mobil Panama – www.cwmovil.com
Movistar – www.movistar.com.pa
Claro – www.claro.com.pa
Digicel – www.digicelpanama.com

Public schools are not recommended in Panama.  All private schools will require an entry test.  The most common expats schools (that follow the American School Calendar) are:

The following schools follow the Panama School Calendar (March – December):

 

Day Care /Pre-school - Day Care Centers and Pre-schools operate either all year round or during the school year from March to December.  Full or part time services are available.  The following are Day Cares/Preschool most used by expats:

Elementary School: Kindergarten (5-6 Years old), 1st (6-7), 2nd (7-8), 3rd (8-9), 4th (9-10) and 5th grade (10-11); 6th (11-12)

High School: 7th (12-13), 8th (13-14); 9th (14-15), 10th (15-16), 11th (16-17), 12th (17-18)

 

Registering your Children
Non-Spanish records need to be officially translated. Some schools will not require translation of these records or may translate them for free; this requirement will be determined based on the school chosen.
Required documentation - requested certificates have to be legalized by the ministry of education from the home country.  The following documentation is needed:

  • School records from home country
  • Original birth certificate
  • Letter submitted by the school form your home country introducing the family members

International Registration with Embassy/Consulate - It is recommended that all expats register at the Embassy or Consulate during their stay in Panama.

Driver License – Upon receiving the permanent visa, the driver license process can begin.  The original driver’s license must be validated at the country consulate where the license was issued.  The validation is then taken to the Ministry of Public Relations to obtain signature authenticity.  This usually takes 24 - 48 hours.  Once the validation is completed, the Panamanian driver license is completed at Sentracen Panama.  The following documents are required:

  1. License, validated and authenticated documentation
  2. Immigration card
  3. Blood test which indicates your blood type (proof must come from a laboratory test)

A visual and hearing test will be performed (no driving test required).  This process will take about one hour to complete.

Hospitals

Malls