Contributed by: Don WinnerPanama Offshore Services International, Inc. is a dynamic and growing legal services company providing professional services to foreigners in Panama. Their primary emphasis these days is on the facilitation of real estate transactions, and they offer a wide variety of legal services, including corporations, immigration and visas, escrow, and others. Over the years "POSI" has established a reputation for getting the job done with honesty and integrity, and have compiled a long list of satisfied customers. (more)
Panama Offshore Services International, Inc. is a law firm specializing in providing real estate titling and contract services to our clientes. Very often our clients are foreigners who wish to purchase property in Panama, and we represent them, provide counsel and assistance, and protect their interests through the entire process. We are first and foremost a law office.
Our real estate services naturally springboard into requirements for additional legal services. Clients who contact us to represent them for a real estate transaction usually stick with us and use our services for all of their legal needs. We are the recognized experts in the area of the legal services of incorporations of IBC's and Private Interest Foundations, as well as setting up bank, brokerage or merchant accounts through our recommended banks, brokerage firms, and merchant account processors.
We also offer a wide range of other legal services, such as immigration services, vessel (yacht & ship) registrations, stock exchange registrations, civil & criminal litigation, as well as consulting in the areas of asset protection and estate planning. In addition to the above, we offer complimentary services such as mail forwarding, virtual office services, and contract drafting.
Real Estate Services: If you're buying property in Panama, you're going to need a lawyer who will look out for your best interests. We will help you through the entire process and help you protect your assets. But first you should understand some of the basic groundrules for puying property in Panama.
Useful Tips on Buying Property in Panama:
So you just found that piece of paradise you’ve been looking so hard for and you’re ready to close the deal… Wait! Before handing over any money, make sure you consult with a professional and do a proper due diligence investigation over the property to ensure you aren’t buying a big problem! Buying property in Panama can be a great investment and is very safe, however, it’s important to understand the rules and process your property transaction correctly.
Panama has three different types of property;
Titled property is very similar to that of “fee-simple” titles in the USA. Panama has a very sophisticated Public Registry with a cadastral department that oversees the registration of titled properties in all nine provinces of the country. Titled property is the most preferred type since it is easily verifiable in the Public Registry system, as well as provides the most security from an investment standpoint, since private property is guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic of Panama. Generally, banks will issue mortgage loans on titled properties, registering liens against the title as collateral on the loan. Titled properties also generally incur annual property taxes when the registered value is over US$30,000. Buying titled property is relatively simple, and normally requires the following procedures;
Possession Rights Property
Possession Rights Property is similar to “squatters rights” as was common in North America many years ago. It is government owned property that is “occupied” or “used” by a Panamanian individual (or Panamanian organization) over time. Possession rights are generally granted to the “possessors” through very simple certification documents issued by either municipal mayors, sheriffs, or other government organizations such as the Agricultural Reform Department (Reforma Agraria). Possession rights do not incur property taxes, although registered improvements over possession rights property may incur taxes at a municipal and/or national level. Please note that most Possession Rights properties can become titled through a procedure of purchasing the land from the government, however, the law prohibits titling of possession rights properties in some areas such as certain coastal areas, national parks, or islands. In these cases, as an alternative, the "possessor" of the property can apply for an administrative concession over the land to guarantee the pacific use of it.
To acquire the possession rights over a property, it is important to follow these steps;
Concession property is similar to that of a land lease arrangement, as is common in Mexico or Hawaii, for example. It is government owned property, where the government has granted a concession to an individual or organization for a specific purpose, such as a real estate development, hotel, marina, or other purposes. Concessions in Panama are generally granted for a maximum of 20 year (renewable) periods, however, some concessions are granted for up to 40 years (renewable) in specially designated areas such as the Amador Causeway where there are commercial and condominium developments currently being sold (Naos Harbor, for example). Concession Property is normally in special coastal or other governmentally protected areas where titles are not permitted by law. In many cases, real estate developments over concession property offer investors time share or fractional ownership arrangements, which are very common in Mexico and other resort-type coastal areas around the world. Unlike Possession Rights property, Concession property is guaranteed by the government through a specific contractual agreement, so there is very little risk to the investor, and title insurance companies will generally offer title policies or guarantees to investors for peace of mind.
Even though Panamanian laws are setup to protect foreign investors, you should always take precautionary measures to insure your investment. Title insurance is recommended for all property transactions, and is readily available in Panama through major international title insurers, such as LandAmerica Lawyers Title, First American Title Insurance, and Stewart Title. Title policy costs are minimal and the peace of mind is definitely worth the cost.
Visa Services: The Panamanian government has created several laws which, depending on the particular type of visa applied for, enable foreigners to obtain legal temporary or permanent residency, work permits, and in some cases citizenship and / or passports in the Republic of Panama. Most of these laws have been created to promote foreign investment in the country which benefits the local environment or local economy of Panama.
Through our relationships with various recommended banks and investment firms, we also offer various investments in offshore time deposits (CD's), offshore mutual funds, as well as exclusive investment opportunities such as private placement investments, reverse mergers, or initial public offerings.
Panama offers the most favorable and most flexible incorporation laws available in the world. Panama corporations are used by individuals from all over the globe who are interested in asset protection, tax minimization, privacy, investment diversification, affordability and convenience.
Panama corporations can be used for international trade, to settle trusts or foundations, to establish and own bank or brokerage accounts, or hold ownership of real estate or any other type of asset. In some cases, Panama corporations are formed for very private and confidential business transactions such as the movement of funds to another jurisdiction for the protection of the assets.
Panama offers the strictest corporate book and banking secrecy laws available in the world, therefore providing legal protection to your assets and your identity through the confidentiality of corporate business and banking transactions. Most other offshore jurisdictions, such as the British influenced countries, have vowed down to recent legislation that has begun the removal of bank secrecy in those British colonies around the globe. Panama is a totally sovereign nation, not governed or controlled by any other country in the world.
Personal Bank Accounts: Aside from establishing corporations and corporate accounts, we also offer the service of assisting clients to establish offshore personal accounts. All accounts are set up through our correspondent banks or brokerage firms. We have done extensive research to ensure that the recommended financial institutions are secure, stable and reputable.
We realize that the type of account you select is essential for achieving your objectives, so we have provided a variety of account types to choose from. If you would like to set up an account through any particular bank or brokerage firm that we do not currently deal with, we can also assist you for a slightly higher set up fee.
Offshore Investment Options: There are a variety of viable offshore investment vehicles available to international investors offered through our recommended international banks and brokerage/investment firms.