Frequently asked questions

MMSA-CD-FN-FNVSA What is the difference in these accounts?

There are specific differences in the 4 types of available accounts.  Find the one or two that suits you best.  Our recommendation is to start with an MMSA and MasterCard and combine it with either a CD or a Factor Note.


  • Money Market Savings Accounts offer the most flexibility in terms of not committing your funds long term. The trade off is that the interest rate is the lowest offered. Keeping some funds in this MMSA is often desirable since it does offer a higher interest rate than a typical savings or checking account at a bank.

CD Versus FN

  • A Certificate of Deposit, also known as a CD, is a term deposit offered by most banks and credit unions.  You do not have access to your funds in that account for one year. Your funds are working for you and are given to others in the form of a loan or mortgage at 7% interest. Loans and mortgages earn up to 15% for the Federation in the course of a year.  That is why they can pay you 7% on your Certificate of Deposit. There has to be a comfortable spread where the Federation earns more than they give out, in order to pay staff and office expenses.
  • The Factor Note is virtually the same but it is based on Factoring where the Federation earns up to 20% in the course of a year.  Factoring is a well accepted sector of the financial industry throughout the world and because they can earn up to 20%, you can earn 8.5%.  If you want to find out how much interest that a bank or credit Union should pay you for your savings, look at the interest rates that they charge you for loans and mortgages.  It doesn't matter the country, it is all relative.  If your loans and mortgages cost you 2 to 3%, then your interest rate that you receive on savings is probably in the neighborhood of 1%.  It will always be that way.  It is a very smart move to make a loan at a low interest rate in your home country and bring the money to the Federation and receive a high interest rate.

FNVSA-Friendly Nations Visa Savings Account

  • This type of account can  be very helpful in obtaining your residency status in Panama. $100 of your deposit is sent to the lawyer handling your residency as required by Panamanian law. 

What are the costs to transfer my funds to my account?

  • Local transfers under $10,000 = $15 
  • Local transfers over $10,000 = $25 
  • International transfers under $100,000 = 0.14290 % of the amount.   (Minimum $75 Maximum $100)   
  • International transfers over $100,000 = 0.1338 % of the amount. (Minimum $100 Maximum $650)   
  • SWIFT Commission = $25 (SWIFT is short form for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardized system of codes.)
  • Implementation Commission = $10  

Are the Federation Accounts Insured?

The Superintendency of Banks in Panama takes special care of depositors in the event of a banking issue.  Bank owners and investors in bank stocks are not protected in the same way as depositors, and would get paid out last in the event of a liquidation or bank failure.  Insurances were created in North America due to so many bank failures there.  The smart people soon learned to move their money to Panama or Switzerland for safe keeping.  That was the beginning of Offshore Banking.  Depositors also learned of the higher interest rates offshore.  That was also the beginning of Insurances such as FDIC and CDIC to try and stem the flow of money out of North America to foreign shores.  In  the US & Canada the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)  and the Canadian Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insured bank deposits in the hopes that it would stop people from moving their money to safety in Panama or Switzerland.  This would only work with small banks that fail.  A large bank failure would wipe out the FDIC or CDIC insurances.  In  the case of a small bank failure, the FDIC pays depositors up to $250,000. In  Canada it’s $100,000.  

  • Considering that the FDIC insures around $9 trillion in deposits, it’s actually less than half a penny for every dollar it supposedly insures. 
  • In fact, there are over 36 banks in the US that have  deposits larger than the FDIC’s reserve. 
  • It wouldn’t take much for the FDIC itself to go bust. One large bank failure is all it would take. 
  • With many of the USA big banks leveraged to the hilt, that isn’t as remote a  possibility as many would believe. 
  • Oddly, this doesn’t shake the  confidence the public and most financial experts place in the US banking  system. 
  • Also, it’s already an established precedent that whenever a  government deems it necessary, deposit guarantees can be disregarded on  whim. We saw this in the early days of the financial crisis in Cyprus.   
  • Fortunately, in this day and age the decision on where to bank doesn’t  have to be constrained by geography. Banking outside of your home  country—where much sounder governments, banking systems, and banks can  be found—is in most ways just as easy as banking in the USA with the Bank of  America.        

I heard there was a credit union that was liquidated in Panama. Are you associated with that group?

On June 28, 2012 a Credit Union known as COACECSS was intervened by the Martinelli Government (2009 - 2014) with claims of mismanagement which were never justified or proven.  The COACECSS situation was considered an unwarranted political action by those close to the situation. A liquidation commission was formed and approximately every 6 months, the depositors are being repaid approximately 10%.  2018 should prove to be the final year of payments to depositors.      

COACECSS was a single solitary, stand alone Credit Union with various branches in Panama. The Federation is a group of close to 100 Credit Unions that had it's beginnings in 1961. It has been said that if COACECSS could have been one of the 100 or more Federation Credit Unions, that it would never have been liquidated.  The financial structure at the Federation is far more secure and they are much more conservative in areas of lending.

Can I have my IRA in a Panamanian Credit Union?

If I want my IRA or 401k here in Panama at the Federation. Who do I talk to?   The Entrust Group in the US will help you create a self directed IRA. Contact them by emailing: 1-800-392-9653

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

For United States Citizens, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was approved in Panama in 2016. You can get more information here or from the Internal Revenue Service website.

What is FEDPA?

"FED" stands for Federation and "PA" stands for Panama.  November 18th 1961, with the support of the Catholic Church, thirteen (13) Panamanian credit unions, founded the Federation of Credit Unions of Panama, RL (FEDPA)

The Federation of Credit Unions of Panama, RL (FEDPA), is a cooperative association where FEDPA is the majority shareholder of the Group, which since 1961 has developed the important and effective work of union representation, integration and promotion of Panamanian financial cooperative systems, known as "Financial System FEDPA" which stands out as a body of financial and technical assistance, to be supervised, regulated and supervised by the State through the Panamanian Autonomous Cooperative Institute (IPACOOP). 

FEDPA currently has approximately one hundred (100) member cooperatives which in turn have more than one hundred and thirty thousand members. You can get more details here.

What is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act? (FACTA)

On October of 2016 the Government of Panama approved a new law 47, under which the country accepted the challenge of accomplishing the FATCA requirements. On May 2017 the Panamanian Internal Revenue Service (Dirección General de Ingresos) sent a memorandum to every financial institution with instructions to register with the IRS and submit reports for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, only for USA citizens and residents with deposits over US$ 50k.  It is obvious that this obligation arose from the pressure coming from the US Government through the Panama Papers and OFAC list. 

I'm ready! How do I open an account?

Like in the United States, Canada, and many other countries, there is a certain amount of documentation required to open a new account. email us at  We can do it all online for you if you have skills.

In Panama, opening a new account at a bank can take weeks to get approval (or to be turned down. The Federation Credit Union can get your account established in a matter of hours once the documentation is received.

Are Credit Unions new in Panama?

Credit Unions have been legal in Panama since 1948!  

Can I borrow against my Term Deposit Funds?

Absolutely!  At the Federation, you can borrow against your term deposit up to 90% at a 2% spread, as your term deposit is pure equity.