Nonprofit Organizations in Panama


Nonprofit Organizations (NPO) are legal Panamanian entities used to pursue charitable purposes.

The NPO is a private entity, with no political association, whose profits CANNOT be distributed to its founders, members or directors. However, the proceeds from NPO activities can be used to hire members, personnel or any other required services to fulfill its mission.

The Panamanian Government Ministry is responsible for the approval and supervision of NPOs, such as churches, religious organizations, civic organizations, community assemblies, or humanitarian organizations. Entities in activities such as sports, agriculture, credit unions, or labor unions CANNOT be granted NPO status.

The incorporation process is simple but may take 4 to 8 months. The Panamanian Government Ministry must approve the request, which must also have the consent of any other government institution related to the NPO activities and purpose.

Once the Panamanian Government Ministry approves the request, this note has to be notarized and registered in Panama’s Public Registry. Afterwards, the NPO’s legal representative can request a Registration Certificate from the Government Ministry.

Once incorporated, the NPO can open a bank account, purchase real estate, or pursue commercial activities to fulfill its objectives, as long as its proceeds are not used for profit. The NPO will also be responsible to maintain a minute book, a membership registry, and up-to-date accounting books.

NPOs with a legal permit for tax-exempt donations (issued by the DGI), that receive funds from the Government, or that transfer funds abroad (outside of Panama), must present a report to the Government Ministry of such activities during the first three calendar months of the following year. Failure to present this report for two consecutive years results in a temporary suspension.


The requirements to create an NPO include:

  • Board of Directors member list with at least 3 persons, natural or legal
  • Copy of each natural Board member’s ID. In the case of legal board members, a valid certificate from the Panamanian Public Registry and official General Assembly minutes approving participation
  • Certificate of incorporation, composition of the Board of Directors and official minutes approving statute
  • NPO statute, signed by the President and Secretary, explaining the guidelines, objectives, and organizational structure of the NPO
  • Legal incorporation request presented by a Panamanian lawyer


The NPO statute must contain the following information:

  • Name and address
  • Detailed explanation of its objectives, whether charitable, for union, or of any other nature
  • Invested equity, and the NPO activities to pursue the means to sustain its operations
  • Participation fees, membership process, and the cases where membership can be revoked
  • Procedure to modify the statute
  • Accounting process, for income and expenses
  • Dissolution process, if it’s ever the case


Some benefits that NPOs enjoy include:

  • It’s a legal entity
  • Can be used to represent popular organizations such as churches or community groups
  • May receive fiscal benefits

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