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The Bank of Nova Scotia - or Scotiabank - is a Canadian Big Five bank with branches in Panama, including a branch at Plaza San Francisco. My thought was to open a Scotiabank account in Canada for deposit of my Gov pension, the idea being it might simplify my ability to open a Scotiabank account in Boquete and to access funds locally there. Does anyone have experience with that branch?

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The Bank of Nova Scotia - or Scotiabank - is a Canadian Big Five bank with branches in Panama, including a branch at Plaza San Francisco. My thought was to open a Scotiabank account in Canada for deposit of my Gov pension, the idea being it might simplify my ability to open a Scotiabank account in Boquete and to access funds locally there. Does anyone have experience with that branch?

Good branch and great service in comparison to some others, however there is little correlation between Scotiabank Panama and Scotiabank Canada, where my daughter in Ottawa is a lifer.

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We live in Boquete full time. One of our two banks is Scotiabank at Plaza San Francisco. Very nice people there. Danilo is their customer service guy, and he is top notch. The branch manager, if not busy with someone in her office, always greets me with a warm smile.

My experience is that Scotiabank in Canada and Scotiabank in Panama have only one thing in common -- the name. Do not expect interoperability between the two, and then you won't be disappointed.

i have been led to believe (that disclaimer makes this paragraph rumor material) is that Panamanian banking laws require arms length separation of all Panama banks from their other offshore siblings. Dunno for sure, but that seems to fit what I see. Further as a rumor is that some people tell me that there is one brokerage house in the USA that has tighter interoperability with not a branch but an "affiliate" bank in Panama. I have not checked that out because I have no interest in doing so.

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I have accounts at Scotiabank Canada and Panama.  As others have said, there is little in common between the two.  However I have an arrangement with the Canadian bank that I can call them and arrange transfers between the two banks.  Danilo can set that up for you at this end.  All in all, I am hapoy with the Panama Scotia, as long as the proper paperwork is in place.

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We did this exercise 10 years ago. Monies coming to Panama go through a clearing house in New York, of which there are 4 banks that convert your funds to USD and then send them on to Panama via wire transfer. BNS in Panama is subject to the same rules as Global or Banistmo or Banco General. You cannot access your Canadian account any better with BNS.

We still have our money deposited into our Canadian banks, and recover it through interac or wire transfer. When we return from a trip to Canada we can bring $10000 each to deposit here. FINTRAC requires you report any larger amount.

There is talk of BNS and TD having direct access to Cdn accounts from the US but I don't know if that  will change anything in Panama.

We use Global and have a good relationship

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I deal with a number of Scotiabank accounts in Canada and have an account in the one in Boquete and I disagree with those above who say it is not useful. In my experience it is easier to wire money from a Scotia account in Canada to the one in Panama AND it gets wired DIRECTLY without having to go through a correspondent bank in the USA.

This saves time and avoids one extra level of Govt.-imposed reporting delays and Bank delays, as well as possible mistakes.

I have wired transferred from Scotia Canada to a non-Scotia bank in Panama and with the banks screwing up the details, it had to be unwound through three banks until I got a chance to correct it, and then it had to be tried again. Even tracing the transfer through more levels, with "wire rooms" having limited operating hours tends to be a pain with this antiquated way of moving money.

The simplest way is using the same bank in two places. This also used to be possible with HSBC in Canada and here in Panama, but HSBC sold their branches here to a bank from Colombia. If you are looking at transferring your CPP or QPP, while it is no problem getting it deposited in the Canada branch, do not send it here in $C. Get it converted in Canada to avoid delays. Unless you are creative or converting a very large $ amount, the Canadian branch is going to ding you for 2 to 3% on the FX rate.     

 

 

 

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If you are looking at transferring your CPP or QPP, while it is no problem getting it deposited in the Canada branch, do not send it here in $C. Get it converted in Canada to avoid delays. Unless you are creative or converting a very large $ amount, the Canadian branch is going to ding you for 2 to 3% on the FX rate.

Alan - thanks for your perspective. I wonder whether you could expand on this point.  How would one convert to US$ when located in Panama, and avoid the 2-3% cost that you mention?

Edited by Admin_01
to correct formatting that hid the post within a quote.

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That's not quite what I meant, Steve.

In Panama, if you want to cash a Canadian or a US$ check, the money will tend to have a hold on it for a couple of weeks and they will charge you ~$50 and the exchange (for $C) with their profit. Therefore at the very least, you want to have a US$ account in Canada that you can access here without checks, if possible. I think most people use an ATM and withdraw money from Canada that way, but those fees add up over a year too. 

The way to avoid paying a 2 to 3% exchange fee in Canada to convert Loonies to USD, requires you have a discount brokerage accounts in both USD & CAD. If you have accounts or are comfortable trading securities, email me (my user name at gmail) if you want more details. 

Another good way to access the cash, once you have it in US$ in Canada, is to get a US$ credit card from the Canadian bank before you move here (where it is a hassle to get a credit card). In most places in Panama, you can use a credit card and you can easily pay it off using an online transfer. To get a bank account here is a real hassle. At Scotiabank, will need last year's tax returns, reference letters from 2 financial institutions in Canada, passport and 1 other picture ID (Driver's Licence), rental agreement or deed in Panama and a utility bill (even in landlord's name) to confirm the address & 3 personal references. And then it can take weeks to get the account. Be prepared to tell them why you want an account and where the money is coming from. You can thank US pressure on money laundering etc. for this and US citizens have it worse.     

To make life easier, I also suggest people get themselves a Magic Jack at Best Buy or direct from MJ, while you are in Canada. For about $100 you can get their gadget that can be plugged into a computer or a router and get years of free unlimited calls to the US and Canada. You can choose a phone number in an area code where you want people to be able to call you, for free. You can then do your banking, contact the govt. and keep in touch with friends and family in the US and Canada at no added cost... and without mail.

There is one other thing... Mail. Before leaving Canada, go paperless at all accounts. Tell friends and family not to send you things by mail unless they have to. The post office is not secure in Panama and there is no delivery. Many people here who get mail from outside the country rent a private post office box, locally, that gives you an address in the US. Mail to that box gets privately flown to Panama and delivered to your box. I have heard of people using the local post office but for anything valuable or important (like govt. correspondence) you either give it to someone going to Canada to mail or you use a courier and that will cost US$50+. Renting that mail service at Mailboxes Etc. costs about $28/mo. and includes only a limited amount if mail. Once you go over a certain weight, there are more charges. There are other mailing possibilities too, but I don't have experience with them.

This all may seem complicated and unnecessarily expensive. It is just another country and it becomes easy after awhile. And other things are much cheaper here, compared to Canada. I get my phone and fast internet, which I use for TV and Magic Jack for ~$60 per month. I used to pay $100/month for just First Choice satellite TV in Canada 5 years ago. Of course, C$100 these days is only US$75, so things have gotten more expensive here if you have $C income since the oil price has gone down, hurting the Loonie. BTW gas here for 91 octane (lowest available) is currently about 68 cents/litre.

More than you asked... but I thought some of it might be useful.

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Thanks Alan - plenty of good info there, a lot to think about. I'll question more deeply as I get closer to a permanent move.

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Alan, I'll speak with you further, but I didn't know BNS was depositing directly from Canada to Panama.

We just came back and 87 octane was $1 Cdn in Ontario and $1.06 in PQ.

We add to our $ US Cdn. acc. at B of M when there is a blip in the dollar and bring it down with us, avoiding some costs and time. Certainly not perfect but an option. 

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