I'm not sure exactly how this smartphone app makes money, but I believe it is still a free download.  Waze is a fully functional, user friendly, social navigation system.  I've used it for over a year, in Panama and Canada, and aside from it wanting to route me through some pretty dangerous areas of Panama City to save me time, I have had 0 complaints.  In fact I love it.


By social, I mean in real time, you can send messages to other users, warn them of hazards, police, and accidents, and the system even monitors the speed at which the users are driving, so that it can calculate the fastest route for you.


The only catch is that you do need a data plan to use the app.  This means that if you are just a visitor to Panama, you should have a sim card with a local data plan, otherwise it could get pretty pricey.


Waze is a worldwide app, so no matter where you go with your telephone, you can navigate with it.


Visit www.waze.com

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Rio Hato airport nears completion

photos by Wendy Reaman

The construction of the new Rio Hato airport is almost done. More properly speaking, it is a reconstruction of an old airstrip that was built by the US military during World War II and since then has gone through various phases of use and abandonment. It is intended to be a domestic and international airport, with the area’s fresh seafood and produce headed out toward the world’s markets and tourists coming in and out on charter flights.

The project is probably way over its initially stated budget, but these matters are guarded as state secrets by the current administration. As originally described the project would not have met international standards for airport security, but as you can see from some of the photos — especially those of you who know what the place looked like before — a far stronger set of security measures has been incorporated into the project and that would have driven up the cost.

In the immediate vicinity where airplane noise becomes a factor, property values may take a hit. However, it is expected that for the general area from about Coronado to Penonome, the convenience of a nearby airport will be a huge selling point and property values will appreciate. Much of that factor depends on whether international passenger service other than charter flights will connect Rio Hato to points abroad, and the extent to which the rebuilt airport will be conveniently integrated into the nation’s domestic air passenger systems. Certainly it would be more attractive for many foreigners to live in or visit Santa Clara by flying in and out without having to make the drive from Panama City. 


Rio Hato airport


Rio Hato Airport


Rio Hato Airport


Rio Hato Airport


Rio Hato Airport

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If you are not yet living in Panama compare this to where you are now living. Keep in mind Panama gas starts at 91 Octane.

Fuel Prices Will Go Down Starting On Friday
Wednesday, October 02 2013 @ 07:14 PM EDT
Panama Guide

Contributed by: Staff Journalist

Starting on Friday, October 4th, fuel prices will decrease.

The 95 octane gasoline without ethanol will cost $1.04 per liter, registering a decline of 0.04 cents, while 95 octane gasoline with ethanol will cost $1.05 per liter, registering a decline of 0.04 cents.

The 91 octane gasoline without ethanol will cost $0.98 per liter, with a reduction of 0.03 cents, while the 91 octane gasoline with ethanol will cost $1.00 per liter, registering a decline of 0.03 cents.

Meanwhile, the diesel will cost $0.98 per liter, registering a decline of 0.03 cents.(Panama America)

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Real Estate Taxes - Article 764 of the Panamanian Tax Code indicates which properties are exempt from property tax. In effect until December 2018.  These properties include:

All properties registered at a value of 30,000 USD or less including improvements to the land, i.e. construction;

Land used exclusively for farming and registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development at less than 150,000 USD;

The real estate tax basis should be understood as being the value of the land plus the improvements which includes any construction on the land. 

The panama real estate tax table:

Based on the above tax table, if you have a property valued at 100,000 USD, with no special new construction incentives, your break down of real estate taxes should be as follows:

2.10% of 100,000 USD

(0.00 USD for the 0 -30,000 bracket which is tax exempt) +

(349.98 USD for the 30,001 - 50,000 bracket at a rate of 1.75%) +

(487.48 USD for the 50,001-75,000 bracket at a rate of 1.95%) +

(524.98 USD for the 75,001 - 100,000 bracket at a rate of 2.1%) =

a total of 1362.44 USD for annual property taxes. 

New Construction Incentives and Property Tax Exonerations: Panama boasts new construction incentives which grant anywhere from 5-15 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements i.e. Construction.

Depending on the value of the construction and whether it is residential or commercial the following terms apply.

Commercial buildings have 10 years of tax exonerations on the improvement

Residential construction valued up to:

100,000 USD gets 15 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements

250,000 USD gets 10 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements

250,000 + USD gets 5 years of property tax exonerations on the improvements 

How and When to Pay your Panama Real Estate Taxes: Real estate taxes are due 3 times per year in Panama, at the end of the months of April, August and December. In order to pay real estate taxes, you need to know your property's tax ID. The tax ID is referred to as a RUC which stands for Registro Unico de Contribuyente, or Unique Taxpayer Registry. Every titled property in Panama is assigned its own RUC, by which its corresponding property tax payments are credited.

Property taxes must be paid in the form of either cash or certified check from a bank of locality. If by check, the payment must be issued to TESORO NACIONAL, (NATIONAL TREASURY) and it must include the property RUC.

The payments can be made at a variety of locations including but not limited to the following banks:

Caja de Ahorros
Banco Nacional
Banco General

There is usually a service charge of approximately 2.00-3.00 USD so that the tax payment is credited to the system instantaneously. The payments must be accompanied with the attached form which can be obtained at certain Cajas de Ahorro, and Bancos Nacionales.

In order to know how much is owed in real estate taxes, it is recommended to solicit a NIT (numero de identificacion tributaria) or Tax ID number. A NIT is essentially a password for on-line access via the department of revenue website. There is no cost to solicit a NIT and once obtained it allows you to view your real estate tax account statements, and print out documents of good standing for real estate taxes (paz y salvos) from the comfort of your home or office. In order to obtain your NIT you will need to fill out the form at the ANIP website: https://www.anip.gob.pa/defaultsecure.asp

It generally takes a couple days to a week before your NIT is approved and assigned. To solicit your NIT you will need:

The RUC for your property;

The passport or cedula number of the property owner, or legal representative if the property is in the name of a corporation or foundation;

The DOB and Expiration date of your cedula or passport of the property owner or legal representative;

The full name of either parent of the property owner or legal representative.

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GDP: $31 B As of October 2012

At a Glance


GDP Growth: 10.6%
GDP/Capita: $8,590
Trade Balance: -12.7%
Population: 3.5 M
Public Debt As % of GDP: 42%
Unemployment: 4.5%
Inflation: 5.9%

Forbes Lists

#57 Best Countries for Business




Panama's dollar-based economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for more than three-quarters of GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the Colon Free Zone, insurance, container ports, flagship registry, and tourism. Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 10% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are too large to traverse the existing canal. The United States and China are the top users of the Canal. Panama also plans to construct a metro system in Panama City, valued at $1.2 billion and scheduled to be completed by 2014. Panama's booming transportation and logistics services sectors, along with aggressive infrastructure development projects, have lead the economy to continued growth in 2011. Strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America. About 30% of the population lives in poverty; however, from 2006 to 2010 poverty was reduced by 10 percentage points, while unemployment dropped from 12% to less than 3% of the labor force in 2011. A US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2011. Seeking removal from the Organization of Economic Development's gray-list of tax havens, Panama has also recently signed various double taxation treaties with other nations.

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