March 18, 2018

Everything About the Panama Film Law and its Incentives


One of the important factors driving filmmakers to Panama is a recently implemented government initiative which offers 15% cash back to foreign film and television projects. Other financial incentives include a policy of tax-free temporary importation of all film equipment with no deposit required.

Alongside this, the cost of filming in Panama is, on the whole, around 30% cheaper than in other South American countries. The cost of labour is low as there are no film industry trade unions and location permits are cheap and often easy to obtain.

Furthermore, the currency of Panama is the US dollar, which is convenient for productions coming from the United States. Film and television companies travelling to Panama can be exempt from having to pay certain immigration service fees. Cost of visas and administration fees are also often offered at a reduced price.

BENEFIT: 15% cash rebate.
Annual Cap: Contact Film Office.
Project Cap: None.
Local Spend Cap: $40M
PROJECT CRITERIA: Minimum budget $3M USD. Maximum budget $40M USD.
WHAT QUALIFIES? Qualifying expenses are all payment made to Panamanian
companies, including Panamanian talent, services, and airline tickets from Copa
Airlines (receipt with a Panamanian Tax ID required). U.S. talent and crew, while
not eligible for the incentive, are only subject to U.S. income taxes.
ELIGIBLE ENTITIES: Foreign companies with a cinematographic or audiovisual
ELIGIBLE PRODUCTIONS: Any audiovisual production.
FIRST STEPS: Apply for the incentive when you register your production with the
Panama Film Commission, marking the box for cash back. Application is based
on duration of the production at $150 USD per week. Application response is
usually one week from submittal.
FINAL STEPS: An audit is required. Present a written request for the incentive
addressed to the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Panama through the
Panama Film Commission when the production is completed. The incentive is
usually secured within 18 months.
CO-PRODUCTIONS: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru,
Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela.
You Should Know
Producers are tax exempt from duty, levies, fees, and charges for items
purchased and not resold or leased. Exempt from property tax. Exempt from
taxes related to the importation of goods, materials, products, equipment, and
other necessary good for production.

About The Author

Working in film and tv productions since 2006

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