Since 2007 and by means of Law No. 36 of the same year, Panama promotes the film and audiovisual industry in its territory. This law was modified by Law No. 16 of April 27, 2012, which as its predecessor, offers an ample variety of tax and migratory benefits and incentives to those who develop or support this type of industry within national territory.
Law No. 16 offers the opportunity for film productions that are developed in Panama, to be legally protected, just as its producers, as well as it also offers several incentives to distribution, sale and film-showing companies, as well as the movie-makers, producers and directors. Among the incentives offered by this novel legislation are the following:
- The creation of the Film Commission of Panama, that has the purpose of contributing to the development of the film and audiovisual industry, as well as to contribute in the design and execution of public policies for the promotion, investment and commercialization of film and audiovisual works and its several expressions within this industry.
- The National Incentives Registry is created where companies and people, national or foreign, that engage in film and audiovisual activity and who register will receive a film and audiovisual industry license, and will enjoy the tax and migratory benefits and incentives.
- The income tax exoneration on all the equipment used in film productions.
- The issuance of temporary resident permits for a 1-year period to foreign personnel hired temporarily by film and audiovisual companies that provide their services as trusted employees, producer, actor, technician or expert.
- The issuance of permanent resident permit in the condition of film and audiovisual industry’s investor, to those foreigners that make an investment in any activity of this industry for an amount greater than US$150,000.00.
- This law establishes that at the granting of the temporary resident permit to the foreign personnel hired by film and audiovisual service companies will not require additional paperwork or obtain other permit from another state entity to work at the company or to remain in the Republic of Panama, for the period granted by the National Immigration Service.
- The exoneration of national taxes, duties, contributions, fees, and levies related exclusively with this type of activity in the special areas for a period of 20 years.
To receive these and other benefits, the companies must be registered in the National Registry of Film and Audiovisual Productions, as well as the National Incentive Registry.