ExpressVPN

5 Best VPNs for Panama

Internet users in Panama account for 48.8 percent of the population, and in general enjoy remarkably free and uncensored access to the web. This makes Panama a great location for VPN providers to base servers, which is also excellent news for internet users in nearby countries that are not so lucky (such as Cuba, and to some extent Mexico.)

One area for concern is that in the past journalists and other critics of the government have been exposed to threats and harassment, but the latest reports of this type of behavior all seem to relate to the administration of ex-President Ricardo Martinelli, who lost power in 2014.

It is also worth noting that a few years ago Panama passed some strict defamation laws which were used to limit press freedom, but we are unclear as to whether these are still in force (or enforced in practice.)

A larger area for concern for most is Panama’s “draconian” copyright laws, which we discuss in greater detail after we have made our pick of the best VPN services for Panama.

Best VPN for Panama

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VPNArea Logo
Read Review8.8/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

3

VyprVPN Logo
Read Review8.2/10
$8.33 / monthVisit Site

4

NordVPN Logo
Read Review7.6/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

5

LeVPN Logo
Read Review6.6/10
$4.95 / monthVisit Site

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

Best VPN for Poker

  • PROS
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • Slick iOS and Android apps
  • No usage logs
  • P2P: ok
  • CONS
  • Connection logs
  • Based in US

Based in the US but with servers in Panama (and Costa Rica), ExpressVPN is a great all-round choice as it offers a balanced range of services perfect for the mainstream VPN user. It keeps no usage logs (although some connection logs are kept), has great speed performance, and has a simple but highly functional Windows and OSX client. It also has nifty apps for Android and iOS devices, perfect for protecting your internet connection on the move, with the Android app in particular deserving praise for its elegant Home screen widget. With a very generous 30 day no quibble money back guarantee, there is little reason not to give ExpressVPN a try.

Additional features: 2 simultaneous connections (1 computer, 1 mobile device), great customer service.

Try the best VPN for Panama today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money back guarantee

2nd place

VPNArea

4.4/5

VPNArea Logo

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Based Bulgaria (no data retention)
  • 5 simultaneous devices
  • great customer service
  • P2P: ok
  • CONS
  • Minor teething issues

VPNArea is a new and fairly small Bulgarian company that has a very well designed Viscosity-based client (with DNS leak protection, a per-app kill switch, auto-IP changer, and server statistics), and its customer support is among the friendliest and most informed we have come across. It also has lots of servers all over the place (including Panama, of course), a 7 day free trial, and fantastic connection speeds. The fairly minor issues we encountered are largely due to it being a new service, but we remain impressed (and these may have been resolved since we reviewed the service.)

 

Visit VPNArea »


3rd place

VyprVPN

4.1/5

VyprVPN Logo

  • PROS
  • Very fast due to own infrastructure
  • 36 countries
  • 3 simultaneous connections
  • SmartDNS service included
  • “Chameleon” stealth servers
  • CONS
  • Connection (metadata) logs
  • Under US jurisdiction
  • P2P: no

VyprVPN, which is based in Switzerland but is a subsidiary of US owned Golden Frog, is one of the only VPN providers in the world to own and manage its own network infrastructure, which probably accounts for its blazing performance results.  Ignoring its (terrible) PPPT only package, VyprVPN offers strong encryption, servers in 36 countries worldwide (including Panama), a NAT firewall for additional security, great customer support, and a free SmartDNS service. Thanks to being subject to US laws, keeping connection logs, and having a strict no piracy policy, however, more privacy-oriented users should look elsewhere.

Additional features: no usage logs, slick software.

Visit VyprVPN »


4th place

NordVPN

3.8/5

NordVPN Logo

  • PROS
  •  No logs
  • Based in Panama
  • Accepts Bitcoin payment
  • Tor over VPN
  • 2 simultaneous connection
  • CONS
  • Can be slow
  • No servers in Panama itself

If the NSA and its implications for US based VPN provider’s security concerns you, the somewhat paradoxically named NordVPN is an excellent choice. Based in Panama, it has a ‘no logs at all’ policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoin.  Unfortunately, although based in Panama, NordVPN has no servers located there, so you have to choose between closer US servers, or more secure (but slower thanks to the distance) European ones. Although it scores very well in terms of privacy and security, NordVPN is somewhat let down by poor speed performance, which is a shame, as it is otherwise a very good service.

Additional features: “double encryption”,  P2P: ok

Visit NordVPN »


5th place

Le VPN

3.3/5

Le VPN Logo

  • PROS
  • No usage logs
  • Based in Hong Kong
  • “Hybrid” vpn
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • 114 countries
  • CONS
  • Cons come here

Positives: No usage logs • based in Hong Kong • “hybrid” vpn • good support • 2 simultaneous connections • 114 countries •  • P2P ok

Negatives: Connection logs •

This French VPN provider (now based in Hong Kong, which is great for those worried about surveillance by the NSA) runs a server from Panama, and impressed us with its powerful client (a version of Viscosity), strong technical support, and innovative “hybrid VPN” (which combines an OpenVPN connection with a SmartDNS service.) Le VPN keeps no usage logs, but does maintain some connection logs.

Additional features: Accepts bitcoins, P2P: ok.

Visit Le VPN »


VPN Considerations for Panama

Copyright Law

Thanks in large to the presence of the Panama Canal and the Colón Free Trade Zone, Panama is a nexus for foreign investment in Central America (most notably from the United States,) which has in turn created a large community of expats living in the country (Law 80, which provides 100 percent exemption from income tax and real estate taxes for 15 years almost certainly provides further incentive for foreigners to settle down in Panama!)

With such a large expat population, it is understandable that accessing US-based internet services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus is popular, and is easily achieved using VPN or SmartDNS services (and because many expats have bona fide US postal addresses and bank accounts, paying for and using these services should present no problem for them.)

However… due to intense political pressure from the US, in 2012 Panama passed the draconian Bill 510 (.pdf, Spanish), described by Andres Guadamuz from TechnoLlama as the “worst copyright law in history.”

Under the law, infringers can be fined up to $100,000 USD for a first offence, and twice that for re-offending (and as a nasty sting in the tail, those convicted are required to pay for their name to be published as an exercise in “naming and shaming”.)

Bizarrely,  Bill 510 is so loosely worded that even streaming legal content from services such as Netflix and Pandora can fall foul of the law,

510 Bill is unique among national Internet laws in that it does not contain provisions for these so-called “transient” and “incidental” files. This means that users who stream paid-for content through services like Netflix or Pandora could be prosecuted and fined as much as $100,000, or $200,000 for repeat offenders, for having copyrighted material on their computers.”

Even worse, the fine does not go to the copyright holder, but directly into the Panama government’s coffers, and government employees (from special General Copyright Directorate (DGDA)) receive a hefty bonus of 50 percent of their salary for securing a conviction!

Writing from the UK we have no idea how this pans out in practice, but we strongly recommend protecting yourself with a VPN when streaming content (rather than just using an unencrypted SmartDNS service), and even more so if you are determined to P2P download. We also strongly recommend using some form of internet kill switch while doing so.

Internet

Internet access out in the hicks of Panama can be extremely slow and patchy (at best), but residents of Panama City report having stable internet, with broadband speeds reaching a up to a perfectly usable 15Mbits/s (download). Using a VPN does introduce a small performance hit (which increases the greater the distance you are from the VPN server), but this should still be plenty fast enough to stream HD content from the US.

Please note that all the VPN providers listed above run many servers from within the United States, and are all suitable for streaming content geo-restricted to the US.

Best Panama VPN Conclusion

The internet in Panama is very unrestricted except when it comes to copyright law, where (at least on paper) it is frankly draconian, and appears purpose-made to encourage an corruptly aggressive stance to even those who stream content from services they have paid for (let alone those who P2P download!) We therefore strongly recommend anyone who wishes to watch (or listen to) media of any kind, protect themselves with a good VPN service.

Best VPN for Panama Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VPNArea Logo
Read Review8.8/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

3

VyprVPN Logo
Read Review8.2/10
$8.33 / monthVisit Site

4

NordVPN Logo
Read Review7.6/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

5

LeVPN Logo
Read Review6.6/10
$4.95 / monthVisit Site


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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5 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Panama

    1. Hi Guy,

      I believe the situation is somewhat complex, as ExpressVPN is officially based in the British Virgin Islands, but runs its actual operation out of the US, making it liable under US law.

          1. Hi Guy,

            When I asked ExpressVPN about this I received the following reply,

            “The corporation is setup under the British Virgin Islands at the moment. The owners of the company are in the U.S.”

            As a US owned company, ExpressVPN is subject to government surveillance via FISA and the Patriot Act (even when data is stored overseas). Even if it does abide by British Virgin Islands laws, the British Virgin Islands are a British overseas territory, and therefore no safer from NSA spying (thanks to UK data retention laws and the NSA’s best buddy – GCHQ).

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