Panama Ship Registry
Panama leads the world in registering boats, ships, and vessels with more than 8,200 bearing the flag of Panama. Panama has registered over 82 million tons which equals 22% of the total tonnage in the world.
One of the reasons for this is due to Law 57 of 2008 which reorganized the Panama merchant marine registration process.
96 Panama Ship Registration Offices Worldwide
There are many advantages for registering vessels in Panama. Prior to Law 57, vessels were only registered for two years and had to constantly renew. Law 57 allows ships to be registered indefinitely. Entire fleets can be registered as Panama vessels in other countries through the Panama consulates and registration offices worldwide (96). It is less expensive to register a ship as a Panama vessel than with other countries. While most countries only register new ships, Panama can register a vessel as old as 25 years. Panama offers crew officers exclusive navigational training which is authorized by the International Maritime Organization (OMI).
Panama corporations can be created to own Panama registered vessels in order to protect their assets.
No Minimum Tonnage
There are no minimum tonnage requirements to register under the Panama flag. Small boats and yachts can carry the Panamanian flag. Vessels over 20 years old are required to be inspected by an official Panama inspector to become registered.
Easy Transfer of Registration
Transferring a vessel to Panama’s Registry does not require a re-survey or safety inspection if the vessel possesses valid safety certificates. Prior tonnage certificates are accepted so the vessel does not have to be dry docked at a considerable expense. All major Class Societies and IACS members’ surveys are accepted by Panama.
Panama allows dual registration of both foreign vessels and Panamanian registered vessels with another country. This is considered an advantage for European ships which could otherwise be forced to register with many other European countries at a greater expense versus an open registry offered by Panama. However, dual registration may not be available for a vessel whose ownership is in a country which does not allow it.
Discounted Registration Fees for Fleets
A fleet of ships between 5 to 15 vessels will receive a 20% discount on Panama’s ship registration. Fleets having 16 to 50 vessels will receive a 35% discount. Fleets over 50 vessels receive a 60% discount.
Ships Under Construction
Any vessel under construction can apply for a Panama Provisional Registration including radio call certification.
Pleasure Vessel Benefits
Pleasure vessels such as sail boats and yachts pay an initial fee of $1,500 USD. However, if the pleasure vessel is owned by a Panamanian citizen, or a Panama corporation, or a Panama Private Interest Foundation, the fee is only $1,000 USD.