Ship Registration

The Panama Ship Registry, established in 1925, is one of the oldest and is largest open ship registry in the world. 2002 statistics indicated 10,143 ships registered with a total tonnage of 146,458,175 GT.

Through our attorneys, we can arrange for vessel registration under the Panamanian flag, usually within two business days.

Registration Process

The registration procedures is divided in two stages: first, the Provisional Registration and second, The Permanent Registration.

The first stage begins with the application for the ship registration directly to the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine in Panama. Once the application is filed and the registration fees paid, the Provisional Registration Certificate (valid for 6 months) and the Provisional Radio License (valid for three months) are issued within 24 hours. The Provisional Registration Certificate or Patente may be renewed upon request for additional 3 months periods.

In the second stage, the legal representative in Panama appointed by the ship’s owner shall obtain both the Permanent Registration Certificate (valid for 4 years) and Permanent Radio License (valid for 4 years) from the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine in Panama, provided all the documentation required is presented accordingly.

Advantages of the Panama Registry:

Fleet Discounts. Pleasure yachts are entitled to reduced tariffs, and ship fleets to tax rebates under current regulations.

Largest Registry. An offshore sovereign system recognized by the international maritime community as having successfully adapted to its needs since 1925, and is presently the largest world registry in both tonnage and number of vessels.

Residency Requirements. Any shipowner, whether a natural or corporate person, and irrespective of its nationality or domicile, is entitled to register a vessel under the Panama flag.

Taxation: The revenues derived from the international maritime commerce of merchant ships registered under the Panama flag is not subject to income tax in Panama, and are entitled to very competitive tonnage tariffs.

Manning and labor. The shipowners may crew vessels with personnel of any nationality within the prevailing international maritime norms under very advantageous labor conditions.

Financing shipping activities. The Panama ship mortgage, used extensively by the world's leading credit institutions, which have accepted this instrument as an expeditious and institutionally stable security vehicle. Registration proceedings may be completed in 24 hours.

A Maritime Court at the Panama Canal

The Maritime Court has proven to be an adequate judicial forum available to the international maritime community to institute judicial proceedings to enforce their claims through the seizure and arrest of vessels or of other property of the defendant.

Court Schedule. It is available 24/7 for urgent actions; i.e. complaints with seizures or arrests of vessels, cargo fuel, or freight, in transit; for the posting of bonds or securities to release seized property, and in general, for the presentation of motions or actions, that if not presented in a timely manner, may cause damages, or impair interests.

Bond requirements. To enforce a lien, a bond in the sum of $1,000.00, is to be posted, and a deposit of $2,500.00 in court for the initial maintenance and custody of the vessels. For security purposes a bond of not less than 20% nor more that 30% of the amount sued for, to be fixed by the court, must be deposited.

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