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Panama: Law of Offshore

Shipping Law

The registry forms part of the Panama Maritime Authority, and has offices in London, New York, Houston and New Orleans. Provisional registration is effected through lawyers in Panama, but the provisional registration documents can be issued by Panamanian consuls. They are valid for 6 months, renewable. The following information must be supplied:

  • Present and previous name of the vessel;
  • Foreign owner's name and address;
  • Previous registry;
  • Name of builder; place and date of construction;
  • Type of vessel; number of decks, masts and funnels;
  • Material of hull;
  • Details of previous usage;
  • Length, width and height; gross and net tonnages;
  • Type and number of engine, number of cylinders, horsepower; name of manufacturer;
  • Speed;
  • Details of qualified radio accounting agency;
  • Name of classification society; IMO number.

On provisional registration, a renewable 6-month Provisional Patente of Navigation is issued, along with a renewable 3-month Radio Permit. Permanent registration with a renewable 4-year Patente and Radio Permit will follow issue of the provisional documents and completion of the following documentation within 30 days of provisional registration:

  • A power of attorney in favour of a Panama lawyer as legal representative;
  • A notarised Bill of Sale or Builder's Certificate;
  • Deletion certificate from a previous registry;
  • International Tonnage and Class certificates;
  • Special inspection report if the vessel is over 20 years old

See Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes for details of fees payable on provisional registration, and fees payable annually thereafter; also for details of a simplified registration regime applying to pleasure vessels.

Bareboat charters can be registered in Panama for renewable 2-year periods, with the consent of the owners, the original port of registry and on presentation of the charterparty. No evidence of title can be registered in Panama for chartered vessels. in the reverse situation, Panama gives its consent for its vessels to be temporarily registered elsewhere.

Mortgages can be registered in Panama once title has been established. Under Article 1512 of the Commercial Code, as amended by Law 43 of 1984, the following details must be recorded:

  • Names and domiciles of the mortgagor and mortgagee;
  • Terms of the mortgage, including amount and basis of rate of interest, and repayment schedules;
  • Description of the vessel and its registration;
  • In the case of a fleet mortgage, any arrangements for splitting the total lent among the individual vessels.

Panama is a party to SOLAS 1974, the Loadline Convention, MARPOL 1973 and 1978, and the 1968 Admeasurement and Tonnage Convention, among other international agreements.



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