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 Panama Yacht Registration

Panama is the most widely chosen jurisdiction for yacht and ship registration than any other country in the world!

The Panamanian ship registration laws offer very flexible terms and affordable costs for maritime vessels registered in the Republic of Panama.

One of the primary advantages for registering pleasure yachts, is that there is a flat registration fee, regardless of the size or tonnage of the marine vessel.

Documentation requirements:

  • Bill of sale,

  • Admeasure certificate of vessel,

  • Cancellation of previous registry of vessel (if not a new vessel), and

  • Special Power of attorney, authorizing our law firm to handle the application.

Registering a marine vessel in Panama is handled efficiently, and the procedure involves two simple steps:

I. The Provisional Navigation Registration can be processed and approved if you fax us copies of the necessary documents. The time frame is approximately 5 to 7 business days

II. The Permanent Navigation Registration can be processed as soon as we have the original copies of the documents required. The time frame is approximately 5 to 7 business days.

* We can also assist in obtaining a Panamanian yacht license for captain and crew.

Our fees for the registration of a vessel, including the obtainment of the Provisional and Regular Licenses of Navigation and the registration of the title of ownership, is of US$3,000


Panama's Merchant Marine, the largest in the world, gives ship owners from all over the world a reliable flag of registration while maintaining low enrollment fees and giving tax-exempt treatment to international shipping income.

Increased safety standards and environmental controls, as well as strict inspections of its vessels, has placed Panama's Merchant Marine among the most respectable in the world.

There being no restrictions regarding the ownership of Panama flag vessels, the same may be registered by any natural or juridical person regardless of its nationality or residence.

All vessels can be registered in Panama, including small pleasure yachts.

In order to register a vessel in Panama, an application containing all the pertinent information regarding the vessel and the ship owner, must be filed with the Shipping Department in Panama.

In this application, the following information is requested:

(1)        Name by which the vessel will be known under the Panamanian flag.

(2)        Vessel's former name.

(3)        The nationality renounced by the vessel.

(4)        The vessel's net, gross and under deck tonnage.

 (5)       The material from which the vessel is constructed.

(6)        Place and date of construction.  Name of constructors.

(7)        Principal dimensions:  Length, breadth and depth.

(8)        Description of its motive power.  Number of engines, number of cylinders per engine and horsepower per engine.  Name of manufacturers of engine.

(9)        Number of decks, masts and funnels.

(10)      Nature of the traffic in which the vessel will be engaged in (passenger, cargo, fishing, pleasure...)

(11)      If cargo vessel, description of cargo.

(12)      Name, address and fax number of the owners of the vessel.

(13)      Speed of the vessel.

(14)      Name and address of company responsible for the Radio Communications accounting of the vessel.  The company must be one of those authorized by the Maritime administration to handle this accounting for Panamanian Registry Vessels.

(15)      Name of entity issuing vessel's technical certificates.

(16)      IMO number assigned to vessel.

In addition to the application, the following documents are required:

1.         The bill of sale of the vessel with a notarial certificate stating that the seller was the true owner of the vessel at the time of the sale and that the person signing the bill of sale on behalf of the seller (if seller is a juridical entity) had the legal power to do so.

A construction certificate can replace the bill of sale when the vessel is built directly for the ship owner.

When a vessel is simple being transferred from a foreign registry into the Panamanian flag with no change of ownership, the deletion certificate from the foreign registry serves as the title document.

2.         The acceptance of the sale by the buyer.

3.         Power of attorney from the ship owner to a Panamanian attorney or law firm authorizing the registration of the vessel under the Panama flag and naming said attorney or law firm, legal representative of the vessel in Panama.

4.         The deletion certificate from the vessel's previous registry.

All documents must be notarized and authenticated by a Panamanian Consul or by means of Apostille (The Hague Convention of October 5, 1961).

Together with the application for the registration of the vessel an application for the obtainment of the radio license of the same must also be filed.

Within 90 days from the date of provisional registration of a vessel, the document which certifies that the radio accounting entity stated in the registration application is in fact responsible for the radio communications accounting of the same, must be filed with Panama's Shipping department.

The fees, taxes and tariffs that need to be paid in order to obtain the registration of a vessel under the flag of Panama vary according to the vessel's net and gross tonnages and the nature of the traffic it will be engaged in, as follows:

1)         All foreign service vessels must pay a registration or enrollment fee according to the following scale:

Vessels up to 2000 GRT US$500.00
Vessels of more than 2000 GRT and up to 5000 GRT US$2,000.00
Vessels of more than 5000 GRT and up to 15,000 GRT US$3,000.00
Vessels of more than 15,000 GRT US$3,000.00 plus US$0.10 per each GRT or fraction in excess of 15,000 GRT up to a maximum of US$6,500.00 total.

2)         An Annual Tax of US$0.10 per NRT must be paid.

3)         An Annual Consular Fee must be paid according to the following scale:
    a)         Vessels engaged in maritime commerce, including passenger and fishing vessels, dredges, drilling vessels, freighters and tugs:

Up to 1,000 GRT US$1,200.00
Above 1,000 GRT and up to 3,000 GRT US$1,800.00
Above 3,000 GRT and up to 5,000 GRT US$2,000.00
Above 5,000 GRT and up to 15,000GRT  US$2,700.00
Above 15,000 GRT US$3,000.00

  b)         Vessels without self propulsion and those vessels engaged in scientific research, supply vessels, submarines, crew ships, exploration vessels, floating docks and vessels conducting nonprofit or noncommercial activities, except the ones provided for in the preceding paragraph.

Up to 500 GRT US$850.00
Above 500 GRT and up to 1,000 GRT      US$1,400.00
Above  1,000 GRT US$1,800.00

  c)         Vessels engaged in sport activities or in private non profit activities:

Up to 100 GRT US$1,000.00
Above 100 GRT US$1,500.00

4)         An Annual Inspection Fee must be paid according to the following scale:

a)         Passenger vessels:

Up to 1,600 GRT US$900.00
Above 1,600 GRT US$1,800.00

b)         Tanker vessels:

Up to 500 GRT US$500.00
Above 500 GRT and up to 1,600 GRT US$750.00
Above 1,600 GRT and up to 5,000 GRT US$850.00
Above 5,000 GRT and up to 15,000 GRT US$1,000.00
Above 15,000 GRT US$1,200.00

  c)         Cargo Vessels:

Up to 500 GRT US$500.00
Above 500 GRT and up to 1,600 GRT US$750.00
Above 1,600 GRT and up to 5,000 GRT US$850.00
Above 5,000 GRT and up to 15,000 GRT  US$1,000.00
Above 15,000 GRT US$1,200.00

d) Pleasure vessels or of non profit private use US$400.00

e) Drilling Vessels  US$1,300.00

f) Any other vessels not considered in the preceding paragraphs:

Up to 500 GRT US$500.00
Above 500 GRT and up to 5,000 GRT US$800.00
Above 5,000 GRT US$1,000.00

5)         An Annual Investigation Of Accidents And Participation of The Administration In International Conferences And Treaties Fee must be paid according to the following scale:

a) Tankers, drilling platforms, passenger vessels, gas ships and vessel transporting chemical products  US$850.00

b) Other types of vessels not specified in the preceding paragraph, as follows:

Up to 500 GRT US$300.00
Above 500 GRT and up to 10,000 GRT US$400.00
Above 10,000 GRT US$500.00

In addition, vessels included in the present article shall pay US$0.03 per NRT.

Leisure yachts or vessels destined for private nonprofit use, as well as dumb vessels, with the exception of drilling platforms, regulated by paragraph a) of this Article, are excluded from the present Article.

Certain discounts in the registration fees can be obtained for groups of vessels of no less than three, pertaining to the same economic group and with a total of, at least, 50,000 GRT as well as  for single vessels of over 100,000 GRT.

Pleasure or private yachts must pay, every two(2) years, a sole tariff of US$1,000 if its owner is a national of Panama, whether a natural or juridical person, and US$1,500 if its owner is a natural or juridical person of foreign nationality.

The payment of this sole tariff excludes the payment of any other tariff, tax or fee.


Once the registration and the Radio License applications have been filed together with the required documents, and the corresponding registration fees have been paid, then, a provisional navigation license, valid for a six month period, is issued to the vessel so that the same may immediately navigate with the Panamanian flag.

Within this period of six months all the remaining pertinent documents of the vessel must be procured and all the necessary steps taken in order to permanently register the vessel in Panama and obtain its Regular Navigation License.  However, if within this period of time the Regular Navigation License of the vessel is not obtained, an extension of the provisional navigation license can be procured previous payment of US$50 per month extended and a US$500.00 fine.

Upon receipt of the registration documents in Panama, the title of ownership documents must be translated into Spanish, protocolized and recorded at the Public Registry Office, after which the Regular Navigation License has to be requested from the Shipping Authorities.

The Regular Navigation Licenses are issued to commercial vessels for a period of four years and to pleasure yachts for a period of two years.

These Navigation Licenses can be renewed for equal periods of time, at the request of the interested party and so long as the vessels have complied with the fiscal obligations of the Republic of Panama and the existing legal norms.

The costs of registering the title of ownership documents are as follows:

(1) Translation by an Authorized Public Interpreter                                               US$20.00 per page

(2) Protocolization at the Notary Public                                                                US$10.00 per page

(3) Stamped and notarial paper needed for the protocolization                              US$15.00 per page

A ship owner can grant a mortgage on a Panama flag vessel in favor of any natural or juridical person regardless of its nationality or residence.

Mortgages can be granted in any country of the world and in any language and the credits guaranteed by the same are not subject to any maximum interest if the vessel is engaged in international service.

The interests of ship owners and mortgages of Panama flag vessels are safeguarded from the moment the title to the vessel and the mortgages on the same are preliminarily registered.  This preliminary registration procedure, which may be carried out in a matter of hours, produces all the effects of permanent registration for a six month period within which time the parties must have the corresponding documents translated, protocolized and filed for recordation at the Mercantile Registry of Panama.

This preliminary registration of title and mortgage(s) can be carried out in Panama or at any Panamanian Consulate having maritime jurisdiction.

Mortgage registration fees at Public Registry Office are of US$0.10 per net ton of the vessel with a maximum of US$500.00.  An additional twenty percent of the total registration fees must be paid at time of permanent recordation of the mortgage.

Our fees for the registration of a vessel, including the obtainment of the Provisional and Regular Licenses of Navigation and the registration of the title of ownership, is of US$3,000

For acting as statutory legal representatives of the vessel, our fee is of US$650.00 per year.

These fees start at US$3,000.00 and include our opinion letter.

Our fees for the registration of a mortgage on a Panamanian flag vessel vary according to the amount guaranteed by the mortgage, time dedicated to its registration and complexity of the same. 

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Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We do not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omissions.

Please go to our Uses of offshore Companies Page where you will find interesting information on the benefits of using offshore companies and trusts for business and personal use, links to information on other locations and details of our products and services.


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