Any foreign or Panamanian national may register a vessel in the Panamanian Merchant Marine. International service vessels are exempt from Panama income tax. Shipowners take advantage of the flexibility of Panamanian offshore corporations by having such entity appear as owner of the vessel. Any ship may be registered provided it complies with the minimum seaworthiness, safety and environmental conditions required by international conventions. However, ships over 20 years old are subject to a special inspection before being granted a statutory certificate of registry. The Consulate of Panama in Houston provides Vessel, Yacht, MOU, MODU, MOPU registration services as well renewals. Other services such as seafearer licenses and others are also offered through the consulate.

The Panamanian Vessel and Yacht Registry

The PANAMANIAN VESSEL and YACHT REGISTRY offers many facilities, which are of considerable interest to ship owners who wish to register their vessels under the Panamanian flag. For forms for general services related to maritime services.

  • General Information
  • Incentives
  • Fees
  • The Advantages

    Here are some of the advantages offered by the PANAMANIAN REGISTRY:

    Ownership: Any person or company, regardless of nationality and place of corporation is eligible to register ships under the Panamanian flag. Furthermore, there is no income or withholding taxes payable when the income is a result of the operation of a vessel engaged in international trade.

    Minimum Requirements: There is no minimum tonnage requirement. However, vessels over 20 years old will have to pass a special inspection by an authorized Panamanian inspector, in order to obtain the Permanent Navigation Patent.

    Technical Certificates: Ship owners who wish to transfer their ships to the Panamanian flag will not be required to have them re-surveyed if the ships possess valid safety and tonnage certificates at the moment of registration, obviates the necessity to have the ship dry docked prior to registration and consequently saves the ship owner considerable expenses. However, upon the registration, a recognized entity (national or international) should issue a new set of certificates on behalf of the Administration.

    Segumar: Since 1977, our New York Representative Office has been providing assistance and advice on safety and technical matters concerning the Panamanian Registry. The New York Representative Office, which is commonly known as SEGUMAR also directs the inspection program of Panamanian flag vessels.

    Annual Safety Inspection Program (ASI): All Panamanian ships engaged in international trade are subject to an Annual Safety Inspection (ASI) which aims to determine whether or not they comply with safety or life at sea and marine pollution prevention requirements as prescribed by international and national laws and regulations.

    The surveys and the issuances of certificates on behalf of the Panamanian Administration, in accordance with the relevant and applicable Conventions, have been authorized to the leading classification societies and several national recognized organizations.
    The annual safety inspection (ASI) also verifies the existing living hygienic and working conditions of the crew in accordance with the International Labor Organization’s Conventions ratified by Panama. In addition, the Certificates of Minimum Safe Manning and Certificates of Competency complying with the STCW Convention are issued.

    Other Incentives

    Other Incentives/advantages for ship owner operating under the Panama flag

    With the objective of obtaining maximum benefits from its geographical position its important natural resources and its huge potential for development as a maritime nation, the Republic of Panama has adopted a policy of promotion and protection for productive investments made in the country.

    Panamanian legislation guarantees incentives for investments, especially those inviting industrial enterprise, be they national, foreign or joint ventures, with or without government participation. Ship owners are welcome to participate in these ventures.
    Colon Free Zone: The Colon Free Zone is the largest and most active of its kind on the continent, and the second in the world, after Hong Kong. Operations handled by the Colon Free Zone include the transshipment of goods between ships and aircrafts, storage, processing, assembly, light industry assembly handling and manufacture, as well as the storage of goods for undetermined periods of time before they are re-exported to other countries. The Colon Free Zone is located alongside the entrance to the Panama Canal, at the beginning of the Tran isthmian Railroad and the Tran isthmian Highway. Ports in the Atlantic side are few kilometers from the city of Colon, and ports in the Pacific side and the International Airport are eighty kilometers away.

    International Banking and Financial Centers: The special features of Panamanian policy regarding financial, economic, monetary and banking matters have turned the Republic of Panama into an increasingly important international banking and financial center. There are over 150 national and international banks currently operating in the country, and virtually all the major financial institutions in America, Europe and Asia today have a substantial presence in Panama.

    International Banking

    Together with the facilities and safety offered by the Panamanian Monetary System, there are other factors which have encouraged the development of an international banking and financial center in the country. These are:

  • The absence of restrictions for the entrance and transfer of capital
  • Tax free banking interest rates
  • Numbered accounts
  • Legal authorization to carry out operations and to receive deposits in all kinds of currency
  • Free circulation of the US dollar
  • Fixing of banking interest rates without Government intervention
  • Excellent international Communications
  • Qualified bilingual personnel
  • Political and social stability
  • Marine Insurance

    The sphere of action of the international banking and financial center has been complemented by an excellent system of insurance operation, which has already encouraged a number of major international companies to participate.

    Marine Safety

    The concern of the Republic of Panama to maintain an open registry responsible for the obligations of safety of life at sea, pollution, prevention and the economic well being of the owners/operators of these vessels has engendered programs and services attuned to these ends. Among these are the establishment of a Maritime Technical Office in New York City, the designation of a permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization in London, and the use of industrial groups such as Tanker, Passenger Vessels, Offshore Industry and Dry Cargo Vessels Advisory Committees. The continued increases in the Registry coupled with the commensurate improvement in the services being rendered by the Administration are testament to the desirability of this sovereign open registry.