THE PROCEDURE TO REGISTER A SHIP WITH THE PANAMENIAN PAVILION
The procedure to register ships with the Panamanian flag is very simple and expedited. The request for Provisional Registration can be made through the Consulate General of Panama in Marseille, for which the necessary requirements must be provided as well as payment of the corresponding fees for said service, which are calculated based on the tonnage of the vessel.
Once all the documents have been received and the payment of the rights has been made, a provisional patent will be issued, the duration of which is six months, and a provisional radio license for three months. These documents are issued in approximately 6 hours.
The representatives of the ship will have a period of six months in order to apply for the Regulatory Navigation Patent and Radio License, which is made before the Panama Maritime Authority. The term of such licenses is two years and is granted after all documents have been filed and delivered by a law firm, designated as resident agent. Likewise, it is required that the title of ownership of the ship has been duly registered in the Public Registry of ship ownership. The radio license is issued when the interested party presents the application duly completed with the description of the communication equipment that the ship will have on board, in compliance with the GMDSS.
- Power granted to a Panamanian lawyer duly signed by the owner of the ship. Said document must be duly legalized or apostilled.
- Ownership of the ship
- Certificate of tonnage or tonnage issued by an authority recognized by Panama.
- Original certificate of sale (Bill of sale), Deed of Property Title.
- Certificate of cancellation of the previous registration.
- Construction certificate (if it is a new construction).
- Technical certificates belonging to the ship in accordance with international conventions.
- Radio license application.
The Consulate has the right to preliminarily register ship mortgages on the property title of ships belonging to the Panamanian registry. Mortgages are bilateral contracts between the mortgagor (owner) and the mortgagee. The Consul has notarial powers to legalize the signature of both parties. The procedure is simple and is usually completed on the same day.
The shipowner can be assured of the acceptance of the Panamanian mortgage by banks in the United States, the Far East and Europe, providing satisfactory security of title to the ship. Therefore, the Panamanian ship mortgage, once registered, grants the mortgagee an inalienable right to ownership of the ship. This mortgage lien even remains in force even when the ship has been sold. Therefore, the mortgagee has the right to pursue, link or sell the boat to collect its credit, with preference over smaller and subsequent creditors. In the Panamanian Maritime Legislation, this document is a privileged maritime credit, therefore, the mortgagee maintains preference in the order of priority of collection over other creditors.
Bareboat Charter Registration (Dual Registry)
By virtue of a bareboat charter contract, Panamanian law allows the dual registration of that vessel already registered in Panama, so that it can be registered under the flag of another State for the duration of the contract (up to two years, renewable). The Panama Maritime Authority will issue for these cases the proper authorization to register the ship under the flag of another State during the term of the Charter contract. The Consulate can handle the procedure required for the Panamanian State to grant this authorization. The process can be done in one day only.
The dual registration system also allows a charterer, leasing a ship registered in a country without an open registry, to benefit from the advantages of the Panamanian Registry. This allows the owner of the vessel to maintain the original registration, which is suspended for the duration of the dual registration; however, he may recover his initial flag once the charter contract has ended.
It is possible to reserve in advance the name of a vessel under construction, or scheduled for construction, whenever this name is available, upon payment of a nominal fee of US$40.00 per month.
Special Provisional Registration
International service vessels destined for scrapping, delivery voyages or any other mode of temporary navigation may apply for a Provisional Patent and a Radio Permit, both valid for three months.
Ships in construction
The provisional registration of ships under construction is allowed through a request by the interested parties. Once said registration is approved, a patent number and radio letters are granted to said vessel. For the pertinent purposes, the payment of registration rights must be made, until the ship is fit to navigate; at which time the payment of the rest of the taxes must be made for the issuance of the corresponding navigation patent and radio license.