Benefits of Ship Registry in Panama

The benefits of registering a ship in Panama go far beyond its strategic geographic location and include a number of incentives that make it the first choice for shipowners and operators worldwide. For more than 100 years, Panama has offered easy ship registration and has become the country with the highest number of flag registrations worldwide.

The registration of vessels in Panama is open to any nationality. A registered owner of a vessel with a Panamanian flag can be a natural or legal person of any nationality or domicile.

Security is one of the main advantages of the Panamanian Ship Registry, this is because Panama has recognized all major international conventions pronounced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Each vessel registered on the Panamanian Ship Registry is inspected annually by surveyors from ports all over the world. The Department of Navigation and Maritime Safety Directorate General of Merchant Marine manages several Annual Safety Inspections of registered vessels to guarantee strict compliance with all international regulations.

The Panamanian Ship Registry offers different kinds of discounts on annual taxes for vessels. There are discounts on New Construction vessels, Special fleets, vessels belonging to Economic Groups, and vessels that have Good Performance because they have not been detained in the past 24 months. Also, there is an exemption on taxation on the proceeds created by International Maritime Commerce. Nevertheless, the revenue of a sale of a Panamanian-flagged vessel is not subjected to tax.

Furthermore, the Panamanian Public Registry of Vessels provides satisfactory security for ship mortgages because there is a special registration of preliminary ship mortgages. The preliminary registration can be executed in Panama or through Panamanian Consulates approved by the Panamanian Maritime Authority. This kind of registration produces total legal effects against third parties or creditors for (6) months, bringing security to the creditors and transparency to interested creditors. Moreover, ship mortgages in Panama may be executed for vessels under construction and for vessel fleets, instead of executing an individual mortgage for each vessel.

Ship owners can benefit from the Dual Registry system offered by the Panamanian Ship Registry. The Dual Registry allows Panamanian registered vessels with a bareboat charter to register on other flags and foreign vessels can be registered under the Panamanian flag without losing their original registry.

Also, there is no minimum tonnage restriction and the process of registration is considered fast and easy. As long as you comply with all the requirements a vessel can be registered in less than 24 hours.

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Published February 2nd, 2023, as Commentary on Maritime by Johana Sum