The Panama Registry

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Up Other Considerations Registration


To enjoy protection under international law, a vessel must possess a national character. Generally, maritime nations restrict ship registration to their nationals or nationally registered entities. The Republic of Panama offers a sovereign open ship register, allowing foreign individuals or corporations to enjoy the same privileges as Panamanian nationals.

According to Lloyd’s statistics (June 1999), Panama has increased its lead as the world’s largest shipping register: during 1998, Panama’s merchant fleet grew by almost 8% to 98.2 million gross tonnage. This represents over 18.5% of the total world merchant fleet.   IMO Logo                  

Panama is, since 1958, a member state of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. 

Panama is the largest contributor to the IMO’s budget:15.80%, as compared to 5.23% for Japan and 4.12% for the United States (2000/2001 appropriations) and has the honor to occupy a seat on the IMO’s Council, the executive organ of this prestigious organization, in the A Category (reserved to the ten states with the largest interest in providing international shipping services) in the company of the USA, China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Korea, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. 

Ms. Bertilda Garcia, Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority and Mr. William O'Neil,  former Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.


The Panama Maritime Authority - which is headed by Ms. Bertilda Garcia, Administrator and Capt. Luis P. Salamero, Deputy-Administrator - consists of four subdivisions:

                  The General Directorate of Merchant Marine: in charge of the Ship Registry, enforces international safety and pollution control regulations.

                  The General Directorate of Seafarers controls training, certification and watchkeeping of maritime personnel and ensures compliance with international conventions.  

                  The General Directorate of Ports, coordinating port activity on the national level.

                  The General Directorate of Marine and Coastal Resources: responsible for the preservation of the marine environment and the control of industrial fishing activities.  

The General Directorate of Merchant Marine and the General Directorate of Seafarers maintain an international representation in three strategically located centers: New York, London and Manila.  Panama Maritime Authority's New York international office - sometimes referred to as SEGUMAR - is located next to the New York Consulate, in the adjacent building.

Ms. Bertilda Garcia and Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the IMO 


Capt. Luis P. Salamero, Deputy Administrator

Lic. Rodrigo Chiari, General Secretary

Lic. Marixenia de Barrios, General Director Merchant Marine

Lic. Gabriel Fernandez, General Director of Seafarers


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Besides its location in one of the world’s busiest ports and most relevant trading centers, the New York Consulate enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a quintessentially maritime consulate; its team of seasoned specialists are ready to assist you with speedy efficiency in all matters related to the Panama Registry such as vessel registration, naval mortgages, seamen’s competency certificates, and all other issues.


Shipowner Eligibility

Any individual or corporate entity, irrespective of nationality or country of incorporation, may register a vessel under Panamanian flag.


Vessel Eligibility

There is no minimum tonnage and almost any category of ships can be registered, from passenger ships to dredges and floating docks. There are no age restrictions; however vessels older than 20 years are subject to a special inspection. They will be issued a Provisional Patente and will have 6 months to complete the inspection.


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This Web Site is the result of private initiative and is provided for informational purposes only. While every attempt has been made to ensure its accuracy, the information is provided “as is” and neither the Panamanian Government nor the Consulate General provides any warranty regarding its reliability, completeness or timeliness. As such, they will not be responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of that information. All rights are reserved, including the right to make changes or delete content without notice. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.

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