The enrollment consists of two stages:
provisional and permanent. The Consulate will handle the initial paperwork and
is authorized to issue temporary documentation including a provisional
Certificate of Registration (also known as “Patente”), valid for 6 months
and a provisional Radio License, valid for 3 months. The procedure is
straightforward and is usually completed within the same day, as soon as
registration fees and first year's annual charges are paid to the Consulate.
The shipowner must appoint a Panamanian law firm to act as its representative in Panama. That firm will file the title of ownership with the Public Registry Office, in Panama, and submit an application for permanent registration to the Shipping Department within the validity period of the temporary certificates.
The Consulate is authorized to register in preliminary form the Bill Of Sale or any other title of ownership, such as a builder’s certificate. The Consul shall retain one counterpart of the Bill of Sale and Acceptance of Sale and authenticate true copies of these documents, which are to be filed at the Public Registry in Panama within six months.
The Consulate is entitled to register in
preliminary form a naval mortgage against a Panamanian vessel. Mortgages are
bilateral contracts between the mortgagor (shipowner) and the mortgagee
(lender). The Consul shall legalize the signature of both parties. The procedure
is straightforward and is usually completed within the same day.
The shipowner can be assured of the acceptance by the United States, Far Eastern and European banks of the Panamanian mortgage, providing satisfactory security. Hence the Panamanian Ship Mortgage, once registered, grants a right to the mortgagee against the vessel. The encumbrance follows the ship even when sold. The mortgagee thus has a right to pursue, attach or have the ship sold in order to collect his credit, with preference over creditors of less standing.
Under bareboat charter, a shipowner leases a ship to an operator – the charterer – which becomes responsible for the operation of the vessel. According to Panamanian Law, which allows Dual Registry, that vessel, already registered in one state, may be registered under the flag of another state for the duration of the charter (up to two years, renewable).
The dual registry system allows a charterer, leasing a ship registered in a country without an open registry, to benefit from the advantages of the Panamanian Registry. It also allows the shipowner to maintain the original registration, which is merely suspended during the dual registration but regains its effectiveness upon termination of the charter. The authorization of the original flagging state, as well as the shipowner's, is necessary. The Consulate is allowed to handle the required procedure.
It is possible to reserve in advance the name of a vessel in
construction, or scheduled for construction, provided this name is available,
upon payment of a nominal fee of US$40.00 per month.
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