Vessels and yachts registration

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Shipping companies and owners of yachts find the Republic of Panama being the most attractive jurisdiction for registration of any type of vessels (yachts, fishing and cargo vessels, tankers, etc.). This country has one of the oldest (exists since 1925) and the biggest open ship registry; not only citizens of Panama but also foreign individuals and companies can get a right of navigation under the flag of Panama.

Panamanian Registry is attractive in terms of minimizing the financial costs: fairly low fee for the registration, zero taxation on profit from sale of a vessel, zero taxation while using vessels for commercial purposes (for generation of profit). Registration is performed following a simplified procedure, plus there are no restrictions on capacity or tonnage of a vessel, as well as special certification and classification requirements of pleasure craft. Only vessels that have served for less than 20 years are allowed to regular registration; vessels with a lifetime above that need a conclusion of the special inspection.

Registration of a vessel is carried out by the Directorate of the merchant fleet and is confirmed by a registration certificate and a radio license. For the temporary registration of a vessel under the Panamanian flag (valid for three months), the following documents are required:

  • Agreement for sale and purchase of a vessel and New Owner Acceptance; for new ships a Manufacturer’s Certificate (Builder’s Certificate) and protocol of delivery are required;
  • A certificate of cancellation of the previous flag administration in case if it previously had the right to navigate under the flag of another country; the certificate should be issued by the registering authority of the country of registration);
  • A Power of attorney granted by the owner of a vessel to the Midland Counselors specialists in order to represent him before registration authorities of Panama;
  • A copy of the International tonnage certificate obtained by a vessel in the marine classification society, which should be recognized by the Government of Panama;
  • Application for the installation of radio equipment and a copy of the contract with the company that will perform its maintenance.

The first three documents require notarization; the notary signature must be certified by the consulate of the Republic of Panama in a country where the relevant documents were issued. Legalization of the documents through apostille in accordance with the rules of the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961 is also accepted.

Also should be provided information about the owner of the vessel (name and address), technical characteristics of the vessel, including its name (current and the one that will be registered in Panama) , country of origin, place and year of construction, shipbuilding company name, number of decks and masts, cladding material, size, tonnage, speed, engine number, power and other parameters, as well as the purpose of vessel usage.

First a provisional patent is received. Then, if the originals of all the documents are provided on time and the prescribed fees are paid, a provisional patent is followed by a permanent registration.