The procedure for registrations of ships under the Panamanian flag is substantially simple and quick.
A. Provisional Registration of ships: The registration of the ship begins with the submission of the application for provisional registration, by the attorney (legal representative) of the ship, duly authorized through a letter of power of attorney as well as the submission of photocopies of the papers required for the registration of the ship, as will be detailed later in this document. Neither the originals nor the authentication of the ship’s papers are required at this stage. With the request of registration, the legal representative will be able to submit a declaration through which (s)he becomes committed to submit all the papers of the ship in due course within 30 days. After the submission of the request and the photocopies of the papers of the ship, and after the payment of the registration duties, the Panamanian Consulate or the offices in Panama will issue the License of Navigation (valid for 6 months) and the Radio License (valid for 3 months), both provisionally. The Panamanian Consulates may neither issue Permanent Licenses of Navigation nor Permanent Radio Licenses.
B. Definitive Registration of the ship: Once all the required papers for the registrations of the ship have been submitted in due course, in Spanish language or duly translated, and duly notarized and legalized by the Panamanian Consulate or by means of the Apostille Convention of which Panama is signatory, the registration of the ship becomes definitive.
C. Required documentation for the registration of the ship:
A. Preliminary Registration of Title and Mortgage: Once the provisional or definitive registration has been completed, or simultaneously to it, an extract of the contract of sale, of the mortgage (if there is any) or of any other document that must be registered in the Public Registry of Panama, such documents may be registered through the Merchant Navy Consulate abroad or locally through the legal representative of the ship. This provisional procedure is not obligatory; it is an option that may be exercised according to the needs of the client. The preliminary registration was created in order to fill the void between the provisional registry of the ship and its subsequent definitive registry. Once the request is accepted by the civil servants of the Registry, a preliminary registration and number will be assigned to it and the extract of documents submitted for the preliminary registration will be microfilmed. This preliminary registry has a duration and validity of 6 months. Within this period the documents that served as basis for the preliminary registration must be submitted locally through a Panamanian attorney. If such documents are not submitted within this period, the provisional registration will expire by virtue of the Law and the mortgage will be considered out of date.
B. Definitive Registration of Title and Mortgage: For the permanent registration, the documents that are sent must contain the Consular seal of the Panamanian Consulate of the place where the preliminary registry was made, which must specify that such documents are the ones that served as basis for the preliminary registration, the title or the mortgage must be registered in Spanish and through a Public Document in Panama, the registration tax for the registration of naval mortgages in Panama must be paid and such mortgages must be registered in the Public Registry. A certificate of paid-up taxes regarding the ship is required, it will be issued by the General Directorate of the Merchant Navy; if the parties involved are Panamanian legal persons the receipt of payment of the last annual tax for corporations will also be required.