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Focus on Panama

Panama Ship Registry proposes reforms to merchant marine law

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) and Panama’s main maritime associations concluded the meetings for the revision of the country’s merchant marine law.

In the revision of the General Merchant Marine Law, law 57 of August 6, 2008, total of 188 articles were reviewed; 70 were modified; 10 were eliminated and more than 12 new articles were proposed, and all of them were approved in consensus. These amendments aim at improving the competitiveness of the Panama Ship Registry.

The next step is the approval of a draft bill of amendments to the Merchant Marine Law by the AMP board of directors and then by the Cabinet Council.  The Ministry of the Presidency who is the president of the AMP’s board of directors, will present the bill to the National Assembly that should approve into law the adjustments to Law 57 on General Merchant Marine.


The project contemplates an aggressive and comprehensive international marketing plan, the creation of new departments, re-assignment of functions to existing departments or sections and the adoption of new technologies accompanied by the re-engineering and re-orientation of the Registry.

The need to revise the business model and update Law 57 to the standards and requirements of the industry, became urgent and a national dialogue was called with the main actors of the Panama’s maritime sector to modernise the merchant marine law.

This process began in 2020 and by 2023, the meetings led to a complete review and updated standard with answers to customers and adjusted to the international market, and brought some novelties:

-The Navigation Patent through a straightforward process, will be obtained without needing a provisional navigation patent.  

-The elimination of the expiry date of the statutory navigation patent and the statutory radio licence for international service vessels gives benefits to the client. The vessel will have a unique registration number, resulting in better control and follow-up in the administrative and documentary part of the vessel. 

-The modification of the notification process within the administrative framework of the Directorate General of Merchant Marine, allowing special notifications by e-mail instead of the edicts placed in the Department of Resolutions and Consultations.

- Creation of the Register of Resident Agents of National Merchant Marine Vessels, allowing the identification of measures that will strengthen due diligence and the obligations they must comply with at the international level.

-Creation of the obligation to previously register the title of ownership of the seller of a vessel within the change of ownership procedure.

-The Legal security for mortgage creditors of vessels registered in Panama is reinforced: From now on, the cancellation of a vessel will not affect the validity of mortgages previously registered in the General Directorate of Public Registry of Ship Ownership of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).

- A new Incentive Regime is proposed which should promote the growth of the Panamanian fleet.