Panama has the largest number of registered vessels in the world, with more than 8,100 vessels, yachts, fishing boats, tankers and cargo ships registered under its flag. The weight of all the vessels registered in Panama is around 81 million tons, which account for almost 22% of the tonnage of all ships in the world.

Panama’s vessel registration has been around since 1917 and in 1993, Panama became the top ship registry in the world.

Why is Panama a Hot Spot for Vessel Registration?

The top reasons why Panama has such a high number of vessel registration includes its famous Panama Canal, and its relatively lax and easy registration process and requirements.

Many merchant ships registered in Panama belong to foreign owners who want to avoid stricter maritime rules and regulations of their home country.

Foreign ship owners also register their vessels in Panama because they don’t have to pay income taxes on their vessels they have registered in Panama.

Panama’s Maritime Registration Law

Since 1925, Panama’s maritime laws are categorized as an open registry. With an open registry, the Panamanian government must inspect vessels for registration and faulty operation, comply with international regulations and investigation corruption and accidents.

Before 1925, Panama had nationality and residency requirements ship owners had to fulfill to register their vessel.

All ships around the world must be registered with a country. The country is charged with inspecting the vessel making sure it is safe to sail and that the working conditions for the crew is adequate.

Panama’s Maritime Legal Process

The Panama Maritime Admiralty Court is where maritime litigation and court proceedings are held. The Maritime Court offers plaintiffs of the international maritime community a convenient judicial forum and proceedings to dispute the seizure and arrest of their vessels.

The Admiralty Court of Panama also handles lawsuits concerning maritime commerce and trade outside of Panama when a defendant’s vessel is registered in Panama.

The Panama Maritime Admiralty Court is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

If for any reason, you find yourself in a maritime legal case, it is highly recommended you hire a lawyer who is experienced in Panamanian maritime law.

That’s what you’ll find at Mata & Pitti Attorneys at Law. We are a Panamanian based law firm with extensive experience in Panamanian maritime law. In fact, our founder, Francisco Mata, has served interim judge of the Panama Maritime Court.

Our law firm offers legal counsel in the following Panamanian maritime law matters:

  • Arrest of vessels
  • Cargo Claims
  • Labor Claims
  • Maritime Liens
  • Carriage of goods
  • Collisions and Salvage
  • Pollution Claims
  • Personal Injuries Claims
  • Maritime Collections
  • Maritime enquiries
  • Charter parties
  • Ship sale and purchases
  • Naval mortgagees
  • Commercial Vessel Registrations in Panama
  • Pleasure Vessel Registrations in Panama

The attorneys at Mata & Pitti Attorneys at Law would like to use our Panamanian maritime law expertise to help you navigate your case. Contact us today for a consultation.