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By No owner — last modified Feb 11, 2016 10:05 AM

 Panama - Formalities


Formalities with the Panamanian Authorities (clearing in and out, immigration etc.) are completely separate from formalities with the Panama Canal Authority for Canal Transit.

Noonsite always states the official laws and regulations for clearance formalities. However, in practice many port authorities in Panama operate differently from each other and cruisers may well find they obtain different clearance conditions to those stated. See the adjacent reports and news for the latest info. from cruisers.


Important: Be sure to check-in with all authorities as soon as you land in Panama. Cruisers have reported fines of US$1000 each for not having an arrival stamp in their passports.

Advance Notification to the Panamanian Maritime Authority

There is a law concerning the pre-registration of visiting vessels. This requires details about the yacht and its crew to be sent to the Authorities (AMP) at least 48 hours before arrival at any Panamanian port. This information may be sent by email or by filling in the on-line form. The on-line form is available at AMP website

However, the AMP understand that this may not be possible for all yachts, and in such cases, the information will need to be provided on arrival.

In practice many authorities are not aware of the advance notification mandate and therefore it is not enforced in all ports. There does not appear to be problems for any boats that have not done so.

Yachts arriving from the Caribbean/South America
Can no longer clear Immigration at the Panama Canal Yacht Club as it has now been demolished, but must visit the office in Colon (or at Shelter Bay Marina). Be sure to arrive with the proper port clearance paper (zarpe). If you arrive without the correct papers you will be fined.

Yachts clearing in first at the San Blas Islands
Must first head to Porvenir to complete clearance. Whilst Porvenir is a branch office of the Immigration office in Colon, they now can and are issuing visas (since 2014). The only problem reported is that at times the Immigration Officer is not present and yachts have had to wait to clear in, or even go to Colon to obtain a visa. See further information on branch offices below in the Immigration section.

Yachts arriving from the Pacific
Should be aware that the Immigration offices at the Balboa Yacht Club and Flamenco Island are also classed as "Branch Offices". Officially that means they are not always manned and they can only administer entry to the country stamps, which are valid for 72 hours only.

Yachts going to Panama simply to transit the Panama Canal
Regulations are somewhat "cloudy" with reference to the 72 hour rule mainly being applied to commercial vessels transiting the Panama Canal, which most do within 72 hours, and for which no navigation permit is required and no crew visa. For yachts however it is a different story and a cruising permit and visa is required. According to regulations a domestic Zarpe is also required by yachts transiting the Canal (either Colon-Balboa or Balboa-Colon).

Note: Some yachts using agents have been able to pass the Canal handled the same way as commercial vessels, however this is only possible if the yacht in question has transited previously and registered with the Canal and is ready to transit on arrival in Panama.

The process for clearance is:

(1) Present your passport at the closest Immigration office to obtain a 72 hour visa. You will also need to provide copies of your International Zarpe, crew list and passports.

(2) Go to the Port Captain's Office to obtain your "Declaration General" and "Permiso de Navegacion" (Cruising Permit). You will need to surrender the original International Zarpe from your previous port of call and provide copies of crew list, crew passports and vessel documentation.

(3) Go to the central Immigration office to get your Mariners Visa (see Immigration below). This will be dated to last as long as your cruising permit. You will need copies of the cruising permit as well as passports.

After Immigration, yachts must clear with Customs and the Port Authority.

At both Balboa and Cristobal (Colon), arriving yachts may be boarded by Panamanian officials. At Cristobal they may complete all the initial clearance formalities. When the captain goes ashore to complete clearance procedures, all others must remain on board until clearance is complete. Cruisers report that the Colon Authorities are by far the most strict and "by the book" in all of Panama. If possible, it is recommended that clearance and obtaining a cruising permit is carried out elsewhere, before arrival in Colon.

Often in Panama clearance can be a lengthy process due to the amount of paperwork that has to be copied and processed and the number of different offices (and the bank) that have to be visited. Allow 4-5 hours over a 2 day period to be on the safe side.

A Permiso de Navegacion (Cruising Permit) is required by all foreign vessels sailing in Panamanian waters. These can only be issued against a valid ship (yacht) registration. See Documents and Fees for further details.

Domestic Clearance

When sailing from one district to another in Panama (e.g. San Blas to Colon or Colon to Balboa - via the Canal - etc.) it is necessary to clear in and out between Panamanian ports where there is a Port Captain's office. You will need to check out with the Port Captain and obtain a Domestic Zarpe for the next port. On arrival, report in to the Port Captain's Office at no cost. Take with you a copy of your Cruising Permit, a printed crew list and a copy of the boat’s registration document - just in case this is asked for. See Fees for charges.

If employing an Agent, it is helpful for them to be present during any inspection or official visit.

International Clearance

(1) Take your original Cruising Permit, with a Crew List and crew passport copies to the Port Captain office. Here you will pay for your international Zarpe.

(2) Have your passports stamped for exit by the local immigration office. No fee. Immigration will require a copy of all passports, the crew list and Zarpe.

Officially, the day you check out of Panama for another country is the day you should depart. It is however common practice for boats on the Pacific side of Panama for example, to stop in Las Perlas for a day or two on their way westward with no problems reported to date. Whilst boardings by officials are rare you may incur a fine of up to $500 if you linger and are boarded

Details of all charges can be found under "Fees" beow.

Last updated January 2016.


Transit Operations Division
Panama Canal Authority
Tel:(507) 272-4211 Fax:(507) 272-7688


In March 2012, Panamanian Immigration Authorities introduced a new, highly inflated immigration fee. The official statement reads:-

"The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit of US$ 105,00 for sea travellers piloting their own boat or yacht and arriving as a tourist. This fee permits entry into Panama for a period of three months, which can be extended for up to two years subject to an application to the Immigration authorities".

The Mariners Visa can only be issued to persons arriving with the vessel and tends to be issued for one year (or the same amount of time as the cruising permit).

This visa is cancelled when you leave Panama, so another will have to be purchased if you return by yacht. If  however you are arriving/returning by other means of transport, a regular 6 Months entry VISA will be issued at the border/airport.

Therefore if arriving by boat and departing by plane, you will have to surrender your Mariners Visa. On return to Panama to re-join the boat, a regular entry visa will be issued and with this you can obtain an exit zarpe.

This new Mariners Visa appears to be applied more consistently now throughout the various Panamanian ports.

It is important to remember that each Immigration office in Panama interprets the rules and regulations their own way. It's therefore advisable to read latest reports from cruisers and check out the various Panama nets before arrival to find the best port for entry. See the report here for the latest updates from cruisers as to how and where different fees are being charged.

Apart from some eastern European, Asian and African countries who require a visa in advance, most other nationalities can enter Panama and buy a visa on arrival.

If checking in or out during the weekend or outside business hours, immigration charge an overtime fee of US$30.00 per yacht.

Immigration at Branch Offices

It is important to note that the Immigration Offices at Porvenir and Portobelo (on the Caribbean side of Panama) and Balboa Yacht Club and Flamenco Island (on the Pacific side), are only Branch Offices. This means that officially, they are unable to issue visas and can only issue "entry to the country" stamps. Legally, the "entry to the country" stamp permits crew 72 hrs to obtain a visa (as per the government regulations), either in Colon or Balboa or at your next Panama port of call.

That said, it appers that Porvenir Immigration are issuing Mariner Visas. Cruisers MUST be sure however to get a receipt, as some authorities on the mainland do not recognise this stamp as an official visa so proof of payment will be required.

The "72 hour rule"

This "72 hour rule" was apparently established primarily for commercial shipping passing the Panama Canal so that the crew do not have to appear at Immigration. Immigration officials are now applying this rule to yacht crew, however as always, its application is inconsistent throughout Panama and its use is somewhat "murky". In actual fact, many yachts cruise the San Blas and even leave their boats in the San Blas and fly home, and do not experience any problems re. lack of Mariners visa at the airport (See report here). Some officials at the Immigration office in Porvenir apparently do not tell cruisers about the 72 hour rule.

Be warned though, yachts are subject to being stopped and immigration papers checked. Therefore if you have been in the country for more than 72 hours and don't have a Mariners visa, you risk being penalized.

Remember also that the 72 hour rule means that if you have a flight booked within 3 days of your arrival in Panama, you will not have to buy a Mariners Visa. Be sure to show your airline ticket at check-in. When you return to Panama you will be given 30 days on arrival in Panama, enough time to gain an exit Zarpe and depart Panama, saving you the cost of the Mariners Visa.

Length of Stay in Panama for yacht crew

Three days (72 hours) is permitted, after which time a Mariners Visa must be purchased which permits entry into Panama for a period of three months, which can be extended for up to two years subject to an application to the Immigration authorities. However, as noted above, most offices tend to issue this visa for the same amount of time as your cruising permit (i.e. 1 calendar year).

Be sure to apply for an extension well in advance of your visa expiry date.

Last updated January 2016.


Firearms must be declared on arrival and will be held in bond until departure.

Bringing in Spare Parts to Panama by Air

All arriving passengers by air to Panama, residents or visitors, have to complete a Custom Declaration upon arrival. This declaration clearly states that you do not have to declare items you are bringing in as long as the total value does not exceed US$2000.

If you are bringing spares or equipment with a value below US$2000, generally there is no problem and it is recommended that you have invoices covering the items you are bringing in.

If you are bringing in items with a value exceeding US$2000, duty is payable, or for a boat in transit a transit clearance must be arranged (to avoid paying duty). Part of the transit clearance is that an inspector must accompany the items on board the boat. Normally the cost of the transit clearance is based on the value of the items and in addition you have to pay for the inspector and his transportation to and from the boat. It is difficult to advise the total cost involved as it also depends on where the boat is moored.

Cruisers recommend that by far the easiest way to source spare parts and even large items is to use the services of Marine Warehouse in the USA who can deliver directly to Panama with no extra taxes and reasonable freight costs (if not express). Contact tom@)

Last updated February 2015.


An international yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required if you have been to a yellow fever endemic country. This includes much of South America.

If such a vaccination is needed, then a public health clinic in Panama City or Colon can vaccinate for as little as $5. Some other countries will require such a certificate if your passport shows that you have been to Panama.

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in the provinces of Darien, San Blas, or east Panama. This does not include Panama City and the Canal Zone. Visitors should seek specialist advice about the need to receive Yellow Fever vaccine if travelling to these areas. Travellers planning to visit these provinces should obtain a yellow fever vaccine ten days prior to travel.

If just transiting the Canal, it is not necessary to take anti-malarial precautions, but is recommended outside the Canal Area.

In the past, noonsite has received a report from a cruising sailor who was bitten by a bat while sleeping. They were anchored in Bahia Benao near Punta Mala. It may not be a bad idea to get prophylactic rabies inoculation prior to going into areas where one might be attacked by a rabid animal.

Clinic near Quatro Altos (Tel: 433-7532)

Panama City
Clinica Hospital San Fernando (Tel: 278-6364) – This hospital has an international department to assist you. (Tel: 305-6300, Ex 4283).

Centro Medico Paitilla (Tel: 265-8800) Calle 53 and Ave. Balboa.
Located near the World Trade Center in the Marbella area.

Punta Pacifica Hospital (Tel: 204-8000). This is the newest and most advanced facility in the country and is affiliated with the John’s Hopkins Hospital of Baltimore, Maryland. Several cruisers have been helped with direct billing to insurance companies outside of Panama.

Hospital National (Tel: 207-8100) is located at Avenida Cuba between Calle 38 & Calle 39.

Last updated January 2016.


Cruising Permits, "Permiso de Navegacion"

These are required by all foreign vessels sailing in Panamanian waters. As from 1st July 2010, cruising permits are now issued for one year, renewable for 1 additional year and then 1 further additional year, so 3 years in total are permitted.

The cruising permit is cancelled when the yacht leaves the country and a new one will have to be purchased on re-entry.

Note: Cruising Permits can only be issued against a valid ship (yacht) registration and should this registration expire within the 1 year normally covered by the Cruising Permit, the permit will only be valid to the date the registration is valid (however the full amount must be paid). This really only applies to US boats (and other nationalities), whose vessel documentation shows an annual expiration date. Upon presentation of a renewed registration a NEW permit will be issued valid for 1 year. There is some confusion amongst Panama Port Captain's about the application of this law (see news item for further details).

The law states that Cruising Permits must be issued by calendar year (meaning if you arrive January or June,  you still only get a permit valid to December 31st the same year). However, more and more ports are issuing the permits for one year (365 days from date of issue).

It is therefore important to note that the local authorities in each port in Panama may interpret the law in their own way.

See Fees for permits below.

Yachts clearing in Cristobal, who do not intend to stop in Balboa at all, can clear out of Panama in Cristobal, but they must do this one working day before transiting the Canal. Apparently the clearance is free in Cristobal, but costs $25 in Balboa. If intending to stop at Las Perlas or the San Blas Islands, this should be mentioned on the clearance paper by the relevant officer.

If a Fumigation certificate is required (i.e. if visiting the Galapagos islands) ensure that it is one issued by the Ministerio de Sanidad.

Note: A dinghy Licence is not required by visiting yachtsmen.

Last updated January 2016.


Full details about the Panama Canal Transit, including fees, can be found in this report.

Panama is not a cheap country to visit. There are substantial fees for clearing in and cruising. Even if you are only intending to visit the San Blas Islands (for example), it will cost in the region of US$500 to clear in and cruise here, even for a short time!

Fees continue to be charged inconsistently throughout Panama's ports of entry. It is is strongly recommended to find out in advance of your visit from cruisers that are there (via forums, Nets, reports on noonsite etc.) the best port for clearing-into the country where you can incur minimum fees.


The Servicio Nacional de Migracion is currently enforcing an entry permit (Mariner's Visa) of US$ 105,00 per person for sea travellers piloting their own boat or yacht (and crew) and arriving as a tourist. This is NOT the same as a Tourist Visa. It is required for any stay longer than 72 hours and permits entry into Panama for a period of three months, which can be extended for up to two years subject to a application to the Immigration authorities.

Cruising Permit

Article 71 of Panama’s fiscal code now defines a one-year sailing and navigation license (cruising permit) that costs $5 and is renewable for another year.

Article 72 defines a temporary registration fee for private yachts: $45 for boats up to 6 meters (19.7 feet) in length, $90 for boats up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) and $180 for larger boats. The new registration is annual, but it is renewable for the same period.

Therefore approximate overall cost for 1 year cruising permit (depending on size of yacht) plus admin fees, is about US$205.

Other Fees on Checking-in

Port Captain Declaration General: US$20

There may be a charge if officials have to visit your yacht to "inspect" it (approx. $60). Overtime fees are charged as well.

The Quarantine fee is US$35.

The Health Ministry fee is US$122.

Mandatory boat fumigation: US$53 (be sure to get a quote as charges for this can be as high as US$300).

It costs approximately $20 to take a taxi to the bank to pay all the fees.

Fees on Checking-out

The check-out fees are less than the entry fees.

Domestic Zarpe: US$ 15.00 plus stamp fees.
There should not be any charges on clearing into a subsequent domestic port.

International Zarpe: Fees for this can vary widely and as much as US$53 charge has been reported. It seems to be wholly dependent on which office you use and who sees you.

San Blas - Kuna Yala Fees

If checking in at the San Blas Islands, there is a US$20 fee per month for a Kuna Congress cruising permit for the islands for the boat, plus a further US$20 charge per person on board per month. The only other charges appear to be for the Panama Cruising Permit and for Immigration. It must also be mentioned that some yachts have reported that on several Islands, but not all, they have been asked to pay an "anchoring fee" ofapprox. US$ 10.00.

  • Note: Following the on-going dispute during 2015 between the  Panamanian Central Govt. and the Kuna Yala "Authorities" (KYA), whereby the KYA were trying to drastically increase the fee to visiting yachts, the Kuna Yala Congress advise that they have apparently cancelled the new fees published in August 2015 (see below) - however we are still lacking some kind of official notification! Currently no yachts arriving in the San Blas have reported being charged theincreased fees!!
  • KYA fees proposed (but now cancelled) as of 1 January 2016 were: for 30 days $5.00 per square foot (length x width) plus $20.00 per person on board.


Other Fees

Yachts over 65ft must have an AIS transponder. One can be hired from the canal authorities.

For information on the latest Panama Canal transit fees (including deposits etc.), see the Panama Canal Authority Customer Form "Procedures for securing a handline transit of the Panama Canal" from their website (go to Maritime Operations and then to Customer Forms).

Fees for the National Park Area (around Isla Coiba, Isla Canal de Afuera, Isla Brincanco, Granito de Oro and Isla Rancheria) in northern Panama, have substantially increased. In 2012 they were $20 per day, per person, and a daily anchoring fee. For a 10m boat this was $30.

Panama has a sales tax of 7% which also includes the Banks, meaning that you pay a 7% tax on what the Bank charges for the transaction not on the whole amount of the transaction. This Tax also applies to Service Fees such as Agency fees etc.

Last updated January 2016.


Panamanians tend to be conservative dressers; men always wear long trousers, never trainers, and most people wear business clothes in town, which should be taken into consideration even if it is hot if you wish to avoid being too conspicuous.

For details of the restrictions on sailing in Panama Canal Waters see here

Local Customs

Especially in Panama City and any government office, please respect the local custom of wearing long pants, shirts with sleeves, and shoes (not sandals).

Clearance Agents

For agent recommendations from cruisers, see this noonsite report.

Agencia Maritima Delfino
POC: Peter Stevens
Tel:(+507) 67357356
Does not respond to email.
Agencia Naviera Servimundo
POC: Nelson Newball
Agencias Anchor SA
P.O. Box 2095 Balboa, Ancon , Panama, Rep. of Panama.
Tel:(507) 320-1144 1145 Fax:(507) 320-1461
Operate in all Panamanian ports.
Albert White
Pakya Panama, Local #2, Edf. Islas Baleares , Ave. El Paical, Los Angeles, Betania , Panama City (near Transistmica and Via Brasil)
Tel:236-1728, Cell: 6614-3632
Agent, who can assist with importing parts for yachts-in-transit.
Associated Yacht Services
POC: Alex
Tel:(507) 211 9400 / Mob. (507) 6614 0485 Fax:(507) 211 9450
CB Fenton & Co. SA
Shipping Agents since 1916.
Centenario & Co. S.A.
POC: Erick Galvez
Tel:Mob: (507) 6676-1376 Fax:(507) 290-3548
Emmanuel Agencies SA
Tel:+(507) 6678-6820
Contact: Roy Bravo
Enrique Plummer
Tel:+507 674 2086
Match Shipping Management
Tel:+507-232-6447 / +507-232-8924
Naviera Stanley S.A.,
POC: Stanley Scott
Tel:+507 6-680-7971
Works with mostly Southbound yachts.
Oliver Yacht Services
Punta Paitilla , Panama City , Panama
Tel:+507 6602 0498
Canal transit and general yacht concierge services, travel, provisioning, laundry etc.
Panama Yacht Adventure
Tel:+507 263 2676 Fax:+507 263 2676
Panama Yacht Services
P.O. Box 6-4891 , Panama 6 , Panama
Tel:(507) 226-4053, Cel: (507) 613-6337 Fax:(507) 270-7848
Yacht Agents.
Tina McBride Yacht Services
Tel:Mobile +507-6617-7889,6637-2999 Fax:+507 232 0317
Do not work with yachts less than 40' LOA, yachts with speed less than 7 knots & yachts without holding tanks.
Triton Ship Supplier, S.A
Manuel Amador Guerrero Ave. and Arnulfo Arias M. Ave., , 836 Bldg. office 15A 2nd. floor , Ancon, Panama
Tel:(507) 3141493 / (507) 2026174 / (507) 66132843 Fax:(507) 3141493
Yacht Services Deimar
Tel:+507 6556 7259
Contact Adriano Prati. Assist with canal transits, airport transfers, clearance and permits, supplies & spares, yacht cleaning & guardinage.


Dogs need health and anti-rabies certificates and are not allowed to land. All other animals need health certificates. In practice, the procedure is quite relaxed.

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 11, 2016 10:04 AM

From San Blas Cruisers Facebook Page:
We arrived in the San Blas 2 weeks ago, and we have paid:

105 USD P.P. for Visas (our 12 year old daughter was free)
200 USD cruising permit for 1 year
20 USD P.P. / month park fees (our 12 year old daughter was free)
20 USD per boat/month park fees.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 27, 2016 01:10 PM

Jason Shell of SY Two Fish has just cleared into Panama in Porvenir in the San Blas. He sent noonsite this report:
A bunch of rumours were stirring on various chat forums about fees for the San Blas. Here is what we paid on 25 January, 2016, clearing in at Porvenir.

205 USD for a 1 year cruising permit.
125 USD per person (20 of which is for Kuna Congresso)
20 USD per boat (Kuna Cogresso)

It therefore appears after extensive protests and communication with
the yachting community as well as the Panamanian Government Maritime
Authorities, that they have cancelled the new fees and no yachts calling at the San Blas after January 1st 2016 have been asked to pay the new proposed inflated fees. We are still however lacking official confirimation on this.

It must also be mentioned that some yachts have reported that on
several Islands, but not all, they have been asked to pay an "anchoring
fee" of around US$ 10,00 for their stay.

WoC says:
Jan 16, 2016 02:34 AM

Roy Bravo: agent
I selected Roy Bravo to handle our entry, exit and canal crossing based in the many recommendations from other cruisers. He promptly responded to email well in advance of our arrival and handled every detail of our stay. The canal transit went as per the detailed schedule he provided along with competent and pleasant line handlers, good fenders and ropes. He met us in person at the Balboa Yacht club were he had arranged a difficult to get mooring for a few days. All charges were detailed in his invoice with no surprises. Based on the above I can join the other cruisers before me who had the pleasure to meet Roy and benefited from his extensive experience in handling transiting yachts and confirm our recommendations from all the crew of "Wind of Change"

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 23, 2015 08:18 PM

Report from Karsten Staffeldt: Contact in Panama for noonsite & various Scandinavian Ocean Cruising Associations and the OCC.
The Rainy-Season here in Panama is about over and the Dry-Season, our Summer, from December to May, is about to start. November is also the end of the Hurricane Season in The Caribbean, Tropical Atlantic and Eastern Tropical Pacific. The Dry-Season in Panama is the time of the year most cruising yachts are visiting Panama and many passing through the Panama Canal on their way west in to the Pacific.

The Hurricane Season in the Caribbean and Tropical Atlantic has been relatively light with less storms than expected, whereas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific storm activity has been quite active. Furthermore the Pacific is currently experiencing strong El Niño conditions which are expected to continue into the middle of 2016 affecting the weather. Panama however is not affected to a great extent by El Niño and a relatively normal Dry-Season is expected.

As far as the Panama Canal is concerned the large expansion, with a new set of locks etc., is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2016. The new locks etc. are mainly for large commercial vessels and will not affect the transit of small vessels like yachts. During the past months there have been extensive transit delays due to scheduled maintenance work, but in order to minimize delays some of this work has now been postponed by the Canal Authorities. At this time it is not clear to what extent this postponement will affect transit times of all types of vessels, including yachts, during the coming months, but yachts should expect possible delays. Regarding transits in general for small vessels, I again refer to the Canal Authorities Customer Form
"Procedure for securing a handline Transit of the Panama Canal" which can be found on the Panama Canal web-site ( This form has information and rules, inclusive of the tariff, covering small vessel's transit, inclusive yachts.

Regarding cruising Panama - there have not been any great changes with the exception of The San Blas Islands. The local Cuna Yala Congress has announced that they are increasing the Cuna Yala fees for visiting yachts to a level which
is, frankly, outrageous and will only drive cruising yachts away. The new
charges should be effective January 1st 2016 but presently the situation
is quite confusing and being developed/discussed. Cruisers should check
before their planned call at San Blas Islands for latest status.

Previously I reported that it was not necessary to clear in and out between Panamanian Ports, however the Authorities have reversed their advice and now it is necessary to clear in and out between Panamanian ports where there is a Port Captain's office.

For the Galapagos - obtaining permission to call, clearing in and out etc. - there are still frequent changes to the regulations. It is still required that an agent is appointed and it is recommended that yachts contact an agent before proceeding to the Islands to find out the latest state of play re. regulations etc..

For information in general covering Panama and Galapagos reference Eric Bauhaus's The Panama Guide (ISBN 978-9962-00-637-4) 5th Edition.

Communication: Many Cruisers are contacting me for information prior to their arrival to this area, mainly by e-mail, and today many yachts are able to send and receive e-mails also when they are at sea. The conditions for SSB communication are not favourable due to poor propagation and a low cycle 24. Apart from information covering Panama and the Panama Canal I can also assist with weather forecasts covering Western Tropical Atlantic, west of 45 West, The Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, east of 145 West. Cruisers are welcome to contact me for information and help they may require. This is not a commercial service and I will assist as my time permits.

Karsten Staffeldt
karstenpanama (at) hotmail (dot) com
Radio: HP1XBM

muoza says:
Nov 03, 2015 05:23 PM

Discussion about ridicculous San Blas fees 2015/2016:

The Congresso General of the Kuna tribe plans a new monthly fee structure for San Blas. The official agreement of the Kuna chiefs (Sailas) speaks of 5$ per squarefoot(!), whatever this can be. If they take it serious it will be a monthly fee of 1.500$ up to over 4000$. More than a cruiser can afford. Even if they just charge 5$ per foot, the additional monthly charge would be like 200$ for a 40-footer per month. Plus 20$ per person aboard. The Situation is unclear at the moment, lots of discussions are going on. Mr. Obaldia, a very unfriendly Kuna official is complicating the situation by threatening sailors with damaging or untiying the boat - or even coming back with a machete at night.
Some people are writing letters to Panama authorithies, asking to make clear if the San Blas belong to national Panamenian waters and if the expencive cruising permit for panama is not valid for San Blas.
If all new plans come true, it looks like most cruisers have to leave San Blas, soon. Rumours say it will start in January 2016. So far one thing is clear: Nothing is clear.

Keep yourself updated by following "San Blas Cruisers" on facebook. There is a big discussion of the local community going on.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 11, 2015 11:31 AM

Panama Fees December 2014: Taken from SV Joana's Blog:
We cleared into Panama at Porvenir. We paid $ 193US for a year-long cruising permit, $ 300US for visas (3 people, note that fly-ins don’t pay this fee) and $ 45US to the Kuna Indigenous people for the permit to cruise one month in their waters. In total, we paid $ 538US to cruise one month (the first month) in the San Blas. I hate to say it, but this compares very poorly with Bonaire or Curacao, where we paid zero to enter and cruise in their countries. To be honest, the visa is good for six months, and for the next six months we’d only have to pay the Kuna fee of $ 45 per month.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 29, 2015 05:44 PM

Posted on behalf of SY Two Oceans:
Filling water in San Blas, Panama is a bit of a problem. The options we found were:
Look for Paco’s house in the anchorage between that island and Corazon de Jesus. His man, Apollo, brings water from Rio Diablo and using a bucket fills your tank. Typical cost – 8$ for 50 gallons. They also sell gasoline.
A small concrete dock, very close to the beach at position 09 27’.301 N 78 59’.947 W has a tap. Desperate for water we agreed to pay 25$ for 70 gallons.
Rio Azucar
A busy dock at position 9 25.846 N 78 37.72 W has a tap. They charged 5$ for tying to the dock and 15$ for the water, regardless of quantity.
There used to be a working tap near the dock of Carti Tupile at approx. position 9 28.56 N 78 57.71 W, but we found its pipe broken. No water available in Carti Sugdup too.
Miki Barzam on “Two Oceans”

ZewOceanu says:
May 31, 2015 03:50 PM

We made a google map with important adresses in Panama (Portobelo, Colon & Panama City). You can see it here:

Now is onli on polish but we try to translate it :)

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 20, 2015 09:15 PM

5 May, 2015
The Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama has officially approved a proposal to modify (increase) the Panama Canal Tolls structure effective April 1st 2016.
Furthermore the notification indicates that on this occasion the Tolls for small vessels (minimum Tolls) will not be modified (increased).

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 01, 2015 04:59 PM

Information from Karsten Staffeldt:
Yachts going to Panama simply to transit the Panama Canal
Regulations are somewhat "cloudy" with reference to the 72 hour rule mainly being applied to commercial vessels transiting the Panama Canal, which most do within 72 hours, and for which no navigation permit is required and no crew visa. Vessels transiting the Canal also do not need to undertake domestic clearance between the Caribbean/Pacific Terminals. Some yachts using agents have been able to pass the Canal handled the same way as commercial vessels, however this is only possible if the yacht in question has transited previously and registered with the Canal and is ready to transit on arrival in Panama.

nautinauti says:
Apr 28, 2015 11:46 PM

Panama City Cruisers Net now meets Monday thru Saturday at 08:00 on CH68 and also uses this frequency for hailing.

KingsLegend says:
Apr 21, 2015 05:36 PM

We worked with Roy Bravo from Emmanuelle Agencies and it was great. We had some problems, parts were cleared quickly, the canal transit went smoothly and he solved our problems when we were not correctly checked in at the San Blas Islands. Thanks to Roy we were able to leave in time.

By the way, we thought Colon to be much nicer than Panama City. You just have to know where to go and where not to, and you have to speak Spanish or ask someone to help you out.

frank says:
Apr 04, 2015 06:01 AM

Oliver Yacht Services assisted me for my canal transit in January 2015. Many thanks to Oliver, the agent who assisted with the paper work, lines, tires and line handling. He is very helpful, reliable, punctual and professional. He responds quickly to emails at any time, speaks fluent english, german, french, dutch and spanish. Provides advice on the transit details. Highly recommended.

Twiganauten says:
Mar 24, 2015 04:36 PM

PANAMA CANAL –Passing March 2015
Our agent was Oliver – we can his service highly recommend!
Oliver is a multilingual yacht agent from Belgium, offering his services in Shelter Bay, Porto Lindo, Porto Belo and Panama City. We met him in Porto Belo, that save money for taxi and marina. Oliver is a great help for spare sourcing, provisioning, gas filling, local information and other logistic needs. He speaks fluent german, french and dutch. It was nice to communicate with him in our mother tongue,
Oliver is punctual, reliable and reachable anytime by phone +507 6602 0498 or by email

Bregt says:
Mar 20, 2015 07:00 PM

I can recommend Oliver Yacht Services for helping with canal transits and provisioning. He arranged our transit very fast as we where in a hurry and for a decent price. He is very punctual and correct. He is a real polyglot speaking, spanish, dutch, german, english and maybe more which makes all the paperwork and formalities easier. The linehandlers he arranged spoke english and where nice company. Also filling my dutch propane tanks with non standard fittings was arranged in one day. highly recommended. Phone +507 6602 0498

mrsannelloyd says:
Mar 13, 2015 07:16 AM

Agent for Canal- March 2015
We would thoroughly recommend Roy Bravo of Emmanuel Agensies. He replies promptly to emails. His fees and costs are very transparent with no surprises. he was very helpful on other non related matters and went the extra mile to ensure the canal crossing was smooth and fun.

He can provide excellent linehandlers , and we wuld recomend having at least two " professional, for their experience, language [dealing with pilot etc]. If you can have Daniel as lead linehandler he is a top guy.

Roy even drove me to hospital on our arrival, and spoke to the reception to organise my treatment. Later on when we decided to go to Galapagos he organised afumigation certificate at short notice.
Thoroughly recommend

David Green
David Green says:
Feb 12, 2015 12:11 AM

We needed to transit the canal within four days of arriving at Shelter Bay marina in January, 2015. Many thanks to Roy Bravo, the agent who made it possible by organizing all the paper work, ropes, tires, and line handlers. Very professional, experienced and helpful.Responds to emails at any time of the day or night. Provides advice on the transit details. Highly recommended.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 09, 2015 09:15 PM

Posted on behalf of Karsten Staffeldt:
Lately the question of holding tanks has been brought up and that the Canal Authorities prohibit discharge of any "dirty water" in the Canal area, which in fact indicates that a Holding Tank is required. However generally the question of holding tanks is seldom mentioned during inspections and that some yachts have rented portable units (which requires a fair amount of space). Also the Canal regulations state that the Advisor they place on bord must have the necessary "facilities"!

Oliver Yacht Services
Oliver Yacht Services says:
Feb 14, 2015 03:17 PM

It is true that very often the shops do not have items in stock, however you can always let spares fly in from US / Miami at reasonable shipping rates. There are weekly flights so waiting times are mostly not too long.

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Apr 30, 2014 08:20 AM

On our way around the world we have reached Panama. Now having read a lot about re-stocking here either side of the canal, we thought this is the place. However we are very disapointed to always hear the sentence "no lo tenemos" we haven't got it. So sailors be adviced to purchase spare parts before arriving here. On the other hand, if you are lucky to find what you need, than the price you have to pay is quite reasonable.
Patrick Heini

josborne says:
Feb 14, 2014 09:37 PM

Don't bother with Stanley Scott
Taking the ARC through seems to have gone to his head. His charges were hard to understand, but he is charging at least $500 as agents fee. Roy Bravo is recommended by the marina and seems a much better bet.

gentlerain says:
Jan 11, 2014 04:30 PM

I have just had a sail repaired in Portobelo bu Casa Vela which is located on the water front to the right of town, looking fro. the water. Good service and the repare well doene, Catherine s/v Gentle Rain II

brucegoforth says:
Nov 02, 2013 04:41 PM

Panama City Cruisers Connection, Deb Meh 507-6153-2089

Provides reasonably price Bed and Breakfast in Bella Vista, transport throughout the country including personal taxi service in Panama City. Will purchase food and beverages by order and deliver. Locate and purchase parts and provide guidance on where to get boat work done.
All excellent services at reasonable rates.

ppappas says:
Sep 19, 2013 06:06 PM

Roy Bravo: agent
Hi Would like to highly recommend Roy Bravo. He not only did an excellent job arranging my clearance but also in my canal transit. Roy is also a great resource for any needs you might have for service or repairs; he is well connected only recommends "the best of breed". Roy is a great person, very professional, very respectful, and beyond reproach. You will not be disappointed. Peter Pappas "Callisto" Amel sm2000 #369

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