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Panama: Tightening up of how Cruising Permits are issued

By Sue Richards — last modified May 06, 2016 11:56 AM
Contributors: David Kall, Karsten Staffeldt, Cruisers Network Online
Cruising Permits can only be issued against a valid ship (yacht) registration.

Published: 2014-01-29 00:00:00
Countries: Panama

Panama: Tightening up of how Cruising Permits are issued

Map Credit: http://www.freeworldmaps.net/centralamerica/panama/

Lately we have received a lot of reports and comments from cruisers in Panama referring to American registered yachts and the Authorities in Panama, who are now NOT issuing Cruising Permits valid beyond the expiration date of the yacht's registration.

David Kall, of SY Elysium, sent noonsite details of his recent experience:

"This last year we were out of the country and upon returning needed to renew our boat's Cruising Permit. We were at Shelter Bay Marina and they indicated they would take care of it; we needed to provide them with our current Documentation Paper and of course pay the roughly $200 for the year's  Permit.

"When we received the new permit I noticed that it was NOT good for a year and inquired about this. We were told that the Cruising Permits for Americans were now tied to the date on the US documentation paper and when I received the new paper I could take it to the Port Captain's office and receive the rest of the year I paid for. THIS IS NOT CORRECT!

"We went to the Port Captain's office yesterday in Amador, Panama City. The captain there informed me I would need to visit the main office in Allbrook. I went with an English speaking Taxi driver. I was informed by the Allbrook Port Captain that they could NOT correct the form and if I intended to stay longer than the permit indicated I would need to pay another $200 for a year permit!

"Needless to say I was not happy. We will most likely be leaving Panama earlier then expected.

"One agent informed me that it is a year permit and indeed the date on the form MUST be a year, and he indicated the Port Captain in Colon was mistaken in putting another date less than a year on the permit.  He suggested that to ensure we receive a year on the Cruising Permit we use an agent.

"This does not affect cruisers of other countries as they do not include a date on their Yacht Papers. Only Americans to my knowledge. Two times we had entered in the San Blas and received a full year on our cruising permit.  Other entry ports such as Portobello, and Bocas Del Torro I have no knowledge.

"In Colon and here in PC they scan the Documentation paper and save it in the computer. When I went in with my new Doc the Port Captain pulled up the scanned one for 2013 which is no longer valid anyway and said because it said 2013 the permit was till then, even though I paid for the year (not pro -rated)."

Dave Kall
http://svelysium.net/blog/

The Panama Maritime Authorities confirm that 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.

Upon presentation of a renewed registration a NEW permit will be issued valid for 1 year.

As is normal in Panama, the tightening up of this rule has caused confusion between the various Port Captain's Offices. So - whilst Colon authorities are adhering to the law concerning vessel documentation, on the Panama City side of Panama the authorities are issuing cruising permits for one year to all vessels regardless of expiration date on vessel documentation paperwork. Reports are that the Port Captain in El Porvenir is doing the same thing.

It appears mostly U. S. documented vessels are affected as their boat documentation shows an annual expiration date.

From the cruising forums:

When we had our (Cruising Permit) renewed in May in Colon they only gave us till 12/31/13 when our documentation expired, so we lost 5 months and paid full price for a year (we were told there are no pro-rations). We just had to renew ours to do our canal transit the end of this week, again at full price, but they actually gave us a year to the day on the new one (which of course we don't need since we're heading across the Pacific)!

Recommendations for those checking in on the Colon side of Panama, or renewing their permits there, is to use one of the agents recommended by cruisers and see if they can get your cruising permit for you good for one year.

We would be interested to hear from other cruisers who have had similar problems when renewing their cruising permits, or have arrived in Panama and suffered the same restrictions when first purchasing a permit. Contact us at noonsite@noonsite.com

Image credit: http://www.freeworldmaps.net/centralamerica/panama/

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