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Panama: New Regulations Covering Cruising Permits - Effective July 1st 2010

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 02, 2010 08:47 PM

Published: 2010-07-02 20:47:07
Countries: Panama

As reported by The Log Newspaper and confirmed by Karsten Staffeldt.

Panama’s new administration has passed new laws allowing foreign-registered pleasureboats to stay in the country for one or two years, reversing the old 90-day limit. These new regulations are effective as of 1 July 2010.

New Immigration regulations to bring visas in line with the new time limit are also in the works, however not yet in place.

Previously, Panama’s required “cruising permits” for foreign-flagged yachts had been renewable at the end of 90 days. But in late 2009, port officials sporadically began refusing to renew the permits for a second 90-day period.

That forced boat owners to take their vessels out of Panama. Before they could return, they had to officially clear into some other country — mostly to neighboring Costa Rica or Colombia. After obtaining Zarpe exit papers from the other country, cruisers could then return to Panama after 72 hours and apply for a new 90-day cruising permit.

Article 71 of Panama’s fiscal code now defines a new one-year sailing and navigation license that costs $5 and is renewable for another year. The new license for “boats, yachts or private-use motoryachts” will be issued by the director general of the merchant marine of the Panama Maritime Authority.

Article 72 defines a new 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.

In the planning is a new Mariner’s Visa that will be renewable in person after 90 days for a second 90 days, and then renewable for 180 days. This will then correspond to the boat’s new one-year cruising permit.

These new laws refer to maritime tourism throughout Panama’s many beautiful cruising grounds. They do not refer to the Panama Canal, which is regulated by the Panama Canal Authority.

Article 72 also describes similar registration fees for foreign-flagged recreational vessels that wish to engage in chartering in Panama. Those annual fees are $24 for boats up to 6 meters (19.7 feet) in length, $120 for up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) and $240 for larger boats.

One of the issues faced by Panama’s tourism industry is whether foreign yachts should be assessed local taxes after they have been in the country beyond a reasonable time period. It his however thought that this would not be before the temporary cruising permit expires.

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