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By No owner — last modified Aug 01, 2018 01:20 AM

 Panama - Formalities


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


Note: Arriving yachts have 72 hours after arrival in Panama waters to clear in with Immigration and the Port Captain. Be sure to check-in with all authorities as soon as you land in Panama and not later than 72 hours. Cruisers have reported fines of US$1000 each for not having an arrival stamp in their passports.

Advance Notification:

There is a law requiring the pre-registration of visiting vessels. Details about the yacht and its crew are 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.

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.

General process:

Clearance is typically completed ashore at the respective offices. When the captain goes ashore to complete clearance procedures, all others must remain on board until clearance is complete.

Note that in both Balboa and Cristobal (Colon), arriving yachts may be boarded by Panamanian officials. At Cristobal they may complete all the initial clearance formalities. Cruisers report that the Cristobal Authorities are by far the most strict and "by the book" in all of Panama.

Port Captain's Office: To obtain a "Declaration General" and a "Permiso de Navegacion" (Cruising Permit) which is required by all foreign vessels sailing in Panamanian waters. You will need to surrender the original International Zarpe from your previous port of call and provide copies of your crew list, crew passports and vessel documentation.

Immigration Office:  All crew must obtain a tourist visa (and be finger-printed). Be aware some offices (Linton, Balboa Yacht Club and Flamenco Island) are considered branch offices and only provide 72 hour entry visas. You will need to follow-up with a main office for a 90-180 day tourist visa.

Customs and the Port Authority:

Yachts arriving from the Caribbean/South America:

Vessels entering or leaving Panama on the Caribbean side can do so in Puerto Lindo, Colon or Portobelo. However if you go to Portobelo you will need to go to Colon to buy your Cruising Permit - and - if you check in at Puerto Lindo you will need to go to Portobelo to get your visa from Immigration (short bus ride).

It is possible to check in with Immigration at offices at Puerto Obaldia, at the far eastern end of Guna Yala (San Blas) or Porvenir (now called Gaigirgordub) at the western end, however from Gaigirgordub you will then need to go to Puerto Lindo or Colon within 72 hours to get your cruising permit.

If arriving in the Guna Yala first, it is not advisable to take the SUV's from Carti in Guna Yala to Panama City or to Colon to clear in, as you will pass through police check points who will give you a hefty fine (or even arrest you) if you have not already visited an immigration office and had your passport stamped.

Possibly the current simplest solution to clearing into Panama for cruising the Guna Yala is to go to Linton (Puerto Lindo) to get the cruising permit, then take a bus to Portobelo for Immigration to stamp your passports, then sail to Guna Yala and get the Kuna permit at Porvenir.

It is recommended to have the Guna Yala listed on your exit zarpe from your previous port (e.g. Colon via Guna Yala).

Yachts arriving from the Pacific:

Flamenco Signal Station should be contacted on VHF Channels 12 or 16 when moving across or through the marked canal channel. Flamenco Signal may or may not respond.

Visit the branch Immigration offices at either Balboa Yacht Club or Flamenco Island (on the second floor of the building which houses the Duty Free Store) for the 72 hour entry visa (*see below for more info). You will need to also provide copies of your International Zarpe, crew list and passports. Plan to follow-up with the appropriate immigration office for the tourist visa

Go to the Port Captain's office on Flamenco Island (also above the Duty Free Store) to obtain a “Declaration General” and your Cruising Permit. You will need to surrender the original International Zarpe from your previous port of call and provide copies of the crew list, crew passports and vessel documentation.

*The 72 hour visa is intended for commercial vessels transiting the Panama Canal, which most do within 72 hours. In this situation no navigation permit or tourist visas are required. Some yachts using agents have been able use the 72 hour visa (when the vessel has transited previously, is preregistered with the Canal and ready to transit on arrival) but most yachts will require both a cruising permit and tourist visas for all crew.


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.

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

International Clearance

Port Captain Office: Take your original Cruising Permit, with a crew list and copies of crew passports. Here you will pay for your international Zarpe.

Immigration Office: Have your passports stamped for exit. 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. Boarding by officials is rare but you may incur a fine of up to $500 if you linger and are boarded.

Note: Should there be adverse sea conditions on the day of your departure, the Autoridad Maritima de Panama may issue a maritime warning and not issue zarpes to boats wishing to depart that day.

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

Last updated:  November 2018

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


Immigration procedures in Panama are subject to changes and many offices operate differently from each other. See the adjacent reports and news for the latest information from cruisers.

Immigration Procedure:

All crew must present their passports in person at the closest Immigration office to obtain their visa (and be finger-printed). You will need to show your cruising permit and provide copies of your crew list. All yachts of any size are considered to be crewed by tourists and all persons on the vessel are tourists.

Crew will be approved for a 90 or 180 day stay depending on nationality. If your country has a reciprocity agreement with Panama (most European and countries in the Americas have these agreements) you get a 6 month visa. In the case of the 90 day visa, you can apply for a 90 day extension. There is no extension of the 180 day visa.

See the Embassy of Panama's website for more details.

If you are visiting a branch office (*see below) and receive a 72 hour entry visa, a second visit to a main immigration office may be required.

* Immigration at Branch Offices
It is important to note that several Immigration Offices including those at Shelter Bay Yacht Club,Porvenir and Portobelo (on the Caribbean side of Panama) and Balboa Yacht Club and Flamenco Island (on the Pacific side), are technically branch offices. This means that officially they are unable to issue visas and can only issue entry to the country stamps. With this stamp you have 72 hrs to obtain a visa (as per the government regulations), either in Colon or Balboa.

In reality however, many of the branch offices do seem to issue tourist visas.

Be aware though yachts are subject to being stopped and immigration papers checked. Therefore it’s important to clarify which kind of stamp you have been given to avoid being penalised.

Incoming Crew and Guests:

Visitors to Panama must prove they have enough money for a visit and an outbound ticket, which can make it complicated for incoming guests or crew. Most times proving you are on a boat is enough but sometimes it is not.

If the crew or guests leave Panama and plan to return, or new crew or guests are joining your vessel, they will need to have:
1) A copy of the cruising permit. 
2) A letter from the captain or agent saying that they are responsible for the crew/guest (Shelter Bay and other marinas have provided a letter for vessels in the past).
Alternatively, each person will need proof of $500 cash and a return ticket. In the event the crew or guests can’t get the necessary documents the best option is to buy an additional full fare (fully refundable) ticket and have proof of $500.

Note: When bringing in crew be aware that Panama has a long list of restricted countries--if unsure be sure to check in advance with an agent.

Other Visa Information:

Panama has many visa programs which may be attractive to people who want to extend there stay in Panama indefinitely. One in particular, the retired or Jubilado/pensionado Visa for those with independent incomes, offers significant benefits (a 25% reduction on air fares to mention one). There are also, investors, re-foresters, and immigrant visas.

Last updated:  December 2018


Arriving By Yacht
Vessels are only occasionally visited by customs agents and there are no recent reports of issues. Firearms must be declared on arrival and will be held in bond until departure.

Arriving By Air
Visitors to Panama may bring with them personal items such as jewelry and equipment including cameras, computers, and electronics, as well as fishing and diving gear for personal use -- all of which are permitted duty-free. Visitors may also bring in up to 200 cigarettes and 3 bottles of liquor tax-free. Customs officials in Panama seldom check arriving tourists' luggage.

Most people have been able to bring in boat parts as personal items but on a few occasions higher value items (under $1000) have been detained for one, or more, days and duty and fines were levied.

If you are bringing in boat parts/spares it's recommended you carry a copy of your cruising permit and receipts for all parts. If your parts are high value you may want to employ a customs broker to arrange for clearance.

Importing Parts/Spares
Cruisers recommend the services of Marine Warehouse in the USA for sourcing spare parts. The company delivers directly to Panama with no extra taxes and reasonable freight costs.

Parts or spares can also be sent via a Courier Service like FEDEX, DHL etc. and can be delivered directly to the yacht at one of the marinas like Shelter Bay Marina, Balboa Yacht Club, Flamenco Marina etc. Courier companies typically include customs clearance and local delivery in their charges, leaving only a local service to pay on arrival at the marina.

Do not send items via the postal system. Sending by regular post will result in the package being held for collection at the Colon Post office—if it arrives at all.

Addressing For Shipment:
Yacht in Transit
Yacht Name and Flag
Marina Name
Marina Address
Marina Telephone Number

Last updated:  November 2018

The Marine Warehouse
Bocas Yacht Club & Marina, Panama
A shipping consolidator that offers products from hundreds of manufacturers worldwide. Has an office in Bocas Del Toro or see website.


A large number of cruisers in Panama opt to receive preventative health services including dental, eye care, lab tests, breast and skin cancer screening. Good health care is available in private hospitals and clinics in Panama City. Quality of care in public hospitals can vary. Expect to pay cash in advance for medical services, including emergency care.

There are many drugs which are available over the counter in Panama which would require a prescription other countries. If you are in need of regular medication, check its availability with a pharmacist before visiting a doctor. Many brand names are not available so you may need to use a generic drug instead.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Visitors should be up-to-date with immunizations. Hepatitis A is present, and all travelers should be immunized. Typhoid, rabies and yellow fever are also a risk.

Food and Water Concerns

Tap water is generally drinkable in Panama, except in Bocas del Toro and the Comarca de Guna Yala--where water should be boiled or treated. Visitors should avoid consuming raw dairy products, undercooked meat or fish and unwashed leafy greens, fruit and vegetables.

Mosquito-borne Diseases

Dengue is endemic and there are frequent outbreaks.

Malaria is present in the provinces east of the Panama Canal toward the border with Colombia (provinces of Panamá east of the canal and Darién). There is also a small malaria risk in the provinces of C. Ngöbe-Buglé, Chiriqui, Coclé, Kuna Yala (San Blas), and Veraguas. There is no malaria risk in Panama City or in the former Canal Zone.

Yellow Fever is present in mainland areas east of the Canal Zone, encompassing the entire comarcas of Emberá and Guna Yala, the entire province of Darién, and designated areas of the provinces of Colón and Panamá that are east of the Canal Zone.

Chikungunya was first reported in 2014, and Zika virus was first reported in 2015.

Because of the risks to pregnancy, travelers should consult the CDC Travelers’ Health website for the most current recommendations for Zika.


  1. Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin. Re-apply according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. Wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) long-sleeved clothing.
  3. Pre-soak or spray outer layer clothing and gear with permethrin.
  4. Ensure that hatch and window screens work properly.

Parasitic Infections

Diseases transmitted by sand flies and ticks are present.


Crocodiles: Attacks have been noted in Guna Yala. Check locally for current issues.
Bats: A cruising sailor was bitten by a bat while sleeping when anchored in Bahia Benao near Punta Mala.

Last updated:  November 2018

Hospital Nacional, Panama City
Avenida Cuba, Calle 38 Este y 39, Panamá, Panama
Tel:(507) 207-8100
A modern, 80-bed private hospital located 2 blocks from the US Embassy in Panama City. The Medical staff has 160 physicians and specialists in virtually every field of medicine. Many are US Board Certified and most have received training in the United States or Western Europe.


Necessary Documents for Panama:

It is recommended to have both the originals and multiple copies of each.

  • The original of your vessel documentation — with current stamp — or state registration.
  • Passports for the entire crew.
  • Crew List.
  • Tourist Visas.
  • Cruising Permit or Permiso de Navegacion: Cruising permits issued for one year and renewable annually for a total of three years. Cruisers report that additional years are possible if you visit an office that isn’t connected to the main computer system.
  • Cruising Permit for Guna Yala: Keep your receipts.

See fees below.

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

Last updated:  December 2018


Full details about the Panama Canal Transit, including fees, can be found in the procedures for a handline transit of the Panama Canal.

Historically, fees are charged inconsistently throughout Panama's ports of entry and for most up to date information check with the reports and forums.

Clearance fees are likely to vary from port to port but may include:

Immigration Fees: Tourist card

  • Free

Cruising Permit: one year Permiso de Navegacion for Panama (renewed annually)

  • $185 for any vessel more than 10 meters or 40 feet ($193 has been charged in some ports)

Port Captain: Domestic Zarpe Fees

  • Various up to $20

Cruising Permit (Guna Yala)

  • $20 for 30 days (for each person aboard and the boat, so two people + boat = $60)

Anchoring Fees (Guna Yala)

Park Fees (Coiba)

  • Permits are required for the Coiba National Park. In 2014 cruisers without a permit were charged $40 to anchor and $20 per person per day, though fees appear to be negotiable.

Other Fees

The following fees seem to be aimed at commercial boats. The only cruisers who have encountered them were at a municipal dock in a commercial harbor: 
Quarantine fee: $35
Health Ministry fee: $122
oat fumigation: $53

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

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

Last updated:  December 2018


Park Permits: Coiba National Park is managed by the National Authority for the Environment (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, ANAM). The park is accessible only by permit from ANAM.

Chartering: You have to be registered with the Autoridad Maritima Panamá (AMP) to charter in Panama. Foreign boats coming to Panama and the Guna Yala Islands and carrying out charters are doing so illegally. Resolutions were passed in April 2018 to try and counter these illegal activities.

Departure Zarpe: Should there be adverse sea conditions on the day of your departure, the Autoridad Maritima de Panama may issue a maritime warning and not issue zarpes to boats wishing to depart that day.

Guna Yala: Prohibited activities include kite surfing, drones, wake boarding, surfing, scuba diving, chartering and spear fishing.

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 6523-3991
Opening hours: 24/7
Attends yachts in the Pacific and Atlantic.
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.
Rogelio de Hoyos
Contact in Panama for Trans-Ocean e.V., Germany ( as well Seven Seas Cruising Association, USA ( Can assist yachts with information and advice covering cruising Panama, Panama Canal transits, facilities etc. Professional driver, e.g. for shopping tours, as well an official canal agent. Speaks English fluently.
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.


In practice, if arriving in Panama by boat with a pet, cruisers have reported that the procedure is quite relaxed - in fact you don't really have to do anything.

If you want to fly in or out of Panama with your pet then the requirements are quite specific. Using an agent to help with the paperwork and permits is a good idea. The vets leave the airport at 2200, so if you arrive after this time, or at the weekend or on a public holiday, your pet will be kept at the airport kennels.

Dogs and cats need health and anti-rabies certificates. The certificate of good health needs to go to a Panamanian consulate to be verified.

All other animals need health certificates.

The owner must notify Panama at least three (3) days before the arrival of the pet by completing the "Home Quarantine Request". This can be download from

This notification must be sent via email to [email protected]. In the email, you will need to provide a scanned copy of your pet’s health certificate as well as information related to your pet’s date of arrival.

For more details see: Information to introduce small animals into the country.

To leave Panama with your vet by air you need a vet certificate from a local doctor and an export permit good for 30 days. Again, an agent can assist with this.

Last updated:  November 2018

CaprichoII says:
Nov 26, 2018 04:21 PM

Unfortunately Karsten Staffeldt mentioned in Sources of Panama Information has passed away. We received this email from his wife: "This is Karsten wife Nellie. Karsten passed away July 14th 2018. Pls let his friend know. Tks." He has been a hero to so many sailors dedicating his life to help other people. RIP

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 12, 2018 04:35 PM

Feedback from Robert Burn:
We are now in Shelter Bay Marina near Panama where the tariff for our 16.7 vessel is US$80 per night. We are funnelled here because we are transiting the Canal, and it is all much easier this way!
Erick Galvez has been very good, and has us going through in five days from arrival. We had to weld up our stern fairleads to satisfy the PCA inspector Jose, a cheerful fellow.
The transit for our vessel is $1300 and with fenders and ropes and one experienced line handler it came to just over $2000. The boat measured more than two feet longer than the registered LOA, which may explain why I am spending more on paint.
South America is better than the Caribbean in many aspects, much to do with the people. Peru is reputed to be most convivial.
We are heading to French Polynesia and there seems there are a couple of others heading that way too.

Michael Schrodter
Michael Schrodter says:
May 08, 2018 12:20 PM

Sending items to Panama.
I can't be more appropriative of Coray Ward of mailboxes ect. An incredible help in assisting clearance of parcels. I would definitely call or contact him first and he will be able to give appropriate advise on the courier to avoid any delays in processing in Panama. His communication is excellent and really goes the extra effort. Hands down the best service experience while in panama.
Mike S/Y Alba

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 14, 2018 12:28 PM

Reported by S/Y Sannsipapp of Norway:
Panama Agent for packages.
I have the pleasure of recommending a good agent that makes all the hassle with receiving packages etc. from abroad go away. What this company does is having all sent through a PO box address in the USA, making import to Panama a lot easier. They charge not much for doing it, and the service is priceless. They take care of all paperwork, customs, clearance etc. for you and come to deliver the goods to on your boat, nearly wherever you might be. We had such a good experience with this guy.
The company has at least two offices in Panama City. Coray A Ward, Mail Boxes Etc, tel 507 2256254 or 66243216, [email protected],
Axel H K Wold
S/Y Sannsipapp of Norway

Avant says:
Mar 11, 2018 04:44 PM

Affordable Marinas on the Pacific coast of Panama?
A report from friends of ours on MY Crossroads is that Vista Mar Marina in San Carlos is cheap and brand new with great facilities.

Marina location is approximately 8°29.0N, 79°56.6W

Check out all the information and our friends' feedback on the San Carlos page here on noonsite -

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 21, 2018 04:01 PM

Reports from cruisers in the San Blas Islands are that for about a week now, the Congresso that governs Kuna Yala has banned the travel of non boat owners into the region. As the charter trade is totally unregulated here, large numbers of Charter vessels have proliferated, possibly outnumbering the private boats. Any business venture by anyone other than a Kuna in the region is illegal per Congresso law.
No charter guests can be transported by taxi to charter boats at the mainland docks or by water taxi to boats at anchor. Offending operators are being fined up to 500 usd.
Returning boat owners who have either pensionado cards for legal residence in Panama, or have their Cruising Permit and crew list, are managing to get back to their boats.
Air travel to the two airports in the Western San Blas has not been available for the past 2 years,so SUV travel from Panama City on the Carti road is the only method of visiting Kuna Yala.
The resolution of this problem is unclear at this time and one larger tour operator is involved in a legal battle over this, but they do not think it will be resolved for at least a month.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 19, 2017 09:45 PM

San Blas Ustupu EVENT: Theft
DATE: 2017-11-06 08:00
Stolen Items: 40 ft. of port headsail sheet
SECURED: Not Locked
DETAILS: When departing, owners anchored just west of Ustupu discovered their port headsail sheet had been cut just behind the track car and the remaining 40 ft. of line stolen. It had been coiled and secured to the lifeline. Their buddy boat reported that sunscreen and bugspray had been taken from their dinghy while tied to the Ustupu military dock. The theft will be reported to the local officials at their next stop westbound.

roycereid302 says:
Oct 06, 2017 05:07 PM

I wanted to give some positive feedback for Puerto Armuelles as an entry and exit port for the Pacific side of Panama.
We cleared in and out of Panama there with no hassle at all. The port captain filled out all the forms, copied all our documents and helped us with our crew list.... We obtained all of our exit papers in about 45 minutes and when we came in it took about an hour to clear.
There is good holding in about 25 feet of water by the banana dock. Basically an easy in and out stop with good shopping, diesel available at $2.00usd a taxi ride away and friendly efficient service.
I don't speak Spanish.. but they all understood what I wanted and helped a lot. Very positive experience there.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Aug 11, 2017 09:33 AM

The increase in transit tolls for commercial vessels, effective October 2017, does not affect small crafts (up to 125 ft. LOA). All information on the Customer Form "Procedures for securing a Handline
Transit of the Panama Canal" from 2012 is still current, and can be seen on the Panama Canal

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Aug 02, 2017 05:17 PM

Further report from Karsten Staffeldt - 1 August, 2017
Transit of the Panama Canal - Small vessels inclusive yachts (Less than 125 Ft. LOA)

Please be advised that the Pilot Organization at the Panama Canal has notified the Canal Authorities that they should have more control of the transits by small crafts inclusive yachts, which presently only requires an Advisor.

The negotiations are in the early stages, but if the Pilot Organization is successful and a regular Pilot will be required, no doubt the transit cost for small craft will increase considerably.

Shall keep you advised of developments.

Karsten Staffeldt

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 20, 2017 08:36 PM

Report from Karsten Staffeldt: Contact in Panama for noonsite & various Scandinavian Ocean Cruising Associations and the OCC.
Panama up date:

Our Summer, Dry-Season, is over and the Rainy-Season started, which will last to
November. May is also the end of the sailing season Panama and in June the
Hurricane Season in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific is expected to begin.

In the Pacific El Niño is presently neutral and La Niña conditions is expected later this year.

As far as the Panama Canal Transits for small crafts, inclusive yachts, we have seen some delays during the past months, but with the season being over this situation is not expected to continue in the coming months.Furthermore at present no indication that the transit cost for small crafts will increase this year.

As far as Panama is concerned - some changes.

It seems that the situation at San Blas Islands has normalized somewhat, it is now possible again to clear in with both Port Captain and Immigration at Porvenir.

Also Immigration requirements have changed and crew on non-commercial yachts will be
grated minimum 90 days tourist permission at no cost, which can be extended, but in such case a visa is required costing around $ 105,00.

Otherwise no significant changes relating to clearing in and cruising Panama, however it must be pointed out that Rules and Regulations are subject to frequent change and often with different interpretation by the various Port Captain and Immigration Offices.

For Galapagos, obtaining permission to call required as well as use of an agent.
It is recommended that yachts wishing to call Galapagos contact any agent well
in advance of their planned visit in order to arrange the necessary permits. It
should also be noted that Rules and Regulations are frequently changed and at
times the interpretation of same up to the local Authorities attending the
clearing in!

Golden Glow
Golden Glow says:
Apr 13, 2017 01:36 AM

Panama Canal delays have only gotten worse since February. We were measured on Monday April 10th and were given a date of May 9th, 29 days out. Our agent says next week, after Easter, there may be an improvement, so I'll update you if things change.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 22, 2017 12:12 PM

Panama Canal - Transit delays February / March 2017
Transit delays are now anticipated through the end of this month (Carnival Season) and into the first half of March (arrival of rallies). They are expected to be extensive.

Max Terragni
Max Terragni says:
Jan 02, 2017 04:46 PM

We used immigration in Porvenir last December 28th, 2016.
The officer ask us for 105 USD per person to obtain the visa for 6 months.
With the help of our friends, who had obtained a visa a few days before, we were able to enter for free - as the new law permits.
Beware that not all the officers are aware of the new law.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 08, 2016 09:44 PM

The latest from our contacts in Panama:

1: Apparently little is going on as far as discussions between the Central Government and the Kuna Yala Congress.

2: Reports from several yachts indicate that they are cruising the San Blas without problems and collection of fees/charges at anchorages is inconsistant. In most reports no Kuna Yala Fee and anchoring fees have been collected.

3: Also some yachts coming from Colombia or the east have reported that agents in Panama are advising them to cruise the San Blas if they so wish before proceeding to Linton, Portobelo or Colon for clearance (which is contrary to regulations).

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 21, 2016 11:54 AM

18 June 2016: Reported on the San Blas Cruisers Facebook Group

The Port Captain at Linton Bay Marina (Puerto Lindo) has all the stamps required to check you in for a year.
The cost to check in is $195 payable in cash only.

The Port Captain in Portobelo does not have the stamps for the cruising permit, therefore you would have to go to Colon or to Linton Bay Marina for that.

There is no immigration office at Linton Bay Marina as of today, but it is coming soon.
The closest immigration place from Linton Bay is in Portobelo where you can check into the country.
If the immigration office in Portobelo does not have the special visa, the one that costs $100, then you have 72 hours to get it, either in Colon or in Panama city.

The stamp obtained in Portobelo will be good for you to travel in the country for 72 hours.

There is no bank in Linton Bay (Puerto Lindo) or in Portobelo, but there are banks and ATMs in Sabanitas, which is on the way to Colon or Panama city.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 31, 2016 02:12 PM

Posted on behalf of Javier Palacios Fenech:

1 - Panama border is closed in Puerto Obaldia and El Porvenir due to the amount of immigrants wanting to reach the US from Colombia.

2 - Be careful with non-official Agents. The stamps they offer are not valid to stay in Panama, and not entered into the inmigration office system.

3 - Armed robbery in Portobello to a french yachtie. Be careful, also in Puerto Lindo. Several cases of robbery in the last few weeks.

4 - Bureaucracy to enter Panama is not so bad as in Colombia, but as the business between Cartagena and Panama is growing and there is an immigration conflict, official agents are becoming more strict with crowded boats. i.e. they may ask for a reservation of a flight out of the country and proof to be financially independent to each passenger. i.e Portobello, Colon.

Vaguebond says:
May 02, 2016 05:22 AM

If you're short in time to provision in Panama-City, we could surely recommend Chris Burillo (emal: [email protected]) to,take care for provisioning.
All fruits and vegetables (coming from fresh market) wer of excellent quality and price, meat comes vacuum packed and cooled, and all supermarket items were delivered according to our request.
Chris is a great person with big interst in sailing...
Delivery was made exactly on time, everything well packed.

If contacting him, do not forget to order some honey, this is really delicious!

Vaguebond says:
Apr 15, 2016 11:59 PM

We would like to hihem as well. When both pilots came on board, both of the said they were relaxed as they know that we had 2 knowledgeable linehandlers on board (based upon our experience during crossing the locks, at least 2 linehandlers with prior Panama Canal experience are an absolute requirement :-)

zoonie says:
Mar 29, 2016 03:39 PM

Rob and I aboard our Oyster 406 used the services of AYS, Associated Yacht Services to arrange our Canal Transit. Alessandro RisI and Josimar of AYS were professional and friendly and did all the running around for us including clearing out and our Zarpe on leaving. Their email responses were prompt enabling us to sent scanned documents to them while we were still in Curacao. Shelter Bay is a safe and friendly place to stay, with good haul out and boat yard facilities and John Hallen, the manager, and his staff are welcoming and can organise most things. Our Advisor, Regis, directed us to the free anchorage on the canal side of Flamenco Marina, which although noisy at times is an adequate spot near the La Playing harbour end. We dragged in fine silty mud when we anchored further south. Most yachts take their tenders in to La Playita pontoon, but since January the charge for leaving it there has been $57 per week and you CANNOT pay by the day.

Murphy says:
Mar 13, 2016 04:24 AM

A correction re dogs arriving in Panama. We arrived by boat to Boca's Marina. No advance check in. We declared our dog and then paid 50 dollars in town and he was allowed ashore. He does have a UK pet passport and all relevant vaccinations/ microchip. By plane from the USA...we saw a USDA vet who completed the paperwork, then went to the Dept of Agriculture who confirmed the paperwork and vet were genuine. Then we took the paperwork to the Panamanian consulate and they checked the paperwork again. When we arrived in Panama the quarantine people checked our dog and the paperwork. He was given a 40 day quarantine which can be done on the boat. The whole process cost about 350 dollars! Not cheap but so be it. Secondly most dogs are friendly in Panama, especially Kuna dogs. A warning if landing your dog for a walk at Linton Bay. There is a restaurant in the right hand corner that has 5 white dogs who are very unfriendly and bit our dog badly. The owner just said it was his dogs right to attack ours unprovoked even though we werent near their restaurant.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 23, 2016 12:28 PM

Portuguese Man 'o War
At this time of year these creatures can be seen in this area.
If you are stung by one (also applies to a lion fish, coral, stingrays etc.), the best remedy is HOT seawater.
Any chemical agent, or change in PH, or Salinity, or chemical composition, will trigger the stinging cells to fire more venom. For many millions of years, these things have evolved to exist in a narrow temperature band, but by increasing the temperature, it simply turns the cells into protoplasm, like soup.
Target temperature is about 50 C or 122 F, but just try to get as hot as you can tolerate.

Inchcailloch says:
Feb 23, 2016 01:06 AM

Emmanuel Agencies S.A. Roy Bravo's main aim in his professional career is to make sure you do not work have no worries and to make your transit totally trouble free. Ironically out of all the forms, permits, payments fees, visas etc that have to be paid, this is the only one that is not necessary and the one that is most useful. Being single handed he arranged ropes fender, rope handlers who were the most pleasant you could wish for. Roy was always there at the end of the phone for me and responded to emails often within minutes. Admeasurer was arranger within 2 days and within 2 days of that my transit was underway. Of all the monies spent transiting the canal Roy's was the best value and the most friendly and the one very reasonable amount that I did not mind paying. Thanks very much Roy a pleasure doing business with you. Bob Redley Tiger Lily

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.

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:
Jun 29, 2015 04:44 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 02:50 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 01, 2015 03:59 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 10:46 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 04:36 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 05:01 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
[email protected]

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 07:20 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 05:06 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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Panama Canal Transit Season - Update on Waiting Times  (21 Feb 2009)

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Panama: All Visiting Yachts Now Required to Pre-Register Arrival Information  (11 Feb 2009)

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Panama Canal Transit Season - Current Waiting Times  (09 Feb 2009)

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Confusion in the San Blas Islands  (17 Sep 2008)

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Is the Panama Canal back to Normal?  (20 Jun 2008)

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Galapagos Restrictions  (03 Nov 2006)

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Panama Canal Authority Tightens Screws On Yachts  (16 Sep 2005)