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The Panama Cruising Permit - "Permiso de Navegacion"

By Sue Richards last modified May 18, 2009 07:54 PM

Published: 2009-05-18 19:54:54
Countries: Panama

Reports coming into noonsite from Panama indicate that there is a great deal of inconsistency relating to the Permiso de Navegacion (Cruising Permit). It seems the various Port Captains Offices have their own interpretation of the rules, which in short stipulate that yachts will be granted a cruising permit for up to 90 days (available for 30, 60 & 90 days) where after boats must leave the country.

Cruisers have reported that in Bocas del Toro, for example, officials there are ignoring the cruising permit. In Panama City, cruisers have been granted a 3 month permit automatically, but with no option to renew. It has also been reported that cruisers with expired permits have received everything from sideways looks to minor fines when they tried to get an exit Zarpe.

The 90 day rule is a potential problem for cruisers based in Panama or those who have left their boats dry docked whilst away. However an extension will be granted if boats are laid up due to crew travelling, or seasonal lay-up, like during the Hurricane Season, awaiting spare parts or repairs etc. The application for extension must be supported by a letter or declaration from the Yacht Club or Marina where the boat is staying. It is important that such extensions are requested before your current permit expires, however bear in mind that in many places local Authorities interpret the rules in their own way.

Karsten Staffeldt reports that similar problems are also occurring with the immigration authorities in Panama. “Many yachts who cleared in at Porvenir (San Blas) and were granted 90 days stay for the crew, were told by Immigration Authorities in Colon that what the Immigration Office in Porvenir granted was not valid!"

Although an agent is not required, their assistance can be helpful to smooth out any potential problems. With the recent elections, and a new administration, things can change rapidly.

Our thanks to Karsten Staffeldt, Jeremy Shaw and Dave Wilson for contributing Panama information for this report.