Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama, Central America

The Cruising Sailor's choice for Security and Service.

Panama Cruising Permits

Hooray - new Panama cruising rules - 2 yr per permit

Posted by: "Jeff" on

Fri Jul 2, 2010 9:28 am (PDT)

Panama's new administration has passed new laws allowing foreign-registered pleasure boats to stay in the country for one or two years, reversing the current 90-day limit.

"We feel that this is a very positive step toward the goal of promoting private yacht tourism here in Panama," said Chuck Silvers, owner of Bocas del Toro Marina and Yacht Club on the Caribbean side of Panama.

Panama President Ricardo Martinelli has been instrumental in encouraging nautical tourism, assisted recently by visiting U.S. delegations.

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 motor yachts" 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: $42 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.

"Also in the works 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," Silvers said. "That will correspond to the boat's new one-year cruising permit."

Although these new cruiser-friendly laws have been approved and passed in the legislature, they have not yet been fully implemented, Silvers said. However, he said the secretary of tourism has assured marina owners that, until the new Articles 71 and 72 are put into effect, the existing 90-day cruising permits will continue to be renewed by port officials.

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.

Also from the Bocas del Toro cruising grounds of Panama, the system of red and green buoys along the east side of Careening Cay has been removed, so cruisers approaching Bocas del Toro should contact Marina Carenero for safe GPS entrance positions. The marina's new e-mail address is

A different buoy system was installed along the west side of Isla Colon, called the Boca del Drago, to lead ships to the commercial port of Almirante.


Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Caribbean, Panama, Central America
Phone: (011) (507) 757-9242

Latitude 920.64' N Longitude 8214.11' W

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