Maria R. Young

Maritime Legal Services in Panama

The largest merchant marine fleet in the world (by dimensions and tonnage) flies the Panamanian flag. Huge shipping companies, as well as yacht and pleasure ship owners, choose Panama for registration due to the multiple ship registry advantages it offers. Through Mossack Fonseca, you can access ship registration and other legal services related to Panama’s maritime industry.


Find out below why Panama should be your first choice for ship registration and other maritime industry services.


Panama and its Maritime Tradition


The Republic of Panama has a great maritime tradition. Aside from the Panama Canal, which celebrated 100 years of operation in August 2014, an open registry system was adopted in early 1917. This transformed Panama into the state with the largest merchant marine fleet worldwide, both for dimensions and tonnage. Moreover, Panama has a modern maritime port cargo network, mainly at the extremities of the interoceanic waterways, providing important cargo transshipment services to and from South America and the east coast of the United States of America.


Ship Registry in Panama


Panama’s Ship Registry is one of the oldest open registry systems in the world. It was established in 1917, only three years after the inauguration of the Panama Canal. This structure permits the registration of any merchant, fishing or pleasure vessel under the Panamanian flag, without having to pay any minimum fee for Panamanian ship ownership, or fulfill any national operating requirements, other than those which must be met for ship registry, that is: guarantee compliance with appropriate seaworthiness standards, legal security relating to the ship’s title of ownership, facility to transfer ownership, and guarantee ship credits.


The Panama Ship Registry is a worldwide leader that satisfies the requirements listed above and more. A Panama ship ownership title grants full legal security and its ship mortgage offers exceptional stability for a creditor’s guarantee as regards the ship’s credits. The solidity of the title and speediness with which the creditor can process its credit and ship mortgage are crucial factors that have led the most prestigious banks and insurance companies in the world to have maximum trust in the Panamanian ship registration system.


Another advantage of the Panamanian registry system is the large network of consular offices maintained by the Republic of Panama around the world. Panama has over 120 consulates, including 70 devoted exclusively to the merchant marine, in cities and maritime centers of great importance worldwide. Panama’s consulates, particularly those located in cities engaged in the maritime and port industry, are well prepared to handle provisional ship registration requests in an effective and speedy manner.


In addition, the Panama Maritime Authority offers incentives both to ships that are already registered and to new registrations. Discounts are offered for customer loyalty, good practices, new registrations, fleets, and new construction, among others.


The Panamanian registration system is fast and easy. Provisional registration can be done with copies of documents and it takes only one business day. This provisional registration is valid for six months. During this period, a permanent ship registration must be made. This speedy provisional registration permits the shipping company to register and operate ships immediately, while permanent registration formalities are processed.


Maritime Services Offered by Mossack Fonseca


To meet your maritime legal service’s needs, our firm has an experienced team of lawyers specialized in the requirements, challenges, and procedures of the maritime industry.


Our main services in this sector include:


  • Ship and yacht registration
  • Assistance in the purchase-sale of ships and yachts
  • Change of ownership
  • Change of dimensions
  • Obtaining special licenses and permits to navigate in Panamanian waters
  • Renewal of patents and payment of taxes for ships
  • Legal opinions
  • Maritime litigation
  • Escrow service
  • Assistance in drafting contracts
  • Obtaining technical certificates
  • Registration and cancellation of ship mortgages
  • Other related services


If you have any questions or need further information, please do not hesitate to contact your local Mossack Fonseca Office, or email us at or


Mossack Fonseca & Co

Firm Overview: 
The Mossack Fonseca Group is a leading international corporation which provides comprehensive legal, trust, technological and accounting services. With over 500 staff members in all continents, Mossack Fonseca provides personalized advice based on more than 36 years of experience in the market. They also offer world-class service through their exclusive online services which are available 24 hours a day.


Main Areas of Practice:  

Company Formation Services: 
As an international group that offers world-class competitive products and services, the Mossack Fonseca Group carries out research and development activities to identify the best opportunities and solutions for an ever-challenging global market. The firm can offer clients a variety of jurisdictions such as: British Anguilla, The Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands, Malta, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Republic of Panama, Samoa, Seychelles, The Netherlands, Nevada and Wyoming (USA).


Vessels & Yachts:
The firm offers a wide variety of services for both private and commercial yachts including registration, purchase and sale contracts, operating permits, credit requests, crew licenses, ship mortgages and international structures in a variety of advantageous jurisdictions.


Intellectual Property: 
Mossack Fonseca & Co. intellectual property specialists provide the necessary advice to clients seeking to apply for, obtain and protect patents, trademarks and service marks, and to record ideas as well as film and art work.


The firm advises clients on various commercial matters, particularly the drafting and execution of domestic or international contracts, such as: purchases and sales, personal and real guarantees, financial leases, factoring, franchises, technology transfers (know-how), exchanges, assignments, escrow agreements, negotiable instruments and securities.


Mossack Fonseca provides advice covering the full spectrum of legal financial processes, including syndicated lending, leveraged and acquisition finance, asset finance, derivative products, project finance, financial regulatory systems, insolvency and restructuring, and structured finance.


Tax & Customs: 
As part of their comprehensive tax consultancy services and in order to cover the full range of their clients’ operations, Mossack Fonseca & Co. provides advice and ideas that are innovative, practical and useful in tax matters for high-profile transactions.


Immigration Matters:
Mossack Fonseca & Co. provides assistance in immigration matters in the Republic of Panama and handle all visa procedures for tourists, immigrants, workers, investors, foreigners married to Panamanian businessmen/women and others. In addition, they render their services for extensions, exit and entry permits, residence, and naturalization applications.


Free Trade Zones:
Mossack Fonseca & Co. has experience carrying out all formalities for setting up companies in Free Trade Zones worldwide that include procuring physical space, import and export permits, handling customs matters, representation registrations and all required procedures with official administrative authorities. Mossack Fonseca & Co. works very closely with the Hong Kong Free Trade Zone and the Colon Free Trade Zone in Panama, the two largest in world.


Investments in Panama: 
Panama’s economic activity has continued in recent years with positive and sustainable growth. This is a result of incentives, policies and efforts to attract foreign investment, as well as enhanced investment grades granted to the Republic of Panama by international ratings agencies. In order to leverage these benefits, the firm offers comprehensive advice on the various ways to benefit from existing incentives.


Other Legal Services:
Government bidding process, licensing, labour advisory, mergers and acquisitions, property and real estate, competition law, aviation law, telecommunications law.


Trust Services: 
As part of the Mossack Fonseca Group, Mossfon Trust Corporation is a fiduciary entity regulated by the Banking Superintendence of Panama since 1993. Our main focus is asset protection, tax and estate planning. To meet these objectives, the firm structures a wide array of corporate vehicles depending upon the individual needs of the client such as: fully managed trusts and foundations, captive insurance companies, and other types of vehicles. The firm also offers assistance in opening bank accounts and escrow services.


Accounting Services: 
MF Accounting Services is a company created to meet the accounting needs of businesses and professionals around the world. Its goal is to maintain timely records of accounting transactions that arise from clients’ operations and/or activities. The firm relies on highly qualified Certified Public Accountants with expertise in financial and tax matters who are continuously striving to develop professionally.


Competitive advantages: 
• Presence in all continents 
• 24 hour service 
• Personalised advise 
• Staff constantly being trained 
• More than 500 employees worldwide 
• Exclusive Online Services 
• ISO 9001 certified law firm



Mossfon Building,

54th Street,

PO Box 0832-0886 WTC,




Tel +507 205 5888

Fax +507 263 9218