The Republic of Panama, given its strategic geographical position and the existence of the Panama Canal, has become a pillar of the maritime trade among the nations of the world.
One of its most important achievements is the National Merchant Marine being the oldest and now the largest open world registry of ships.
The Panamanian Merchant Marine was created through Law 8 of 1925, which eliminated the restrictions regarding nationality and residence of ship owners, in order to adopt an open registry system.
Since then, the Panamanian ship’s registry accepts ships that belong to nationals and foreigners, under the condition of compliance of the domestic and international standards relating to navigability, maritime safety, prevention and control of pollution, manning, certification and watchkeeping of seafarers, technical social standards and tax matters.
The Panamanian Registry has its origins in the year 1925, with the approval of Law 8, which establishes the procedures for the nationalization of ships tonnage. Later through Law 2 of 17 January, 1980 the Directorate General of Merchant Marine was created ascribed to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (currently Ministry of Economics and Finances). This regulation assigned functions to this General Directorate and established all dispositions regarding the registry of the Panamanian Merchant Marine vessels.
Through Decree Law No.7 of 10 February 1998, the Panama Maritime Authority is created and the Consular and Ships Directorate becomes part of the organic structure of the same, under its current name, Directorate General of Merchant Marine with the corresponding functions.
The General Law of Merchant Marine is the No.57 of 6 August, 2008.
This Directorate General is endowed with great importance within the Panamanian Public Administration, given that it regulates the activities related to ships registrations, both nationally and internationally.
Panama is the country occupying the first place in registration of ships worldwide, as a product of the interest and efficiency of its collaborators.