How to Obtain Your Panama Captain's License for National Waters

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Rev. 10/23/09,  s/v ARGO


Captainís licenses are issued by the Autoridad Maritima de Panama (AMP) and are required if operating a vessel such as a panga or greater size that is not your vessel or tender listed on your cruising permit.


1.      Certificate of course completion of ďBasic Course for Mariners in National Waters  *

2.      Certificate of Good Health from a doctor or clinic

3.      License fee paid to Banco Nacional

4.      Form completion at AMP, finger prints, photo, signature

*    If you hold a current USCG license, this course certificate will be issued to you without taking the course.  Of course, a fee still must be paid.


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Best to get items #1-3 done first before going to the AMP.  We used a bi-lingual driver (Jeronimo, cell 6873-5545, he is usually at Toscana Inn Hotel in El Congrejo) to take us around, to translate for us, find out where to go next, and in each case he was tremendous help to expedite whatever it was that we were doing. Taxi fee is $10/hr. This was well worth it, as we finished the process in less than 4 hours!  Our actual licenses were available for pickup a day later.  Paid Jeronimo an extra 2 hours to collect them and send via air.

Recommended order:


1.      Escuela Tecnica de Marinos (not exactly sure where it was but itís close to the AMP office in Albrook) to obtain certificate of course completion for Basic Course for Mariners in National Waters (Curso Basico para Marinos de Aguas Nacionales). We spoke with Hogobarto Maza?, 232-7691 or 6665-1186, who was very knowledgeable, helpful and efficient.  Show your passport and USCG license, pay $50/person and 10 minutes later we had our certificate of completion.  Also, ask him to give you the form and fill it in that is needed to make your license fee payment at the bank.


For us, steps #2 and #3 were almost across the street from each other, located in a not-so-nice part of town.


2.      Obtain a Certificate of Good Health (Certificado de Buena Salud) from a doctor or clinic.  We went to a private doctor almost across the street from the Bank (#3).  The cute, young Dra. saw that we were breathing, collected $7/each and in 5 minutes we were out of there with our certificates.

Medical Clinic Carballo

Dra. Itza Erika Carballo Veliz

Calidonia, calle 25 este, Edificio Latorraca, local 2

262-2976, 6716-1724


3.      Banco Nacional, almost across from the doctorís office.  We initially had to be processed by a lady at a desk before standing in the regular line.  After a 5-step process involving 4 people, we paid $100/each + $5 processing fee and were out of there in about 15 minutes.


4.      AMP (Autoridad Maritima de Panama) office.  Before ever starting the process, I spoke by phone to (Ms.) Lidielyl at AMP (phone 501-5057, her office is upstairs in suite #101), who spoke good English and could answer my questions.  When we showed up that day, she was able to hook us up with Engineer Ivan Ospino, 501-5093, who explained the requirements and sent us on our way. 


After collecting the above #1, #2 and #3, we returned to the same office and met with another man who processed us by filling out forms on the computer (make sure you double check his work), getting our fingerprints, photo and signature; and examined our passport, USCG license and the above 3 items.  We requested, and were given, licenses valid for vessels up to 20 meters (65 ft.) in length for 3 years.  Although we had paid our license fee in cash to Banco Nacional, another 4-steps with 2 people finalized the payment.  We spent about an hour there.  As the actual licenses had to be signed by AMP officials and laminated, we would have to return a day later to pick them up.  (We had our driver pick them up a day later and send them on Aeroperlas ($5) to us in Bocas.)

Autoridad Maritima de Panama, (8:30am Ė 4:30pm), ground floor

Albrook area, in a strip shopping center next to Rey




Good luck!


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