ACP Maritime Regulations Book
A copy of the Maritime Regulations for the Operation of the Panama Canal must be maintained on board all transiting vessels. Each transiting vessel is entitled to a complimentary copy of said regulations. Additional copies for the same vessel are available at a cost.
There are two approaches to enter the Panama Canal:
- Northbound (NB) or Eastbound (EB):
- Southbound (SB) or Westbound (WB):
Entering via Balboa Anchorage (Pacific Side)
Entering via Cristobal Anchorage (Atlantic Side)
Port terminals are available at both sides:
a) Pacific Side:
b) Atlantic Side:
- Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT)
- Colon Container Terminal (CCT)
- Colon 2000
- Las Minas
The Panama Canal is approximately 80 kilometers long between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and uses a system of locks - compartments with entrance and exit gates.
The locks function as water lifts: they raise ships from sea level (the Pacific or the Atlantic) to the level of Gatun Lake (26 meters above sea level); ships then sail the channel through the Continental Divide.
Each set of locks bears the name of the townsite where it was built: Gatun and Agua Clara (on the Atlantic side), and Pedro Miguel, Miraflores and Cocoli (on the Pacific side). The water used to raise and lower vessels in each set of locks comes from Gatun Lake by gravity; it comes into the locks through a system of main culverts that extend under the lock chambers from the sidewalls and the center wall.
Automated Data Collection System (ADCS)
The ADCS is an electronic information exchange system between the ACP and the customers, which enables the collection, administration, and validation of data. Pre-arrival information messages will only be accepted when submitted via the Automated Data Collection System (ADCS).
Owners, operators or charterers of a vessel that transits the Panama Canal are assigned a Customer Code. The ACP utilizes this code to weigh number of transits and amount of tolls paid within 12 months to determine each customer’s ranking which is defined every 30 days. This customer code ranking is crucial for assignments of reservations slots when competition is faced between 2 or more vessels.
Providing false, incorrect, or deficient information on these codes constitutes a violation of the Maritime Regulations for the Operation of the Panama Canal and may result in fines that may range from US$ 100 to US$ 1,000,000.
Electronic Data Collection System (EDCS):
Provides for the electronic reception of all preliminary information required for security and operational purposes. After being verified by ACP personnel through an interface, this information is incorporated into the production database of the Enhanced Vessel Traffic Management System (EVTMS), which is the current operational application used by the ACP.
Vessels must provide ACP Boarding Officers with a hard copy of the Ship’s Information and Quarantine Declaration – SIQD (Form 4398) completed, with the exception of the information on dangerous cargo. In addition, vessels carrying containers must provide hard copies of container summary (Form 4510). The SIQD and Container Summary forms are available at: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/op/forms.html.
Canal Internet Gateway (CIG): This is an avenue to send and receive EDCS messages to and from the ACP in either EDI or XML format via Internet. The specific CIG interface data requirements and format definition are provided in the Panama Canal Automated Data Requirements (PC-ADR). The CIG module offers customers the option of forwarding submissions via HTTP or RTFTP, which is a variation of a secure file transfer protocol.
All services, including the transiting of vessels are performed by the Panama Canal Authority and Port Operators, strictly on a “CASH IN ADVANCE” basis. For this reason, sufficient funds must be received by the agencies representing owners and/or operators, prior to the arrival of the vessel at either Canal Terminal, whether the vessel is of transit of the Panama Canal or Local call at any of the local ports, or both.
The advance funds must include not only the Canal transit and related charges, as well as berthing fees, etc., but also include sufficient funds to cover agency fees and charges, cash advances to Masters when required, stores, anticipated repairs etc.
ISPS – Security Advance Information
The ACP voluntarily adopted the security requirements established by the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) even though the definition of a Port Facility contained in the ISPS Code does not include canals and locks. Vessels flying the flag of a non-Contracting Government to the SOLAS Convention, vessels less than 500 gross registered tons, and vessels belonging to and operated by a Contracting Government to the above-mentioned Convention, and that are used solely for noncommercial government service, shall provide proof that they have implemented security measures onboard equivalent to those required by the ISPS Code.
Vessels not in compliance with the security requirements mentioned above shall be subject to the control and compliance measures established by the ACP. Among the measures that may be applied shall be the assignment of additional resources at the vessel’s expense, and a more detailed inspection, which may result in the delay or denial of the vessel’s transit.
Any vessel on an international voyage and underway to the Canal shall notify the Authority at least ninety-six (96) hours prior to its arrival, of the following:
- Its intention of proceeding to the anchorage, transiting, or proceeding to port;
- The security level at which the vessel is currently operating, according to the ISPS Code;
- Confirmation that the vessel possesses a valid International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC);
- The security level at which the vessel operated in the previous ten calls at port facilities;
- Any special security measures implemented during said calls;
- A confirmation that the appropriate security measures were maintained during ship-to-ship activity during the period covered by its previous ten calls at port facilities.
Questions and/or concerns regarding the ISPS regulation at the Panama Canal should be directed to:
Protection and Emergency Response Division:
Telephones: +507 276-3669 / +507 276-3227
Facsimile: +507 276-4777
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
For latest contact details, please always refer to the Panama Canal Website (www.pancanal.com ).
Locks Size/Vessels’ Limits
The locks are divided into Panamax and Neo Panamax. The size of each one is different and are as follows.
Panamax (Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores)
- Length: 304.8 m
- Width: 33.53 m
NeoPanamax (Agua Clara and Cocoli)
- Length: 427 m
- Width: 55 m
The maximum dimensions of ships that can transit the Canal are:
Panamax (Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores)
- Length: 294.1 m (may vary on type of vessel)
- Width: 32.3 m
- Draft: 12 m in Tropical Fresh Water (TFW)
Neo Panamax (Agua Clara and Cocoli)
- Length: 366 m
- Width: 49 m
- Draft: 13.72 m in Tropical Fresh Water (TFW). Being updated regularly.
PCSOPEP Requirements (different from IMO’s SOPEP)
All vessels approaching Canal waters for transit must submit a Panama Canal Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (PCSOPEP) at least 96 hours prior to its arrival. This requirement is applicable to vessels with fuel and/or oil cargo-carrying capacity of 400 MT or more.
Vessels failing to submit a compliant PCSOPEP at least 96 hours prior to arrival at Canal waters will be charged with the highest fee; in addition, the vessel is only programmed for transit after the shipping agent has paid or provided satisfactory guarantees for the payment of the applicable sanction, which will be set at a minimum of US$2,500 and a maximum of US$5,000. Subsequent arrivals to Panama Canal waters under similar non-compliance conditions may result in denial of transit.
An “Authorized Person” must be appointed by the Ship Owner or Ship Operator of the vessel and be approved in advance by the ACP. This authorized person acts as a liaison between the vessel and the ACP to obtain and consign, on behalf of the vessel, acceptable guarantees to the satisfaction of the ACP, to cover the costs of the response and cleanup of oil spills in Canal waters. This Authorized Person shall reside in the Republic of Panama.
Pre-arrival Cargo Declaration, Security Inspection and Escort
Vessels arriving at Panama Canal waters must declare all cargo carried on board at least 96 hours prior to their arrival. Vessels that arrive from ports that are less than 96 hours away are required to submit revisions to their original cargo declarations as may be necessary in order to provide updated cargo information.
ACP boarding officers will verify cargo information submitted in the pre-arrival notification and discrepancies with the cargo manifest presented by the master will be reported to the ACP Canal Protection Division. These discrepancies will be evaluated and may lead to the application of security control measures as deemed necessary by the ACP. These control measures may include, but not be limited to one or more of the following:
- Direct communication with the vessel’s master to clarify any discrepancies or any other security related issues,
- Delay of transit,
- The assignment of additional resources,
- The escorting of the vessel,
All additional resources provided by the Canal on account of discrepancies identified during the verification of the cargo declaration will be charged to the vessel.
Vessels that fail to provide their pre-arrival notification 96 hours prior to arriving at Canal waters, will not be scheduled for transit ahead of vessels that have complied with this requirement or that have already been assigned pilots for transit.
All full container vessels arriving for transit at the Panama Canal must submit their updated “baplie” file “prior” to arrival at Panama Canal waters. This information will be used to calculate tolls based on actual loadings of the vessels. If the baplie files is not received on time, tolls will be calculated based on maximum ACP container capacity.
For those vessels docking at a terminal in Panama before transiting the Panama Canal, the authority will allow submission prior to entering the last set of locks. Baplie files need to be uploaded via web into the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) system.
Most tolls are paid according to vessels’ PCUMS tonnage which is calculated by the ACP. Vessels carrying containers pay tolls according their container carrying capacity/actual loaded containers and passenger vessels may pay its tolls based on a per berth or PCUMS basis.
As of 2016, tolls are also based on loaded cargo, type of commodity and vessel deadweight tonnage. Please use our transit cost calculator in this website or ask for assistance in our "Contact Us" section.
Green Connection Environment Recognition Program
A so called "Green Connection Environment Award" has been implemented by the Panama Canal Authority in order to help the shipping industry mitigate the environmental impact of its operations.
In addition, an "Environmental Premium Ranking" awards customers with higher customer ranking when meeting specific environmental guidelines.
For more information, read https://www.pancanal.com/commo and https://www.pancanal.com/commo...