Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Panama Ship Registry set new digital services in order to give an immediate response to shipowners during the crisis caused by the disease. The Registry has already introduced from 13 April, electronic Ship Registration and Radio Licences issued by the 13 international offices and/or by the 53 consulates offices.
In light of the situation, the director of the Panama Ship Registry, Rafael Cigarruista noted:
We have been operating uninterruptedly with 100% teleworking from home, from the office and we are attending all cases required by our users. We have not stopped working and bringing solutions since the beginning of the crisis. A number of ship owners, who had registered their vessels in small flags and considered they had not received adequate support, have recently come to Panama looking for modern and digital response.
Moreover, electronic Ship Registration and Radio Licences documents are validated via QRs and bar codes, while the Registry has so far in use 10 electronic certificates, and 8 more are under process to be digitalized.
As Panama Registry informed, these new digital forms include: papers less initiative – ecofriendly, documents self-protected from unauthorized editions, a unique sequential number assigned and controlled only by the Panama Maritime Authority Directorate of Merchant Marine (the Ship Registry), QR code (two-dimensional bar code), that leads to an application displaying the information of the document in a real time, thus evidencing its authenticity.
So, any authority or any third party could confirm the validity of the documents scanned by a simple QR reader available in app store and/or play store at any giving time.
With these new techniques, we are introducing the use of digital signature. Both options – paper and electronic format – are going to be kept and functional onboard so we make sure all ship´s owners and their vessels are provided with the documents they need in a real time. There will be a transition period. By keeping both options, we guaranty smooth transition.
….the director of the Ship Registry continued.
Concluding, the dual system of printed documents (security paper) and electronic documents will be maintained for some time until all the over 8,000 vessels registered are migrated to electronic registrations.