Five important things that shipowners of Panamanian flagged vessels must do to get ready for BWMC

Following the accession of Finland, which brought the combined tonnage of contracting States to the treaty to 35.1441%, with 52 contracting Parties, the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) will enter into force September 8, 2017. Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments. At their first renewal survey associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate under MARPOL Annex I after the entry into force, ships can only discharge water following the D-2 standard, or in practice fit a treatment system.
Here is a list of top five important things that shipowners of Panamanian flagged vessels must do to prepare for the entry into force, and a couple of things to ensure compliance after the entry into force.


Type Approved Ballast Water Management Systems issued by other Administrations will be accepted on ships under Panama flag, provided it’s been approved in accordance with the Guidelines on the Type Approval process for BWMS (Resolution MEPC.174(58) or Resolution MEPC.279(70) as applicable). Manufacturers interested to obtain approval for their Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) by the Panama Maritime Authority may request a Recognition Certificate for the Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) through a legal representative located in Panama. This request is voluntary, and should be submitted to General Directorate of Merchant Marine with the following documents:

  • The list of system equipment limitations, if applicable;
  • Certificate of type approval from other Administration;
  • Additional supporting document, such as type approvals issued by Classification Societies;
  • Test results carried out by the other Administration and/or Classification Society, and
  • Official Payment Receipt for USD $2,000.00

Recognized Organizations (RO´s) should conduct an additional survey during sea trials of a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) to confirm the operation and efficacy of the system.  Ships involved in voyages that include ports in the United Stated or its jurisdictional waters, shall be fitted with Ballast Water Management Systems accepted by the United State Coast Guard (USCG) according to the timeline set by that Administration. USCG Extension: Get an extension from the USCG for installation of a BWMS. Extensions can only be applied for prior to the date when the ship is required by the USCG to discharge using a USCG Type Approved BWMS. Otherwise, ships must use an Alternate Management System (AMS), which is a BWM System Type Approved following the IMO G8 Guidelines. With the above in place, the ship has the ticket to trade worldwide until it is required to fit a treatment system.

2 BWM Plan

BWMP will be evaluated, revised and approved by Segumar-Panama only, in accordance with the requirement of Regulation B-1 of the Ballast Water Management Convention; the BWMP should take into account IMO Resolution MEPC.127 (53) – Guidelines for ballast water management and development of ballast water management plans (G4) adopted by the IMO on 22 July 2005. To apply for the BWMP approval, ship-owners and ship-operators should access the following link:, from March 15, 2017. The link will allow users to upload the Ship’s BWMP.

The BWMP will be approved electronically and electronic copy should be placed on board, and available for inspection at all times. From March 15, 2017, Panama Maritime Authority will issue an electronic BWMP Statement of Fact to the Company, valid for three (3) months, upon receipt of the BWMP for review and approval. Ships not fitted with a BWMS or ships fitted with a BWMS which has been subject to modification should review and update their BWMP upon installation or modification, in these cases BWMP should be submitted to the Administration for re-approval. Ballast Water Management Plans, previously approved by Recognized Organizations at their own behalf in accordance with Resolution A.868(20) adopted by the IMO on 27 November 1997, will remain valid and will be accepted by Panama Maritime Authority until the plan requires revision due to the installation of a BWMS.

Payments for BWMP approval can be made through wire transfer, bank details can be requested to the following email addresses:;; or full payment can be made to the Merchant Marine Qualified Consulates. The fees set for the approval of a BWMP is as follows:

  • First time Evaluation or significant amendments (Ej. Procedures, Calculations, Equipment change’s or replacement.) USD 1,500.00.
  • Amendments due to ship’s name change, call sign, gross tonnage, etc., USD 500.00.

BWMP as per the guideline on Resolution MEPC.127(53) adopted by the IMO on July 22 2005, must be evaluated and endorsed by the Administration, considering that this Guideline is applicable form the entry into force of the Convention.

3 Surveys and Certification

Ships of 400 gross tonnage subject to the surveys required by the Convention (Regulation E-1) shall be issued after satisfactory completion, with the corresponding IBWMC (Regulation E-2). Recognized Organizations shall issue a Short term or Provisional International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC) valid for a maximum period of five (5) months, after satisfactory completion of the correspondent initial or renewal survey. Initial Survey (in connection with Certificates issued for the first time), may be performed prior the entry into force of the Convention, and Provisional Certificates can be issued by the Recognized Organizations, to be valid from the date of entry into force of the Convention and valid for a maximum period of five (5) months. The ship’s survey to issue the IBWMC for the first time is allowed to be carried out in conjunction with the annual survey of the statutory certificates.


Application for full term Certificate IBWMC should be made through the following link:, from March 15, 2017.  The IBWMC will be issued as an electronic certificate that can be printed by the user when needed. The Full Term International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC) will be issued by Segumar Offices (including branch offices) only after receiving through the electronic system, copy of the following documents:

  • Short term or Provisional Certificate or Statement of Compliance issued by the Recognized Organization;
  • Survey Report; and
  • BWMP Approval(*)

(*) At this stage, plan should be approved by Segumar-Panama Office, therefore approval copy or the correspondent Statement of Fact issued by this Administration, should be available in our records. In case of those ships with an approved BWMP as per the guidelines of Resolution A.868(20) of 1997, evidence of such approval shall be uploaded on Segumar E-app (ej. Cover page of the BWMP reflecting approval as per Res.A868(20). The fee for the issuance of the IBWMC is USD 300.00.

5 Special Considerations  

Panama Maritime Authority , taking into account IMO Assembly Resolution A.1088(28), will authorize, on a case by case basis, the de-harmonization of the IOPP Certificate, please refer to our Merchant Marine Circular No.342.

The Statement of Compliance (SOC) issued by Recognized Organizations at their own behalf and issued before the entry into force of the BWM Convention will be accepted by this Administration until the date of entry into force of the Convention; when it shall be replaced by the corresponding Provisional IBWM Certificate valid for five (5) months and issued by the Recognized Organization, or by the correspondent International Ballast Water Management Certificate (IBWMC) issued by the Administration.

Provisional Certificates are allowed to be issued by the Recognized Organization based on the inspection carried out previously for the issuance of the Statement of Compliance, provided that the inspection has been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Convention (Regulation E-1.1.1).

If you need assistant or any other information about BWMC, please contact the Marine Division of ICS Class-Head Office.

Source: Panama Maritime Authority – Merchant Marine Circular MMC-345