Simplified Panama Canal Toll Structure Approved

Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. Photo by Rikin Katyal on Unsplash.

The Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama said on July 13 that it has approved a new Panama Canal tolls structure recommended by the canal’s Board of Directors, following a formal consultation and public hearing process.

With this approval, the Panama Canal will assume a simplified, value-based pricing structure, reducing the number of tariffs from 430 to less than 60.

“The proposal aims to strengthen the tolls structure in a way that is consistent with the value provided by the Canal transit service while providing greater visibility and predictability to customers,” Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales explained.

The tolls proposal was issued April 1 and went through a formal consultation period during which interested parties submitted comments or opinions in writing.

The proposed toll structure recommended the following key adjustments, among others:

  • Replacement of toll bands with fixed and capacity tariffs;
  • A fixed tariff per transit;
  • A capacity tariff per vessel types and size category, and;
  • Replacement of tariffs for vessels in ballast.

A public hearing was held May 20 in Panama, with seven parties representing local and international customers.

Ensuring that customers’ feedback from the open and transparent dialogue was considered, the structure was modified to incorporate the following changes to the original proposal:

Transits of vessels in ballast condition: For all market segments except for containerships, tolls will be calculated by applying 85% of the laden toll instead of the originally proposed 90%.

Passenger vessels segment: The proposed tolls for 2023 won’t be implemented, considering the challenges still being faced by the cruise industry. Instead, the new tolls go into effect in January 2024 and January 2025 at the levels established in the original proposal for those years, providing the industry with a two-year advanced notice.

Containership segment: The charge for empty containers is being reduced to $2/TEU in 2023, $4/TEU in 2024, and $6/TEU in 2025, instead of the $5, $6.50, and $8 that were initially proposed for each year, respectively.

All other tariffs are to be implemented gradually from January 2023 to January 2025 at the originally proposed levels, including the proposed modifications to the loyalty program for containerships, which will be phased out by January 2025.

Incentives for return voyages applicable to containerships and liquefied natural gas vessels are to be eliminated by January 2023 when the new structure goes into effect.

Additionally, the visibility charge currently applied to full container vessels, and classified as Other Marine Services, will be eliminated prior to the implementation of the new tolls to avoid an overlap with the total TEU capacity charge.

“During the process, customers also expressed their interest in obtaining incentives for using the waterway,” the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement. “For this reason, the Canal administration will be reaching out to representatives of various market segments in the coming months to explore mutually beneficial alternatives that could result in long-term commitments for cargo deployment.”   

More information about the new toll structure is available on the Panama Canal’s website: