Transiting the Panama Canal to cost more from 2020

The Maritime Executive

The Panama Canal published a proposal to modify its current tolls structure on Friday. There will now be a 30-day formal consultation period for industry feedback, which will close on July 15, 2019.

For the dry bulk segment, the proposal offers matching the tolls charged to Neopanamax vessels carrying iron ore with the tolls assessed for grains and “other dry bulk” cargoes, as well as a tariff increase for Neopanamax dry bulkers transiting in ballast.

The proposal also aims to add transparency to the tolls structure of the passenger segment by charging based on the maximum passenger capacity that can be carried by each specific passenger vessel. To that end, the Canal is proposing to change the unit of measurement from a “per berth” to a “per passenger” basis, making it easier for cruise lines to transfer transit costs to their customers.

For the container ship segment, the main user of Neopanamax Locks, the proposed toll modifications aim to provide an incentive for increased cargo volumes through the Panama Canal. It adds new levels with reduced rates in the capacity charge for shipping lines deploying between two million to three million TEUs and additional reductions for lines deploying over three million TEUs. The incentive implemented in the last toll modification of fiscal year 2018 for total TEU loaded in the return voyage (TTLR) will remain in effect.

For the vehicle carrier and RoRo segment, the proposed modifications include, for the first time, a new tariff category designed for Neopanamax vessels. Additional modifications for this segment include increments in tolls tariffs for Panamax-sized vessels as well as minor adjustments based on vessel size ranges.

Toll structures for tankers, chemical tankers, LPG and LNG vessels remain unchanged, but tolls adjustments are proposed to more closely align with the value of the route.

Tolls for small vessels (minimum tolls) and for the local tourism market are being revised upwards to take into account the resources used in the transit and the complexity of accommodating these vessels within the locks’ chambers. 

The Canal proposes to review the rates charged to vessels carrying containers on deck, which do not belong to the container shipping segment, to allow for differentiated charges for containers that are empty, dry or refrigerated.

The complete proposal is available at 

The new tolls are expected to take effect on January 1, 2020.

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