Earlier this month, the Panama Canal and the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) upgraded their Panama Maritime Single Window System (VUMPA, for its acronym in Spanish). This joint effort will not only further optimize national maritime procedures required for international vessels visiting Panama, but also demonstrates how technology can be leveraged to improve efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the logistics industry.

A vessel passing through the Panama Canal
A vessel passing through the Panama Canal

Launched in 2017, VUMPA is an online platform that automates information-sharing between Panamanian agencies involved in processing the reception and departure of ships, streamlining international maritime transportation at Panamanian ports.

Core updates to VUMPA aim to improve the accuracy of cargo declarations for partnering shipping lines, as well as risk assessments conducted by Panamanian authorities. Also, the one-time, government fee for arriving and departing vessels can now be charged electronically with a debit or credit card.

Additional enhancements include the implementation of a privacy policy, visualization of documentation submitted through the ship inspection system, creation of electronic alerts based on cargo type, inclusion of waste management reports and specific requirements from key Panamanian authorities, which can be accessed by Port State Control inspectors.

Before VUMPA was adopted, vessels were required to complete several types of documentation—such as registration forms and customs documents—for various entities, including the Panama Canal, AMP, Panamanian Customs Authority and Immigration Services, among others.  

It is estimated that VUMPA has already reduced the need for more than 300,000 paper forms and documents, improving the efficiency and carbon footprint of transshipment procedures and saving up to 3,260 hours on an annual basis.  

These upgrades will continue to help reduce costs, optimize itineraries and improve transparency and productivity, while providing substantial time savings to maritime customers taking advantage of Panama's logistics offerings.