Panama Enacts a new Law 51 of June 28, 2017 Regulating Road Cargo Transportation


As of the month of June, Law 51 which regulates Road Cargo Transportation shall be in force.  This Law shall apply to vehicles of this type driving around the streets of our country, considering their weights and dimensions as the requirements to be complied for the transportation of hazardous materials, perishable goods, having controlled temperature and agricultural products.

It includes restrictions in the loading, unloading operations and transfer of products in the highway system, at a national level as well as the international cargo in transit having an international origin or destination, according to the international covenants acknowledged by the Republic of Panama.

This Law regulates the following:


  • Administrative authorities in charge of road transportation.
  • Issuance of special permits for the execution of road cargo transportation services.
  • Routes and schedules for cargo transportation, except tax routes and periods, which shall be regulated by the corresponding customs law.
  • Cargo terminal parking areas and public access areas shall be regulated, except cargo terminals or reception facilities subject to operations under the control of customs.
  • Road transportation of merchandise, materials and machinery, specially hazardous, perishable or having controlled temperature.
  • Violations of this Law and its regulations, penalties applicable in relation to these violations and the pertinent remedies, without prejudice of those related for non-compliance of the road traffic regulations.
  • Weight and dimensions of the cargo transported by these vehicles, rendering road cargo transportation services, as well as agricultural and livestock cargo transportation and other types of cargo determined by means of resolution issued by the General Directorate of Ground Transportation.

Article 51 of this Law establishes that in relation to damages to third parties due to traffic accidents by the vehicle or the cargo, it is compulsory to have an insurance for vehicles rendering road cargo transportation services in the Republic of Panama, whether having authorized national or foreign registration.

In relation to insurance for livestock transportation, a special obligatory liability insurance shall be established, determined and regulated by the Agricultural and Cattle Insurance Institute.  The insurance for the transportation of livestock covers animals against risk of death or slaughtering due to an accident during the transfer of the insured animals.

The responsibility of every road freight carrier begins upon receiving the merchandise and ends upon delivery thereof to the consignee or recipient.  In relation to vehicles with foreign registration and with cargo from abroad, the transportation service shall end at the destination specified in the goods declaration for international road traffic, as provided in Article 52 of the Law.