"Tolls for the canal are decided by the Panama Canal Authority and are based on vessel type, size, and the type of cargo carried.
For container ships, the toll is assessed per "TEU" (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), which is the size of a container measuring 20 feet by 8 feet by 8.5 feet (6 m by 2.4 m by 2.6 m). Effective May 1, 2006, this toll is US$49 per TEU. This is scheduled to rise to US$54 on May 1, 2007. A Panamax container ship may carry up to 4,400 TEU. A reduced toll is charged for container ships "in ballast"; ie. travelling empty, with no cargo or passengers.
Most other types of vessel pay a toll per PC/UMS net ton, in which one "ton" is actually a volume of 100 cubic feet (2.8 m³). (The calculation of tonnage for commercial vessels is quite complex.) As of 2006, this toll is US$2.96 per ton for the first 10,000 tons, US$2.90 per ton for the next 10,000 tons, and US$2.85 per ton thereafter. As with container ships, a reduced toll is charged for freight ships "in ballast".
Small vessels are assessed tolls based on their length. As of 2006, these are:
Length of vessel Toll
Up to 15.240 metres (50 ft) US$500
More than 15.240 metres (50 ft) up to 24.384 metres (80 ft) US$750
More than 24.384 metres (80 ft) up to 30.480 metres (100 ft) US$1,000
More than 30.480 metres (100 ft) US$1,500
The most expensive toll for canal passage to date was charged on 30 May 2006 to the container ship Maersk Dellys, which paid US$249,165.00 for passage. The least expensive toll was 36 cents to American adventurer Richard Halliburton who swam the canal in 1928. The average toll is around US$54,000."