The issue of crew changes has been at the centre of attention lately, as port restrictions and the global lockdown have led to many seafarers being onboard vessels and having their contracts extended.
IMO on crew changes
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) stressed the importance of crew changeovers in order for trade flow to continue, despite the challenges arising by the COVID-19 crisis.
SOCP US Mariner Crew Change Facilitation Guidance for COVID-19 issued a document providing initial protocols that can be used uniformly across the US maritime industry to allow for resumption of much needed vessel crew changes.
You can learn more about the guidance by clicking herebelow
BIMCO recently shared a list of countries where crew change is allowed and a list of countries where it is not allowed as of 20 May 2020.
In the table below, The North Club has summarised all information concerning which countries enable crew changes and not:
(note that the countries in the table below are in alphabetical order and the information included are based on new updates concerning each country.)
|Country||Crew Changes Allowed/ not Allowed|
|Angola||May 5: Crew changes for locals are permitted only in Luanda for the time being. This is under special permissions obtained by the project operators. Regarding foreign crew, it is not allowed to embark/disembark for the time being.|
|Albania||April 30: Albania enables crew changes concerning its own nationals, under the condition that the ship agent has the obligation to do several prior notification to the health authorities, border police and to the authorities of local government in which jurisdiction is the local harbor. After the confirmation taken from this authorities, the disembark crew member has to stay in quarantine for 14 days in one of the hotels confirmed from the state, after that he can leave towards home. The expenses for the staying in the hotel have to be afforded from the person himself.
It is stated that the foreign nationals need a permit is required from the relevant Ministry of the country where the crew member with be repatriated, or relevant diplomatic embassy. After that some other permits has to be taken from other local authorities in our country.
|Algeria||April 30: All crew changes are prohibited except own nationals.|
|Aruba||June 19: Crew changes are possible and are approved by local authorities on a case-by-case basis.
May 7: No crew changes allowed.
Western Australia: Crew changes are still possible although an application is required to be made to the Western Australian Police and if that application is successful a further application needs to be made to the relevant terminal operator.
May: All crew changes are suspended except in case of “extreme necessity” which theoretically applies to nationals and foreigners. In practice the borders are closed and commercial flights suspended. Therefore no crew changes on foreign vessels are practically possible.
Queensland: Recent directions (issued 1 May) from the Queensland Chief Health Officer have substantially eased the ability of shipping operators to change crew in Queensland. In summary, non-cruise maritime crew can arrive by air or sea and travel on domestic flights to get to their vessel, join other ships, and transit Australia to get to a flight to depart the country.
According to North P&I Club, On-signing crew can transit and take a domestic flight to meet their vessel and self-isolate onboard the vessel (and must self-isolate at their accommodation if they have a layover at any time) without having to first spend the otherwise mandatory 14 days in quarantine at a nominated premise. Off-signing crew must have completed a 14 day isolation period onboard the vessel since the departure from their last foreign port (including time spent at sea) and can travel to get a flight to depart the country. If they are signing off within the 14 day period they must self-isolate at their accommodation for the remainder of the 14 day period before transiting to catch a departing flight. Where a crewmember is an Australian resident and is signing off a vessel within the 14-day isolation period and returning home, they must self-isolate at their usual place of residence for the remainder of the 14-day self-isolation period.
|Australia||May 5: Crew changes are permitted however subjected to restrictions and the permission of local authorities. In general, on signing crew are subjected to a 14 day quarantine at an airport hotel on arrival into Australia. If they are required to cross an internal boarder then they are subjected to an additional 14 day quarantine. Off signing crew are subject to a 14 days quarantine from the last foreign port. If the transit was less than 14 days, the remainder can be completed onboard the vessel in port or in a hotel. There are a limited number of flights operating internally in Australia.|
|Bangladesh||June 16: International commercial passenger flights have resumed from Dhaka airport to London and Doha. International commercial passenger flights to and from Bahrain, Bhutan, Hong Kong, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldive, Nepal, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and UAE remain prohibited.
April 30: Crew changes of foreign nationals are not permitted until further notice. Where crew of foreign nationality are required to be repatriated from demolition vessels after beaching, it is so allowed if the crew has undergone a period of 14 days quarantine period on board which means that such vessels have to stay for 14 days at the anchorage before beaching and Corona Virus free certification has been issued by the Port Health Officer on arrival of the vessel.
Crew of own Nationality repatriated by air are allowed entry into the Country, subject to 14 days compulsory quarantine on arrival, similarly, crew of own nationality are allowed to be signed off and signed on the vessel at in Bangladesh in strict compliance with the health related guidelines.
|Belgium||April 30: No, Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in Belgium, the Belgian Immigration Services have stopped issuing transit visa for crew members, making it impossible for seamen to join or sign off in Belgian ports.
Seamen with a valid Schengen visa are an exception.
There is no problem for own nationals.
|Bahamas||June: From 1 July crew changes will be permitted. All travellers will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test result which has been taken within 10 days of arrival in the Bahamas. On arrival at the airport incoming passengers will undergo temperature screening by healthcare officials.|
|Bahrain||May 5: Crew change is not permitted for any nationals. However, there is a possibility of getting special approval from immigration on case by case, but there is no guarantee that the permission shall be granted.|
|Brazil||June: Disembarkation allowed of crew members for medical assistance or for air connection to return to the country of origin related to operational issues or termination of employment contract.
May 19: Brazil’s National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) issued procedures for boarding and disembarking of vessels’ and platforms’ crew, in order to prepare for potential serious COVID-19 cases in autumn.
May 5: No, only in exceptionally cases will crew changes of foreign nationals be permitted and the crew are required to board a flight on the same day as disembarking the vessel.
Crew changes for Brazilian nationals are permitted however restrictions on internal travel make this difficult.
|Bonaire||June: Crew change is still not possible.|
|Canada||June: Crew change is permitted. However, crew are not permitted to disembark the vessel until CBSA (Canada Customs) have spoken to and screened every sign-off.On-signers: There is an exemption from self-isolation requirements for asymptomatic marine sector workers coming into Canada for the purpose of crew change.
Domestic crew should follow the advice of their employer and local health officials.
No traveller can board a flight/enter Canada if they are symptomatic with a fever and cough or a fever and breathing difficulties
|Colombia||May 5: No crew changes allowed. Additionally, internal and international flights passenger flights are restricted as well as land transport and the land and maritime borders are closed|
|Cambodia||May 5: Government has made no restrictions to carry out crew changes either a country’s own national or foreign nationals. The issue is the non-availability of flights in / out of the country.|
|Cyrpus||May 5: the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) officially announced a new process to facilitate crew changes, which are now possible in Cyprus under certain conditions.|
|Cuba||June: No crew changes permitted|
|Comoros||May 5: No crew change allowed. No embarkation or disembarkation of armed guard personnel|
|Cameroon||May 5: Crew change is not possible in Douala as airports in Cameroon are closed. However, crew change of a country’s own national is not prohibited.|
|Canada||May 5: Crew Members are not permitted to disembark the Vessel until CBSA (Canada Customs) have spoken to and screened every sign-off. Domestic crew should follow the advice of their employer and local health officials. No traveller can board a flight/enter Canada if they are symptomatic with a fever and cough or a fever and breathing difficulties
Transport Canada is now requiring all air passengers to have a non-medical mask to cover their mouth and nose during air travel (including at airports). Travellers will be required to demonstrate that they have the necessary non-medical mask during the boarding process; otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey (applicable to all flights to, from and within Canada).
|Canary Island||May 5: Airports in the islands are operative despite the number of flights being reduced. Crew Change, Seafarers Repatriation are allowed for both “own and foreign citizens”.
Formalities: Crew Travel documents are requested, min 72h in advance, to submit formal petition before Authorities.
|Curacao||May 5: No crew-changes allowed except for emergencies such as serious injuries or death (and even then departure of injured crew rather than arrival of new crew).|
|China||April 30: Shanghai P&I advise that crew changes involving Chinese nationals are now a simple matter depending on region. The Chinese government still strictly control non-Chinese crews’ landing and repatriation. If not for emergency situation, non-Chinese crews’ landing and repatriation would be extremely difficult in the current circumstances.|
|Congo||May 5: No crew changes allowed|
|Denmark||May 5: Yes, according to the Danish Police, signing on or off in Denmark in connection with crew change is allowed. Respective rules concerning quarantine need to be followed. All inbound and outbound personnel need to carry documents stating their purpose of transit.However, in practice crew changes of foreign crew is difficult – there are very few commercial flights departing from Copenhagen Airport.|
|Ecuador||May 5: It is not possible to carry out foreign crew changes for the time being because all international and domestic flights are cancelled.|
|Egypt||April 30: Crew changes are not permitted in Egypt until further notice.|
|France||April 30: Yes, if commercial flights are available to travel back home and crewmember’s transit from hospital to airport by taxi is authorized by French authorities.
All people circulating in France during quarantine period must carry a certificate for special dispensation proving that their trip is imperative and cannot be postponed (fines for any infringement start at 135€) . This certificate will be prepared for the repatriated crewmember by the people organizing the transport stating that the trip from hospital to airport is imperative for a foreign crewmember having disembarked for medical treatment and now returning home, and to be presented with crewmember’s papers (seaman book and passport) as well as flight ticket and ‘fit to fly’ issued by the hospital in the event of any police control.
If repatriation cannot be organized on commercial flights as none landing in crewmember’s home country , there is the possibility of chartering medical planes with medical escort companies which is a more expensive option and still also very much subject to approval from authorities at destination which has to be checked on a case-by-case basis.
Immigration at CDG will still issue Schengen visas upon arrival for on-signers who are arriving without any visa. On-signers must arrive the same day as the vessel which means they are not authorised to stay in hotel.
For off-signers, Schengen visas are available when leaving ports BUT they must also leave CDG on the day of signing-off. Hotel stay is not allowed. And they have to hold their plane tickets.
|Gambia||May 5: Crew changes for nationals are authorized subject to the Health Service’s prior visit onboard at anchorage. They are prohibited for foreigners.|
|Ghana||April 30: Wilhelmsen and S5 Agency World advise no crew changes are allowed.
Wiltex advise crew changes of both Ghanaian nationals and foreign nationals are allowed provided no report of any COVID-19 related-sicknesses whereby the strict protocol measures will be enforced.
|Gibraltar||April 30: Crew change is allowed, subject to the following conditions:
1) Crew disembarkation:
2) Embarking crew:
|Georgia||June 23: Georgia is now considered a safe hub for crew changes and seafarer rotation.|
|Guinea||April 30: No crew change for foreigners. Airport is closed for commercial flights. For nationals, 14 days quarantine for off-signers may apply. It is forbidden to leave the capital Conakry for the remaining of the country. Checkpoints are in place.|
|Guinea Bissau||Crew changes for nationals are authorized subject to the Health Service’s prior visit onboard at anchorage. They are prohibited for foreigners.|
|Honduras||No crew change is possible for foreign nationals as airports are closed. Crew change of country’s own nationals is only possible for those disembarking at Puerto Castilla and San Lorenzo. Puerto Cortes and surrounding cities are closed due to most COVID19 cases localized in this area|
|Hong Kong||June 8: The Hong Kong Shipowners’ Association (HKSOA) is making efforts to lobby the government to allow crew changes in one of the world’s largest hub ports have been successful.|
|India||April 30: Crew changes allowed only for Indian nationals.
Ministry of Home Affairs provide amended consolidated guidelines (No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A))that include transit arrangements for foreign nationals and advises no new restrictions on port or cargo operations; operating procedure for sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers at Indian ports; and Intra and inter-state movement of such seafarers on the basis of authorization/e-pass issued by Director General of Shipping, Government of India (DGS), along with physical copy of Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) as proof of identity issued by DGS.
|Iran||May 5: Currently, there are no restrictions in place for any crew changes of country’s own nationals and/or foreign national locally. The only mandatory requirement is to make sure all the necessary coordination must be done through the vessel’s registered agent. Also, based on past experiences, crew change of Israeli national might potentially be a problem.|
|Ireland (Republic of)||April 30: Yes, special exemption to the lockdown is given to seafarers travelling via airports. However, hotels are closed.|
|Israel||April 30: No. Crew members are not allowed to be disembarked.|
|Italy||April 30: No crew change is allowed.|
|Ivory Coast||April 30: Crew change is forbidden for any Ivorian and foreign national|
|Kenya||April 30: Only in emergency cases will immigration department assist in facilitation of crew movement in consultation with other departments, namely Port Health, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Ports Authority and others.|
|Korea||April 30: All crews who intend to join/disembark to/from the vessel in Korea are allowed to enter Korea, however crew from countries with a suspension of visa waivers program requires a Korean visa before their entry to Korea and a medical examination report needs to be submitted to Korean embassy for visa application.
The following crew/passengers are restricted to enter Korea
|Lebanon||April 30: No. Beirut airport is still closed for the normal traffic|
|Malta||June: With effective date 1 July, crew changes to/from Malta will be permitted to persons (including crew members) travelling from the list of countries as listed above. This is applicable to people who had been in that particular country for a minimum of 2 weeks. In this respect this proviso could also be considered when crew changes are involving persons not from the specific countries listed in the Legal Notice. Crew changes can be planned and travel arrangements made accordingly.
This is applicable to people who had been in that particular country for a minimum of 2 weeks. In this respect this proviso could also be considered when crew changes are involving persons not from the specific countries listed in the Legal Notice. Crew changes can be planned and travel arrangements made accordingly.
April 30: Crew changes are not permitted in Malta until further notice.
|Montenegro||April 30: It is possible to carry out a crew change of Montenegrin seafarers, but not for the foreign nationals.|
|Mauritius||May 5: Crew change of own nationals is permitted in within 14 days of quarantine period ashore, while foreign national are not allowed.|
|Malaysia||May 5: Crew changes of foreign nationals are not permitted, however foreign nationals are permitted to sign off vessels on medical grounds. Crew changes of Malaysian nationals are permitted with restrictions.|
|Myanmar||May 5: Crew changes of foreign nationals are not permitted.Crew changes of Myanmar nationals is possible subject to the approval of the Myanmar Port Authority and Ministry of Health and mandatory 14 day quarantine.|
|Namibia||May 5: Own country crew changes subject to 14 day quarantine and International crew changes not permitted. To be re-assessed by end of June 2020.
However note that all airports are closed and international travel to and from Namibian closed and banned.
|Netherlands||April 30: Yes for commercial cargo vessels. However, with the very limited available flights departing many shipowners leave the crew on board of their ships as they simply cannot fly home.|
|Norway||May 5: Crew change of Norwegian nationals is allowed but restricted by quarantine rules. Crew change of foreign nationals is allowed, but will also be limited by quarantine rules for travelers arriving from outside of Norway, with some exceptions. For example for crew necessary to maintain the safety of the Vessel.|
|New Zealand||May 5: Crew changes are not restricted, but everyone coming from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days. Below is the MoH guidelines: Marine crew arriving by air to join a vessel are to travel immediately and directly by private transport to the vessel where they will complete 14 days of self-isolation.
Marine crew arriving by sea must self-isolate on the vessel for 14 days until they departed from after overseas port OR took on new crew (i.e. 14 days from the last day of possible exposure to a case).
|Peru||May 5: There is no limitation to carry crew change:
A.- In respect of locals changing crew, except for limitations as to age, less than 60 years old are allowed, or what is described as patients of risk i.e. with heart, lung condition , diabetes, etc.
B.- As to foreign mariners please be informed that the national boundaries are closed and no commercial flights are coming to or leaving from Peru, except humanitarian flights. On the other hand, there is no restriction as to maritime traffic.
|Panama||May 5: Crew change is not possible.|
|Poland||May 5: Crew changes of Polish nationals are permitted with no quarantine requirements.Crew changes of foreign nationals are also permitted however not recommended due to a lack of international flights from/to Poland.|
|Philippines||April 30: Crew changes for Filipino crew are permitted, subject to restrictions. Foreign crew are only permitted to disembark the vessel, subject to restrictions.
The Philippine government has now allowed foreign cruise ships with Filipino crew members to dock in Manila ports and to be used as quarantine facilities for their crew members. Foreign crew on the cruise ships will be allowed to disembark in Manila “for the sole purpose of taking outbound flights to their final destination abroad” after finishing the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon disembarkation.
4 May: There is a suspension of all International flights to and from the Philippines until 10 May.
|Russia||May 5: Only Russian nationals can be replaced by the same local nationals. The old crew must comply with the quarantine requirement, that is 14 days under the doctors’ supervision staying home. There is no requirement to stay isolated in a hospital upon arrival from abroad. Only a close supervision by the health authority with daily reporting on the overall condition.
Crew changes for foreign crew are not recommended due to the international flights being suspended. They can be performed only after special approval/confirmation by the Russian Sanitary Authorities at the urgent situations such as illness of the crewmember, death of the relatives. A crew member may sign off and stay in Russia until the flights are resumed, but the subsistence costs are to be covered by someone (the local authorities require a relevant assurance before they allow such a sign-off).
|Reunion Island||May 5: Yes, but subject to the following conditions. For a crew change operation at Port-Reunion, the following is required:
|Romania||May 1: Crew changes for foreign nationals are not permitted. Romanian nationals may be permitted to disembark the vessel subject to restrictions.|
June 1: The Maritime & Port Authority (MPA), The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and The Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), in cooperation with the International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd (IMEC) and The World Shipping Council (WSC) have formed the Singapore Crew Change Working Group (SGCCWG) to facilitate crew changes in Singapore.
May 26: MPA Singapore announced it’s loosening its restriction on mariner movements through the seaport.
May 22: MPA Singapore announced it is loosening crew change restrictions for
April 30: Based on the details included in MPA’s published circular, crew changes can be conducted.
|Senegal||May 5: Crew changes for nationals are authorized subject to the Health Service’s prior visit onboard at anchorage. Crew changes are prohibited for foreigners.|
|Spain||April 30: Yes, but is hampered by closure of commercial flights and is subject to the following conditions:
The crew of the ships will have access to Tourist accommodation when it is necessary to comply with the rest periods provided for the crews or to carry out the displacement of the crew to or from the Spanish port where the ship is.
|Slovenia||April 30: Crew changes of foreign nationals are permitted however travel restrictions make this difficult and crew may be subjected to a 14 day quarantine. Crew changes of Slovenian nationals are permitted. Off signing crew will be subjected to a 14 day quarantine at home.|
|Somali land||May 5: Under strict medical supervision, crew changes from ship to ship are possible. Crew changes through air travel are not possible because all domestic and international flights are suspended.|
|Sri Lanka||May 5: It is not possible to carry out crew changes of foreign crew as airports continue to be closed. However procedures are now in place for signing off of Sri Lankan seafarers, which guidelines have been shared by the Harbour Master, an official SOP will be released by the MOH|
|Sweden||May 5: Crew changes are allowed – however international flights in and out of Sweden are very few.|
|Taiwan||May 5: Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau, MOTC (MPB) new measures of seamen’s entry and crew change. B Taiwan summarizes the new measures as below:
Foreign seaman who applies for permit for crew change at airport shall also fit for one of the above condition. Once the application is approved, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue temporary visa for 21 days. Seamen shall undergo 14 days self-quarantine after entering into Taiwan. Exception: Seaman (Taiwan or foreign national) disembarks from a vessel only sailing Taiwan domestic route, or does not call at foreign ports for the past 30 days, only needs to carry out sell-health management during the stay in Taiwan.
April 30: No. For emergency crew changes, a 14 day quarantine is in place.
|Togo||April 30: Crew changes for Togolese nationals are monitored by a health service cell. Before any disembarking of crew members the control is strictly carried out on board the ship by specialized services. Crew changes for foreign nationals is allowed, but note that the Airport is closed for all commercial flights.|
|Thailand||May 5: Crew changes of foreign nationals are not permitted. Crew changes of Thai nationals may be permitted with restrictions.|
|Turkey||June 8: Turkey has started facilitating crew changes both for Turkish and foreign seafarers at Turkish ports in accordance with the statement issued by Secretary-General of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Director-General of International Labour Organization (ILO) and Secretary-General of International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 26.05.2020.Yet, due to restrictions on international flights and travelling from Turkey crew changes will be a challenge.|
|Ukraine||April 30: No. Changing of crew of foreign nationals is prohibited at Ukrainian ports, so only seafarers of own (Ukrainian) nationalities change at Ukrainian ports.|
|USA – California||April 30: Yes. Coast Guard has no restrictions on crew changes in Northern California. However, they recommend that if foreign crew is being changed Customs and Border Protection be advised in advance as to when and where (anchorage, dock, city) any exchange will occur. If U.S. crewmembers are being exchanged, USCG recommends that the same advance warning be given to Center for Disease Control. If there is any suspicion of COVID-19 affecting any crew, then local health authorities should also be advised|
|USA – Louisiana||April 30: Case by case basis: some crew changes are being allowed as long as the crewmember has a direct flight home and not showing any COVID-19 symptoms.|
|Yemen||April 30: No crew changes are permitted in Yemen, including Yemeni nationals on foreign flagged vessels.|