The BIMCO Maritime Information department informs members on a weekly basis, updates about the COVID-19 in relation to implementation measures imposed by governments for sea transport including for crew change as well as from the United Nation bodies like the International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO).
BIMCO provides the following update for this week ending Friday, 12 March 2021
No circulars relevant to the current COVID-19 situation have been issued by the IMO during this week.
2. IMO Crew Change - National Focal Point for Crew Change and Repatriation of Seafarers
As of today, the countries that have informed the IMO of the above are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.
Additional details available on our implementation page.
3. Government States
Transport Canada issued on 4 March, a Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) no. 03/2021, updated guidance to vessel crew members and non-crew marine sector respecting entry into Canada. In short, the requirements are as follows:
- Seafarers travelling to Canada as vessel crew, or to become vessel replacement crew, entering by either air or by land are exempted from providing proof of a negative pre-arrival and post-arrival COVID-19 molecular test results, entry quarantine requirement or staying in a government-approved facility if coming in by air if the seafarers are asymptomatic, presumed non-COVID-19 seafarers.
- Note that that though seafarers entering Canada may fall under exemption, they may still have to follow certain provincial and territorial restrictions (which may include quarantine), depending on your destination.
- Being exempt from quarantine does not mean you’re exempt from the pre-boarding test requirements.
- Seafarers' documentation include Seafarer Identity Document, a certificate of competency, proof of employment and discharge book. Travelling by air, all health and contact information to the Public Health Agency of Canada using the ArriveCAN app or website prior to boarding their flight must be completed.
The Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of Croatia informing the IMO, via IMO circular letter no. 4241/Add.6, that seafarers holding certificates/documents issued by them and are currently embarked or will be embarking on ships with valid certificates/documents that will expire upon the expiration of regularly concluded seafarers employment agreement (SEA) and with inability to organize crew change and repatriation, such certificates and documents shall remain valid until disembarkation and repatriation of seafarer concerned at the latest.
The Transport Administration of Estonia, via an IMO circular letter no. 4272/Add.2., gave an overview of the maritime sector situation as of 5 March 2021 ( circular no.11 ver =1). Some of the more pertinent ones are provided below:
- Crossing the Estonian state border for crew changes - restrictions continue to be imposed on foreign nationals entering Estonia on foreign nationals entering Estonia with crew members servicing international means of transport being exempted and not required to have a valid test result nor subject to compulsory testing or obliged to remain quarantined.
- Repatriation of Estonian seafarers from foreign countries - Obligatory from the employers' end to expatriate crew members upon expiry of their contract, failing which, seafarers should contact the representative of their flag state. Seek assistance from Estonian authorities if repatriation is not permitted because of the restrictions imposed in the country of location.
- Disembarkation of crew members at Estonian ports and calls by foreign vessels - asymptomatic crew members have to take into consideration the requirements established with Government Order No. 268 of 13.08.2002 “Procedure for Permitting Crew Members to Estonia”. notwithstanding that restrictions on disembarkation have not been imposed.
- Seafarers’ certificates - Renewable - see circular for full details.
- Circular no. 1-16/1389 of 29 May 2020 on " operation of the maritime sector after conclusion of the emergency situation" is revoked.
The Norwegian Maritime Authority has just released the latest guidelines on crew changes in Norway. Please refer to the IMO circular letter no: 4231/Add.18 dated 5 March 2021
for all the details. In short, the following should be noted:
- It is the Norwegian health authorities that are responsible for legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is regularly amended to accommodate the development of the situation and NMA considers these guidelines consistent with the IMO guidelines for crew change.
- Important that shipping agents and companies managing crew change are familiar with these guidelines and share with the seafarers prior to departure to Norway.
- Registration - seafarers are not exempted from completing a registration form prior to entry if the seafarer is arriving from an area that required quarantine and must be completed no more than 72 hours before arrival. In addition, a certificate of negative SARS-CoV-2 test taken no earlier than 24 hours prior to arrival, must be presented upon entry.
- Requirement for testing on arrival in Norway - a COVID-19 test at the Norwegian border, even if one have already had a test. Exemptions apply to seafarers having an identity card or a Philippine Seafarer's identification and Record Book or a Philippine national passport (ref: section 3 para J of Norwegian covid 19 regulations) as well as foreign nationals who carry out commercial goods and passenger transport for consideration, or who are on their way to or from such assignment (ref: see section 4a for complete list of exemptions; in particular 4a para M).
- Entry Quarantine (EQ) requirement - In general, anyone arriving in Norway from a region that requires quarantine must undergo quarantine for 10 days; also applies for transits. EQ exemption: Persons in transit travelling directly from the airport or other place of arrival to the vessel are exempt from entry quarantine, provided that the vessel leaves the Norwegian port immediately. During the stay in Norway, however, Norwegian quarantine and testing regulations must be complied with. Other EQ exemptions- 1 - if seafarers have been tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 on both tests taken during the first 24 hours after arrival as well taken no earlier than 3 days after arrival. Seafarers en route to a vessel which will leave a Norwegian port within three days after arriving in Norway, and which will not call at a Norwegian port within 10 days of the departure, only need to do the first test.
- Other EQ exemptions - 2 : persons who sign on vessels in Norway crossing the territorial borders of Norway and only stay on board until the vessel is back in Norway, are exempt from entry quarantine when they return to Norway, provided that no passenger or crew member has boarded the vessel or been ashore in a foreign port. Ordinary cargo operations can be carried out in port, provided that close contact is avoided. Crew members may sign off.
- Other EQ exemptions - 3 : this is special exemption granted for seafarers in critical public functions, eg, part of the vessel's mininium safe manning operation ( ref: section 6e of Norwegian covid 19 regulations ).
Via an IMO circular letter no. 4245/Add.9, the Swedish Transport Agency (STA) issued on 5 March, new COVID-19 measures relating to ships and seafarers, replacing the earlier notice dated 22 December 2020. Amongst the measures imposed, here are some that are of relevance but members are advised to read the full notice as required:
- all ships' statutory certificates that expired on or after the 1st of April 2020 and before 31st of May 2021 will remain valid for an additional 15 months from the original date of expiry of the certificate, but not longer than until the 30th of September 2021 without a specific decision or approval from the STA or the RO. This automatic extension does not include extensions related to ISM or ISPS.
- ISM or ISPS internal audits - ISM audits may be postponed for 3 months whilst ISPS to be extended for 10 months no later than 30 September 2021 for those audits that need to be conducted between 1 September 2020 and 30 June 2021.
- extension of validity of seafarer documents - medical certificate for seafarers, a Certificate of Competency (CoC) and/or a Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) that expires on or after the 1st of April 2020 and before of May 2021 will remain valid for 15 months from the date of expiry of the certificate, but not longer than until the 30th of September 2021, without a specific approval from the STA.
- Validity of Swedish endorsements on foreign certificates will automatically be considered extended for the same period but no longer than 15 months from the original expiry date.
There is no news issued under this section.
BIMCO General COVID-19 Links
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the type of information currently being provided by BIMCO :
You can also view all information on our COVID-19 landing page.