This BIMCO COVID 19 weekly report for the week ending 8 October covers updates from Brazil, Latvia, Oman, Singapore, United Kingdom, the UK P&I Club, and the latest from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Every week, BIMCO summarises measures imposed by governments for sea transport, including for crew change, as well as updates from United Nations bodies such as the IMO, World Health Organization (WHO), and International Labour Organization (ILO).
The below circulars represent the latest information to date from the IMO.
- Addendum no.4/Rev.3 to IMO circular no. 4204, issued on 16 July 2021, providing a further update to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)’s guidance for ship operators relating to the protection of the health of seafarers.
- Addendum no. 35/rev. 7, issued on 20 May 2021, provides a consolidated list of the IMO members that have so far notified IMO on their designation of seafarers as key workers. The list is shown below:
- Addendum no.42 to IMO circular no. 4204 “Coronavirus (COVID-19)” issued on 17 September 2021 relating to joint IMO/ILO statement on upholding medical assistance obligations to seafarers and accelerating seafarer vaccination programs.
2. IMO Crew Change – National Focal Point for Crew Change and Repatriation of Seafarers
As per our BIMCO news of 12th April, the IMO has discontinued the issue of the IMO circular in series: MSC.7/circ. 1 relating to government states informing the IMO of their national focal point for crew change and repatriation of seafarers. Instead, the IMO’s online Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) will be used to contain such information.
According to GISIS today, the list of countries (45) informing the IMO of their national focal point of contact for crew change and repatriation of seafarers are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore (new), Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.
3. Government States
The Brazilian government issued Ordinance 658 ( English translation kindly provided by Proinde) on 5 October 2021 lifting air travel restrictions on foreign passengers from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and India which were previously imposed due to the spread of the COVID-19 variants. However, documentation, as follows, is still required to be furnished to the airlines for all passengers:
- Proof of completion of the Traveller’s Health Declaration (DSV), in print or electronically, within 24 hours before boarding, agreeing with the health measures that must be observed during the stay in Brazil. The form can be completed on ANVISA’s DSV website ( also available in Spanish and English); and
- A document on screening for infection by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), with the negative or undetectable result, of an antigen type test, performed up to 24 hours before boarding, or laboratory RT-PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before
For passengers with stopovers or connecting flights, those leaving the airport’s transit area for more than72 hours since the molecular test, or 24 hours after the rapid antigen test, must undergo a new test with negative or undetectable results at checking-in for the final flight.
With effect from 1st November, the carriage of foreign passengers on cruise vessels exclusively in Brazilian jurisdictional waters will commence. In the coming weeks, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) will fully overhaul its current set of protocols for crew changes, case identification, management of shipboard COVID-19 outbreaks, and quarantines on vessels and platforms. BIMCO will keep members posted once the revision is issued.
The restriction on entry by land and sea for non-resident foreigners remains with the exemption granted to seafarers and cruise ships. Proinde has just updated their COVID-19 practical guidance on 7 October relating to ports, ships, and crew transfers.
According to the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all persons traveling to Latvia must complete an electronic form on the covidpass.lv no later than 48 hours prior to arrival. It appears that seafarers on their way to or returning from a ship are exempted from any tests and restrictions imposed on persons coming from high or very high-risk countries. However, restrictions on entry to Latvia will depend on the country the person is traveling from and on whether the person has been vaccinated, or recovered from COVID-19. It should be noted that from 1 September, persons from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, and Canada who have been vaccinated with the vaccine registered by the European Medicines Agency or an equivalent regulator or recognized by the World Health Organization and will have the appropriate Proof can enter Latvia without additional restrictions. More information on these exact travel restrictions can be found on the said Ministry’s website, where an overview of the entry requirements can be viewed.
According to information provided by GAC Hot Port News, the following crew change restrictions are in place:
- On-signers must be fully vaccinated with any of the following vaccines:
- Sputnik V
- Johnson & Johnson
- Fully vaccinated seafarers may disembark unrestricted.
- The non-vaccinated crew is allowed to disembark, provided they take at least the first dose of vaccination prior to leaving. Current vaccines provided are:
Under a new initiative called Sea Crew Vaccination Initiative or SEAVAX, Singapore is paving the way allowing for COVID-19 vaccinations available for eligible groups of foreign sea crew in Singapore. Under the new SEAVAX initiative, eligible groups of non-resident foreign sea crew will be offered COVID-19 vaccination on a voluntary basis from 30 August 2021. These include:
- Sea crew in Singapore with stays of more than 30 days, who work on board homeported cruise ships, ships under repair in shipyards, and yachts at marinas used for events, cruises, and private charter.
- Sea crew who work onboard fishing vessels, ship supply vessels, and regional ferries which enter and leave our waters at least once a month. They provide essential services such as the provision of ship supplies, transportation of food and raw materials, as well as ferrying passengers.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has just released its latest circular on crew changes. Please see PMC no. 38, superseding PMC no.30, and was effective with effect from 6 October 2021.
A summary of the revised and updated requirements is provided below but please read the circular for full guidance:
Signing-on crew requirements are as follows:
- The sign-on crew is required to serve SHN in the crew’s originating country/region in the period immediately prior to his/her departure flight/ferry to Singapore. Please refer to the ICA’s website for the latest list of countries/regions and their respective Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) period.
- The fully vaccinated crew from specific countries/regions under the Vaccinated Travel Lane may sign on without serving SHN.
- The crew must have a negative result from a COVID-19 test (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type) taken at a government-approved or ISO 15189-accredited testing facility at his/her originating country, not more than 48 hours prior to departure for Singapore.
- The crew must be certified fit-to-travel and have a negative result from an ART (Antigen Rapid Test) certified by a doctor at his/her originating country not more than 24 hours prior to departure for Singapore. If tested positive, the crew shall not take further ARTs to obtain a negative result. Instead, the crew should take another PCR test to confirm if he/she is infected with COVID-19.
- The sign-on crew shall have MPA’s Final No Objection email prior to departure from his/her home country.
- During the entire crew change process, including during the journey to Singapore, the crew should not be in a group of more than five (5) persons and must remain in the same group. There must be no interactions between groups.
- The crew should only join his/her ship not more than two (2) days before the date of the ship’s final departure from Singapore. For ships departing for sea trial and returning to Singapore, the date of departure for sea trial will not be considered the date of the ship’s final departure.
- The crew shall only join the ship in Singapore after all high-risk shore-based personnel have completed their work onboard and disembarked the ship.
- The crew who have recovered from COVID-19 must submit documentary proof of his/her past diagnosis of COVID-19 based on the earliest positive PCR test result. If the date of the positive PCR test result is 21 days or fewer before the date of arrival in Singapore, he/she will not be approved for a crew change. If the date of a positive PCR test result is more than 21 days before the date of arrival in Singapore, he/she shall comply with the above sign-on requirements.
- Sign-on Crew Vaccination Application – note that under the SEAVAX program, MPA is able to facilitate the vaccination of sign-on crew in Singapore. Shipowners/managers/agents may apply for the crew’s vaccination at this link at least 7 days prior to the vessel’s arrival in Singapore.
Signing-off crew requirements are as follows:
- Certified fit-to-travel by a doctor in Singapore not more than 24 hours before disembarking the ship; and
- Has not gone ashore in the last 14 days before disembarking and has remained well and not had contact with any known or suspected case of COVID-19 throughout that period.
- Crew subjected to serology test shall remain onboard until production of a negative COVID-19 serology test result.
- The crew must refrain from interacting with shore-based personnel at previous ports of call in the last 14 days.
- During the entire crew change process, the crew shall not be in a group of more than 5 persons, and no interactions between the groups.
- All crew shall be transferred directly from the airport/ferry terminal to the vessel/holding facilities/vaccination center and vice versa without any detour
- Sign-on crew and sign-off crew may stay at the designated holding facilities in Singapore for up to 24 hours. However, a sign-on crew who had undergone the CrewSafe protocol may stay up to 3 days if required.
- For sign-on crew who had undergone the CrewSafe protocol, the submission of the 14 days application can be shortened to 7 days.
- All crew that utilizes Marina South Pier (MSP) or West Coast Pier (WCP) shall remain at the designated holding areas while waiting to clear immigration ( paragraphs 8 – 10).
- Precautionary measures for service providers facilitating crew change – please refer to paragraphs 11 -14 for full details. Note land transport driver and launch boat operator shall be on 7-day Rostered Routine Testing (RRT), take an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on the third and fourth day (D3/4) of the 7-day RRT cycle, and be fully vaccinated. Land transport drivers and launch boat operators shall keep all windows open when ferrying sign-on/off crew, as far as practicable. They should maintain safe distancing and shall not handle the crew’s belonging at any time.
- Where sign-off crew requires a COVID-19 pre-departure test (PDT) before departing Singapore, that sign-off crew that requires PDT in Singapore shall produce a negative test result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken at the vessel’s last port of call before Singapore provided no crew change has been carried out in the last 14 days before the vessel’s last port of call. The test results shall be submitted to MPA as soon as they are available and before the vessel arrives in Singapore. If there were a crew change conducted in the last 14 days before the vessel’s last port of call, all crew on board shall produce a negative test result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken at the vessel’s last port of call before Singapore. As MPA will facilitate pre-departure COVID-19 PCR testing for the sign-off crew, please refer to paragraphs 16-19 for full details.
Via a notice issued by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) on 29 September 2021, shipowners of UK ships are required to notify the MCA of any seafarers remaining on board beyond their contracted period/seafarer employment agreement. For seafarers that have been on board for 11 months or longer, the MCA will only consider further extensions in exceptional circumstances. When so granted, it will be agreed only for the minimum amount of time necessary to reach a port where repatriation can be facilitated, or for thirty days at a time, unless the seafarer concerned has requested to remain on board for a longer period. For full details, please read the MIN 632 notice, which will expire on 30 November 2021.
According to information provided by GAC Hot Port News, the traffic light system has been abandoned in favor of a more simple system:
- Red countries
- Rest of the world
If arriving from a non-red list country and being fully vaccinated, the traveler needs only to do a test on the second day after arrival. Seafarers are exempted from the general travel restrictions. For specific restrictions applicable to seafarers, please see the topic page on the UK Government’s website.
The UK P&I Club has just released their latest version 1.28 dated 4 October on ” Global Crew Change Advice” covering updates on Trinidad and Tobago.
BIMCO General COVID-19 Links
BIMCO is continuously monitoring COVID-19 restrictions and their impact on the shipping industry in particular on crew changes. Below are some of the types of information currently being provided by BIMCO :
- Details about implementation measures imposed for sea transport
- Overview of challenges to crew mobility
- Overview of extensions and exceptions to seafarers’ certificates
- COVID-19 seafarers’ mental health
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