Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Extension on crew certificates

Overview

Providing members with the latest information on extensions to crew certificates by various states in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The page might be updated several times per day, so please check back for the most recent information.

While many flag and port states are in lock down implementing preventive measures such as social distancing, seafarers may be held onboard ships for extended periods. Eventually statutory certificates will expire. Following these concerns many states are issuing categorical extensions to expired certificates. Please find below summary of the latest information available to the BIMCO secretariat. For additional details, please see the page Implementation measures for sea transport. For a quick overview of difficulties related to crew change, please see the page Crew challenges.

Liberty and deviation

Considering the the current situation with limited flights and closed borders, owners might find it impossible to perform crew change and receive specialised technicians onboard their ships. To cope with these challenges we recommend considering applying BIMCO's Liberty and deviation clause, whith provides the contractual provisions to perform these operations. Contrary to the Infectious or Contaigious disease cluases for charter parties, access to the liberty clause is restricted.

Australia

Marine Notice 02/2020 Applicable to certificates which would otherwise expire in the period 26 March - 1 October. Extends the following for a period of six months from the expiry date:
  • STCW certificates
  • AMSA certificates of safety training
  • AMSA certificates of medical fitness

Bahamas

Technical alert 20-03 24 March

On the Seafarers' Employment Agreement:

Exceeding the 12 months or contractual period onboard as stated in their original SEA because of travel restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of the corona virus, will not be breach of the MLC.

On expired medical certificates:

If a seafarer’s medical certificate expires while they are on board, the seafarer can continue service:

  • for up to 3 months or
  • until a new certificate can be issued, whatever comes first.

If the medical certificate expires prior to 1 July the validity of the certificate is automatically extended to 1 October.

On expired STCW cerificates and certificates of recognition

  • If a Certificate of Competency (CoC) or a Certificate of Proficiency (COP) that The Bahamas has either endorsed or issued expires and the issuing State has extended the period for which the certificate is valid, this document/endorsement shall automatically be extended by The Bahamas for the same period.
  • If a Certificate of Competency (CoC) or a Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) that The Bahamas has issued expires prior to the 01 October 2020, the validity period is extended until latest 01 October 2020.
  • The BMA recognises that all CoPs that are issued by other States are valid for use on Bahamian ships for the period that the issuing State has allowed, including CoPs that are extended to no later than 01 October 2020.

Bangladesh

Circular 01/2020 23 March

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Certificates of Competency (CoC) and Certificates of Proficiency (COP) which will be expired before 30 April will be granted a general extension till 30 June
  • If a medical certificate expires whilst the seafarer is at sea, the certificate is allowed to remain in force until the next port of call where the seafarer can obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner. This is permitted for up to 30 June
  • If the Continues Discharge Certificate (CDC) will expire before 30 April it will be granted a general extension till 30 June
  • The Seafarers Employment Agreements (SEA) should remain valid. If any of the SEA's have expired, they need to be extended or new ones issued. The company need to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first available opportunity.

Additional notable provisions:

  • Port State Control officers are instructed to take a pragmatic and practical approach in relation to these certificates and endorsement extensions and their acceptance in the excise of Port State Control procedures.
  • Consideration will be given to allow seafarers who hold foreign issued Certificates of Competencies (CoC) to continue serving onboard Bangladesh Registered Ships, if they are unable to revalidate their CoC before the expiry date due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Belgium

Circular no. 02/2020 18 March

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Belgian Maritime Inspectorate allows for issuing temporary Certificate of Competency and/or Certificate of proficiency with a validity of 6 months
  • The Belgian Regulation on Maritime Inspection permits a seafarer whose medical fitness certificate expires during a voyage in a location where it is not possible to obtain a medical fitness certificate to continue working for up to three months after the expiry date of the medical fitness certificate
  • A valid Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) must remain in force until repatriation. If any of the SEAs have expired, they must be extended, or new ones issued. The company need to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first available opportunity

Additional notable provisions:

  • Belgian Maritime Inspectorate takes a pragmatic and practical approach with regard to the extension of the certifications and endorsements, as strictly necessary
  • Consideration will be given to allow seafarers who hold foreign issued Certificates of Competencies (CoC) to continue serving onboard Bangladesh Registered Ships, if they are unable to revalidate their CoC before the expiry date due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • As difficulties are suspected to get paper version of certificates (e.g. Certificates of Competency) onboard in time due to Covid-19 measures, BMI will accept electronic copies of mandatory certificates for the time Covid-19 measures are in place. BMI urges all concerned parties to accept the electronic copy of the original paper certificate as genuine and on the same level as paper certificates during this time. 

Bermuda

Shipping Guidance Notice 01/2020 17 March

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Where the Certificates of Competency (CoC) are due for renewal and difficulty is being experienced the Seafarers are advised to contact the CoC issuing authority to request an extension of the validity of the certificate. The Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authori agrees that the corresponding Bermuda Endorsement may be considered as extended by the same duration
  • Consideration will be given to the extension of expiring medical certificates in circumstances where seafarers need to extend their sea service beyond the contract period
  • Owners and managers unable to repatriate seafarers who have completed the employment duration may submit a request to the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority for extension of the sea service period.

Additional notable provisions:

  • The BSMA will take a pragmatic approach to assist the industry in overcoming these challenges
Shipping Guidance Notice 04/2020 26 March

This notice is to inform Owners, Managers, Crewing Agents and crew of Bermuda registered ships that the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority is aware that many are experiencing difficulties in receiving or applying for their national COC’s, Bermuda Endorsements, Bermuda Dischargebooks or conducting STCW training before the date required due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This notice provides guidance on the steps to be taken in this situation.

Brazil

Ordinance no. 85/2020 19 March

Grant 120 days of validity extension, from the date of expire of Certificates of Competence and Certificates of Proficiency which would otherwise expire before 1 August

Canada

Ship Safety Bulletin 03/2020 16 March

Allows for an extended validity to the following certificates expiring before 1 September:

  • Canadian Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency
  • Marine Medical Certificates and Provisional Marine Medical Certificates

Cook Islands

Circular 224/2020 14 February

Allows for exemptions from the requirements of MLC for any seafarer who is not permitted by the State of the port of scheduled disembarkation, and as a result will be on board the vessel for more than 11 months

Circular 229/2020 1 April

Allows for extension of the following:

  • Cook Islands Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency due to expire before 1 July. The extension is for 4 months, which may be extended further
  • Maritime Cook Islands will reissue Certificate of Endorsement to reflect the underlying Certificate of Competency issued by other states, if the original certifcate was expired or due to expire no later than 1 July

Curacao

Notice to Shipping 10/2020 31 March

Allows for an extension of the following Curacao certificates:

  • Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency - extendable for four months and possible four months again
  • Medical Fitness Certificates - valid for an additional three months beyond expiry date
  • The validity of Curacao seaman's books which expire before July 1st 2020 - extendable for four months

Additional provisions:

  • If a ship cannot comply with the requirements of the surveys, inspections and audits contained in the relevant convention instruments, due to the COVID-19 situation, the ship must provide evidence that its Flag state has agreed to an exceptional delay specific to COVID-19
  • If a crew member needs to leave the ship, due to urgent circumstances and cannot be replaced immediately due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, a dispensation from the Minimum Safe Manning Document requirements can be requested for
  • All days spent on the ship when it is fully crewed and operational or in hot lay-up, although not carrying cargo, will be accepted as valid seagoing service for the revalidation of the CoC

Cyprus

Circular no. 08/2020 31 March

Applicable to seafarers that joined the ship prior 1 March and remain on board with a renewed contract.

Allows for extension of the following until 1 September:

  • Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency issued by the Republic of Cyprus
  • Medical Fitness Certificates and Seafarer’s Identification and Sea Service Record Books issued by the Republic of Cyprus
  • Cyprus endorsements attesting the recognition of national certificates of competency

Denmark

Note to the industry 14 March

The Danish Maritime Authority is prepared to extend the validity of Danish certificates to the extent necessary. When it comes to foreign certificates (for foreign seafarers), the Danish Maritime Authority will assist with contact to the relevant foreign authority in order to obtain the necessary extensions.

Dominica

Marine Safety Circular 02/2020 16 March
  • The Administration allows for the extension of SEAs provided that
    • Such an extension is under the seafarer's consent and
    • The shipowner will repatriate seafarers as soon as possible at the next available port
  • If the Certificate of Competency from other issuing states cannot be extended the Administration may issue a short-term dispensation letter allowing the seafarer to continue to sail in their present capacity until the vessel reaches the first port where he/she can be replaced and repatriated

Estonia

Circular No. 6/2020 31 March

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Seafarers' certificates under the following conditions:
  • The extension of endorsements and certificates shall be carried out by recognized maritime educational institutions using e-learning to evaluate continuous competence and following the requirements of Circular No 5-1-7/5
  • This assessment is granted to crew members who have performed 12 months of seagoing service in the last five years or three months of seagoing service in the last six months.
  • The certificates issued on the basis of this assessment shall be valid until the end of the emergency situation, but for no longer than six months from the date of issue.
  • The medical certificates expiring during the voyage due to the circumstances shall be extended for three months

Germany

Measures taken by the German flag due to the COVID19 pandemic 25 March
  • The validity of all seafarers' certificates issued by Germany or by approved training providers and which expire before 1 September will be extended by 6 months.
  • The validity of all German medical certificates which expired after 1 January, will be extended until 30 June
  • Seafarers who are registered for a refresher course that will not take place due to the spread of COVID-19 may receive their documents with the regular extension of 5 years, provided all other requirements are met and proof of registration for the refresher course is attached to the application.

Greece

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance relating to the Seafarers’ Employment Agreements 20 March
  • The Administration allows for the extension of SEAs provided that
    • Such an extension is under the seafarer’s consent and
    • All the relative arrangements by the shipowner/operator for repatriation will be undertaken as appropriate at the next available port as soon as conditions allow.
  • In such cases, the extension of the contractual period should be reflected on the corresponding SEA of the affected seafarers, when a new SEA may not be timely arranged, the contractual period shall be mutually agreed.
Unspecified circular 1 April

    The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency - extendable for sic months
  • Endorsement of foreign Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency provided they have a period of validity extending until the date of the granted extension

Hong Kong, SAR

Extension of Crew Agreement Service Period for seafarers
working on board Hong Kong registered ships in response to the
outbreak of Novel Coronavirus
7 February Extension of a seafarer's service period can be exercised pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Regulation, provided that such extension is
agreed by the seafarer voluntarily in writing
Special Arrangements by the Hong Kong Marine Department under COVID-19 Pandemic Situation 3 April

The arrangements allows for the following additional extensions

  • Certificate of Competency or Consolidated Receipt of Application
  • Medical fitness certificates

Other crew related provisions:

  • For non-Hong Kong ships, MD will accept ships calling Hong Kong port with evidence from shipowners that the respective flag State has provided relevant exceptional extension of statutory certificates either by way of exemption document or Flag circular.

India

Directorate General of Shipping, Order No. 6
23 March The COC / COE / COP of seafarers, who are currently sailing onboard Indian flagged vessels and Indian seafarers sailing on foreign Flag ships, whose COC /COE / COP are about to expire stands extended for a maximum period of one month or till they sign off, whichever is earlier.
Addendum No. l to DGS, Order 6
3 April All STCW Certificates and associated endorsements issued by the Directorate General of Shipping which are expiring between 23 March and 1 October (both dates inclusive), are extended for a period of 6 months from the expiry date printed/typed on the relevant certificate.

Ireland

Marine Notice No. 14/2020 20 March

The Irish Maritime Authority allows the following certificates to be extended is expiring between 1 March and 31 August:

  • Certificates of Competency - extension of 6 months from date of expiry
  • Certificates of Equivalent Competency - IMA will allow the seafarer to sail on Irish registered ships for an extended period of 6 months.
  • Medical Certificates - may be extended by up to 3 months from the date of expiry
  • Seafarer Employment Agreements (SEA) - may be extended by up to 6 months from the date of expiry with the agreement of the seafarer. In this situation, the same terms and conditions as originally agreed will continue to apply.
  • Safety training certificates - may be extended up to 6 months. Covers the following:
    • Proficiency in Personal Survival Techniques
    • Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats other than Fast Rescue Boats
    • Proficiency in Fast Rescue Boats
    • Proficiency in Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
    • Proficiency in Advanced Fire Fighting

The notice contains the following additional crew-related provisions:

  • All days spent on the ship when it is fully crewed and operational or if placed in warm layup, will be accepted as valid seagoing service for the revalidation or issue of a CoC. Sea service for cadets currently completing a sea phase will be subject to review.
  • The IMA will accept expired seafarer certificates of competency/proficiency and medical certificates where the flag administration has granted an extension due to the current circumstances

Isle of Man

Technical Advisory Notice 02/2020 13 March

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Seafarers are advised to contact their CoC issuing Authority requesting an extension to their existing CoC. The Ship Registry will issue a Flag State Endorsement to CoCs that have been extended by their CoC issuing Authority with the new expiry date as stated on the CoC
  • If a medical certificate expires whilst the seafarer is at sea, the certificate is allowed to remain in force until the next port of call where the seafarer can obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner. This is permitted for up to 3 months
  • The Seafarer Employment Contract may be extended under the following conditions:
    • The extension of the SEA is mutually agreed by the seafarer and shipowner
    • It is documented by way of a new SEA or addendum to the current SEA, signed by both parties
    • The service period does not exceed 12 months (or any alternative limit prescribed by an applicable CBA)
    • If this service period will exceed 12 months (or any alternative limit prescribed by an applicable CBA), then the Ship Registry should be contacted.

Israel

Shipping Notice G-11 28 March

The circular allows for a two-months extension of the following:

  • Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency, which will expire between 10 March to 10 May
  • Endorsement confirming or recognizing
    • Certificate of Competency
    • Certificate of Proficiency Certificate of an approved training course
    • GMDSS operator certication

Kindly notice, the Shipping Notice explicitly mentions, there is no extension of the following:

  • Medical fitness certificates
  • Seaman's books

Kuwait

Circular 01/2020 1 April

The circular allows for the following extensions:

  • Recognition of Certificates of Competency or Certificates of Proficiency may be extended if the national certificates are extended as well
  • A valid Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) must remain in force until repatriation. If any of the Seafarer Employment Agreements have expired, they must be extended, or new ones issued. The company needs to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first available opportunity.

Liberia

Marine Advisory Note 07/2020 24 February
  • The Administration allows for the extension of SEAs provided that
    • Such an extension is under the seafarer's consent and
    • The shipowner will repatriate seafarers as soon as possible at the next available port
  • If the Certificate of Competency from other issuing states cannot be extended the Administration may issue a short-term dispensation letter allowing the seafarer to continue to sail in their present capacity until the vessel reaches the first port where he/she can be replaced and repatriated

Libya

Circular 04/2020 1 April

The circular allows for the following extensions

  • STCW Certificates and Certificates of Recognition
    • If a Certificate of Competency or a Certificate of Proficiency issued by the Libyan Ports & Maritime Transport Authority expires prior to 1 October, the validity is extended until latest 1 October 2020
    • If the issuing State has extended the period of validity of the certificate, the endorsement will automatically be extended by the Libyan Administration for the same period
  • Medical Certificates
    • If the certificate expires while onboard, the seafarer can continue service up to three months after expiry
    • If the medical certificate expires prior to 1 July the validity of the certificate is automatically extended to 1 October
  • Seafarer Employment Agreements (SEA)

Luxembourg

CAM 02/2020 21 March

The circular allows for the following extensions

  • Endorsements attesting the Recognition of Certificates of Competency and/or Certificates of Proficiency
  • Seafarers with an expired medical certificate will be allowed to keep serving on board for a period of up to 3 months
  • Seafarer Employment Agreements (SEA)

Malaysia

MSN 02/2020 Annex II, v5 10 April

Allows for the extension of:

  • Seafarer Employment Agreement for one month and not more than 13 months in total, provided that it expires during the period of Malaysian Movement Control Order (MCO)
  • The validity of following seafarer certificates until 30 June, provided they expire durin the period of MCO:
    • Seafarer’s Identity Document
    • Certificate of Competency
    • Certificate of Proficiency
    • Certificate of Recognition, provided the underlying certificate is valid

Malta

Merchant Shipping Notice 158 17 March

Allows for the extension of:

  • Sea service beyond the Seafarer Employment Agreement period on a case-by-case ratio for a maximum period of three months
  • The validity of seafarer certificates beyond their expiry date

Marshall Islands

Marine Notice No. 7-052-2 October, 2016 Allows for Seafarers Employment Agreements to cover periods of more than 11 months

Mauritius

Merchant Shipping Notice no. 05/2020 18 March

Allows for the extension of:

  • Extension of contract period
  • Service onboard after the expiration of Certificates of Competency and/or Proficiency while on board

Netherlands, the

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Contingency Plan and Guidelines, Revision 1 3 April

The following applies to all ships flying the flag of the Netherlands

Allows for the following exceptions:

  • A SEA shall remain valid until the seafarer has been repatriated. If the SEA has expired, the validity of the SEA must be extended or a new SEA shall be issued and the reasons for this decision shall be documented. The company shall make sure that the seafarers are repatriated at the first available opportunity
  • The validity of Dutch Certificates of Competency and Certificates of Proficiency which will expire before 19 June, are granted an extended validity of 4 months
  • Certificates of Proficiency for ratings of which the validity has been extended by a generic measure by the subject administration will also remain to be accepted as valid for service on board Dutch flagged ships
  • If the national CoC / CoP for foreign seafers is extended, the validity of the Recognition is also extended automatically
  • Expired certificates of medical training will be extended for 4 months from the date of expiry
  • Expired certificates of medical fitness will be extended for 3 months from the date of expiry

Additional notably crew related provisions:

  • If a seafarer needs to leave the ship due to urgent circumstances and cannot be replaced immediately due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, a dispensation to the Minimum Safe Manning Document can be requested for
  • All days spent on the ship when it is fully crewed and operational or warm lay-up, will be accepted as valid seagoing service for the revalidation of the CoC
  • Shipping companies remain liable for costs pending repatriation such as medical care, crew transfer, isolation etc.

Nigeria

Marine Notice 04/2020 30 March

The following applies to all Nigerian flagged vessels and Nigerian nationals sailing on foreign flagged ships

Allows for a three-months extenstion to the following certificates with expiration date between 1 March and 1 July:

  • Certificates issued under Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention 1978, as amended, including:
    • Certificates of Competency
    • Certificates of Proficiency
    • GMDSS radio operator certificates
  • Certificates of medical fitness

Additional notably crew related provisions:

  • Port State control authorities are encouraged to take a pragmatic and practical approach concerning these certificates and endorsement extensions, and their acceptance in the exercise of control procedures

Norway

Regarding change of crew on Norwegian vessels during Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak 7 February Allows for service onboard Norwegian flagged ships after expiry of contract and with outdated certificates
Instructions to Class no. 2-2020 13 March

Applies to Norwegian flagged vessels registered in the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register or the Norwegian International Ship Register

Allows for the following:

  • The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has decided that certificates and vessel instructions which expire before 12 June 2020 may be granted a 3-month extension without further approval from the NMA
  • The extension will also apply to certificates provided by companies providing services to the Administration or RO, including, but not limited to service providers re-certifying life-saving equipment, fire-fighting equipment or radio control.

Pakistan

Shipping notice 02/2020 24 March

Allows for the following:

  • Issue or Revalidation of a Pakistani Certificate of Competency (CoC) where a seafarer is unable to disembark a vessel
  • Issue of Certificate of Recognition (CoR) where a seafarer is unable to disembark a vessel
  • Six-months extension of CoC for Seafarers with Pakistani Certificates of Competency (CoC) working on Pakistani flag vessels, who are unable to disembark a vessel
  • If any of the SEAs have expired, they must be extended, or new ones issued. A valid Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) must remain in force until repatriation. The company needs to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first available opportunity.

Additional crew related provisions:

  • Where it can be demonstrated that a crew member is required to depart a vessel due to the virus and the ship owner/operator is unable to replace them, exemptions to Safe Manning Document will be considered on a case by case basis.
  • ship-owners remain liable for costs pending repatriation (e.g. isolation), medical care, and any costs or expense of crew transfer for suspected cases.

Panama

MMN-03/2020 19 March

Allows for a three months extension of:

  • Seafarers employment Agreement
  • Seafarers Certificates including Certificates of Endorsement
  • Medical certificates
  • Certificates of proficiency

Additional provisions for granting dispensation to non-extended expired Seafarers certificates are contained in this circular

Singapore

Shipping circular No. 03/2020 26 February

Allows for extension of:

  • Seafarers employment Agreement
  • Seafarers Certificates - explicit CoC

The above list is "non-exhaustive"

Shipping circular No. 06/2020 10 April

Allows for extension of:

  • All Certificate of Competency, training certificates and associated endorsements issued by MPA or on behalf of MPA expiring between 01 April and 1 October may be extended for a period of six months from the date of expiry
  • All GMDSS General and Restricted Operator certificates issued by IMDA expiring between 1 April and 1 October may be extended for a period of six months from the date of expiry

South Africa

Marine Notice No. 19/2020 30 March

Allows for extension until 30 September of:

  • Certificates of Competency and / or Certificates of Proficiency
  • Certificates issued by SAMSA Accredited Training Institutions
  • Validity of Medical Certificates

Ukraine

Letter to IMO 23 March

Allows for extension of no more than three months after expiry of STCW certificates expiring in March, April or May

United Kingdom

CORONAVIRUS (Covid-19) Contingency Plan and Guidelines for the services provided to Seafarers and Shipowners by the MCA

Allows for temporary certificates in the following scenarios:

  • Expired UK Certificate of Competency where a seafarer is unable to disembark a vessel. The temporary CoC will be valid for a period of 6 months.
  • Expired Certificate of Equivalent Competency where a seafarer is unable to disembark a vessel. The temporary CEC will be valid for a period of 6 months.

Allows for extension of certificates in the following scenarios:

  • Expired Certificate of Competency (CoC) for Seafarers working on UK flagged vessels, who are unable to disembark a vessel. The extension is for 6 months.
  • Expired Safety Training for Seafarers with UK CoC working on Non-UK flagged vessels, who are unable to disembark a vessel.

Other scenarios:

  • If the medical fitness certificate expires during a voyage in a location where it is not possible to obtain a medical fitness certificate accepted for working on a UK ship to continue working for up to three months
  • Crew who are directly involved in the operation of the vessel that is in warm lay-up will have their service accepted at full rate towards a UK CoC
  • If any of the SEAs have expired, they must be extended, or new ones issued. The company need to ensure that the seafarers are sent home at the first available opportunity.

Venezuela

Circular no. 12/2020 20 March

Extends the following until 30 June:

  • STCW certificates
Johan Conrad
in Copenhagen, DK

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