To facilitate and regulate crew sign-off for foreign seafarers on board the vessels making calls to Indian ports in a safe manner, the Directorate General of Shipping has announced a new Standard Operating Procedure/Protocol for the repatriation of foreign seafarers from the country’s ports.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOP) FOR SIGN-OFF BY FOREIGN NATIONAL SEAFARERS
- Ensure DGS Order 12 of 2020 dated 22.04.2020 is complied with as applicable.
- Ship owner / Recruitment & Placement Services (RPS) to ensure validity of visa issued to foreign seafarer is adequate for their stay in India until they board International flights.
a) However, instances have come to notice that the ship-owner / Recruitment and Processing Services (RPS) would not be in a position to ensure the validity of the travel documents and visa of the crew on board in respect of the vessels which are already in the sea. Hence, possibilities of crew arriving on the strength of expired passports and visas cannot be ruled out.
b) Crew already on board without a visa cannot obtain a sticker visa from Indian Mission and therefore, the other option is to issue them e-visa online. Issue of e-visas is currently kept in abeyance. However, they would be issued with TLP for one month on the basis of valid passport facilitating their travel outside India.
- If the validity of Indian visa and/or passport is less than three months from date of sign-off, all necessary efforts shall be made by the ship owner/RPS agency to renew through local embassies.
- Foreign seafarers with expired Indian visa may be allowed to sign-off on the basis of issuance of TLP by local Immigration officer but subject to valid passport and valid Seaman’s Identity document.
a) TLP with validity of up to one month and a one-time fee of USD 40 may be given by Immigration Officer, keeping in view the requirement of the seafarer.
b) As per the Visa Manual, a seafarer on board of a merchant vessel can be signed off on the strength of gratis TLP for a maximum of seven days or till the return journey of the crew member to their home state, whichever is less.
c) A special provision has been made to issue them TLPs for up to 1 (one) month after payment of one-time fees of USD 40.
- Before arrival at its port of call, the Master of the vessel shall ascertain the state of health of each person on board the vessel and submit the Maritime Declaration of Health to the health authorities of the port and to the port authorities. In addition, the information required by the local health authorities of the port, like temperature chart, individual health declaration, etc. shall also be provided by the master as per the directives of the health authorities of the port. Port health authorities shall grant pratique to the vessel prior to berthing as per necessary health protocols.
- Seafarer must wear necessary PPE (masks, hand gloves) on arrival.
- All foreign seafarers’ luggage and personal effects must be disinfected at the time of disembarkation.
- Seafarer will be cleared by Immigration authority at the nearest immigration center and custom authorities for luggage clearances etc. after arrival at the port.
- Seafarers arriving on a vessel to undergo the COVID-19 test to confirm they are negative of the virus. After disembarking and till the time the seafarer reaches the testing facility, all safety precautions must be observed.
- Seafarers to be kept in quarantine facility approved by Port/State Health Authorities until test reported are received.
- Seafarers who test positive fro COVID-19 will be dealt with as per the procedures laid down by the Ministry.
- Until international flights/VBM flights/chartered flights/connecting flights are available for the desired destination, ship owner/RPS agency must arrange for boarding and lodging of seafarers at a safe location.
- One a seafarer receives a negative test result, the ship owner/RPS agency must ensure completion of the following if travelling by car:
a. Seafarer’s travel route post sign-off is to be identified
b.Details of the seafarer, vehicle and driver for travel to be uploaded on DGS website “e-pass for foreign seafarers link” for generation of e-pass, if needed.
- The e-pass (to and from) will be issued for a fixed route and with specified validity and must be strictly adhered to.
- Ship owner/RPS agency to ensure the following for taking seafarer to the airport:
a. Vehicle being used is properly sanitized and PPE (masks, hand gloves) and sanitisers made available for driver and seafarer
b. Driver and seafarer to maintain social distancing requirements.
- On reaching the airport, seafarer to abide by the quarantine/isolation and health protocols as desired by airport authorities.
- Seafarer must also abide and fully comply with all concerned flag state orders pertaining to COVID-19 at all times.
For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in India, contact GAC India at [email protected]