Updated crew changes requirements & restrictions

15 Jul 2020 / Pakistan

The below COVID-19 requirements/restrictions and local authorities’ office timings for crew changes which must be followed. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of crew change permission and may be deemed criminal offense, with heavy penalties.

- Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA): 0900 to 1400 hours.
- Immigration: 1000 to 1500 hours.
- Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Dock Security: 1000 to 1500 hours.

Rules for on-signers related to COVID-19 include:
- Crew must bring latest COVID-19 PCR test report, generated only 24 hours before.
- Flights must be arranged directly from airport to port/vessel as no accommodation/stay in hotel etc is allowed between this passage.
- If a crew member is joining the vessel at outer anchorage, their arrival at Karachi Airport must be in daytime as the service boat may not leave the jetty with on-signers after sunset.
- Without our confirmation do not confirm the flights of on-signers.
- If crew is joining the vessel at outer anchorage, flights/arrival of crew must be arranged after 1 day of the vessel’s arrival as immigration, dock security and PMSA will grant the permission once vessel arrive at outer anchorage, not before.
- For OK to Board (OKTB), we normally arrange two OKTB letters for on-signers (one confirmation/guarantee letter (LOG) and the other from the concerned airline’s local office). Due to COVID-19, most airlines are not issuing OKTB, however if it is possible for the on-signer to fly with GAC's LOG only, landing permit (visa) will be arranged on arrival. If an on-signer experiences difficulty due to non-availability of the airline’s OKTB whilst traveling we cannot be responsible.
- e-ticket must be sent to arrange OKTB at least 48 hours (working days) before departure of flight from origin. Upon receiving the e-ticket for joiners, we have to receive landing permission from immigration authorities n the basis of immigration permission and our LOG, concerned airline will issue their “OK TO BOARD” letter.

We can arrange visa (landing permit) on arrival for joining crew only upon their arrival at Karachi airport from immigration authorities for all nationalities except Israel.

Joining crew should not depart on flight without our OK to board letter at least. If any joiner misses their flight please do not avail new flight without new OKTB letters.

At times, one working day will be needed to receive the permission from PMSA if crew are joining at outer anchorage.

As per local immigration regulations, crew joining the vessel at Pakistani ports must sail with the vessel and cannot off sign after joining and before sailing.

Crew cannot stay in a hotel if their vessel is at berth.

The landing permit to crew will be granted on arrival only if crew is holding VALID PASSPORT AND SEAMAN BOOK ISSUED FROM SAME COUNTRY & SAME RANK MENTIONED ON THE SEAMAN BOOK. Availability of both the documents (passport & seaman book) is compulsory. For example, crew is holding passport from Greece and seaman book issued from Cyprus / Liberia / Panama will not be accepted by the authorities. The landing permit is issued for 72 hours after arrival at Karachi airport. Joining crew member must join the vessel in this period or leave the country if unable to join. Clear readable colored scan copies of Seaman Book/Passport (front page showing issuing & expiry date) with rank of the crew and e-ticket must be sent at least 48 working hours prior to arrival of joiners.

Joiners should show their Seaman Book/Passport to immigration authorities at Karachi airport and advise authorities that “they have arrived to join the vessel MV XXXXXXX at PORT QASIM or KARACHI PORT and M/S GAC Pakistan (Private) Ltd is their agent”.

Joiners must have their home company's letter mentioning full particulars/details of seaman and clearly mentioning that they will join the vessel MV XXXXXXX at PORT QASIM or KARACHI PORT.

FYG, On Signing of INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, BURMI, AFGHANI, VIETNAMESE, MYANMAR, NORTH KOREAN & TAIWAN NATIONALS crew is permitted under immigration escort only and THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY IN HOTEL. They must proceed directly from the airport to the ship under immigration escort.

Rules for off-signers:
- Port Health Authority will conduct the COVID-19 scanning. If CPVID-19 symptoms are detected in in any off-signers then they will ask the agent to arrange their COVID-19 test report on an urgent basis. For crew found to be infected after test report, it is at the discretion of the concerned authority what action will taken regarding the vessel and other crew members.
- All airlines require COVID-19 test report before boarding. The report must not older than 72 hours.
- Check with the airline what are the rules and regulation they apply. If they will not require a negative test result, they should be asked to send confirmation email to their local airline office in Pakistan confirming that the crew is allowed to fly without COVID-19 test report.
- Flights must be arranged directly from port/vessel to airport and as no accommodation/hotel stay is allowed.
- If crew is signing-off from the vessel at outer anchorage, their flight from Karachi airport must be in between 1800 hours to 0300 hours local time as the authority service boat may not leave the jetty to bring off-signers after sunset.
- Without our confirmation do not confirm the flights of off-signers.
- If crew is leaving the vessel from outer anchorage, their flight must be arranged for one day before vessel’s sailing.

As per local immigration regulations, crew can only fly to their home country and if need to fly to other country he must be in possession of the valid visa of that country. We need copy of e-ticket to arrange exit visa and to obtain permissions from local authorities. At least 24 working hours is required to arrange crew sign off permission.

Off Signing of INDIAN, BANGLADESHI, BURMI, AFGHANI, VIETNAMESE, MYANMAR, NORTH KOREAN & TAIWAN NATIONALS crew is permitted under immigration escort and THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY IN HOTEL. They must go leave direct from their vessel to the airport under immigration escort. They are not allowed to disembark from the vessel at anchorage.

On/Off signing crew seaman book must be previously endorsed as SHIP’S CREW RANK only. Other ranks Superintendent / Owner’s Representative / Vetting inspector / Expeditor / Auditor / Supernumerary / Technicians / Riding Crew etc are NOT ALLOWED to Sign On/Off the vessel as per local immigration regulation.

If crew is changing from outer anchorage, the vessel must be registered to port authority and anchorage charges paid for the vessel’s stay during crew change operation. Master of the vessel must arrive at Karachi outer anchorage area and contact the port control authority to register their vessel and inform port control authority that vessel has arrived on ETC timings for crew change purpose only. Thereafter, port control will register the vessel and PMSA will grant permission for service boat to go alongside for crew change.

Once the vessel arrives at Karachi outer anchorage and is registered, it cannot sail without performing crew change operation.

Passport and Seaman Book copies of all crew on board must be provided with the arrival crew list before arrival. The departure crew list (endorse form Master of the vessel) should include all crew passport and seaman book copies on board including newly joined on-signers.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Pakistan, contact GAC Pakistan at [email protected]

If quoting any content from Hot Port News, please cite GAC Hot Port News as the source.