Covid -19 - Norwegian protocols with regards to crew change on ships

  • Publisert: 16.03.2020

This document outlines Norwegian protocols with regards to crew change on ships for foreign nationals signing on or off in Norway.

On the bridge in the ferry Bastø Fosen 6
FOTO: Marit Nilsen/Sjøfartsdirektoratet

This document outlines Norwegian protocols with regards to crew change on ships for foreign nationals signing on or off in Norway.

The document was prepared by the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

The reader should recognize the rapid changing nature of the situation and relevant regulation. Referenced online resources in the document should be consulted for up to date information.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority assess current regulations to be in line with the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, effectively recognizing seafarers as key workers and allowing crew change to be completed.



1. Entry to Norway

Seafarers joining or departing a vessel holding seaman’s identity card issued in accordance with ILO Convention No. 108 or ILO Convention No. 185 are exempt from visa requirements and travel restrictions. In addition, there is a bilateral agreement with regards to Philippine nationals.


Up to 15 days of transit is accepted (awaiting vessel or transport).

Legal reference (mostly Norwegian):

2. Quarantine requirements

The Norwegian quarantine regulations differs between quarantine after international travel and quarantine after close contact/proximity of a confirmed case.

Regulations described below regarding quarantine is applicable to seafarers signing on/off via Norwegian mainland. There are separate regulations for the Svalbard and Jan Mayen islands.

2.1         Signing on in Norway

2.1.1        Quarantine after international travel

The general rule is that all persons entering Norway should undergo 10 days of quarantine either at home or in a suitable location.

There are a few exemptions that affects seafarer’s:

Alternative 1: All persons with place om domicile in a country or area in the Schengen and EU/EEA with sufficiently low transmission can enter Norway without having to go into quarantine. Updated overview over areas: https://www.fhi.no/en/op/novel-coronavirus-facts-advice/facts-and-general-advice/travel-advice-COVID19/. General information on leisure and work travel: https://helsenorge.no/coronavirus.

Alternative 2: Seafarers from other countries that are strictly necessary to maintain critical societal functions are exempted from travel to and from work. Goods and passenger transport are identified as a critical societal function and thus most of shipping and connected services are covered. Norwegian Maritime Authority has stated that all crew necessary to maintain minimum safe manning is strictly necessary to operate ships. Depending on operational requirements owners may assess that further personnel is strictly necessary. NMA advise that such persons should carry a statement from owner confirming that the assessment have been made. This exemption is only valid for work, and the seafarer must quarantine on bord outside of work hours for 10 days after signing on.

Alternative 3: Persons residing in and travelling from Schengen/EU/EEA to Norway for work may be exempt from travel quarantine after two negative SARS-CoV-2 tests. These should be done with minimum 48 hours difference between the two tests. The second test can at the earliest be taken five days after arriving in Norway and at the latest eight days after arrival. The person must stay in quarantine until the first negative test is presented. If the first test is negative the person can go to work but will have to stay in quarantine when he or she is not at work. Quarantine is lifted if also the second test is negative. If any of the tests are positive, the person must go into isolation. Employer must cover costs for tests.

Alternative 4: Person that by approved laboratory test can document that they have been infected with covid-19 during last six months are exempted. Further details on requirements: https://helsenorge.no/koronavirus/travel-advice#Travel-quarantine.

Legal reference (in Norwegian):

2.1.2        Quarantine after close contact with confirmed case

General rule: persons that has been in close contact with a person with confirmed case of SARS CoV-2 must maintain 10 days quarantine. More information on requirements and protocols available on https://helsenorge.no/coronavirus/quarantine-and-isolation.

There are some exemptions – but these are generally not applicable to seafarers.

Quarantine may be lifted after 2 negative tests. The first may be taken 3 days after close contact. Seafarer may start work after first test but must be in quarantine in leisure time until the second test is negative.

Legal reference (in norwegian):

2.2         Signing off in Norway

Protocols are generally the same as when signing on.

However, there is a general exemption allowing persons subject to travel quarantine to depart the county. Recommendations from Norwegian Directorate of Health must be followed.

3. Travel to/from the ship

There are no particular travel restrictions to seafarers for domestic transfer to/from ships. Seafarers are subject to the same guidelines and restrictions as the general public.

4. Protocols on board

4.1         General requirements

Norwegian Maritime Authority have published a general guide with regards to “Risk assessment and emergency preparedness in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”. This is applicable to Norwegian Ships and builds on the general framework in Regulations of 1 January 2005 No. 8 on the working environment, health and safety of persons working on board ships. It includes provisions on risk assessment related to the safety or health of persons working on board.

The guideline establish COVID-19 virus is a biological agent under the regulation and gives advice on practical measures on board. Full text available in English on: https://www.sdir.no/en/news/news-from-the-nma/risk-assessment-and-emergency-preparedness-in-the-context-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/.

4.2         Routines on board when exempted from quarantine

Seafarers exempted from quarantine under Alt 2 above should as far as possibly avoid close contact with other persons.

For seafarers this mean that they should maintain social distance on board during working hours as far as possible and quarantine on leisure time for the first 10 days on board. Such quarantine may be completed on board.

4.3         Routines on board when subject to quarantine

Seafarers not exempted must be quarantined for 10 days at a suitable location.

Depending on vessel type and facilities a merchant ship may be a suitable location.

Owners must assess whether the facilities on relevant ship is suitable and if routines may be established on board to maintain the quarantine.

If a suitable location is not possible to establish on board, the seafarer must undergo quarantine before joining the ship.

Quarantine may be lifted after two negative SARS CoV-2 tests before or after joining the ship. Work may be started after the first negative test.

 

5. Coastal cruise

Norway has established rules and protocols for to allow cruiseships to resume operations. Requirements and protocols are described in Guide for coastal cruises along the Norwegian coastline during the Covid-19 pandemic 2020.

Legar reference (in Norwegian)

Operators must have approval from the Norwegian Directorate of Health before operations may start:

E-mail: postmottak@helsedir.no.  

Mail: Helsedirektoratet, postboks 220, Skøyen, 0213 Oslo

Web: https://www.helsedirektoratet.no/english/corona

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